Project

Smart eco-cities for a green economy (SMART-ECO): a comparative study of Europe and China

Goal: 'Smart-eco-cities for a green economy: a comparative study of Europe and China’ is a three-year (2015-2018) research project involving a consortium of universities from the UK, China, France, Germany and the Netherlands .

This three year programme of research (2015-2018) provides the first systematic comparative analysis of green economy-focused smart city and eco-city initiatives in China and Europe. This will inform the identification of opportunities and pathways for shaping national and collaborative international urban and economic policy responses, engaging the state, the business sector and communities in delivering 'smart eco-city' initiatives that can promote the growth of the green economy.

The project is led by Federico Caprotti (University of Exeter), and is composed of five national teams working in collaboration with each other:

UK team: the universities of Exeter, Westminster, Plymouth, King's College London and Cardiff.
China team: the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, and Renmin University.
Netherlands team: the universities of Utrecht and TU-Delft.
Germany team: Freiburg University.
France team: the University of Toulouse and the French Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The SMART-ECO project has a particular focus on what we are calling the ‘smart eco-city’, defined as an experimental city which functions as a potential niche where both environmental and economic reforms can be tested and introduced in areas which are both spatially proximate (the surrounding region) and in an international context (through networks of knowledge, technology and policy transfer and learning). Key questions addressed in the research include the following:


How should success in smart eco-city initiatives be evaluated?
What are the main obstacles to successful projects?
What generalisable lessons can be drawn from successful smart eco-cities, in socio-economic and policy terms?
How can knowledge effectively be shared across the context of European and Chinese urban-economic policymaking for smart eco-cities?

http://www.smart-eco-cities.org/about-the-project/

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Project log

Federico Caprotti
added a research item
Platform urbanism has emerged in recent years as an area of research into the ways in which digital platforms are increasingly central to the governance, economy, experience, and understanding of the city. In the paper, we argue that platform urbanism is an evolution of the smart city, constituted by novel, digitally-enabled socio-technical assemblages that enable new forms of social, economic and political intermediation. We offer a typological framework for a better conceptualization of platform urbanism and its complex socio-economic relationships. We further outline several directions for future research on platform urbanism, specifically: a.) the need to critically investigate new power geometries of corporate, legal and regulatory alignments; b.) how platform urbanism may be expressed in, and affect, cities in the Global South; c.) how it may need to be critically engaged with in regard to its development in response to emergent events such as the Covid-19 pandemic; and d.) how it may shape visions of the current and future city.
W MARTIN de Jong
added a research item
Special Issue on “Governance of Technology in Smart Cities” Deadline for manuscript submissions extended to 30 September 2021. Special Issue Information Dear Colleagues, Over the past decade, amidst the acceleration of competition among cities for businesses and talent, which has resulted in a focus on economics and provision of engineering solutions, the concept of “Smart Cities” has emerged, in which the emphasis is on the use of innovative information and communication technology to serve the needs of people (De Jong et al. 2015, Trindade et al. 2017; Lim and Taeihagh 2019). The push for “Smart Cities” is driven by the development of smart infrastructure in the cities thought the use of connected sensors and devices that can collect, store, and transmit data through the internet, which allows different devices to interact and synchronize their actions in different domains, such as electricity distribution (smart grid), transportation (smart mobility), and community developments (Höjer and Wangel 2015, Suziki 2017). Due to its emphasis on connectivity as the main source of growth, the ‘smart city’ tends to shift attention away from environmental considerations and more towards infrastructure and information use (Lim and Taeihagh 2018). However, scholars argue that a city can only be smart if technological solutions are utilized in a holistic fashion addressing social and environmental sustainability issues and not just focusing on economic efficiency (Lim and Taeihagh 2018, 2019; Yigitcanlar et al. 2019). One key aspect is to establish governance frameworks for technologies (e.g., autonomous vehicles, smart health solutions, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics, 3D printing, sharing economy, blockchain, virtual reality, and augmented reality) that would guide the development of these Smart Cities. In this Special Issue, we are especially interested in articles that explore governance challenges of technologies that are being adopted in smart cities and solutions to them. Key issues to be covered in the Special Issue include: • The new risks, uncertainties and unintended consequences of the adoption of emerging and/or disruptive technologies (e.g., autonomous vehicles, smart health solutions, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics, 3D printing, sharing economy, blockchain, virtual reality and augmented reality) in Smart City developments to our social, economic, environmental, and political systems; • The opportunities and challenges for the governance of technologies that can be adopted in smart cities and smart city developments as a whole; • The diverse types of regulatory and governance responses to address the risks posed by novel technologies and the Smart City developments; • The impacts of these rapid technological adoptions and smart city developments on stakeholders and society as a whole; • The pros and cons of the heavy involvements of the private sector (particularly tech companies) in these smart city developments; • The consequences of these developments for concepts such as inequality, discrimination, bias, accountability, transparency, responsibility, and liability; • And finally, how the hype around smart cities matches the reality of smart city developments now and in the coming decades. It is these and similar questions which a new Special Issue of Sustainability is aiming to address. Araz Taeihagh (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore) and Martin de Jong (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam) invite their peers around the world to contribute high-quality articles on these pertinent topics. Prof. Araz Taeihagh Prof. Martin de Jong Guest Editors Keywords • Smart City • Governance • Technology • Governance of technology • Built environment • Low carbon innovation • Infrastructure systems • Intelligent systems • Internet of Things • Autonomous systems • Artificial Intelligence
W MARTIN de Jong
added a research item
This Special Issue begins with a middle-range theory of sustainable smart city transitions, which forms bridges between theorizing in smart city development studies and some of the foundational assumptions underpinning transition management and system innovation research, human geography, spatial planning, and critical urban scholarship. This interdisciplinary theoretical formulation details our evidence-based interpretation of how smart city transitions should be conceptualized and enacted in order to overcome the oversimplification fallacy resulting from corporate discourses on smart urbanism. By offering a broad and realistic understanding of smart city transitions, the proposed theory combines different smart-city-related concepts in a model which attempts to expose what causal mechanisms surface in sustainable smart city transitions and to guide empirical inquiry in smart city research. Together with all the authors contributing to this Special Issue, our objective is to give smart city research more robust scientific foundations and to generate theoretical propositions upon which subsequent large-scale empirical testing can be conducted. With the proposed middle-range theory, different empirical settings can be investigated by using the same analytical elements, facilitating the cross-case analysis and synthesis of the systematic research efforts which are progressively contributing to shedding light on the assemblage of sustainable smart city transitions.
