Today, more than half of the world’s population resides in cities. It is also predicted that, within four decades, the overall area of urban zones covering the planet will triple. Yet, as our cities continue to grow so should our concerns about their long-term sustainability. Indeed, the proliferation of fossil fuel vehicles across urban centres has given rise to air pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions which threaten both human wellbeing and the climate. Large populations concentrated in specific areas trigger high demand for natural resources and energy, carrying major environmental implications.
To explore what steps are needed for a sustainable future, the Urban Transitions Alliance (UTA) organised a workshop focusing on urbanisation transition in Beijing on October 30th, 2018. The event was titled “Industrial Legacy. Sustainable Future” and welcomed 30 representatives from the Chinese and German UTA participating local governments and partners.
During the workshop’s opening remarks, Vera Rodenhoff (pictured above), Head of Division, International Cooperation on Environment, Energy and Cities; OECD and Cooperation with OECD-Countries, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature, Conservation and Nuclear Safety, underlined the value of boosting urban nature. She stated that encouraging more flora and fauna in cities not only creates a more tranquil living environment for urban residents, but that this is also critical for human health as well as for countering climate change and heat-island effects.
Dengli Ming, Chief of the Science, Technology and International Cooperation Division, Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, expressed in the opening remarks the importance of international exchanges fostered by organisations such as ICLEI. Ming noted the benefits of gaining insights from other nations – a sentiment that was equally shared by the German participants.
In a bid to further this knowledge-exchange, the workshop included an animated discussion on the theme “how can the different transition dimensions be navigated in a holistic and integrated way?” This was followed by insightful presentations by representatives from three Chinese local governments (Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, Beijing Huairou District, and Shijiazhuang Yuhua District) and two German cities (Essen and Leipzig), who demonstrated their challenges and achievements in promoting sustainable urbanisation. Finally, attendees were invited on a field trip to Beijing Boda Water Co. Ltd, where the company shared its experiences in treating wastewater.
The UTA was established in 2017. It is overseen by the international network ICLEI -Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and funded by the private foundation, Stiftung Mercator, with the purpose of supporting cities worldwide achieve sustainable urban development. The UTA seeks to foster discussion and cooperation in this area by organising relevant webinars and international forums.
For further information on the session, please download the event report.