Urban Sustainability and China: Supercharged Solutions for Cities of the Future

On September 25, 2012, The Paulson Institute hosted a seminar in Chicago titled Urban Sustainability and China: Supercharged Solutions for Cities of the Future. With China undergoing the largest mass-migration in history, the conference focused on strategies for building more sustainable cities that accommodate this large-scale urbanization and the ways in which lessons learned from the United States and elsewhere could be applied there. Leading sustainability experts examined challenges China faces and how China might “supercharge” solutions from other cities—including Chicago—to address pressing needs.

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The Paulson Institute’s Chairman Henry M. Paulson, Jr. presided, with speakers including Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua of China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change. Stern spoke about U.S. priorities to help curb climate change, noting that the United States and China, the world’s two largest carbon emitters, have particular responsibility on this issue. Vice Chairman Xie outlined eight priorities that China has focused on for promoting sustainable development, including more green buildings and infrastructure, energy conservation and more efficient transportation systems.

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Experts in key areas affecting urban sustainability laid out challenges China faces in these sectors as well as models that could enhance efficiency and improve ecological practices. Phil Enquist of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill discussed challenges and opportunities of urban planning; Michael Wang of Argonne National Laboratory spoke on transportation systems; Jiang Lin of The Energy Foundation highlighted energy considerations; and Jerry Adelman of Openlands offered perspectives on water resource challenges.

The event served as a precursor to the Institute’s second-annual Urban Sustainability conferences in Beijing and Changsha in December 2012.