Simon Joss
added a research item
Around the world, local innovations in the management and development of urban space are often significantly shaped by national government competitions. This article argues that the competition is a characteristic but under-discussed feature of contemporary national policymaking on urban innovation, and considers how such competitions might be more constructively implemented in the future. It does so by closely tracing the outcomes of one paradigmatic example: the UK's Future City Demonstrator competition, launched in 2012, which awarded funding to four cities (Glasgow, Bristol, Peterborough, and London) to implement their proposals. The analysis offers lessons for similar competitions by highlighting six factors which co-determined the implementation and outcome of this initiative: asserting the need for speed; conflating export opportunities with local benefits; focusing on the need for institutional reform; reliance on cross-sectoral collaboration; positioning the city as a platform for digital solutions; and a lack of integration at the national level. Relatedly, we urge commentators to adopt a critical distance from justificatory assertions of urgent urban crisis and local governments being straightforwardly in need of reform.
Federico Caprotti
added a research item
We analyse an urban platform (Alibaba’s City Brain) to show how smart city development is evolving in urban China. In order to do so, we base our analysis on two strands of literature: that on platform urbanism, and on the experimental city. The paper identifies two processes that are shared across both bodies of work on platform urbanism and experimental cities: relational co-production and territorialisation. These processes can also be applied to the case of City Brain as both a platform and an urban experiment. We conclude by reflecting on the significance of urban platforms on the co-production of data-enabled urban governance; local urban context; and citizenship.
Federico Caprotti
added a research item
Drawing on examples from various cities, the chapter traces the convergence between eco-urbanism and smart urbanism in the past two decades. The chapter begins by tracing the eco-city and smart city's conceptual trajectories, before moving on to consider how these have become enmeshed into what has been called the 'smart eco-city' from the mid-2010s onwards. The chapter then moves on to consider, briefly, the broad terrain around the 'green economy'. The smart eco-city is placed within a broader concern with harnessing Big Data, the Internet of Things, digital lifestyles and infrastructures to connect the urban to green economy visions, strategies and pathways. Concluding, the discussion highlights the divergence between mainstream smart eco-urbanism and potential alternatives that emerge when considering urban social sustainability more closely.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added a research item
Focusing upon the strategic entrepreneurial planning of local government, this paper presents a critical analysis of the variability of Chinese urban sustainable development projects. In recent years, state entrepreneurialism and notions of (urban) sustainability have become ever more closely intertwined. As a result, there has been a proliferation of eco-/low-carbon and other similar sustainability-themed urban initiatives that have helped local states to achieve a favorable position in city competitions. Nevertheless, existing studies are still far from answering why Chinese urban sustainable projects are planned and implemented with divergent emphases and different development trajectories. Through case studies of three flagship Chinese sustainable projects with distinct development modes, namely the real-estate-centric Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC), the environmental-construction-led Chongming Eco-Islands (CEIs), and the industrial development-focused Shenzhen International Low Carbon City (ILCC), we argue that the formulation and implementation of urban sustainable developments are subject to local particularities and different extra-local (mainly municipal and district-level) political-economic contexts. We highlight how both vertical administrative governance and horizontal coordination between territorial jurisdictions underlie the Chinese entrepreneurial planning system, which results in different types of urban entrepreneurships: 1) scalable startup urban entrepreneurship (SSTEC); 2) asset-replacement-urban entrepreneurship (CEIs); and 3) expansion urban entrepreneurship (ILCC). This study also reveals that all three cases experience a development paradox as they strive to reconcile mutually competing economic and environmental imperatives. Key words: Urban Sustainable Development; State Entrepreneurialism; Urban Planning; Eco-city; Low-carbon City
Simon Joss
added a research item
This research report presents the findings of an ongoing multi-centre comparative analysis of ‘smart-eco city’ initiatives in the UK. The ‘smart-eco city’ concept captures the recent trend for future-oriented urban development schemes that display both ‘green’ and ‘smart’ ambitions. More precisely, the smart eco-city is defined here as an experimental city, functioning as a potential niche for testing and introducing environmental and economic reforms. The report forms part of an ESRC-funded research project titled SMART ECO-CITIES FOR A GREEN ECONOMY: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF EUROPE AND CHINA, coordinated by the University of Exeter in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from King’s College London, the Universities of Westminster, Plymouth and Cardiff. The international partnership includes research teams in China, France, Germany and the Netherlands. www.smart-eco-cities.org/
Simon Joss
added 2 research items
Feature article on smart cities and related lessons from recent UK smart city initiatives. Published in: Public Sector Executive 2017/18: p.40
Feature article on smart city policy trends in the UK
Federico Caprotti
added a research item
Highlights * Platform urbanism increasingly defines the ways in which cities develop for the future * Platform urbanism is one of the latest developments of the smart city * Chinese platform urbanism challenges currently held notions of urban citizenship and urban lifestyles * China's urban platforms show domestic as well as international patterns of mobility Abstract In this article, we argue for an extension of current debates on smart urbanism in China by focusing on the emergence of urban platforms as a key way in which Chinese cities are developing into digitally-enhanced and governed urban areas. China has undergone multiple rounds of thematic urban development, culminating in a recent policy focus on the smart city and on digitally-enhanced urbanism. We argue that this has now evolved, and outline the rapidly emerging phenomenon of platform urbanism, which we conceptualise as not only confined to the policy sphere, but as stretching across the policy-governance-corporate nexus, the market, and urban consumption practices and broader culture. We do so by focusing on key themes emerging in contemporary platform-based digital urban development in China: a.) the rapidly developing geography of urban platforms; b.) a swiftly expanding mass of data and its implications for state-private sector power geometries; c.) domestic urban policy and practice mobilities, and consequences for the circulation of digital urban platforms between cities and across national boundaries; d.) implications for a reconfiguration of urban citizenship; e.) new configurations of urban materialities in the digital platform era. We conclude with brief reflections on data-led urbanism in contemporary China.
