Advancing sustainable growth in the United States and China

Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities (中文)

About the Prize / The Jury Committee / Benefits of Applying
How to Enter? / Categories / Criteria / Previous Winners

2017 Winner

The 2017 Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities was awarded to Beijing Goldenway Bio-tech (BGB) company’s organic waste recycling and farmland quality improvement project, located in Chengdu. The project, a public-private partnership between BGB and the local government, aims to solve two problems simultaneously: food waste and soil health. Read more…

About the Prize

The Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities is awarded annually to a project in China that represents a best practice in sustainable urbanization that will help advance China’s transition to a more sustainable economy. By highlighting outstanding projects, the Prize aims to inspire the spread of environmental and economic solutions that will help China achieve ambitious climate, air quality, and economic growth goals as it urbanizes rapidly.

“This prize aims to advance China’s move to build more sustainable cities by highlighting innovative projects that can become models for the whole country.” – Henry M. Paulson, Jr.

An independent jury committee made up of prominent Chinese and American leaders in the fields of energy, economic development, conservation, urban systems, and finance will evaluate the submissions against the award’s criteria, and ultimately select the winning project. The jury will visit and inspect the finalists before deciding on the winner.

The Jury Committee

Richard Daley

Former Mayor of Chicago, Jury Committee Chairman

Hal Harvey

CEO, Energy Innovation

Huang Nubo

Chairman, Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group

Niu Gensheng

Founder, Lao Niu Foundation and Mengniu Group

Lynn Scarlett

Global Managing Director for Public Policy, The Nature Conservancy; Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior

Zhao Jiarong

President, China Association of Circular Economy (CACE)

Zhuang Weimin

Dean, Architecture School, Tsinghua University


The longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history, Richard M. Daley has earned an international reputation as a leading innovator in urban development, fiscal policy and government stewardship. As mayor, Mr. Daley enhanced Chicago’s quality of life, improved the public school system and infrastructure, strengthened the economy, reduced crime, improved transportation and made Chicago one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

Mr. Daley transformed the Chicago economy by bringing cutting-edge businesses to the city. During his 22-year tenure as mayor, Chicago became a prominent player in the 21st century global economy, now ranking among the top economic centers and most influential cities worldwide. Mr. Daley pioneered a model of successful public-private partnerships that established Chicago as the benchmark for long-term sustainable urban growth and development. These partnerships, such as the city’s privatization of its Chicago Skyway, allowed Chicago to improve the state of its infrastructure and preserve much-needed social programs while other cities were forced to make concessions.

Throughout his career, Mr. Daley has maintained a commitment to unifying mayors across the United States and the world to tackle the challenges confronting cities. He served as the 54th president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, organized the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in 2003 for the restoration of the Great Lakes and founded and chaired the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus for the Chicagoland region. Mr. Daley also made Chicago a hub for mayors globally by hosting the Sino-U.S. Mayors Summit in 2007 for municipal leaders of the United States and China, the Mayor’s Hemispheric Forum in 2007 for municipal leaders across the Americas, and the U.S.-Arab Cities Forum in 2008 for municipal leaders throughout the United States, Canada and the Arab world. Mr. Daley continues to speak internationally on the issue of sustainable urban development and work with global leaders on building the cities of tomorrow.

A former state senator and county prosecutor, Mr. Daley was elected mayor in 1989 and re-elected five times before deciding to retire from government in May of 2011. He now serves as Of Counsel to Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, an international law firm based in Chicago; the Executive Chairman of Tur Partners LLC, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy; a Director of the Board of The Coca-Cola Company and Diamond Resorts International; a member of the International Advisory Board for the Russian Direct Investment Fund; and a senior advisor to JP Morgan Chase, where he chairs the new “Global Cities Initiative,” a joint project of JP Morgan Chase and the Brookings Institution to help cities identify and leverage their greatest economic development resources.


Hal Harvey is the CEO of Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology LLC. He is also a Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at The Paulson Institute located at the University of Chicago. Previously, he was the founder and CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation, a network of 13 regional foundations and expert teams who promote polices to reduce the threat of climate change. From 2001-2008, he served as Environment Program Director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. From 1990 through 2001, Mr. Harvey served as founder and President of the Energy Foundation, a joint initiative of six large U.S. Foundations. Mr. Harvey has served on energy panels appointed by Presidents Bush (41) and Clinton, has published two books and dozens of articles on energy and national security issues, and speaks widely on energy topics. He is President of the Board of Directors of the New-Land Foundation, and Chairman of the Board of MB Financial Corporation, a $10 billion Chicago bank holding company. Earlier in his career, he designed and built solar homes. In 2005, Mr. Harvey served as Rhodes Chair and Lecturer in Public Policy at Arizona State University. Mr. Harvey has B.S. and M.S. degrees from Stanford University in Engineering, specializing in Energy Planning.


