New Urbanization Council

China has been busy building skyscrapers for showcases, highways for cars, factories for industries. But where is our human city?

About the Program

China's era of rapid urbanisation has left a series of unrelated and unconnected developments. China has been busy building skyscrapers for showcases, highways for cars, factories for industries.  This next era of urbanization requires a broader type of urban planning capability to attract and retain the best talents to our cities.  New Urbanization Council, launched on November 7, 2014 at the Urban China Initiative Summit, with Dr. Wu Zhiqiang of Tongji University, Dr. Yu Kongjian of Turenscape,  David Nieh of Lend Lease, and Peggy Liu of JUCCCE as Co-Chairs. The Council will be conducting a policy recommendation research paper for the highest levels of government along with the China Academy of Governance to create a set of policy recommendations to enable ecolivable cities in China.



Urbanization is the driver of radical cultural and eocnomic change in China.  China's population is moving to the city in one of the greatest migrations in human history in terms of sheer number.  China's cities in the coming years must create urban spaces for hundreds of millions of migrants.  In this process, Chinese city governments must balance the tasks of inviting in outside investment, connecting their cities to the national and global economy, and creating infrastrutcture and housing to support burgeoning populations.  What often gets left out of this equation in the race to keep up with exploding population growth is creating spaces where people actually want to live and any attention to environmental sustainability.  The Ecolivable Cities Initiative sets out to change this mindset at the policy level. 

China's unique meritocratic government structure requires that mayors receive training annually and whenever they are promoted.  These mandatory training sessions can cover a wide rnage of topics from urban planning to Marxist and Maoist philosophy.  Mayors hold a lot of power and responsibility in China.  Mayors receive mandates passed down from the central government with specific targets or goals, but mayors themselves must decide how to carry out these goals.  This allows for city-scale experimentation in policy unimaginable elsewhere in the world.  JUCCCE is in a unique position to help guide this policy to create more sustainable, humane cities and refocus energies of developing cities away from showcase projects towards their inhabitants.  JUCCCE is the only international organization which has a direct hand in curriculum development and instruction at the Chinese Academy of Governance, and has a strong working relationship with the Chinese government.   JUCCCE is in a position to take best practices from the rest of the world and present them in a way which works within China's unique structure.  JUCCCE has already trained 900 mayors in its courses, and hopes to expand its offerings as China's cities grow more sophisticated and officials must face increasingly complex issues.

China's brugeoning 'second tiers' cities struggle to compete with similar cities for investment and reputation.  Many officials believe the key to making their cities attractive is to create showcase buildings: massive towers, labyrinth shopping malls, and eight-lane highways.  Connecting these spaces to the rest of the city and making the city accessible for its residents are afterthoughts.  The Ecolivable City Initiative challenges this planning principle by offering a human and environment-centered development strategy.  JUCCCE, Lend Lease and the Urban China Initiative spent a year developing a framework of 9 key principles.

1.  New Metrics

2.  Integrating Nature

3. Transit-Centered Living

4.  Designing for Human Streets

5.  Shared Spaces

6.  Distinct Charm

7. Welcoming City

8. Community Engagement

9. Regional Cooperation

Many of China's city have been made anew or founded since 1978.  Even in cities with several centuries of history, traditional buildings and areas have been demolished in favor of new construction.  Millions of Chinese people have poured out of the countryside into the cities, many migrating hundreds of miles to regions with completely different cuisine, languages, and customs.  A challenge facing many Chinese is how to create a vibrant local identity and culture to promote a region while giving its residents an identity to anchor too.  Many cities have sought to create 'culture' through massive museums, postmodern monuments, and outright copies of famous districts of European cities in the hopes of putting themselves on the cultural landscape.  These attempts at creating high culture miss the necessary foundation of culture in the interaction between local people, between people and the environment, and the creation of communities.  Part of the Ecolivable Cities Innitiative is creating cities with people at the heart of design.  For many new Chinese cities, figuring out who these people are, what they need, and how to create spaces which bring them together is the next policy challenge.  JUCCCE is developinga policy recommendation on ways to foster local culture and community identity, taking international best practices from cities around the globe and China to find guidelines for fostering real local cultural production.

New Urbanization Council Members:  

JUCCCE together with TEDxShanghai co-hosted The New Urbanisation Council's first public salon to discuss what really makes a city truly ecolivable: one that is both environmentally sustainable and human centered.