W MARTIN de Jong
added a research item
China has gone through a rapid process of urbanization, but this has come along with serious environmental problems. Therefore, it has started to develop various eco-cities, low-carbon cities, and other types of sustainable cities. The massive launch of these sustainable initiatives, as well as the higher cost of these projects, requires the Chinese government to invest large sums of money. What financial toolkits can be employed to fund this construction has become a critical issue. Against this backdrop, the authors have selected Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC) and Shenzhen International Low-Carbon City (ILCC) and compared how they finance their construction. Both are thus far considered to be successful cases. The results show that the two cases differ from each other in two key aspects. First, ILCC has developed a model with less financial and other supports from the Chinese central government and foreign governments than SSTEC, and, hence, may be more valuable as a source of inspiration for other similar projects for which political support at the national level is not always available. Second, by issuing bonds in the international capital market, SSTEC singles itself out among various sustainable initiatives in China, while planning the village area as a whole and the metro plus property model are distinct practices in ILCC. In the end, the authors present a generic financing model that considers not only economic returns but also social and environmental impacts to facilitate future initiatives to finance in more structural ways.
Simon Joss
added 2 research items
In response to policy-makers’ increasing claims to prioritise ‘people’ in smart city development, we explore the publicness of emerging practices across six UK cities: Bristol, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, and Peterborough. Local smart city programmes are analysed as techno- public assemblages invoking variegated modalities of publicness. Our findings challenge the dystopian speculative critiques of the smart city, while nevertheless indicating the dominance of ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘service user’ modes of the public. We highlight the risk of bifurcation within smart city assemblages, such that the ‘civic’ and ‘political’ roles of the public become siloed into less obdurate strands of programmatic activity.
Growing practice interest in smart cities has led to calls for a less technology-oriented and more citizen-centric approach. In response, this article investigates the citizenship mode promulgated by the smart city standard of the British Standards Institution. The analysis uses the concept of citizenship regime and a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to discern key discursive frames defining the smart city and the particular citizenship dimensions brought into play. The results confirm an explicit citizenship rationale guiding the smart city (standard), although this displays some substantive shortcomings and contradictions. The article concludes with recommendations for both further theory and practice development.
Simon Joss
added a research item
Despite its growing ubiquitous presence, the smart city continues to struggle for definitional clarity and practical import. In response, this study interrogates the smart city as a global discourse network by examining a collection of key texts associated with cities worldwide. Using a list of 5,553 cities, a systematic webometric exercise was conducted to measure hit counts produced by searching for ‘smart city’. Consequently, 27 cities with the highest validated hit counts were selected. Next, 346 online texts were collected from among the top 20 hits across each of the selected cities, and comprehensively analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively using AntConc software. The findings confirm, on one hand, the presence of a strong globalising narrative which emphasises world cities as ‘best practice’ models. On the other, they reveal the smart city’s association – beyond the quest for incremental, technical improvements of current urban systems and processes – with a pronounced transformative governance agenda. The article identifies five critical junctures (interlocking discourses) at the heart of the evolving smart city discourse regime; these shed light on the ongoing boundary work in which the smart city is engaged and which contain significant unresolved tensions. The paper concludes with a discussion of resulting implications for research, policy and practice.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added a research item
This paper contributes to debates on urban sustainable development through a critical examination of current state-led and Ecological Modernization-guided eco-developments in China. Using Chongming Eco-Island as a case study, we critically evaluate the practices and effects of current development practices alongside ecological, economic, and social dimensions. Adopting an alternative analytical approach – political ecology, our analysis brings to the fore a host of stakeholders’ voices and knowledge (especially the often-marginalized grassroots), triangulated with archival research and on-site observation. Our findings show that the Eco-Island development with an Ecological Modernization bias generates unintended and adverse results for the local community and the environment. We argue that political ecology, as both a contesting perspective in sustainable development and as a critical analytical method in understanding society-environment relations, serves as an attractive alternative strategy for those seeking to analyze a more nature-focused, locally-relevant means to promote just planning for urban sustainability
Federico Caprotti
added a research item
The paper analyses the varieties of smart urbanism to be found in the contemporary urban landscape in the UK. In so doing, it builds on and extends two currently dominant sets of critiques of the smart city: those that call into question its technocratic and top-down modes of governance, and those that describe the smart city as an empty signifier. The paper makes sense of the UK's variegated local smart urban practices, by tracing the emergence of a national, state-led cultural economy of smart urbanism. Based on an analysis of smart city programmes in 34 UK cities, we identify two broad discursive logics through a national variation of smart urbanism is produced and performed. First, the invocation of crisis forms a discursive foundation on which place-specific logics are based. Second, a set of what we term variegated logics are differently combined to build on the 'foundational story' of crisis, in the construction of local smart agendas. We discuss three of these variegated logics: the city portrayed as technological simulacrum; the focus on specific sectoral activities; and a chameleonic tendency to envelop previous eco-urban agendas into smart urbanism. The critical questions raise by these UK-specific logics demonstrate the value of considering particular multi-scalar constellations of smart urbanism through a cultural economy lens.
Robert Cowley
added a research item
Commentaries on future-oriented Chinese urban development tend to focus on showcase projects underway in wealthy coastal cities. This chapter instead sheds light on the way that the smart has been integrated into more ‘ordinary’ Chinese urban life, using the case of Wuhan, a ‘Tier II’ city in Central China. It explores the conditions of the emergence of Wuhan’s smart city activities from three perspectives. First, it outlines a series of ‘vertical’ enabling factors, whereby an international body of discourse and practice has been ‘translated’ into national Chinese urban policies. Second, it considers the simultaneous significance of ‘horizontal’ links between Wuhan’s local government, city governments abroad, local private enterprises, and foreign firms. Third, it relates Wuhan’s smart credentials to a broader process of digitalisation of everyday life in the city. It concludes by reflecting on the distinctive characteristics of Chinese smart urbanism, as exemplified by Wuhan, and finally draws out some implications for future research into smart cities elsewhere. Specifically, it proposes that the smart city is most usefully approached as a shifting and locally inflected concept which not only channels multiple policy agendas, but also reflects broader changes to urban space and governance in particular contexts.
