Eco2 Cities – a Guide for Developing Ecologically Sustainable and Economically Viable Cities

November 8, 2011

BEIJING November 8, 2011 – The World Bank today launched the Chinese translation of Eco2 Cities – Ecological Cities as Economic Cities (Eco2 Cities book) from the China Finance Press. The book presents an overview of a World Bank initiative that supports cities in developing countries in their move towards greater ecological and economic sustainability.

Urbanization in developing countries may be the single greatest change in this century. Around 90 percent of global urban growth now takes place in developing countries –between the years 2000 and 2030, developing countries are projected to triple their entire built-up urban areas.

 “This unprecedented urban expansion sets forth before us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to plan, develop, build and manage cities that are simultaneously more ecologically and economically sustainable,” said Hiroaki Suzuki, World Bank’s Lead Urban Specialist and the Lead Author of the Eoc2 Cities book at the launch workshop held in Tsinghua University. “We have a short time horizon before us. The decisions we make together today, can lock in systemic benefits for current and future generations. “

Eco2 Cities are defined as cities that create economic opportunities for their citizens in an inclusive, sustainable, and resource-efficient way, while also protecting and nurturing the local ecology and global public goods, such as the environment, for future generations. 

The Eco2 Cities initiative aims to provide practical and scalable, analytical and operational support to cities, and to build a global partnership among forward-looking cities in developing countries, global best-practice cities, academia, and international development communities.

China has seen rapid urbanization in the last three decades. Today almost 50 percent of the Chinese population live in cities, and it is projected that more than 65 percent will live in cities in China by 2030. This pace of urbanization has caused traffic congestion and air pollution and put great pressure on scarce resources such as land, energy and water. There is an urgent need for an integrated economic and ecological approach to city development.

 “The World Bank has been working with China to promote sustainable and integrated urban development. The analytical and operational framework offered in this book can have direct relevance to China’s efforts to develop economically sustainable, socially harmonious, environmentally friendly and resource-conserving cities,” said Klaus Rohland, World Bank Country Director for China

The Bank has been a partner in China’s urban development since 1985 and is supporting the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City project.  Dr. Lin Xuefeng, Vice Chairman, Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Administrative Committee said: “In the last three years since the start of construction of the Tianjin Eco-City, we have had full exchange and cooperation with World Bank experts in such areas as green buildings and green transport. The Bank has provided strong support to the development of the Eco-City.”.

The Eco2 Cities book introduces some powerful and practical methods and tools that can further enable sustainable and integrated city planning and decision making. In addition, the book features a series of case studies from best practice cities around the world, each demonstrating a very different dimension of the Eco2 approach. It also contains several infrastructure sector notes (on spatial development, transport, energy, water and waste management) focused on sector specific issues as they pertain to urban development, and the many opportunities for coordination and integration across sectors.

The book lists four key principles for Eco2 Cities derived from global good practices:

  1. A City Based Approach that enables local governments to lead a development process that takes into account their specific circumstances, including their local ecology;
  2. An Expanded Platform for Collaborative Design and Decision Making that accomplishes sustained synergy by coordinating and aligning the actions of key stakeholders;
  3. A One System Approach that enables cities to realize the benefits of integration by planning, designing, and managing the whole urban system; and
  4. An Investment Framework that Values Sustainability and Resiliency, by incorporating and accounting for life cycle analysis, the value of all capital assets (manufactured, natural, human, and social), and a broader scope of risk assessments in decision making.

“In recent years, the Government of China has been promoting the idea of green and low-carbon development. According to the recent data from the Chinese Society for Urban Studies, 259 Chinese cities, or about 90 percent of the cities at or above prefecture level, have set the objective to build “eco-city” or “low-carbon city”. China is becoming one of the most active countries in the world in the development of low-carbon eco-cities. The Chinese version of Eco² Cities book launched here today will help us better understand the progress of Eco2 cities in the world, learn the experiences of other countries and further develop our studies,” said Prof. Mao Qizhi, Associate Dean of the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University.

Developed collaboratively by an international team of practitioners and experts from the urban, transport, energy, water and waste management sectors – the Eco2 Cities initiative is based on real experiences, challenges and lessons learnt from cities in the developed and developing world.

The Bank will shortly publish “Eco2 Cities Guide (English version)” (the Guide) as supplementary to the Eco2 Cities book. TheGuide highlights essential and practical elements of planning and developing Eco cities. 

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