Water-sensitive city leapfrogging strategy for Bogor Raya

Greater Bogor, like most other Indonesian cities, is experiencing rapid growth accompanied by pressure on essential services. In recent years, Bogor has demonstrated environmental commitment by pursuing green agendas, and now has embraced a vision of a transition towards holistic and sustainable approaches to urban water management.

The research project applied a Water Sensitive City (WSC) framework to Bogor to substantiate and facilitate its sustainable water aspirations. The WSC approach embraces cross-cutting and holistic solutions that deliver multiple benefits. This is expected to provide a strong foundation for tackling the multidimensional challenges required of Indonesia’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A WSC approach is defined by enabling change in key spheres of operation, such as system design and planning, professional practice and technological solutions, and community behaviour. Transformation requires a combination of technical innovation and social and institutional restructuring to overcome entrenched unsustainability. Indonesia’s transition to a WSC may need to make greater advances in productivity, resilience and liveability than industrialised economies, but it may also have the opportunity to leapfrog some unsustainable patterns of production associated with economies that industrialised earlier.

Leapfrogging is a phenomenon in which developing countries – whose technological systems are not yet as fully established as developed economies – can adopt advanced technological systems to address current environmental issues. This report assessed Bogor’s capacity for a WSC transition and recommended enabling strategies using the lens of leapfrogging. By doing so, it was hoped that Bogor and other Indonesian cities may avoid features of water-servicing models seen in developed economies that represent unsustainable ‘dead ends’ and adopt more holistic and sustainable water technologies and management approaches that are based on WSC principles.

The concept of leapfrogging is particularly relevant for cities with less-developed water management systems. The difficulty in transitioning more-developed cities to more water-sensitive ones is that technological and institutional path dependencies lead to changes being incremental, often resulting in mere optimisation of unsustainable practices – with limited potential for systemic change. Sunk costs and vested interests are very high through decades of investment that have aligned organisations, legislation and infrastructure with a particular set of practices, ‘locking in’ the status quo.

The opportunity to leapfrog in developing countries comes from their relatively low levels of investment in traditional infrastructure and institutions, which makes existing practices less entrenched and more receptive to adopting water-sensitive practices.


This research took advantage of new socio-technical tools and methods to assess Indonesian WSC leapfrogging potential through in-depth case study research in Bogor, developed insights and practical recommendations for Bogor’s leapfrogging journey, and derived general insights and recommendations for WSC leapfrogging in other Indonesian cities.

 Specific objectives of the research included:

  •  Applying a benchmarking framework for assessing the water sensitivity (in particular the liveability, sustainability and resilience) of Bogor and identifying management actions that take advantage of leapfrogging opportunities.
  • Identifying social and institutional structures and processes that create enabling conditions for Bogor to advance its water sensitive transition.
  • Developing broad adaptation pathways to ensure the provision of equitable, affordable and safe urban water services over the long-term against different climatic, urbanisation and societal challenges.
  • Evaluating the general suitability of available low-energy and low-cost stormwater harvesting and water treatment systems for Bogor.
  • Guiding water-sensitive urban design through a range of design and demonstration activities in case study locations that represent different development typologies.
  • Developing active WSC learning alliances with stakeholders from universities, government, industry, business and community.

Results and achievements

The strategies identified to expedite Greater Bogor’s WSC transition through leapfrogging are broad in scope and designed to address key water issues identified through the research and enable change towards water-sensitive outcomes over the short- and long-term.

The recommended strategies to achieve a water-sensitive Bogor by 2045 are organised into six leapfrogging pathways:

  • Commit to greater Bogor’s water sensitive future.
  • Improve regulatory performance for water sensitive outcomes.
  • Support integration and coordination across water and urban stakeholders.
  • Empower communities to become water sensitive.
  • Develop local evidence and experience from water sensitive approaches.
  • Build professional capacity for water sensitive practices.

The pathways are intended to be considered for investment as a whole, as the underlying strategies are often interrelated and mutually reinforce achievement of Greater Bogor’s water-sensitive aspirations.

The recommended short-term (0-3 years) strategies provide guidance on priority initiatives for rapidly advancing Greater Bogor’s water-sensitive city leapfrogging journey. It is recommended that the momentum of this Urban Water Cluster research be built upon to immediately establish a governance framework for implementing this WSC leapfrogging strategy. 

This framework would become a key driver of collaboration within and across organisations, underpinned by a strategic water-sensitive city vision for Greater Bogor collectively developed by diverse government, industry, community and research stakeholders. The framework would also support the WSC Learning Alliance established as part of this research to build capacity to adopt water sensitive practices amongst Bogor’s water and urban professionals.



Technical reports