Philipp Späth
added a research item
This report forms part of a series also covering China, France, the Netherlands, and the UK, and draws on findings from a three-year (2015-2018), partly DFG-funded research project titled "Smart Eco-cities for a Green economy: A Comparative Study of Europe and China."
Federico Caprotti
added a research item
Critical commentaries have often treated the smart city as a potentially problematic 'top down' tendency within policy-making and urban planning, which appears to serve the interests of already powerful corporate and political actors. This article, however, positions the smart city as significant in its implicit rejection of the strong normativity of traditional technologies of planning, in favour of an ontology of efficiency and emergence. It explores a series of prominent UK smart city initiatives (in Bristol, Manchester and Milton Keynes) as bundles of experimental local practices , drawing on the literature pointing to a growing valorisation of the 'experimental' over strong policy commitments in urban governance. It departs from this literature, however, by reading contemporary 'smart experiments' through Shapin and Schafer's work on the emergence of 17th-century science, to advance a transhistorical understanding of experimentation as oriented towards societal reordering. From this perspective, the UK smart city merits attention primarily as an indicator of a wider set of shifts in approaches to governance. Its pragmatic orientation sits uneasily alongside ambitions to 'standardise' smart and sustainable urban development ; and raises questions about the conscious overlap between the stated practical ambitions of smart city initiatives and pre-existing environmental and social policies.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added 2 research items
Green development is one of the sustainability-driven initiative globally, and China holds a major green agenda for its future development. In many ways, China is pioneer of green development and has taken many initiatives to achieve a sustainable development mode. In addition, China also has particular development initiatives with some of the Belt and Road (BRI) countries. These developments are explored here from the physical development perspectives, such as projects in housing, infrastructure, urban constructions and etc. These development projects may not necessarily be ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’, but often adopt some of China’s own green development strategies. As a result of this, we aim to explore and map these bi-lateral relations and see how China plays a role in developing the other BRI countries’ green agenda. By doing so, we also highlight the gaps and possibilities of such development projects that are led or contracted by China. This study is the first attempt to explore the green development alignments between China and other BRI countries. This will highlight the role China plays in the green development strategies outside China and in the BRI countries. We first map and present the BRI countries and their green agenda. Some may not have an explicit green programme but will be presented as opportunity cases. Afterwards, we explore China’s practices of physical/built development in the BRI countries. The mapping will be conducted by looking into how China’s development practices are taken place in those individual countries. By doing so, we identify gaps and opportunities for green development that will then be further discussed as part of our analysis for green development alignments between China and other BRI countries.
Robert Cowley
added 2 research items
Summary of audience discussion points from side event at the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum, Kuala Lumpur, 8-13 Feb 2018. Cowley, R. and Phillips, J. (2018) What Can Urban Sustainability Experiments Do? Exeter: University of Exeter. ISBN: 978-0-9955574-8-2
The media coverage of Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the city of Houston in August 2017 reveals an ‘Anthropocenic’ sensibility, which tends to deny our ability to solve pressing environmental and social problems through strong and direct human action. This sensibility is reflected at city level in new forms of governance, exemplified here with reference to resilience, smart urbanism, and design-thinking. These have in common a cautious, inductive logic of change; their limited imaginations of space and time imply a dispersed sense of human agency. But if these new rationalities are unlikely to yield convincing solutions to problems such as Hurricane Harvey, perhaps there is a need to rethink the dominant framing of the Anthropocene, which underpins them.
Simon Joss
added a research item
The smart city has become a main prism through which urban futures are viewed. With it comes the promise of big data technology enabling more resource-efficient urban systems and improved governance. Increasingly, however, this technocentric view is being challenged, at least rhetorically, by seeking to place people at the heart of smart city development. Yet, especially in the case of the UK, such development typically takes place within a governance context which marginalises established planning and decision processes, thus arguably weakening public accountability. Moreover, the norms of engagement change in that citizens are assigned more of an entrepreneurial role as co-producers of data-driven information. It becomes necessary, therefore, to reconsider as well as reinvigorate the place of the public in the future city. This article seeks to do so by making the case, on one hand, for strengthening institutional frameworks and, on the other, advancing a more active role for citizens to become involved in actualising and scrutinising future cities.
W MARTIN de Jong
added a research item
Financing sustainable urban development has become a major issue, especially in Asian countries where the size and scale of construction efforts are vast. Shenzhen International Low Carbon City (ILCC) is a demonstration project of the China-EU Partnership on Sustainable Urbanization (CEUPSU) and an intriguing example for understanding innovative forms of funding with the specific aim to do this in environmentally, socially and economically sustainable ways. This article examines which financial vehicles are utilized in ILCC, in what way these contribute to sustainability and which implications the lessons drawn from it have for other eco and low carbon cities in China and elsewhere. The authors find that Urban Investment and Finance Platforms and Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) in a broader context are the two financial vehicles ILCC uses. A broad approach to PPPs is chosen in which stakeholder involvement is key and social conflicts are avoided by balancing the interests of various stakeholders. In particular, planning the village area as a whole and arranging finance through ‘metro + property’ provide a replicable and operable example for other cities in funding urban renewal and community transformation and dealing with the issue how residents can share the benefits of urban development with developers. The combination of these financial arrangements facilitates ILCC to achieve the triple bottom line in sustainable urbanization. ILCC is environmentally sustainable by promoting low carbon transition, socially sustainable through resident and villager involvement, and financially sustainable through diversification of funding sources. The financing experience gained from ILCC provides practical lessons for other cities and has significant implications in adapting institutional and organizational arrangements to create enabling conditions for innovative financing activities.
