PhD position 'Following Frontiers of the ‘Forest City’: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Urbanization in Kalimantan and Beyond' (FOLLOW) (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 27 days ago
Deadline: today

The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning has its focus on the enhancement of long-term socio-economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities, and how to accelerate sustainability transitions of cities and infrastructures. Research on these topics takes place within our research programme 'Urban Futures: Transitions Towards Economic and Social Sustainability for Cities'. In this programme, faculty members from various sub disciplines of human geography and spatial planning – urban and economic geographies, international development studies and spatial planning – work closely together on topics like governance of urban transitions, urban infrastructures, healthy urban living, urban inequalities and diversities, transnational mobilities, economic resilience and networks and flows in and between urban regions. 

For our NWO Cooperation Indonesia - Netherlands Merian Fund project 'Following Frontiers of the ‘Forest City’: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Urbanization in Kalimantan and Beyond' (FOLLOW) at the International Development Studies (IDS) group, we are looking for a PhD candidate.

The project background The Indonesian government’s declaration to relocate its national capital city from Jakarta to the forest highlands of eastern Kalimantan has become contentious. Through an innovative ‘Forest City’ masterplan, proponents argue that the capital city relocation decentralizes development opportunities and alleviates Jakarta’s environmental problems. Critics contend however that not only does the relocation leave Jakarta’s problems unsolved, the new city will negatively impact Kalimantan’s ecosystem and societies. Both arguments fail to address how the new Forest City might lead to sustainable and inclusive urbanization.

Although implementing the masterplan has been delayed due to the pandemic, the impacts of Forest City planning and development are already evident in Kalimantan through new forms of land speculation and encroachment, a resource boom and new infrastructure planning. Moreover, frontier expansion is expected to continue and generate ecological and social dynamics after the city’s planned 2024 inauguration and far beyond the formally planned urbanization frontier. To achieve ecological sustainability, disaster risk reduction and socio-economic inclusion in Kalimantan and beyond, it is urgent to establish a framework to study already emerging and future impacts of Forest City planning and development. To do so, this project proposes a framework with three objectives:

  • generate knowledge on how to evaluate the impacts of a mega-project beyond planned areas and timeframe;
  • strengthen existing research infrastructure to develop the capacity of local students and citizens to continuously monitor and analyze the impacts of urbanization;
  • and create a multi-stakeholder platform where new tools and impact assessment methods are refined to ensure sustainable and inclusive urbanization. 

Through a highly inter-and-transdisciplinary approach and based on solid existing Indonesian-Dutch research collaboration, this project actively contributes to the global agenda for sustainable and inclusive urban development worldwide as well as the Indonesian government’s commitment to strengthen societal resilience and sustainable development in Indonesia.

Within the FOLLOW project, the PhD candidate will conduct in-depth political-ecological research on water distribution and related disaster risks. The PhD research is co-supervised by both the IDS group at Utrecht University and the Water Governance Department at IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education, whereby the focus of the research will be on the existing and proposed relations between water and society in Indonesia. The PhD candidate will focus specifically on how new city planning and development take place through changes in societal relations and interactions with water. Using a multi-scalar and political ecology of urbanization framework, a PhD candidate is expected to deepen knowledge on: 1) who and what will be affected by water flow changes; and 2) the trade-offs for different water and land users and livelihoods. In collaboration with water supply companies both upstream and downstream the river, the PhD candidate will include an analysis on infrastructure, policies, and planning in a way which contributes to the water-related planning scenario co-designed with other project Researchers based in Indonesia. This means that the PhD candidate is expected to be an excellent team worker.
More specifically, the project involves the following activities:

  • conducting a literature study on new city processes and the potential impacts on water flows;
  • conducting qualitative and spatial research on the water distribution and disaster risks in Indonesia in general and in Kalimantan in particular;
  • writing and publishing the results in academic and professional publications;
  • presenting the findings at international conferences;
  • managing the work package and planning workshops in collaboration with the other Researchers in the project;
  • teaching relevant courses in the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning (max. 10% of the appointment).

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