Policies, Practices and Positioning
Edited by Per Olof Berg and Emma Björner
Chapter 4: Branding sustainable cities in China: global standards and local specificities
Since the signing of Agenda 21 in 1992, the global dissemination of the concept of sustainable development has accelerated. The exchange of experiences, and transfer of technologies from one country to another, has also led to the development of similar green labels in different countries around the world. Although global solutions are designed to provide global knowledge of urban sustainable issues, the standards on which they are based somehow oversimplify the differences that may exist between cities and nations, and as in this chapter, between China and the Western world. How, for example, does a system based on central piloting by the state co-exist with the global bottom-up planning system, and how can Western theories on urban density and diversity be compatible with Chinese construction models? These are some questions that will be discussed in this chapter. The chapter is based on two observations in the development of sustainable urban planning in China today. The first is the change that the global concept of sustainable development has wrought in the domain of city planning, and the second is the use of new project tools in the implementation of sustainable planning. The former, which is very much influenced by worldwide city branding on sustainable development, often refers to standards and models that lead to a certain formal homogeneity. The latter, confronted with the local realities of sustainable development, is site and context-specific (i.e., adapted to the specific conditions of the local place).
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