Sustainable Urbanisation in China: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, mega-Trends towards 2050 (URBACHINA)

Sustainable Urbanisation in China: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, mega-Trends towards 2050 (URBACHINA)

The proposal "Sustainable Urbanisation in China: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, Mega-trends towards 2050 (URBACHINA)" will address the four topics identified in the Call: institutional foundations and policies, land property and the urban rural divide, environmental and health infrastructures and services, and traditions and modern lifestyles in cities. These topics are treated as the strands  comprising a comprehensive analysis of a single process -urbanisation in China- that link historical experiences, comparative dimensions and the exploration of possible future scenarii with reference to conceptions of sustainability. This proposal builds on the idea that to assess the trends and sustainability of urbanisation in China it is necessary to evaluate the  process using a multi-faceted  approach, utilising concepts and best practice methods from a range of disciplines, including economic geography, urban economics, environmental studies, sociology, anthropology and history. In addition, the approach incorporates historical and comparative perspectives: the first in order to separate out historical continuities and discontuinities in the Chinese urbanisation process, and the second to identify similarities and differences between the urbanisation processes inside and outside China, in particular the EU. Apart from its analytical value, a comparative perspective provides a firm foundation for many-sided interactions between Europe and China, including workshops, conferences and meetings between scholars, policy-makers and ordinary citizens.

ICS will be specifically involved in Theme 3-environmental and health infrastructures and services. Within the broader framework of the project, this theme will be focusing on the sustainability dimension of urban infrastructure and service requirements: the current and future trends in terms of infrastructure and service requirements, and their impact on the environment, health and quality of life. Theme 3 explores the topics emphasised in the call: energy and water - and the health implications of air and water quality. This acknowledges the fact that a significant part of Chinese cities suffers from severe air and water quality problems, affecting the health of millions of people and diminish the liveability of urban areas, both large and small, and points to the need to improve the planning and governance of energy and water resources and related infrastructures (Shi and Zhang 2006; Song et al. 2008). This WP also acknowledges the significant challenge (and opportunity) posed by the longterm nature of infrastructure investments and the characteristic lock-in factor, which requires special care in the choice of investing limited public resources.

Theme 3 will follow two lines of inquiry. The first aims to understand past and current urbanisation trends in terms of their demand for energy and water infrastructure and services (focus on housing and transportation), and the impact of their development on the environment, health and quality of life. It includes (a) the analysis of relevant past and current government policies and drivers for urbanisation (not only in terms of infrastructure and services, but also in terms of overall socio-economic and environmental goals: notably, the overarching policy on a scientific outlook on development, and the new low-carbon economy (LCE) and low-carbon cities (LCCs) agenda), (b) the definition of an indicator-based framework for the definition of urban sustainability, (c) the collection of data for key indicators for the four URBACHINA cities, (d) the analysis of past and current trends. The second considers the implications of these findings with the aim of identifying a number of paradigm shifts which can inform the framing of a range of four scenarios for each URBACHINA city. Scenarios will be built on policy analysis, data and indicators developed above, as well as from WP 1,2 and 4.

Estatuto: 
Participant entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Comissão Europeia
Rede: 
URBACHINA
Keywords: 

China, Sustainable cities, Scenarios, Indicators

The proposal "Sustainable Urbanisation in China: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, Mega-trends towards 2050 (URBACHINA)" will address the four topics identified in the Call: institutional foundations and policies, land property and the urban rural divide, environmental and health infrastructures and services, and traditions and modern lifestyles in cities. These topics are treated as the strands  comprising a comprehensive analysis of a single process -urbanisation in China- that link historical experiences, comparative dimensions and the exploration of possible future scenarii with reference to conceptions of sustainability. This proposal builds on the idea that to assess the trends and sustainability of urbanisation in China it is necessary to evaluate the  process using a multi-faceted  approach, utilising concepts and best practice methods from a range of disciplines, including economic geography, urban economics, environmental studies, sociology, anthropology and history. In addition, the approach incorporates historical and comparative perspectives: the first in order to separate out historical continuities and discontuinities in the Chinese urbanisation process, and the second to identify similarities and differences between the urbanisation processes inside and outside China, in particular the EU. Apart from its analytical value, a comparative perspective provides a firm foundation for many-sided interactions between Europe and China, including workshops, conferences and meetings between scholars, policy-makers and ordinary citizens.