Linjun Xie
added a research item
China's ongoing transition to a modern urban-centered economy is accompanied by ambitions of sustained economic growth as well as promises of environmentally sustainable futures for its cities. In this paper we critically assess how these two ideas are combined and translated into realities on the ground by examining three low-carbon development projects in Shanghai: Anting New Town, Dongtan Eco-City, and Hongqiao CBD's low-carbon transportation hub. By mobilizing insights from the academic field of Sustainability Transitions – specifically on expectations, experimentation and innovation journeys – we show how the original plans derailed and why until now there has been limited success in living up to the promises of sustainability. To realize the promises more fully in future projects we identify three broad lessons for the actors involved: they should nurture a set of parallel pathways, foster a more experimentalist mindset, and learn to embrace uncertainty.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added a research item
As part of side event at the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF) 2018 in Kuala Lumpur A discussion on how local experiments in sustainability can support the transformative change envisioned by the New Urban Agenda The New Urban Agenda sets out a unifying vision for urban sustainability, while its implementation calls for context-specific and localised solutions. Likewise, the Sustainable Development Goals prompt us to learn from small-scale experiments in technology, human behaviour and governance processes. But what is urban 'experimentation', where is the 'urban laboratory', and what can urban experiments do for us? Our interactive event will consider the opportunities and challenges of implementing the New Urban Agenda through what might be called 'governance by experiment'. Under what conditions have urban experiments led to transformational change? When do 'failures' present opportunities for social learning? Should wealthy administrations be approaching innovation differently to less prosperous ones? How do we measure the achievements of experiments that are successfully scaled-up or replicated elsewhere? Who is being experimented on in the urban laboratory? And what challenges to transformational change are presented by starting small? Brief portraits of experimentation in South Africa, China and Europe will be provided, including clean and affordable energy solutions for low income settlements, and re-designing 'smart' and 'eco' cities from the bottom-up. The audience will then be invited to share their own examples and thoughts on the conditions that allow local innovations to be 'scaled up' in transformative and inclusive ways. Organised by the University of Exeter, with King’s College London (UK), iShack and University of Cape Town (South Africa), University of Nottingham Ningbo (China).
Simon Joss
added an update
Special issue on smart cities, Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050)
We would like to draw your attention to the call for abstracts/papers for the special issue Smart, the new sustainable? The smart city and its implications for sustainable urbanism, to be published in the journal Sustainability in late 2018/early 2019. Please see the special issue call here:
As you can see, we wish to explore the smart-sustainable interrelationship from a variety of critical conceptual, geographical, policy and practice-oriented perspectives.
We hope this may be of interest, and look forward to receiving abstract proposals in due course. Also, please feel free to forward this information to your contacts as appropriate.
Martin de Jong, Federico Caprotti, Simon Joss (guest editors)
 
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added a research item
This study looks into one of the most promising low carbon city planning initiatives in China, namely Shenzhen's International Low Carbon City (ILCC). First as a collaborative project between the Dutch and Chinese partners, the ILCC's international partners have expanded to include other countries, such as Germany, Italy, France, Australia and the US. This paper investigates the influence of these international actors in the development process of the ILCC and their benefits in the long run, through knowledge transfer and accumulation of resource. The paper first highlights a broad understanding of ‘low carbon city’ followed by detailed discussions on discourses of ‘low carbon city’, ‘eco-city’, and ‘low carbon eco-city’ in China. Then it provides insights on knowledge transfer in low carbon city development, and particularly the Sino-Foreign cases of China. The authors then introduce the case of study (ILCC) and highlight its visions, project planning, and partnerships. Using primary and secondary data, it then maps the ILCC's international actors and their roles, and then analyses their behaviours and impacts in the project's planning and development process. Next, the paper summarises the research findings with further updates on the case of ILCC. The authors conclude that the engagement between Chinese and international partners differ in three forms and they are (1) the type of involvement; (2) the level and timeframe of involvement; (3) the level of Influence in the project's multiple stages. The paper concludes that the role played by an international partner evolves as the project proceeds.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added an update
Workshop event held in Ningbo, 11-12 Dec 2017
 
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added a research item
Currently little is known about how institutional arrangements co-evolve with urban experimentation. This paper mobilizes neo-institutional literature and recent urban experimentation literature as a framework to explore how and why institutional arrangements differ across urban contexts. Empirically the paper focusses on smart city initiatives in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Ningbo. These three cities are frontrunners in adopting a comprehensive smart city agenda, but they do so in different ways. The paper examines regulative, normative and cognitive elements of institutional arrangements, explores how they shape experimentation, and reflects on their place-based specificities. The comparative analysis suggests that the focus of, and approach to, experimentation can be understood as resting in a (possibly unique) combination of strategic agency and dynamics at multiple spatial scales. © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Robert Cowley
added a research item
Chinese-language summary of our project reports looking at smart-eco urban development in China, Holland, France, Germany and the UK.
W MARTIN de Jong
added a research item
Chongming Island, a large island off the Shanghai Coast, is China’s first and only endorsed eco-island. The Chinese central government and the Shanghai provincial government have placed high bets on making Chongming a world-class example of sustainable urbanization and involved the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) for valuable knowledge transfer. However, to what extent is it feasible to preserve the green, open and natural character of the island given the enormous urbanization pressure Shanghai faces? In this contribution, the authors examine to what extent the lofty goals formulated in the various national, provincial and local plans are effectively implemented. They claim that existing assessments are useful, but rely too heavily on technocratic indicator systems to allow for insights into on the ground implementation. They analyse existing assessment studies on eco island development, but then develop a broader planning and policy oriented assessment matrix of their own which they apply in an independent field study. They find that the Shanghai and Chongming authorities are generally taking their eco island development task seriously through restricting urban development to certain locations, opening eco-parks, developing an integrated water system, and invest substantial resources into making it happen. However, a sustainable public transport system is still missing and at a few locations commercially attractive to real estate development villa parks and skyscrapers have emerged. By synthesizing data from existing evaluations with information retrieved following the format of their assessment matrix, an analysis of the eco island’s implementation which connects more closely with the situation experienced on the ground has been generated.
Federico Caprotti
added a research item
The policy pointers presented in this report are the result of a three-year (2015-18) research project led by Federico Caprotti at the University of Exeter. The project, Smart Eco-Cities for a Green Economy: A Comparative Analysis of Europe and China, was delivered by a research consortium comprising scholars and researchers in the UK, China, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. The aim of the project was to investigate the way in which smart city and eco-city strategies are used to enable a transition towards digital and green economies.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added an update
Our first dissemination event - at Cardiff University, UK
 
W MARTIN de Jong
added a research item
In the past few decades, urban infrastructures in China have seen an enormous upgrade, and due to large-scale urbanization many more investments are due in the coming years. In order to supplement public funding, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and municipal bonds have recently grown popular in China. The introduction of this new policy does not occur in a void but should be understood as the path-dependent consequence of a historical evolution of funding arrangements for urban development. How have Chinese governments traditionally arranged financing for these extensive investments and how has the emphasis in funding sources shifted over time? We argue that the evolution of urban development financing has gone through three phases (planned economy, reform and pilot, and socialist market economy), each with different emphasis in financial sources. Our analysis demonstrates how weaknesses in earlier phases present challenges that new solutions in later phases are aimed to address.
