Is spatial planning a tool for shaping the future?

Member Interview Author: Nyoman Prayoga, Saut Sagala Comments
Indonesia: Jakarta

MEMBER INTERVIEW: SAUT SAGALA, Indonesia

Dr. Saut Sagala is an assistant professor at the School of Architecture, Planning and Policy Development, Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), Bandung, Indonesia. Saut has conducted intensive research and has wide experience as a consultant on spatial planning, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. ACCCRN had a conversation with him in which we talked about the integration of climate change issues into spatial planning.

What do you think about the relationship between climate change and spatial planning?

Climate change and disaster risk management is affecting the environment on local to regional scales. It is important that they considered when one aims to manage the space as a place for living. Spatial planning has been seen as an instrument that can intervene and shape the environment by creating future scenarios and analyzing potential conflicts. Spatial planning has also proven to be a powerful tool in figuring out and tackling problems.

Why do you think it is important that climate change issues and disaster risk management are incorporated within spatial planning or a development plan?

One of spatial planning objectives is to use utilize resources effectively and efficiently. Most of the time, this means considering economic and social aspects--whilst the environmental aspect is not considered to be a priority and is not taken seriously. Spatial planning functions in regulating and controlling development, one of ways this is done is by limiting development in certain areas to some extent to balance aspects (economic, social, environmental).

Based on your experience working on integrating spatial planning, disaster risk management, and climate change adaptation, especially in Indonesia, what are the key challenges for you?

In spatial planning, control and regulation are not able to properly maintain the city, especially when control mechanisms themselves are in a transition phase (moving from discretionary to regulatory). Most cities and districts in Indonesia do not have zoning regulations to control the development effectively. And if they have them, the lack of enforcement, which should ensure the implementation of planning, is another problem.

What do you think about the situation and progress of climate change adaptation and disaster management being integrated into spatial planning in Indonesia?

I can say that most spatial plans at the district/citylevel have considered the disaster risk and climate change. But in the implementation phase, environmental aspecst are less prioritized while focusing more on economical aspects, especially in Indonesia as a developing country with a big population.

On the other hand, not every planner understands the urgency of integrating climate change and disaster risk management in spatial planning. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk management are still new and consideration of them has not yet been clear among planners. This has become a challenge of its own.

Do you have any message for the many other stakeholders working on building resilience, especially with regard to mainstreaming climate change adaptation into spatial planning?

Each organization has its own focus, therefore it has strengths and weaknesses. In a collaboration involving individuals/groups that have diverse scientific backgrounds, sometimes the term resilience is not yet understood properly by the actors (academics, government, etc.) since the term holds different importance to each person. Establishing the same level of understanding and level of importance of the concept must come first in building resilience. After achieving the same level of understanding, it is important to have good communication with the stakeholders to make sure that theory and practice are in balance.

Dr. Saut Sagala is an assistant professor at the School of Architecture, Planning and Policy Development, Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), Bandung, Indonesia. He has recently developed further interests in cultural heritage and tourism, renewable energy policy, and micro-insurance.