ICS will be specifically involved in Theme 3-environmental and health infrastructures and services. Within the broader framework of the project, this theme will be focusing on the sustainability dimension of urban infrastructure and service requirements: the current and future trends in terms of infrastructure and service requirements, and their impact on the environment, health and quality of life. Theme 3 explores the topics emphasised in the call: energy and water - and the health implications of air and water quality. This acknowledges the fact that a significant part of Chinese cities suffers from severe air and water quality problems, affecting the health of millions of people and diminish the liveability of urban areas, both large and small, and points to the need to improve the planning and governance of energy and water resources and related infrastructures (Shi and Zhang 2006; Song et al. 2008). This WP also acknowledges the significant challenge (and opportunity) posed by the longterm nature of infrastructure investments and the characteristic lock-in factor, which requires special care in the choice of investing limited public resources.

Theme 3 will follow two lines of inquiry. The first aims to understand past and current urbanisation trends in terms of their demand for energy and water infrastructure and services (focus on housing and transportation), and the impact of their development on the environment, health and quality of life. It includes (a) the analysis of relevant past and current government policies and drivers for urbanisation (not only in terms of infrastructure and services, but also in terms of overall socio-economic and environmental goals: notably, the overarching policy on a scientific outlook on development, and the new low-carbon economy (LCE) and low-carbon cities (LCCs) agenda), (b) the definition of an indicator-based framework for the definition of urban sustainability, (c) the collection of data for key indicators for the four URBACHINA cities, (d) the analysis of past and current trends. The second considers the implications of these findings with the aim of identifying a number of paradigm shifts which can inform the framing of a range of four scenarios for each URBACHINA city. Scenarios will be built on policy analysis, data and indicators developed above, as well as from WP 1,2 and 4.