W MARTIN de Jong
added 2 research items
Sustainable consumption and production (or lack thereof) can leave very distinct marks at the city level. Among the cities aiming at sustainable development, resource-based cities (RBCs) are of special concern due to the tight interrelations economy, urban development, natural resources and environmental context have in them. Excessive exploitation and inefficient resource utilization often cause pollution and ecological risks. As natural resources are getting exhausted, their resource-based industries will collapse, threaten wider urban development and lead to economic recession. In this article, we focus on the economic and ecological dilemmas that the RBCs face in China. We first present an overview of China's policy implementation for rescuing and transforming RBCs. Then a particular RBC, Yichun, which is classified as “recessionary”, is analyzed to understand the challenges that it faces during its transition. The method of eco-efficiency is used to uncover Yichun's environmental performance in relation to its economic development. Subsequently, we explore the barriers in terms of industrial transformation, conflicts between national, provincial and local governmental actions, and the effects of the circular economy in Yichun. At the end of this article, we formulate several recommendations to facilitate Yichun's sustainable development. We propose that Yichun specifically needs to consider the energy consumption and pollution when selecting alternative industries. Furthermore, one-size-fits-all policies do not help to solve the problems in Yichun. Policies need to be contextualized locally through well-reflected coordination between higher and lower tiers of government.
China’s recently adopted ‘new-type urbanization’ policy puts a heavier emphasis on the social and environmental aspects of urban development than previous plan documents. This includes the aspect of citizen participation and a stronger bottom up orientation in decision-making processes, the aspect this paper homes in on. We will examine the realities of citizen participation in eco-city development in China at the local level and do this in one of the most prosperous and administratively forward looking cities in China, Suzhou. The analytical framework with which this analysis is conducted is a combination of Arnstein’s participation ladder and the three dimensions in Fung’s cube. The two cases we have studied are an eco-city project in a village community and one in the old city, to ensure we cover two different modes of participation, one rural and one urban. Three dimensions (participant selection, mode of communication and conversion of discussion output into action) and two policy making phases (decision-making and implementation) are applied to allow for a systematic comparison of the two cases. We find that citizen participation in the rural community is far more collectivist and reactive, while that in the urban setting is more individualist and proactive. Furthermore, in both cases, citizen input in the decision-making phase is quite limited, while during implementation local government appreciates the support and practical input locals can supply. To further enhance citizen participation along the lines proposed in ‘new-type urbanization’, legislative reform and professionalization of officials in dealing with bottom-up input would be essential.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added 2 research items
Over the past few decades, increasing attention given to the issue of urban sustainability has been reflected in the spread of ‘eco-city’ policies and initiatives. However, the past few years have seen the growing use of a new terminology, around the idea of the ‘smart city’. This new agenda has incorporated many pre-existing themes of urban development, including sustainability; and attempts to establish a vision of the city as a high-tech center of connectivity and efficiency, enhanced by big data. However, many questions remain about the intersection between the ‘smart’ and ‘eco’ agendas, particularly the ‘smart eco-city’, which we define as an experimental city functioned as a potential niche where both environmental and economic reforms can be tested and introduced in areas that are both spatially proximate (the surrounding region) and in an international context. Our research on Chinese smart eco-city development is embedded in a broader comparative study that systematically analyzes green economy-focused eco-city initiatives in China and Europe. It is deliberately trans-disciplinary (economics, sociology, urban studies, political sciences, geography) so as to take into consideration the different dimensions of urban transitions. This will inform the identification of opportunities and pathways for shaping national and collaborative international urban and economic policy responses, engaging a wide range of actors in the urban transition towards sustainability. Keywords: Smart City, Eco City, Urban Development, Big Data, China, Europe, Green Economy.
Following the burgeoning of Eco-City planning and programs, the term ‘Smart City’ has quickly taken root across the world as a new discourse for urban development. We find frequent reference to both terms and the related ambitions in many Chinese cities today. How do the visions related to these two terms interplay in these cities? How substantial are the institutionalizations of each of these visions? We describe the positioning of Ningbo as a Smart City and as a Low-Carbon/ Green City and the related institutional setting and compare this with other Smart/Eco-Cities in China and Europe. We can build on the work of an international consortium currently studying Smart/Eco-Cities in China, the UK, NL, France and Germany (www.smart-eco-cities.org) Keywords: Smart Cities, Eco-Cities, institutional analysis, comparative case study
W MARTIN de Jong
added a research item
Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC) is currently the best-known and arguably the most successful large-scale sustainable new town development project in China; as such, experiences gathered there are of significant importance for the development of other eco-cities in China and elsewhere. This article focuses on a thus far relatively understudied aspect of SSTEC, the financial vehicles used to fund SSTEC. The authors find that highly structured and intense collaboration at the national level between China and Singapore plays a catalytic role in attracting many other players to the project by giving them confidence that it is too big to fail. It encourages various preferential policies from lower governmental bodies, broad involvement of the private sector, a market-based operation model and the issuing of bonds in Singapore, which all contribute significantly to Tianjin eco-city's financial viability. The broad involvement of the private sector relieves part of the financial burden from local governments, while the bonds issued in international markets lower the interest rate for master developers. However, the Sino-Singaporean collaboration at the national level is far less likely to be replicated to other eco-cities, since this requires an enormous willingness on the part of other countries to invest manpower, money, and other resources into the construction of eco-cities in China.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added 2 research items
In recent years, low carbon initiatives are on top of China’s agenda for urbanisation and sustainable urban development. From the urban development perspective, ‘Low Carbon cities’ are developed by NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission), while ‘Low-Carbon Eco Cities’ are led by MOHURD (Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development). With two central actors at the national level, the low-carbon planning and innovations are expected to remain on top of the national agenda. In this research study, we intend to look into the case of Pingdi International Low Carbon City (ILCC) in Shenzhen, South China; a renowned project with strong low carbon attributes and aspirations that feed directly into national goals of sustainable cities and ecological civilization. By studying the case, we aim to elaborate on two questions of: 1) how the top-down initiatives unfold in the case of Pingdi ILCC? And 2) how a micro-scale project like Pingdi ILCC can feed into the national agenda of low carbon urbanisation? To answer these questions, the study proposes four case scenarios, assessed based on two elements of ‘low carbon’ and ‘economy’. The four scenarios envision the future development of Pingdi ILCC based on its current status and include: 1) failure as a project from both economic and low carbon dimensions; 2) successful as an ecological park but with potential economic failure; 3) successful as an industrial park but with failure in low-carbon achievements; and 4) successful as a low carbon model with success in economic development. Based on these four scenarios, we assess the role of Pingdi ILCC in addressing the eco- and low carbon- promises of China. Key words: Low Carbon City; Pingdi; ILCC; Shenzhen; China.
