First SASS-FES Forum on Green Development
Event: Sustainable Growth Model
On November 11th 2016, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Shanghai jointly organized a workshop on the topic of “The resilient city and water – challenges and perspectives for China and Germany”.
In times of ever growing mega-cities and increasingly severe problems due to climate change and growing urban populations, it is essential to discover new ways of coping with these challenges. Germany has already been dealing for several decades with some of the issues China is now increasingly facing such as water pollution and water management for urban areas. Therefore, this forum (as the first of several joint workshops) aimed at discussing experiences made on both sides and providing helpful solutions as well as identifying mistakes to be avoided. A concept which currently is considered to be very successful at solving or mitigating some of these issues is the “Resilient City”.
Among the main goals of this first Forum was therefore to clarify this concept of the Resilient City and to discuss how it can be used to build cities that can adapt to climate change and other negative environmental phenomena. The discussions focused on concrete problems to solve and the necessary supportive policies in regional development to implement this concept. Other subjects were the challenges and risks that urban infrastructure faces in the context of global warming, as well as future solutions in city planning.
FES Shanghai invited German experts in the fields of water management, urban planning and environmental engineering to present and discuss German experiences. All of them had prior working or research experience in China and were curious to discuss their findings and proposals with the Chinese scholars invited by SASS.
Prof. Joachim Alexander (Climate Protection Officer of the city of Ludwigshafen) gave a speech about current and future challenges of urban planning in Germany and across the world, talking among others about the increasing urbanisation and the influence of rising temperature on cities. Prof. Hans Reiner Böhm (Partner of Infrastruktur und Umwelt and former head of the department for environmental and land-use planning of the Technical University Darmstadt) explained the crucial importance of cooperation between regional stakeholders to implement climate change adaptation concepts. Prof. Peter Fröhle (Head of the Institute of River and CoastaI Engineering of Hamburg University of Technology) showed different possibilities how urban architecture can be adapted to deal with storm floods and heavy rain which had been implemented in the German city of Hamburg.
Prof. Martin Wagner (Department of Wastewater Technology, Technical University Darmstadt) highlighted the urgent need to finding sustainable solutions to the challenges of growing cities, especially in China, by pointing out that each year, 585.000 people were moving to Shanghai, about three times the inhabitants of an average German town. He presented a medium-size waste-water treatment project realised in the Chinese city of Qingdao which treats and reuses waste water very efficiently and which could be used to drastically cut down on urban fresh-water consumption while generating its own electricity and producing high-quality fertiliser. The discussion on best practice examples of resilient cities such as Hamburg was chaired by Dr. Markus Schwegler (Senior Advisor Climate Protection at the Climate Change Research Center of the Viet Nam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate change [IMHEN]).
The Chinese experts also shared their experiences: Prof. Zhou Fengqi (Institute of Ecology and Sustainable Development, SASS) talked about the main challenges China currently faces and explained along with Mr. Shao Yiping (Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences) the recently-advanced concept of a “sponge city”, which could be a way of dealing with suddenly rising water levels (due to floods or heavy rain) in large cities like Shanghai. Dr. Yang Aihui, project manager with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) presented the Living Yangtze Program, an innovative approach to water management in rural communities in China. Dr. Li Zhiqing (Center for Environmental Economy Studies, Fudan University) talked about newly enacted environmental taxation laws, which are designed to make the implementation of environmental regulations more manageable and practical and effective.
All the participants were of the opinion that the concept of “resilience” as well as the involvement of all relevant stakeholders should be an integral part to all urban and regional planning processes and that further cooperation was necessary.