Huang Nubo is the founder and the Chairman of Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group Co., Ltd since 1995. Graduating from Peking University with major in Chinese and Literature in 1980, he entered and worked for The Central Propaganda Department until 1990. Then he entered into Chinese Mayors Association where he has been serving as Deputy General Secretary and President Assistant to present. He studied EMBA in CEIBS, China Europe International Business School, from 1996 to 1998, which plays an important role on his way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Zhongkun Group is unique in the field of real estate and resorts, which is the only private enterprise in China that operates a world cultural heritage-Hongcun-a famous scenic ancient village in south China. Zhongkun Real Estate aims to keep its high reputation and Zhongkun Resort aims to build a respected global resort brand. As the Chairman of Zhongkun, Mr. Huang commits himself and his team to conservation during every development project, including protection of the surrounding environment, local lifestyle, ancient architecture, unique wildlife, minorities etc. He acts as the Councilor of the Nature Conservancy, the Chairman of WildAid China Board, the Fellow Member of the Explorers Club, the Vice President of China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce and the Councilor of China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development, to name a few.

Particularly, he has devoted himself to charity, especially in the field of education, cultural exchange and environment conservation. On behalf of Zhongkun Group, as of 2012, Mr. Huang has donated over 376 million yuan . In 2006, he donated 30 million yuan to found Zhongkun Poetry Foundation, with the purpose of promoting the poetry communication internally and internationally. In 2010, he donated one million dollars to set up China Iceland Culture Fund to promote and enhance cultural cooperation with a special focus on literature, in particular poetry, between Asia and Northern Europe. And he also provided one million dollars to support the environmental projects of the Nature Conservancy in China. Mr. Huang was elected into a series of rankings, including Forbes Chinese Rich List, Forbes Chinese Charity Rich List, Hurun One Hundred Rich List, Hurun Charity List, and Forbes Asia Charity Heroes during these years.

With the pen name of Luo Ying, Mr. Huang is also a poet and serves as the director of the Chinese Poetry Institute, the deputy director of the Chinese New Poetry Research Institute of Peking University, and the vice president of Chinese Poetry Research Institute of Peking University. Numbers of his poetry anthologies and novels have been published and translated into English, French, German, Japanese, Mongol, Turkish and several other languages.

He is a famous mountain climber and serves as the vice president of China Mountaineers Association. During 2007 to 2011, he reached the highest summits of the seven continents of the world, and successfully arrived at the North and South poles. He has reached the summit of Mount Everest three times–in May 2009, May 2010, and May 2013.


Niu Gensheng is the founder of the Lao Niu Foundation and Mengniu Group, as well as a co-founder of Yili Group. Mr. Niu currently serves as the Vice President of the China Charity Forum, and as Vice Director of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) China Council.

The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs has twice awarded Mr. Niu the Most Caring Individual Donor Award, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award and Special Achievement Award. Mr. Niu’s leadership in environmental protection was recognized by TNC, which presented him with their prestigious OakLeaf Award, and “The Charity Excellence Award” of the Committee of 100 in the United States.

The Lao Niu Foundation is a private family foundation, which was established in late 2004 by Mr. Niu Gensheng and his family. The foundation is committed to exploring paths for the globalization of philanthropy and the internationalization of philanthropic programs. Under Mr. Niu’s impact, the Niu family shares Mr. Niu’s devotion to philanthropy, and actively participates in the cause. And Mr. Niu’s descendants have also established the Lao Niu Brother & Sister Foundation.


Lynn Scarlett is the global Managing Director for Public Policy at The Nature Conservancy. In this role, she directs policy in the United States and the 69 countries in which the Conservancy operates, with a focus on climate and nature-based solutions.

Most recently, she was the Deputy Secretary (Vice Minister) and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior; Lynn also served at Interior as the Acting Secretary of the Interior in 2006. While Interior’s Deputy Secretary, Lynn initiated and chaired the Department’s first-ever Climate Change Task Force. She established the Interior’s Ocean and Coastal Activities office to coordinate cross-departmental ocean and coastal work. She chaired the nation’s Wildland Fire Leadership Council. She served on the Executive Committee of the President’s Management Council.

She currently chairs the Science Advisory Board of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, co-chairs the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives Council established in 2014 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and co-chairs the National Academy of Sciences Sustainability Roundtable. She also served on the US Global Change Research Program Committee and is a co-convening lead author of the 2014 National Climate Assessment.

She serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. She also serves on the board of trustees of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and is a member of the Coordinating Council of the Practitioners’ Network for Large Landscape Conservation.

Lynn is author or co-author of publications on climate change adaptation; ecosystem services; urban greening, large landscape conservation; and science and decision making. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she also completed her Ph.D. coursework and exams in political science and political economy.


Zhao Jiarong is President of the China Association of Circular Economy (CACE). Madam Zhao previously served at the National Bureau of Statistics where she served as Deputy Director, Director of the Department of Industry and Transport Statistics; served the State Economic and Trade Commission (SETC) where successively served as Director, Deputy Director General, Director General of the Department of Resources Conservation and Comprehensive Utilization; served the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) where she served as Director General of the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection, Deputy Secretary-General and concurrently Director General of the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection, Deputy Secretary-General. She has a long-term engagement in the field of resource conservation and environmental protection with main responsibilities for energy conservation and emission reduction, circular economy and environmental protection work. In recent years, Madam Zhao has organized and developed several researches on Ecological Civilization Construction.


