Urbanisation has been a consequence of the accelerated pace of economic development triggered by a sequence of policies to open up and reform the Chinese economy at the end of 1978. Given the significant impact that recent rapid urbanisation trends have had on the environment, resources, and health, the expected growth of China's cities poses a unique challenge to sustainability.

UrbaChina specifically addresses four aspects of sustainability:

  • institutional foundations and policies;
  • land, property and the urban/rural divide;
  • infrastructure and services for sustainable urbanisation;
  • traditions and modern lifestyles in cities.

These four aspects define the research topics for each work package.


UrbaChina uses a multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach to analyse the impact and future implications of urbanisation. Different methods and data will be deployed: statistical data collection and processing; case studies; extensive interviews with officials, policy-makers, business associates and researchers from a range of disciplines, including economic geography, urban economies, environmental studies, sociology, anthropology and history. The collaborative aspect of this project will ensure that both European and Chinese participants will be involved in all tasks.

Alongside a cross national analysis of urbanisation and sustainability, the project will include detailed case studies of four contrasting Chinese cities that all face the same challenges in relation to sustainable development: Shanghai, Chongqing, Kunming and Huangshan City.


UrbaChina ultimately aims to:

  • enhance the common understanding of urbanisation trends in both China and Europe;
  • identify the main aspects of urban sustainability;
  • influence policy-makers and society on sustainability issues, through strong dissemination;
  • provide¬†strategies, i.e. publications, events, media involvement and its website.