Sustainable development of mega-cities and their rural hinterlands - Chinese-German project enters main phase

The Chinese-German joint project "Urban-Rural Assembly" has completed the initial Definition Phase with a joint Open Access book publication. It is now entering the Research and Development Phase and will be funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for another four years.

Logo of the project Urban-Rural Assembly

The rapid urbanisation in many countries does not only have consequences for the cities. The formerly rural regions surrounding growing mega-cities are also experiencing change. The joint project "Urban-Rural Assembly" (URA), in which the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER) is part of the German Consortium, has been investigating this change in urban-rural regions in China since April 2019. The Huangyan-Taizhou region in eastern China serves as a unique research laboratory and development environment. Together with local partners, the project team is developing strategies and instruments for the joint sustainable development of cities and their hinterlands. Other regions with urban-rural linkages should also be able to use them later.

The project team has concluded the 18-month initial Definition Phase with the publication of a first issue of the new URA Periodical series. In the future, this series will regularly discuss ongoing research and development results throughout the project. Issue 1 addresses the notion of “interfaces”, related to both the multi-disciplinary conception of the URA project and its trans-disciplinary Research and Development approaches at the urban-rural interface of Huangyan-Taizhou region.

The IOER is involved in the current publication with two contributions. One paper by Suili Xiao, Wolfgang Wende and Till Fügener addresses aspects of ecosystem services. In the study area, the researchers analysed how increasing urbanisation affects flood regulation as an ecosystem service for this settlement area. The consequences of an enormous increase in urban and built-up areas since the mid-1990s are dramatic. Many residential quarters and industrial areas have been built along the river. Much green space has been lost due to the expansion in urban settlements. As a result, the villages along the river are regularly affected by severe flooding during the typhoon season. In their article, the authors describe how the local authorities are trying to counteract this development with nature-based solutions.

The second contribution of the IOER to the Open Access issue is an interview by Suili Xiao with the researcher Wentao Yan from the Centre for Ecological Wisdom and Practice Research at Tongji University. Among other things, it sheds light on the concept of "ecological wisdom" and explores the role that ecological issues play at the urban-rural interface and in the development of these areas.

The publication is available for free download on the project website

Original publication

Gao, Xiaoxue; Langguth, Hannes; Lynam, Ava; Misselwitz, Philipp (Hrsg.): URA Periodical – Issue 1. Interfaces. Berlin: Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin, 2020.

Logo of the BMBFThe project "Urban-Rural Assembly - Managing inclusive transformation-to-sustainability processes at the urban-rural interface of the Huangyan-Taizhou region in China through the development of new strategic governance tools and the implementation of exemplary pilot projects as catalysts for regional value chains" is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the FONA programme Sustainable Development of Urban Regions based on BMBF’s China Strategy. After an initiation phase from April 2019 to September 2020, the main phase will follow from October 2020 to November 2024. During this period, the first developed measures and instruments will be implemented and tested.


Further information on the project

Contact at the IOER
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wende, E-Mail: W.Wende[im]

Person before beamer screen

Cooperation between science and practice is a priority in the Chinese-German project "Urban-Rural Assembly". At a workshop in June 2019, scientists, planning practitioners and government representatives exchanged ideas on the definition of project content. From the Chinese side, topics such as biodiversity, recreation, water and agriculture were named as important research topics. (Photo: TU Berlin/Jörg Gläscher)