Advancing sustainable growth in the United States and China

Mayors Training Program

China’s mayors are on the front lines of the country’s move toward more sustainable development. Our leadership training program empowers local policymakers to implement sustainable practices in urban centers across China.

The Paulson Institute—in cooperation with the China Association of Mayors—hosted the fourth annual sustainability training program for Chinese mayors and officials in July. This year’s delegation included the district leaders and government officials responsible for running the mega-city of Tianjin. The program began with a week of classroom study at Tsinghua University in Beijing and continued with nine days in Chicago, followed by a three-day visit to Los Angeles, which has incorporated sustainability into its economic development model.


The program covers issues ranging from architecture, infrastructure, energy and waste disposal systems, urban planning, and parks. The program also combines classroom study with site visits that reinforce the key themes of the curriculum. The Tianjin officials heard from sustainability experts from the corporate and NGO sectors and met with local leaders throughout the program, including the former mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Mesa, AZ. Speakers in Chicago included faculty from the University of Chicago and civic and business leaders from the city of Chicago.


Both Chicago and Los Angeles—while smaller than most cities in China—have implemented practices that can be scaled in China. Chicago’s Millennium Park, which cost the city $500 million to construct, has generated more than $10 billion over 10 years in increased land values, new construction, and tourist spending, acting as a prime example of Chicago’s commitment to greening itself and creating treasured public spaces. Los Angeles, a major trading and shipping port city much like Tianjin, recently revitalized its downtown and cleaned up the Los Angeles River. These cities lead the way in sustainability and urban planning and illustrate how these factors can both benefit the community and provide economic advantages.

Why a Mayors Training Program?

China’s mayors are on the front lines of the country’s move toward more sustainable development. Our leadership training program empowers local policymakers to implement sustainable practices in urban centers across China.

Launched in partnership with the China Association of Mayors in 2013, the Initiative hosts an annual delegation of Chinese officials for a three-week program combining educational sessions with practical site visits. The delegation begins with a week of sustainability study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, followed by a week of training at the University of Chicago, concluding with a third week of site visits in a major American metropolis. The program, which focuses on a specific Chinese province each year, is sponsored by the Hyatt Corporation, with support from other leading corporations.


The 2015 delegation, led by Yiwu Party Secretary Li Yifei, included 22 mayors, vice mayors, and government officials from China’s Zhejiang province. The 2014 delegation, led by Chen Rugui, the Vice Mayor of Guangzhou, included 12 mayors from China’s southern Guangdong province. The 2013 delegation included 20 Beijing officials, led by Zhang Jifu, Party Secretary of Pinggu District. The curriculum focuses on transportation, urban planning and redevelopment, regional integration, public housing, water management municipal finance, and climate readiness planning. Accompanying the groups were representatives from Paulson Institute partners China Association of Mayors (CAM), the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) and Tsinghua University’s School of Architecture.

mayors-trip-22016 Program: In July 2016, Tianjin officials visited Chicago and Los Angeles for educational sustainability programming and meetings with local leaders and urban planners.



mayors 2014 group2015 Program: In July 2015, Zhejiang officials visited Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco for sustainability training and educational meetings with local representatives.



mayors 2014 group2014 Program: In September 2014, Guangdong officials visited Chicago and Miami for meetings with urban planners and sustainability training.



2013 Program: In October 2013, Beijing city officials visited Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City.



Pinggu Project: The Beijing district is adopting training program strategies from the Mayors Training Initiative.