Beijing Center Hosts Panel on Sustainable Urbanization


Beijing Center Hosts Panel on Sustainable Urbanization

May 21, 2014

Columbia Global Centers | East Asia hosted a public panel titled “Learning Lessons from Sustainable Urbanization in China and Encouraging Progress through Sustainable Development Goals.” The May 14 event was co-sponsored by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the United Cities and Local Governments group and UN-Habitat.

The talk, chaired by Guido Schmidt Traub, executive director of the network, discussed China’s urban past in contrast to its present, stressed the need for China to cultivate sustainable development strategies, and to learn lessons and take suggestions from the international community. Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the network and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said China must find a combination of technological, as well as human-scale, solutions to the major urban issues of combining economic, social and environmental developments.

Yan Peng from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group suggested solutions could be found through a three-step process: by ensuring low levels of emission, innovation, and tracking data. Aijun Qiu from China Center for Urban Development suggested that the Chinese government needs to factor in small towns with respect to sustainable development: these smaller towns and cities are radically different from big Chinese cities, but also have a symbiotic and direct relationship with them. Finally, Dr. Aromar Revi, from the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, set three simple targets in order to achieve sustainable development in the long-term: eradicating extreme poverty, improving infrastructure and housing facilities and ensuring safe air and drinking water for everyone.

The plenary was followed by a brief question-and-answer session with the audience. The questions focused on issues relating to financing for the future and how to generate opportunities for the private sector to engage in sustainable urban development.

Following the two-hour long panel, some of the scholars participated in a roundtable event that featured discussions on two topics:   “Global Implementation of the SDGS and the Implications for the Design of City Indicators for China” and “Measuring Sustainable Development in Cities: Findings from China.”