Apr. 13, 2012, Beijing – The Urban China Initiative [UCI] published the 2011 Urban Sustainability Index on April 13 in Beijing, continuing its endeavor to establish a uniform, fact-based methodology for assessing and comparingChina’s cities in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.
As a public-private think tank jointly launched by McKinsey & Company, Tsinghua University, and Columbia University in 2010, UCI aims to catalyze the next stage of China’s urbanization by supporting world-class research and practice on critical issues facing China’s cities. UCI released the first edition of the Urban Sustainability Index last year, the first-ever index for measuring and comparing urban sustainability across China.
The Urban China Initiative launches the 2011 Urban Sustainability Index at a workshop, involving central and local government officials, professionals, academics as well as media reporters. [photo/UCI]
The 2011 Index was developed over four months by a team of UCI researchers to update 2010 data and index methodology, perform further analyses, and develop meaningful case studies of sustainable urbanization in China.
Jonathan Woetzel, Co-Chair of UCI as well as a Director of McKinsey & Company, gives an introduction to the 2011 Urban Sustainability Index. [photo/UCI]
The new research suggests that most of China’s major cities have already passed the stage where income growth leads to increased environmental degradation and have reached the point where further development predicts improvement in sustainability.
Studies of 112 major Chinese cities in the report show that the higher a city’s per capita income, the better the city’s overall sustainability performance. The 112 Chinese cities, with per capita income ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 yuan ($1,600 to $5,000), have been selected by the government as the focus of sustainable development efforts.
“This is a very encouraging finding,” Jonathan Woetzel, Co-Chair of UCI as well as a Director of McKinsey & Company, said at a workshop launching the new index in Beijing. “This means that many Chinese cities are now well positioned to couple economic growth with gains in sustainability. As economic growth and urbanization continues, China should and could move increasingly toward protecting the environment, conserving resources, and promoting equal access to high quality social services. ”
The workshop featured about 30 central and local government officials, professionals, academics as well as 15 media reporters. They attentively exchanged ideas about the report and also broadly on China’s sustainable growth.
Zhou Nan, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission’s Department of Planning, said the city samples and case study targets of the research are very well chosen. She also suggested that more indicators reflecting city dwellers’ living situation could be added for future research.
In addition to performing quantitative analyses, the report includes a more qualitative exploration of three case study cities—Chengdu, Suzhou, and Liuzhou—that showed strong improvement in one or more areas of sustainability.
The report examines the sustainability of urban China through the lenses of these cities and identifies three major trends: the expansion of the physical city through the planning and construction of new urban centers; the redefinition of the social and legal position of migrants to urban centers; and the impact of government capital investment on environmental sustainability.
Ye Yumin, head of Renmin University’s Department of Urban Planning and Management, said that the framework of the indicators is well constructed though the weightings could be further adjusted.
Ye Yumin, head of ReminUniversity’s Department of Urban Planning and Management, gives comments on the 2011 USI. [photo/UCI]
Zhou Nan, Vice Director of Department of Development Planning of NDRC, shares her perspective on the 2011 USI from the overall national economy and social system. [photo/UCI]
Li Xun, secretary general of the China Society of Urban Sciences, said that analyzing rural-urban integration in the case studies was a valuable exercise. He suggested more policy recommendations could be made in future research.
Officials from Chengdu and Suzhou city government also shared their views with the audience at the panel and presented best practices.
Xue Yunfei, Suzhou city government official, shares the city best practices and his views on urban-rural coordinated development with the audience at the panel. [photo/UCI]
Liu Li, Chengdu city government official, shares his perspective with the audience at the panel. [photo/UCI]
Reporters from major Chinese and international media attended the workshop, including Caixin Magazine, 21st Century Business Herald, Caijing Magazine, China Daily, Economic Daily, Economic Observer and Thomson Reuters News. Many of them published articles about the Index and the workshop discussion.
A few media also conducted separate interviews with Jonathan Woetzel on the sideline of the workshop.