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Summarizing Urbanization Experience of China and Europe, Building an International Exchange Platform on Low-carbon Eco-cities Together
11 May, 2020

Cities are the crystallization of human civilization, and urbanization is an important part of modernization. In the age of economic globalization, cities around the world have brought countries closer than ever before. Urbanization is changing our world and our way of life in significant ways.

The Industrial Revolution which began in Europe in the 17th century started the process of industrialization and urbanization of the human society. European cities with unique features are focused on using urban space rationally, providing good public services, creating a livable environment, preserving natural landscape and historical traditions, and developing coordinated urban systems. In recent years, Europe has endeavored to blaze a new trail in building smart, green and low-carbon modern cities.

China, a country with an ancient civilization, also has a proud history of urban development. The famous painting Riverside Scene During Qingming Festival vividly captures the life of Kaifeng, a dynamic commercial city in China in the 12th century. Chinese cities are also unique in their own ways. Since the launching of reform and opening-up program over 40 years ago, China has quickened the pace of industrialization and urbanization, with urban population increasing from 170 million to 830 million. The emergence of a number of city clusters with strong influence and dynamism for development has boosted economic development and social progress.

According to public data, China’s urbanization rate has reached 60.6% in 2019. The urbanization improved people’s living standard, however, also brought huge pressure to energy resources and the ecological environment. How to break through the traditional industrialization and urbanization model, and build up a green, low-carbon and ecological development model in the future process of urbanization is an urgent issue to be solved.

Today, China and Europe, the former is promoting the historically largest urbanization process and the latter has hundreds of years of urbanization process, are embracing the challenges and opportunities of urbanization together in a new way of East-West mutual learning.

In May 2012, a high-level meeting of EU-China Urbanization Partnership was held in Brussels. Then Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang and former European Commission President Barroso signed the Joint Declaration on the EU-China Partnership on Urbanization. In November of that year, Europe-China Eco Cities Link Project officially started the tender process. It is a pragmatic cooperation to implement the Joint Declaration on the EU-China Partnership on Urbanization. 

Europe-China Eco Cities Link (EC-LINK) is one of important practical cooperation projects under the strategic framework of “EU-China Partnership on Urbanization”. The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MoHURD) is the lead implementing entity of the Project in China, and GIZ provides technical advice and personnel support in terms of coordination, execution, management and expertise to the Project Task Force.

Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes and merits. The Project aims to learn by European practical experience, comprehensively and deeply drawing lessons from the advanced concepts, technologies and experience of urban development in Europe, and has carried out EC-LINK projects successfully in 10 Chinese pilot cities. 

As of now, the Project has selected 2 integrated pilot cities (Zhuhai, Luoyang) and 8 specific pilot cities (Weihai, Changzhou, Guilin, Hefei, Liuzhou, Qingdao, Zhuzhou, Xixian New Area) to cooperate in seven sectors: Urban Renewal, Green Buildings, Green Transport, Clean Energy Utilization, Water Management, Solid Waste Management and Municipal Finance. In order to support a more integrated understanding of the overall sustainable urbanization sector, EC-Link has been working for years compiling a set of publications “EC-Link Knowledge Center” where it is possible to download more than 100 documents covering multiple interdisciplinary aspects (http://www.eclink.org/eclink/zh/sectors/about).

Moreover, the Project has officially launched EC-Link Platform on the official website (http://eclink.org). The Platform is a cross-sector interdisciplinary platform between China and Europe on urbanization, which is supported by the European Union in cooperation with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MoHURD), aiming to better summarize and consolidate the eco-cities construction experience of Europe and China, while strengthen exchanges and cooperation between European and Chinese cities.

EC-Link Platform is the cross-sector interdisciplinary sustainable urbanization online community between Europe and China, committed to directly link Chinese and European stakeholders involved in the sustainable urbanization directly. 

EC-Link Platform is an online platform for Chinese and European practitioners in related sectors of urbanization for knowledge sharing and technology exchanges. With the purpose of “building a learning platform for main stakeholders in China and Europe”, by connecting with multiple resources, the Platform invites experts, academicians and private sector engaging in related fields, such as urban renewal, green buildings, green transport, water management, solid waste management, clean energy 

and municipal finance, to share their insights on environmental sustainability and urban development in Chinese and European cities.

EC-Link Platform is now open for free registration, welcoming Chinese and international experts in eco-cities construction related sectors settling in to share and update the experience of eco-cities projects regularly. By this way, the Platform is already connecting practitioners of related sectors in China and Europe, providing an international exchange platform on low-carbon eco-cities for users to exchange professional skills, discuss comprehensive solutions and develop cooperation projects. 

Here European and Chinese stakeholders can have direct dialogue, exchange messages and documents, post their news for an easily accessible exchange regarding any matter on low carbon/eco city development topics.