Country looks to EU to guide urbanization

Updated: 2013-12-02 07:40

By Wang Ru (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

European expertise helps plan cleaner, smarter cities

Facing the challenges of rapid urbanization, China is seeking ways to avoid mistakes by building cooperative partnerships with the European Union.

China currently has an urban population of 710 million but its urbanization rate is only 52.6 percent. EU now has about three quarters of its population urbanized, with leading experience in city planning, infrastructure services and management.

Country looks to EU to guide urbanization

A Chinese woman dressed in traditional attire uses a tablet computer with a cover depicting a picture of London's Big Ben on the EU-China Exhibition on Urban Development in Beijing on Nov 20. Andy Wong / AP

"China expects more EU countries and cities as well as enterprises and organizations to establish close and practical partnerships with their Chinese counterparts," Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, said during the 2013 China-EU Urbanization Partnership Forum held last week in Beijing.

Building smart, green and low-carbon cities is the global trend in urbanization. Smart urbanization is one of the EU's strengths and China's development goal, Xu said.

Although China and EU are in different phases of urbanization, they face similar challenges and have great space for cooperation, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the forum.

Sensing the huge potential opportunities, enterprises from different industries in EU are planning to play a part in the market. Some early arrivals have successfully entered the market.

Atkins, one of the world's leading design, engineering and project management consultancies from the UK, in May won an important new contract to develop guidance for Eco-Low Carbon urban planning in China.

More Chinese cities are looking for professional consulting on resource-efficient and environmentally friendly city planning and infrastructure construction.

Country looks to EU to guide urbanization

"China's emerging ELC urbanization initiative forms a key component of the government's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), which places a strong emphasis on energy and resource efficiency, reducing green house gas emissions and environmental protection," said Mark Harrison, Atkins' director for urban planning and consultancies in Asia-Pacific.

"To date the emphasis has been more on developing demonstration areas, ELC technologies and, more recently, establishing sustainable planning evaluation frameworks," he said, adding the project is due to be completed in March 2014.

Supported by China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, which has responsibility for green building and urban planning administration, the project team of Atkins will work closely with two selected city governments to develop, test and apply the ELC guidance.

The guidance of Atkins will be designed to be closely integrated with China's statutory urban planning requirements, and cross-referenced to current ELC urban planning indicator systems.

The project outputs will be strongly focused on hands-on use as an everyday working tool in a practical, on-the-ground urban planning setting.

"Drawing on our extensive project experience around the world, Atkins' initiative combines international best practice with in-depth analysis and is tailored to local conditions," said Harrison.

The project is designed to help support the gradual "mainstreaming" of ELC urban planning in China as a vital foundation for sustainable urbanization.

By maintaining the 0.8 to 1 percent urbanization rate growth annually, China will have 200 million people move to cities over the next 20 years, which may result in various problems such as pollution and water risk.

Tianjin, Shenzhen and 10 other Chinese cities have signed partnership agreements with European cities and organizations during the 2013 China-EU Urbanization Partnership Forum.