Jiang Zhaoli, Deputy Director of China’s National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) Climate Change Department stressed on the importance of urban resilience during his welcoming speech. “We should explore ways to mitigate the impact on the nature, to protect our ecology, to live harmoniously with rivers, mountains, plains, and to befriend with fellow human beings.”
Chaired by Merlin Lao, Program Manager of ICLEI East Asia Secretariat, the session provided a platform for cities from China and EU to share their understanding, strategies and actions on strengthening urban resilience.
Zhou Yong, Deputy Director of Guangyuan Low Carbon Bureau shared how Guangyuan prioritizes low-carbon industries such as agriculture and tourism to enhance its adaptability after the 2008 earthquake. To increase its resilience, the city has also taken measures to improve its early warning system, offered support to vulnerable groups and implemented more stringent shockproof requirements for buildings in the city. The city also plans to integrate urban climate actions into its own 13th five-year plan, and to include this as an index for assessing officials’ performance.
Zheng Jinsong, Deputy Director of Jinan Municipal Development and Reform Commission, showcased Jinan’s achievements in enhancing urban water resilience by implementing the “sponge cities program” initiated by the Chinese national government in 2015. Remarking on the challenges in enhancing urban resilience, Zheng said his city is in need of water management experts, a cross-sectoral team, as well as systematic standards and a coordination mechanism to effectively implement actions. He also stressed on the importance of having a stable financial mechanism for long term development.
Bruno Charles,Vice President of Greater Lyon Area presented how Lyon adapts to natural disasters like urban flood and heatwave by using nature-based solutions, particularly trees planting, which helps preserve water and soil, reduce urban noise, lower indoor temperature via rooftop gardening in the summer while keeping indoor air warm in the winter. Having learned the various challenges faced by different cities across the globe, he pointed out the value of information and knowledge exchange between cities.
Speaking from the national government’s perspective, Jacek Mizak, Former Director of Sustainable Development Department at Poland’s Ministry of Environment, presented Poland’s progress on urban climate change adaptation planning. Mizak highlighted the important role played by national governments in providing financial and technical support for local authorities to formulate and implement adaptation planning, as well as the need for integrated planning, cross-sector cooperation and public participation.
Besides cities’ presentations, experts also shared their insight on urban resilience in the context of China.
Taking Wuxi as an example, Jiang Tong, researcher from China National Climate Center illustrated how cities can combine mitigation with adaptation, and the possibility of improving air quality through changing urban energy systems.
Wenlin Ma, professor from Beijing University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, reaffirmed the importance of taking an integrated approach in urban adaptation planning, saying that it should incorporates governance, infrastructure and the management of the ecosystem.
Organized by Wuhan Municipal Development and Reform Committee and Delegation of the European Union to China, and hosted by NDRC, European Commission and Wuhan Municipality, the EU-China Low Carbon Cities Conference demonstrated a cooperative action to implement the EU-China Joint Statement on Climate Change forged on 29 June 2015. The aim of the statement is to promote mutual exchange on policies, plans and good practices for low-carbon and climate resilient cities.