Zhuang Weimin is the Dean of the School of Architecture and the President of the Architectural Design and Research Institute at Tsinghua University. He has B.E., M.E., and D.E. degrees in architecture from Tsinghua University.

As a Class A Registered Architect and Registered Design Counselor of China, he was nominated as China Design Master by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in 2008. He is the architect for many important projects in China, including the Reconstruction of the National Art Gallery, the Swimming & Diving Gymnasium for the World University Games, the Judo & Taekwondo Gymnasium and the Shooting Range Hall for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, for which he was awarded numerous prizes including gold medals for Excellent Engineering, Survey and Design Projects issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the First Prize for Excellent Design Work issued by the Ministry of Education.

He is the author of a series of academic publications, such as Introduction to Building Programming, Ecological Guidelines for Architectural Design, Economics and Architectural Design, and Architecture for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

He is also a Council Member of the UIA, Co-director of the UIA Professional Practice Commission, a Standing Council member of the Architecture Society of China, a Standing Council Member of China Association of Survey and Design, a member of the National Board of Architectural Accreditation of China, and a Member of the China Supervision Committee of APEC Architects.


Benefits of Applying

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The winning entity receives 50,000 USD, a trophy presented by Paulson Institute Chairman Hank Paulson at an award ceremony in Beijing, and benefits from increased recognition for the project through local and national media attention. Top finalists are also recognized at the award ceremony and invited to participate in the Paulson Institute and CCIEE Annual Conference on Sustainability. All applicants will receive an exclusive invitation to the award ceremony in Beijing.

“Paulson Institute has played a very big endorsement role to Anheng’s project and business. Its influence is beyond the Prize itself — it indicates that Paulson Institute recognizes the project’s value to the entire industry, the entire society and beyond.” – Wan Zhonghua, CEO of Anheng Group, 2015 Prize Winner

How to Enter?

NGOs, businesses, and other institutions are invited to download the application form, review the selection criteria, and submit qualified projects that are already in development and on their way to full scale implementation. Applicants should be passionate and committed to making a positive impact on Chinese cities, citizens and the environment. Stay tuned for the 2017 submission deadline. Questions about the Prize can be sent to


Built Environment Icon EN WebBetween 2014 and 2020, 100 million people are moving to China’s cities. The built environment — the urban areas in which we live and work every day, including buildings, transportation systems, water supply and energy networks, and more—must be developed and maintained in a sustainable way that supports China’s broad goals on climate change, air quality, and balanced economic growth. In this category, we are looking for projects that are actively making the built environment a place that is more economically and environmentally sustainable for the future, while at the same time enhancing residents’ quality of life.

Circular Economy Icon EN WebAs global resources become scarcer, creating a circular economy– one in which we use and re-use resources to their maximum value – becomes more important in both developing and developed countries. The concept of circular economy has been adopted by the Chinese central government as a key strategy of sustainable economic development. In this category, we are looking for game-changing new processes that are driving the circular economy, significantly reducing and re-using materials, energy, water, and other key resources.

Natural Capital Icon EN WebA healthy natural environment is an essential component of sustainable economic growth and human well-being, and we believe that sustainable urbanization goes hand in hand with protecting China’s natural capital – forests, wetlands, grasslands, waterways, and other habitats. In this category, we are looking for projects that are actively incorporating the protection and value of natural capital into the broader context of China’s urbanization.


Submissions will be evaluation against the following criteria and weighting:

  • Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions (30%) How much does the project reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Is it possible to quantify the potential reduction?
  • Scalable (25%) How easily can the project be replicated across China and potentially in other countries as well? How technically and economically possible it is for this project to be reproduced elsewhere?
  • Engages the Private Sector (15%) How does the project involve the private sector, and present a model for public-private partnership?
  • Creative (15%) How innovative is this project? Does it approach an old problem from a new angle, or present a creative solution not seen before?
  • Produces Social Co-benefits (15%) Does the project have social co-benefits, in terms of health, access, mobility, equality, or cultural and historical preservation? Is it possible to quantify any of the potential co-benefits?

Previous Winners

20567953564_5b58d0a5bf_k2015 Winner: Anheng Group’s Sustainable City Water Supply Network Leakage Control Solution stood out for its use of cloud and big data technology to solve a common problem worldwide: urban water supply leakage. Since its implementation in Beijing’s Shijingshan District and 2012, the technology has saved the community nearly 1,000 cubic meters of water each day – equivalent to 300,000 tons annually. The expected payback period for the technology is only 18 months. Read more . . .

2014 Winner: The Shenzhen International Low-Carbon City project stands out from other urban projects in China because its planners took into careful consideration the people living in the district as they planned its rejuvenation. Instead of tearing down existing buildings and moving residents out to build new towers, the project made key investments to upgrade buildings and old factories, while improving the environment (such as cleaning up the local river). Read more . . .

2013 Winner: Nanhu Country Village project in Jiaxing, Zhejiang, is exceptional because it is a model for the development of environmentally friendly and economically vibrant suburbs in China. The project not only is providing high-quality, energy-efficient housing for the residents but also has introduced a new model for Chinese agriculture, driven by modern, professional farmers. Read more . . .