Design an Inclusive Path and Embrace Sustainable Cities

August 11, 2022

Watch the event highlights here.

As the world puts more value on sustainability, the field of sustainable cities is gaining more attention. "Sustainable cities and communities", one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, is defined as making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The goal is becoming crucial for the well-being of humankind and the planet.

When formulating and implementing sustainable urban development strategies, city governments, business organizations, and individual citizens should understand the importance of multi-dimensional perspectives and multi-stakeholder participation in decision-making. Likewise, applying "sustainable development", a global issue, to the urban dimension, we must constantly draw on excellent examples, innovative demonstrations, and international case studies.

In the webinar hosted by Columbia Global Centers | Beijing,  Steven Cohen and Dong Guo, authors of The Sustainable City (Second Edition), led and moderated a lively book talk and panel discussion in conversation with Chinese scholars Dajian Zhu, Junjie Li, and Wan Liu

The book provides a broad and engaging overview of the urban systems of the twenty-first century. It approaches urban sustainability from the perspectives of behavioral change, organizational management, and public policy, looking at case studies of existing legislation, programs, and public-private partnerships that strive to align modern urban life and sustainability. The second edition features many more examples and new international case studies.

"We've learned we need an effective system in public health. Cities require density, and we can't have social distance and density at the same time." Reflecting lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cohen shared his thoughts on negative influences and how to mitigate them to continue constructing sustainable urban communities.

Building on Cohen's points, Li combined her background in architecture to share how renewable energy of buildings contributes to sustainable urban development. She also stressed that energy-saving design was required in China to help achieve Carbon Peak and Neutrality Goals. With rich and practical experience in urban planning, Zhu further explained the three "red lines" defined by China's Ministry of Natural Resources as bottom lines in utilizing territorial space for city growth.

Relating to some case studies in the book about sustainable guidelines initiated by Chinese governments, organizations, and institutions, Guo asked how Chinese cities can contribute to Carbon Peak and Neutrality Goals. Addressing this point, Liu shared her knowledge of China's top-down policy and macro, middle and micro-level practices. She was positive that innovative approaches to sustainable development had gained much attention, but she also said that "we still have a long way to go".

Guo introduced that the Chinese edition of The Sustainable City will be published by the end of 2022. The Beijing Center is looking forward to initiating more discussions crossing boundaries that bring comparative angles and front-line practices to a public stage.