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The 2019 Annual General Meeting Open Forum: Belt and Road Initiative and Green Urbanization


The Open Forum for CCICED 2019 Annual General Meeting, themed “Belt and Road Initiative and green urbanization”, was held on Sunday in Hangzhou, China. Liu Shijin, CCICED Chief Adviser, and Andrew Steer, CCICED member and CEO of World Resources Institute, co-chaired the dialogue.

The forum consists of three parts: countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative sharing experiences of regional collaborative development and urban management; environmental quality improvement and green city; green city infrastructure investment, innovation and practice.

The main insights from the forum are given as follows.

Co-Chair Liu Shijin noted that Belt and Road Initiative is compatible with green urbanization. At present, China's urbanization has entered a new stage, which is manifested in the rapid growth of metropolis circles. Green urbanization faces both opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, urban construction is focused on infrastructure and facilities, and the cost of error correction is very high. On the other hand, transportation (high-speed rail), big data and artificial intelligence technology will change the structure and the form of the city.

Co-Chair Steer said that China can influence foreign investment's effect through various policies. The investment in urbanization should follow four principles: first, planning urban morphology and controlling urban scale; second, optimizing the transport network in the cities and attaching importance to the development of public transport; third, building green buildings and infrastructure; fourth, adhering to low-carbon development and increasing the use of renewable energy.

Shi Yulong, director-general of China Center for Urban Development at the National Development and Reform Commission of China, shared three main points: first, the core of the Belt and Road Initiative is to make development through cooperation; second, cooperative development should be committed to enhancing the capacity of sustainable development; and third, green urbanization is a key pivot point to strengthen sustainable development.

Aban Marker Kabraji, regional director of the Asia Regional Office of IUCN, noted that the building of green Belt and Road would require China to make more investment. China has leading-edge expertise in some aspects, and it should lead and support countries involved in the initiative through sharing best practices, providing capacity training, technical assistance and mutual aid in resources.

Li Xiaojiang, former president of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, stressed that China needs to share with the international community its lessons as well as its emerging expertise. He said China has a good land supply system, but due to influences from China's tax, fiscal and currency systems, local governments rely on land finance, which resulted in fragmentized use of land. Moreover, although the country is vigorously developing public transport, the development of private transport has not slowed down yet.

Ke Yinbin, BRI Expert Committee member, said that the Belt and Road Initiative is an innovative practice toward the common modernization. The concept, technology and methods of green development should be more integrated into the planning and construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, helping improve the ability of "integrating concept, system behavior".

Balasz Horvath, senior economic advisor of UNDP, noted that China's rapid domestic economic development will influence other countries. The Belt and Road Initiative involves a wide range of areas and needs synergy with the United Nations to find a balance between economic development and environmental protection.

Hu Wei, vice mayor of Hangzhou Municipal Government, said that Hangzhou placed emphasis on

green development, firmly hold the concept that "Green mountains and clear water are equal to mountains of gold and silver", and actively creates beautiful Hangzhou, making it a sample of beautiful China.

Francesco La Camera, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), noted that at present, 67% to 76% of global electricity demand and 71% to 76% of energy-related carbon emissions come from cities. Developing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency are very important in the current energy structure.

Hans Mommaas, director-general of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, noted that China's urbanization has its own unique characteristics. The development experiences of Rhine River Delta and Yangtze River Delta can be references for each other.

Zhang Yongsheng, deputy director general of Department of Development Strategy and Regional Economy of Development Research Center of the State Council, said that urban environmental issue is essentially a problem of development mode. Countries involved in BRI should explore new development mode of ecological civilization and help these countries realize leapfrog development.

Bob Mosely, director of Asia-Pacific Cities Program at The Nature Conservancy, noted that the integration of city and nature should be strengthened. The service function of cities could be improved by using natural infrastructure, during which the synergistic benefits of planning and protection should be realized.

OYUN Sanjaasuren, director of External Affairs of Green Climate Fund (GCF) and former minister of Environment and Green Development in Mongolia, noted that the construction of infrastructure of the Belt and Road Initiative must be consistent with carbon emission reduction targets, and should avoid making damage to the local environment.

Nicholas Rosselini, UN China regional coordinator, noted that the world should pay close attention to the early planning and long-term impact of the infrastructure construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, coordinate the long-term goals of SDG with projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative, pay attention to the establishment of partnership, and at the same time boost the development of inclusive and sustainable social environment.

Bernice Lee, executive director, Hoffmann Centre, Chatham House, said that the Belt and Road Initiative country has great potential in increasing energy efficiency and low-carbon electricity generation. While ensuring inclusive development, they should give full consideration to the financing of infrastructure construction.

Galit Cohen, senior deputy director general for Policy and Planning, Ministry of Environmental Protection of the State of Israel, proposed to build a special Belt and Road Initiative certification mechanism, and co-establish an environmental database through building websites and B2B knowledge transfer websites with international partners.

Sun Jingfeng, Director, BRI Environmental Technology Exchange and Transfer Center (Shenzhen), introduced Shenzhen's achievements in industrial structure upgrading and innovation in environmental management system. He also shared Shenzhen's progress in economic development and improvement in the quality of ecological environment.

Sun Yiting, Deputy Secretary General of the International Finance Forum, noted that green urbanization needs innovation in many aspects, including innovation in governance, mechanism and financial sector.

In the discussion section, participants noted: China should sort out its experiences in green urbanization, including not only experiences of urban construction, but also those of rural construction. Meanwhile, China should pay attention to look at urban development with a historical perspective, as cities at different stages of development would face different problems.

Closing the session, Liu Shijin put forward two key points worth pondering. First, many countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative are developing countries, and it is necessary to think about why they have not developed and what conditions they need to achieve development, so as to find suitable development paths for different countries and cities. Second, it is necessary to think about how to learn from China's experiences, what are good experiences and bad experiences, and whether they are suitable for the development of countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative?

Steer made closing remarks and stressed that it is not possible to impose Chinese model on countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. Instead, these countries should analyze their real situations and pay attention to the complexity of their own problems.

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