Objectivos: 
URBACHINA ultimately aims to: <p>1- enhance the common understanding of urbanisation trends in both China and Europe,  </p><p>2- contribute significantly to the identification of the main dimensions of urban sustainability 3- influence policy-makers and society at large on sustainability issues, through a strong dissemination policy comprising publications, events, media involvement and website. </p><p>Specifically for ICS, the objectives are:</p><p>Aim: To explore the sustainability dimension of urban infrastructure and service requirements: the current and future trends in terms of infrastructure and service requirements, and their impact on the environment, health and quality of life.</p><p>Detailed objectives:</p><p>1.  To understand the extent and implications of the unsustainability of past and current urbanisation paths in terms of energy, water and health implications;</p><p>2.  To define a framework of sustainable cities indicators for China, drawing where useful, on EU experience;</p><p>3.  To define a number of paradigm shifts as the basis for the creation of baseline and future scenarios for URBACHINA's four cities</p><p>4.  To develop a comprehensive policy strategy to address the challenges and opportunities identified.</p>
State of the art: 
<p>Will include this once the Urbanisation has been a major manifestation of the accelerated pace of economic development triggered by the sequence of policies to open up and reform the Chinese economy that began at the end of 1978. Since that time, two developments stand out:</p><ul><li>following the relaxation of the stringent controls on population movements, Chinese peasants began to move to towns and cities in increasing numbers </li><li>the explosive growth of rural industry that in many rural counties reduced farming to a minor income source. With the population density already high because of a traditionally low land to population ratio, many rural counties became urban except in name. Subject to administrative control, the relabelling of urbanised rural counties has lagged behind the actual process of urbanisation. Consequently, a substantial number of localities are urban in terms of socio-economicc characteristics but are still designated as rural. </li></ul><p>According to various forecasts by international organisations (United Nations, World Bank, OECD), China's urban population is likely to expand from 572 million in 2005 to 926 million in 2025. This anticipated increase of 350 million exceeds the current population of the United States and is the equivalent of building a new city the size of Shanghai every year. The principal issue is no longer about how to slowdown the pace of urbanisation but how to facilitate and influence the process in ways that minimise its adverse consequences and optimises its positive impacts has been completed.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The urbanisation process in China is also strongly influenced by local/central government relationships. Local government at the sub-provincial level has become the main provider of public services. Following the division of fiscal responsibilities between the central government and the local levels of the administration established in China in 1994 and formalised in the Budget law (1995), responsibility for infrastructure and social welfare has, in great part, been transferred to the latter.&nbsp; Expenditures related to unemployment insurance, social security, and welfare, are also expected to be covered by the lower levels of local government. One of the key issues is how to improve the performance of local government in education, health and social welfare, while their resources are constrained by consequences of the tax sharing decided by the 1994 reform. </p><p>URBACHINA will also examine one of the most decisive drivers of China's urbanisation: The movement of hundred of millions of people from the countryside to the urban areas. This imposes new responsibilities on local government in relation, for example, to job creation, public safety, city planning, physical infrastructure. It also brings new pressures on local government to provide a more integrated scheme for social welfare provision and education.&nbsp; Providing million of migrants with jobs in urban areas poses a&nbsp; tough challenge for city governments; with the manufacturing sector loosing jobs, the services and construction are the only sectors that offer hope for additional employment. Notwithstanding encouragement by government and rapid development, the services industry still lags behind the secondary sector in almost all Chinese cities.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Migration This trends and patterns of rural-urban migration also have strong implications for income inequalities. In China, the urban-rural divide is more accentuated than the regional divide. In 2006 the per capita urban disposable income was 3.14 times the national per capita income, the highest in the world (Yao, 2009). Moreover, the provinces the the highest average per capita incomes have the lowest gaps between urban and rural per capita incomes. There is an inverse relationship between per capita GDP and the rural income gap; the rural-urban divide is the determining factor in inter-provincial inequality (Yao, 2009). The contribution of rural-urban migrants to China's economic growth is now, after more than ten years of intense population movements, acknowledged by the authorities. However, the hukou, the administrative assignation of residences, has strongly impeded population movements in China. The full inclusion of migrants in cities is determined by the recognition of their rights and their access to, for example, full ownership of land. or property. How to reduce discrimination toward migrants as far as property access, social welfare, health, and education is concerned are important issues and they will explore as part research topics listed below.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Urbanisation trends, their impacts and resource implications Another important topic for research is to benchmark urbanisation strategies in China against the overall objective and shifts in China's economic growth. The current global crisis will deeply impact the relationship between economic growth and urbanisation in China. The growth pattern that China has experienced in the last 30 years, since the beginning of the opening up and reform policy, has focused on the export of labour intensive manufactured goods. Looking forward, this model will be difficult to sustain. Although it has brought about impressive development and a remarkable improvement of standard of living in the country, it also been accompanied by a negative side in the form of massive pollution and growing social disparities, especially between urban and rural residents. It seems paradoxical to sustain a pattern of development that depends on cheap, labour-intensive exports, while the domestic market in China remains, in relative terms, underdeveloped.&nbsp; Massive urbanisation in China over the next decades will have major impacts:</p><ul><li>environmental pressures; </li><li>conflicting demands on scarce resources commodities, raw materials and infrastructure and services; and </li><li>an emerging middle class with new patterns of consumption, new lifestyles and political aspirations.</li></ul><p>Although the focus of the topic is on the understanding of past and current urbanisation trends, such an assessment is instrumental for devising possible futures. This will involve the development of future visions/scenarios at the macro level, informed by analyses of macro trends of the kind identified.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Sustainable development Given the direct link between China's urbanisation process and increasing demand (and related stresses) on resources, the comprehensive concept of sustainable development that includes environmental protection, social advancement and economic prosperity with a special emphasis put on meeting the needs of current and future generations, is central to this project. Sustainability also means understanding the complexities of an increasingly differentiated society, and adressing the need to respect the diversity emerging from different ethnic and religious groups, geographic locations, and current and future generations. In the Chinese context three evolving discourses, initiated in the 1990s, provide the conceptual basis for sustainable development and its policies: the building of a harmonious society, the pursuit of a scientific viewpoint on? development, and the creation of a circular economy (NDRC 2007). At the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, the Chinese leadership has officially embraced the notion of a &quot;Scientific Outlook on Development&quot; (kexue fazhan guan) as the country's policy, or more accurately - conception, of sustainable development (Hu Jintao 2007). Many of the key apects of this conception are central to the definition of future urbanisation and are prominent in the forthcoming World Expo 2010 to be held in Shanghai. The challenge is to ensure that scientific development does not become just another clich&eacute; and the project seeks to examine the consistency between policy promises and performance on the ground in the four cities of URBACHINA, for example by examining the sustainability of current investments in infrastructure.</p>
Parceria: 
International networ
Luís Balula

URBACHINA

Coordenador Geral 
François Gipoulox (Project coordinator)
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/03/2011
End Date: 
31/12/2014
Duração: 
45 meses
Closed