Cha(lle)Nging Perspectives: Sustainable Urban Development of Medium-Size Cities in China

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Valentina ANZOISE, European Center for Living Technology, Ca' Foscari University, Italy
Over the last decades China has recorded remarkable economic performance through a steady integration with the global economy, even if at cost of intense industrialization and urbanization.
Challenged by the emerging side effects of this trend, local governments have been encouraged to develop ‘eco' or ‘low carbon cities' to achieve energy-saving and emissions-cutting, or to promote urban sustainability in the form of ‘green’ technological advancement. Nonetheless, all these directions strongly rely on the belief in technological innovation to provide solutions to any problem, which indeed, too often, bypasses deeper reflection on the cascades of unexpected consequences this can provoke (e.g. also in terms of imaginaries, behaviours, vision of the future).

The paper focuses on the urban growth of medium-sized Chinese cities and the issues they raise in terms of sustainability. The first outcomes of the EuropeAid project New pathways for sustainable urban development in China’s medium-sized cities (MEDIUM) will be illustrated.
Indeed, MEDIUM hypothesis are that medium-size cities deserve a particular attention (by planners, scholars, policy makers, etc.) since they might allow more innovative ideas and job opportunities to emerge, as well as more appropriate system of governance, and more holistic and  “human-centered” models of development and lifestyles to be adopted.
Moreover, medium-sized cities in China are equivalent to large regional or small national capitals in Europe. As such, they could benefit from Europe's past experience in confronting with intense industrial structural change and foreign/internal migration, but also with rurbanizationor, more recently, the return or movement of populations to rural areas.

From that standpoint, theories and methods available within/outside the discipline (including ethnography, participatory, visual and multisensory techniques), experimented in the project and that can support mutual learning and understanding, capacity building and knowledge co-creation about sustainability and urban management - especially in rapidly changing times and contexts - will be discussed.