With 54% of the Chinese population living in cities, China has six megacities of more than 10 million inhabitants and 103 cities of more than one million inhabitants. This presents China with a unique set of urban challenges that rapidly need to be addressed to ensure that these cities remain liveable, productive and sustainable. As China’s urbanization rate is slated to grow to 60% by 2018, two years earlier than initially forecast, the need to address these urban challenges is all the more pressing.
The World Economic Forum has released a new report, The Future of Urban Development Initiative: Dalian and Zhangjiakou Champion City Strategy, in collaboration with the China Center for Urban Development. ” The report identifies three main urbanization themes for Chinese cities: transport planning and management, urban energy management and sustainable industry development, and proposes 19 strategic recommendations and best practices case studies to guide Dalian and Zhangjiakou.
“Transport planning and management, urban energy management and sustainable industry development are common urban development issues around the world,” said Olivier Schwab, Executive Director of the World Economic Forum Beijing Representative Office. “The report presents case studies from other major urban centres and discusses how they can best support these three urban development themes in China, given local conditions.”
Reduce sprawl and increase renewable energy
Recommendations outlined in the report for the northern seaport city of Dalian include to limit urban expansion and reduce sprawl, develop an intelligent transport system and encourage private sector participation to strengthen public transportation. The World Economic Forum also suggest to scale up natural gas, increase the share of renewable energy, in particular off-shore wind, and improve energy efficiency performance, especially in the petrochemical sector and to further develop petrochemical and equipment manufacturing, promote service and high value-added industries such as R&D, software and outsourcing and build a more competitive industrial value chain.
Recommendations for Zhangjiakou, a city near Beijing, include, next to the recommendations for Dalian to increase power transmission capacities, particularly wind, and optimize the use of power within the city and to scale up emerging industries, such as high value-added manufacturing or premium food, and promote industry-induced local economic and social development.
Bid for 2022 Winter Olympics
Li Tie, Director-General, China Center for Urban Development, said: “Dalian’s challenges concern its inner-city area and the need to accelerate urban management capabilities. Zhangjiakou’s challenges concern external connectivity, especially given its role in the “Greater Beijing” regional development plan and its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.”
Transportation remains a critical issue that stunts the growth of many cities’ urban development in China, Michael Kwok, Director, Arup, noted: “to solve traffic problems by simply building more roads is like treating obesity by loosening the belt, which does not tackle the root cause. The Champion City can adopt an intelligent transport system (ITS), such as analysis based on transportation data, electronic road pricing, dynamic speed limits and a smarter road with higher efficiency etc. as well as better public transportation services to reduce the road pressure”.
“Cities are centres of resource consumption and environmental stress,” impact. Most mid-sized cities in China have less legacy burdens and the greatest potential to transform towards a ‘New Resource Economy’.”