City expects boost from UN listing
The remote Chinese city of E’erguna has been listed in the United Nations’ 100 Cities initiative, a campaign to boost environmentally-friendly and human-centered ways of urban construction.
Jiang Baodong, mayor of E’erguna of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, said the city is planning to follow the building model of Davos, Switzerland.
“I am honored that my city got the nomination and finally won the selection we are going to follow the model of Davos in Switzerland in terms of urban planning and construction,” Jiang told China Daily after UN-HABITAT announced in France that E’erguna had been listed in the initiative.
UN-HABITAT plans to announce the urbanization campaign on Wednesday on the sidelines of the five-day World Water Forum, which began on Monday. Among the 100 cities are Chicago, Vienna and Liverpool. E’erguna is the only Chinese city that has made the list so far.
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos said the initiative will totally change the traditional mindset of urbanization, which used to rely on resources and energy consumption, and it will help promote low-carbon ecological urban development.
“The old way of urban construction is over as the resources are in short supply and energy is expensive. We need to become a city changer, which is not only a beautiful slogan,” Clos said. “I hope E’erguna can offer a model for China’s urbanization process.”
Around 300 million people in China will move into cities from 2012 to 2030, raising the country’s urbanization rate from 51 to 70 percent.
“We need to make good use of the coming 20 years by forging a new way of urbanization in China,” said Nicholas You, chairman of World Urban Campaign Steering Committee of UN-HABITAT. “That’s the major reason why we nominated E’erguna, which has stood up because of its various unique features.”
According to You, E’erguna will be built into a new socially inclusive, economically vibrant eco-city while retaining its rich ethnic and cultural diversity and extraordinary natural resources and wetland.
“Transforming aspirations into sustainable realities will not be easy,” Jiang said.
He said his city has already invited Jao Design International from the US and BDSP International from the UK, companies that participated in projects for the Shanghai Expo and London Olympics, to do the eco-city planning after winning the initial round of bidding.
“And next week, we will invite 27 top-ranking urban experts from all over the world to debate a low-carbon strategic planning blueprint done for us by the two companies,” said Jiang.
The planning blueprint is vital, and will become a roadmap for the city’s future expansion after it is approved by the municipal legislative body, he said.
Jiang said the design includes a green conference center similar to the one in Davos, which will spearhead economic diversity and eco-tourism. He has proposed that the UN-HABITAT’s first 100 Cities conference be held in E’erguna in 2014 or 2015.
Jiang said his city has already reached out to Davos to learn from its experiences as a global conference center. “I hope our city can be decided as a permanent site of UN meetings on urbanization experience sharing,” Jiang said.