Synergies and Partnership for Sustainable Development: EU-China Urban and Regional Cooperation

Categorized as News from China, News from IURC

IURC- China facilitated both EU and Chinese cities and regions for their commitment to sustainable goals like Agenda 2030 (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda. It enhanced cities and regions´ diplomatic and cooperative efforts in a decentralised approach, focusing on ecological transition, urban regeneration, and developing sustainable ecosystems.

Distinctive policies aligning with global agendas

IURC-China recognised the different approaches in the EU and China toward sustainable urban and regional development, reflecting the inherent priorities and challenges. The EU adopted a place-based approach specific to the strengths and potential of cities and regions, which involves multiple stakeholders in a collaborative setting. At the same time, China’s strategy is implemented with the national government outlining and guiding the sub-national urban policies. IURC facilitated the exchange of policies and strategies between the European and Chinese cities and regions, emphasizing the triple helix approach, supporting SMEs and startups, and encouraging citizen participation.

Impactful results in collaborative learning and cooperation initiatives

IURC-China´s three-year journey demonstrates a strong commitment to this endeavour, fostering “knowledge sharing,” “cooperative learning,” and ” stakeholder engagement ” among 22 European and 22 Chinese cities and regions. over 70 knowledge exchange events were organised, including meetings, forums, workshops, and promotional events, involving more than 1,700 participants from different sectors. IURC-China strengthened the capacity of officials and stakeholders in EU-China cooperation, promoted active knowledge and experience sharing, facilitated joint pilot projects, and fostered European business opportunities in relevant fields. The signed MoUs and planned joint actions evidence the enhanced EU-China cooperation at sub-national levels. Despite facing challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 period, the IURC-China program continued to progress with increasing engagement from national and sub-national levels, adapting to emerging social and economic realities.

An example of IURC-China regional policy cooperation is between the Lazio Region and Zhengzhou on sustainable agri-food supply chains, peri-urban agriculture, and agri-tourism. This partnership involves government, academia, and the private sector, addressing challenges in multifunctional agriculture and organic farming entrepreneurship, fostering resilient agri-food systems and rural-urban integration.

Another example is the cooperation between Stuttgart Urban Region and Taicang focusing on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and low-carbon urban district. Stuttgart Region prioritizes urban sustainability and green industrial ecosystem transition, while Taicang leverages its strategic location and global outlook to develop industry and urban spaces. Joint initiatives include a low-carbon TOD model in Loujiang New District, with both regions committed to knowledge exchange, pilot projects, and future collaboration.

Focused and productive project implementation

Looking ahead, the IURC-China is moving towards a focused and productive final phase, with an emphasis on concrete results on impactful topics. This is combined with the approach for customising best practice models to local contexts and fostering effective, context-based solutions.

The IURC-China program has contributed to sustainable urban development and regional innovation by prioritising targeted initiatives and strengthening peer-to-peer cooperation. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, the program has demonstrated the effectiveness of international cooperation in achieving global sustainability goals.