Eco City; China; Challenges; Multi-Perspective Analysis. Abstract and full paper to be uploaded later
Federico Caprotti
added a research item
The UN-HABITAT III conference held in Quito in late 2016 enshrined the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) with an exclusively urban focus. SDG 11, as it became known, aims to make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable through a range of metrics, indicators, and evaluation systems. It also became part of a post-Quito 'New Urban Agenda' that is still taking shape. This paper raises questions around the potential for reductionism in this new agenda, and argues for the reflexive need to be aware of the types of urban space that are potentially sidelined by the new trends in global urban policy.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added 3 research items
Decarbonisation and the promotion of low-carbon development have become common goals of climate change mitigation around the world. Respectively, China as a large developing country, faces complex challenges of accelerating urbanization and industrialization, and is in dire need to speed up changes to its economic development patterns. In 2010, China launched the first batch of pilot low-carbon province and city projects, including five provinces and eight cities across the nation; one of which is the City of Shenzhen in South China. Since then, low-carbon city projects have become widespread and are deemed as pilot practices for a sustainable urban transition mode towards green and low-carbon development. Although a myriad of researches have explored this emerging field, few have probed into the development process of China’s low carbon cities. It remains unknown that to what extend and how low carbon principles are integrated into the development strategies and practices of these projects. In this respect, this paper aims to fill this void by delving into low carbon city development process through an analysis of the renowned case of the International Low-Carbon City (ILCC) in Shenzhen. This study is based on a brief review of two typical development models in China, namely the ‘Development Zones’ of 1990s (kaifaqu) and the ‘New Cities’ of the 2000s (xincheng). Further evaluation of the case study is then conducted through the analysis of its development strategy. The analysis of the ILCC’s financing and investment system, land development approaches, actors and actors’ roles, and regulatory mode will be further discussed into three categories of ‘place production’, ‘place consumption’, and ‘place marketing’, while the examination of low carbon’s involvement and embodiment will be incorporated throughout the study. The conducted analysis suggests that ILCC’s development mode blends some features of both kaifaqu and xincheng development models, while it also presents new low carbon characteristics of its own. This study provides a glimpse into the current implementation of the ILCC project and will be a reference for future study on the project’s prospect and evaluation as it proceeds. Moreover, it will contribute to the overall study of China’s low carbon city development attempts. Key words: Low-Carbon, China, Development Model, ILCC, Shenzhen.
In January 2013, the Chinese government launched the first batch of 90 smart cities initiative, seeing the need to use smart technology to promote and enable eco/sustainable cities development in China. A series of policies and guidelines were then launched, such as the new ‘Urbanisation Plan for 2014-2020’ and ‘Guiding advice for healthy development of smart cities’, providing clearer guidelines, aid coordination and exchange of best practices. This demonstrated the Chinese central government political will to promote this initiative. However, as this initiative is mainly implemented by the local provincial/ municipal governments, who are well-known for their entrepreneurial behaviour in strategically implementing central policies or adapting them innovatively to the local contexts, the outcomes of this initiative have deviated from its original intents of ‘smart city’ development. This paper looks at the divergence between aims, planning, policies and implementation of smart city management in China through the case study of Ningbo, a city located in the northeast of Zhejiang province. Ningbo is used as our main case study as it is a pilot city for key initiatives of ‘smart city’, ‘low-carbon city’, ‘green city’, and recently ‘sponge city’ and has developed a comprehensive Smart City plan to be implemented from 2011 to 2015 with an investment amount totalling 40.7 billion (US$6.36 billion). There are two main gaps on the implementation of Ningbo smart city identified in this paper. The first is the gap between centrally planned policies and provincially/ municipally implemented initiatives that it will always exist due to the current governance structure and decentralized system in China. The second is the gap between the original intents of the smart city and its interpretations by the local government officials due to the varying interests of the local stakeholders. Without reconciling these two gaps, the benefits of the smart city will not be distributed as equitably and equally among the different stakeholders.
This study looks into one of the most promising low carbon city planning initiatives, namely Pingdi’s International Low Carbon City (ILCC) in the context of China. ILCC is located in the township area of Pingdi in the outer district of Longgang in the City of Shenzhen, South China. This new development, launched in August 2012, is aimed to become one of the national low carbon city planning models of the future low carbon planning in China. ILCC has started its ‘development phase’ with 1km2 of low carbon planning and design development into implementation of ‘pilot scale test’ phase of 5km2, and later into the ‘promotion phase’ of 53.4km2. In the latter phase, the project is expected to cover the whole area of Pingdi town, making the whole township area into a recognisable international low carbon model. So far, the project has included many local and provincial actors, as well as several global actors that will be studied in this paper. With elaborated policies on low-carbon initiatives, this project was first initiated as a collaborative project between the Dutch and Chinese partners. In its first few years of development, ILCC’s global partners expanded to other countries, such as in Germany, Italy, France, Australia and the US. All these partners play their distinct roles in the process of making Pingdi’s ILCC. In this study, we aim to explore these international relations and roles. The study will map these roles and their influences in the process of making this new development area. This research paper will also explore two key aspects of political relations and international collaborations for making the ILCC. This research study will answer: 1) what are the influences from global actors in the development of ILCC (so far)?; and 2) How these influences are linked to the implementation of low carbon initiatives in ILCC? In light of these research questions, and after the mapping study, the study will provide an analytical view of influential policies and planning practice in ILCC. It will also provide a more in-depth and up-to-date analysis of ILCC’s current status. Finally, the study will conclude on the assessment of ILCC from both political and planning perspectives. Key words: Pingdi, ILCC, Low-Carbon, China, Global Actors, Planning.
