Beijing, January 19, 2011 – The World Bank released today a study on the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City project, one of China’s largest emerging eco-city initiatives. The report extracts lessons for policy makers seeking ways to promote cleaner lower-carbon cities in both China and in other countries.
China is experiencing rapid and large scale urbanization—and the resulting local and global urban environmental challenges are unprecedented. The Chinese Government has fully recognized these challenges and various initiatives are being pursued to make urban growth more sustainable. At the local level, many urban areas are creating “eco-city” developments, which aim to introduce new standards, technologies, and low-carbon lifestyles. More than one hundred eco-city initiatives have been launched in recent years in China.
The new World Bank Report called Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city: A Case Study of an Emerging Eco-City in China reviews one such initiative. “Addressing the environmental sustainability of cities is a critical development challenge facing China right now—not only locally but also in terms of Chinese cities’ global carbon footprint. Given the recent prominence of various “eco-city” initiatives, we wanted to analyze one such case in greater detail to extract some practical lessons learned which may be relevant for others,” says Axel Baeumler, World Bank’s Senior Infrastructure Economist and leader of the study.
The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city envisages an “economically sustainable, socially harmonious, environmentally friendly and resource-conserving” city which will become a “model eco and low carbon city replicable by other cities in China”. The Tianjin Eco-City is a new development area being designed for 350,000 residents on the perimeter of the Binhai New Area. The “Sino-Singapore” part of the name refers to the project’s design and financing partners.
One notable feature of the Tianjin Eco-City is that it sets explicit sustainability targets by 2020, including, (i) limiting carbon emissions per unit of GDP; (ii) ensuring that all buildings are Green Buildings; (iii) having a share of Green Trips (i.e., walking, cycling, or the use of public transport) that exceeds 90 percent; and (iv) receiving at least 50 percent of its water from non-conventional sources. If achieved, these ambitious targets would indeed point to greater environmental sustainability. However, the report finds that many implementation challenges need to be addressed in such projects, including as:
- Ensuring that land use plans and corresponding detailed urban designs are conducive to supporting Green Trips;
- Incentivizing green building construction at efficiency standards that are higher than those prevailing at the provincial or national level;
- Complementing technological solutions with adequate economic incentives to direct new urban development towards sustainability; and
- Ensuring that these new urban developments will remain affordable and socially inclusive.
- Funding for the study was provided by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). This report complements the recently approved Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Project supported by a grant from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
The World Bank has been a partner in China’s urban development since 1985. It has provided over $9.8 billion for more than 86 investment projects in many cities and conducted research on many aspects of the urbanization process.