An Evaluation of Massive Land Interventions for the Relocation of Capital Cities

Tom X. Hackbarth, Walter T. de Vries

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Across the world, capital cities are being relocated. Such practices have existed almost as long as capitals themselves. Against the background of the relocation of Indonesia’s seat of government from Jakarta to East Kalimantan, it is clear that such processes will continue to take place in the future. Especially if one considers the reasons for the move: climate change is leading to an increasing inhabitability of the Indonesian capital. Therefore, it is important to understand the processes behind such megaprojects and their impacts on the surroundings in order to build new capitals sustainably. Hence, this paper deals with examples from the past seven decades and examines them from different perspectives, such as the underlying politics and economy, planning approaches, reasons for relocation, as well as cultural and ecological backgrounds. With an analytical methodology based on eight aspects of responsible land management interventions (the 8R-framework), it is possible to assess the degree to which these moves are responsible. Combined with a literature review of past documented evidence, we derived 8R-matrices, inferred recurring issues and constructed a database containing multiple aspects of capital relocations. This database allowed simple SQL-coding, which enabled describing commonalities among the different land interventions for the capital relocations. These results help to connect occurring sets of problems to particular political, economic and planning backgrounds and to identify different frameworks within which most new capitals are situated. These new insights make future capital relocations better manageable and can support the process of capital relocation in Indonesia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Science
Issue number1
Early online date28 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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