W MARTIN de Jong
added 2 research items
While the original eco-city concept as developed by authors such as Richard Register is based on the ecological carrying capacity of the bio-region and has been fleshed out by others to include Western interpretations of good governance such as having a collaborative platform, constructive dialogue, a systems approach, and integrated policy-making, its practical implementation in China has taken a very different turn. Understanding this gap, the reason for its emergence, and its implications is the core of this article. It first reviews the demanding requirements for eco-city development as formulated in the literature. Then the political and administrative realities in China are discussed to illustrate how Chinese policy-makers incorporate the idea in their policy-making practice. Next, lessons learned from an eco-city project in Shenzhen are presented to compare the theoretical insights with realities on the ground the authors have observed. The authors conclude that an intercultural dialogue on international eco-city frameworks and standards is necessary, and that new, greener standards should be anchored to the institutional system in China for the performance assessment of political leaders responsible for the future of urban development in China.
What distinguishes the Chinese practice of transferring policy ideas and institutions from examples observed elsewhere in the world can be described in two words: gradualism and eclecticism. In contradistinction to other (Post) Communist countries, actors operating in the Chinese political and socio-economic systems were not so taken aback by developments in 1989 that these completed collapsed. Nor were they overhauled in rigorous ways so as to realize a brand new start in which Communist and authoritarian remnants of the past were to be completely effaced. Rather did policy makers keenly observe developments and spot promising examples elsewhere in the world to draw lessons from. These were then reassembled onto existing institutional frameworks. In this article, it is claimed that this cautious and selective approach reflects a more generic Chinese tradition of institutional bricolage. This tradition of cobbling together various foreign and domestic policy ideas in modular fashion is illustrated with the modern day example of eco city development in China.
Simon Joss
added a research item
The history of the smart city may be a brief one, but it has already left an indelible mark on contemporary discourses on urban development and associated innovation practices. Only a couple of decades ago, the term ‘smart city’ was hardly used by scholars, let alone by policy makers and practitioners. Yet, within the last decade or so, the term has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the extent that in the academic literature it has now come close to replacing the concept of ‘sustainable city’ that has dominated urban planning and policy for so long; meanwhile, policy-makers appear to have embraced this new concept wholeheartedly based on its (as yet untested) promise to reinvigorate urban economic growth while improving liveability and environmental performance. The risk of such popular embrace is that the smart city becomes a catch-phrase bereft of much precise conceptual meaning and, thus, susceptible to diverse interpretations and superficial practice. However, a different critical reading of this emergent phenomenon suggests that the popularity of the ‘smart city’ is in no small part due to the successful amalgamation of two powerful conceptual discourses – namely, the prospect of harnessing digital urban innovations for the purpose of urban economic growth and governance reform. In order to investigate this more fully, this paper seeks to analyse the conceptual roots of the ‘smart city’. This acknowledges that, while the focus on applying digital technological systems to urban infrastructure and governance processes arguably lends this concept unique novelty, the ‘smart city’ nevertheless builds on pre-existing concepts. And in at least two important ways, it is argued that the ‘smart city’ represents a somewhat regressive agenda: for one thing, it suggests a return to a more modernist, rational planning tradition centred upon digital technology as standardising process for decision-making; and for another, it indicates a relative retreat from the commitment to urban sustainability, given the dominant focus on economic growth through digital technological innovation.
W MARTIN de Jong
added 2 research items
Over the last few decades, China has seen a steep rise in diverse eco city and low carbon city policies. Recently, attention has begun to focus on the perceived shortcomings in the practical delivery of related initiatives, with several publications suggesting a gap between ambitious policy goals and the emerging realities of the newly built environment. To probe this further, in this article we examine – based on the policy network approach – how the gap between high-level national policies and local practice implementation can be explained in the current Chinese context. We develop a four-pronged typology of eco city projects based on differential involvement of key (policy) actor groups, followed by a mapping of what are salient policy network relations among these actors in each type. Our analysis suggests that, within the overall framework of national policy, a core axis in the network relations is that between local government and land developers. In some cases, central government agencies – often with buy-in from international architecture, engineering and consulting firms – seek to influence local government planning through various incentives aimed at rendering sustainability a serious consideration. However, this is mostly done in a top-down manner, which overemphasizes a rational, technocratic planning mode while underemphasizing interrelationships among actors. This makes the emergence of a substantial implementation gap in eco city practice an almost predictable outcome. Consequently, we argue that special attention be paid in particular to the close interdependency between the interests of local government actors and those of land and real estate developers. Factoring in this aspect of the policy network is essential if eco city implementation is to gain proper traction on the ground.
Ali Cheshmehzangi
added a project goal
'Smart-eco-cities for a green economy: a comparative study of Europe and China’ is a three-year (2015-2018) research project involving a consortium of universities from the UK, China, France, Germany and the Netherlands .
This three year programme of research (2015-2018) provides the first systematic comparative analysis of green economy-focused smart city and eco-city initiatives in China and Europe. This will inform the identification of opportunities and pathways for shaping national and collaborative international urban and economic policy responses, engaging the state, the business sector and communities in delivering 'smart eco-city' initiatives that can promote the growth of the green economy.
The project is led by Federico Caprotti (University of Exeter), and is composed of five national teams working in collaboration with each other:
UK team: the universities of Exeter, Westminster, Plymouth, King's College London and Cardiff.
China team: the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, and Renmin University.
Netherlands team: the universities of Utrecht and TU-Delft.
Germany team: Freiburg University.
France team: the University of Toulouse and the French Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
The SMART-ECO project has a particular focus on what we are calling the ‘smart eco-city’, defined as an experimental city which functions as a potential niche where both environmental and economic reforms can be tested and introduced in areas which are both spatially proximate (the surrounding region) and in an international context (through networks of knowledge, technology and policy transfer and learning). Key questions addressed in the research include the following:
How should success in smart eco-city initiatives be evaluated?
What are the main obstacles to successful projects?
What generalisable lessons can be drawn from successful smart eco-cities, in socio-economic and policy terms?
How can knowledge effectively be shared across the context of European and Chinese urban-economic policymaking for smart eco-cities?