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28 JUL 2020 (TUE) 09:30-10:15 | 10:50-11:25 | 11:50-12:35 | 15:45-16:30

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Sustainable Development

All sessions will be held virtually by Zoom



Dr XU Zhenci Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan, USA

Towards understanding sustainability goals and challenges across multiple scales


A comprehensive and timely assessment of our progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is essential to track global efforts towards sustainable development and guide policy development and implementation. Achieving sustainability at global, national, and regional scales require collaboration and common actions across countries and different units within a county, given the increasing interactions between countries and technological advancement. In this seminar, I will present my approach to developing a better understanding of our progress and factors associated with global sustainability challenges. In the first part of my talk, I will present how I developed a systematic method for quantifying spatio-temporal assessment of progress toward achieving United Nations’s SDGs and applied it in China. In the second part, I will present a case study in China that assess the impacts of food-energy-water-CO2 nexus across agricultural and other areas simultaneously in the context of complex environmental and socioeconomic factors (e.g., irrigation, crop rotation, diet change). In the third and final part of the talk, I will discuss how international trade affects our progress toward achieving global SDGs. My research finds that China and all its provinces have made a good progress towards achieving the 17 SDGs from 2000 to 2015, however, this progress varies widely across different regions over time. We find that though the food supply from the North China Plains has promoted food sustainability across China, the region consumes over four times more water than its total annual renewable water. Although Hubei Province is not directly involved in the food trade, it has experienced substantial losses in water and land due to the construction of the South-to-North Water Transfer Project which aims to alleviate water shortages in the North China Plains. From a global scale analysis, I find that past and current international trades have disproportionately favored the developed countries towards achieving nine environment-related SDG targets improving the SDG target scores. Furthermore, trades between distant countries contributed more towards achieving these global SDG targets than those between adjacent countries, which negatively affected developing countries. Overall, my research suggests the need to track national and global sustainable development progress, to enhance the accounting for and management of virtual resources embedded in trade, and to deal with sustainability challenges from an integrated nexus perspective across multiple scales.



Dr LU Sun Research Associate, Center for Social and Environmental Systems Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan

Towards a sustainable city through eco-industrial development and resources management


To develop inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities is one of the most critically important SDGs of this century. Cities and human settlements will be the keys to achieving SDGs, which requires the stakeholders to increase prosperity, enhance resilience, and environmental sustainability. While how to promote the low carbon and sustainable city transition are the main challenges, critical challenges include energy-saving and emission reduction of industrial systems, optimization of energy consumption structure in commercial and residential systems, and build an efficient waste management system. Wherein the industrial and waste management sectors play a critical role who not only contributes to mitigating global climate change but also promoting continuous economic growth. Few researchers have considered the coupling effect of comprehensive countermeasures to achieve the urban sustainable development target and the interactive process of different policies. This study aims to promote sustainable city development by considering eco-industrial development, energy system optimization, and resource management. This study (1) analyze the eco-industrial development from the perspective of environmental planning; (2) optimize the energy system with smart infrastructure as well as emerging technologies like IoTs; (3) promote urban-industrial symbiosis practices with the efficient waste treatment system, provide the critical insights into the economical and geographical feasibility of its application in the cities. The results and countermeasures are introduced as a basis for the need to actively solve the challenges in the city. This study not only helps the local government shift to environmentally sustainable and economically successful development pathways but also provides inspiration for comprehensive climate change mitigation solutions from the co-planning perspective.



Dr ZHU Rui Post-doctoral Associate, MIT Senseable City Laboratory, Future Urban Mobility, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, Singapore

Creating a sustainable solar city

Solar charging improves operational efficiency of shared electric scooters


The revolution of on-demand micro-mobility services brings disruptive changes to the transportation landscape around the globe. However, scooters are abandoned when the electricity is used up, and operators need extensive manpower to reposition and charge scooters. We have found that repositioning rates of shared scooters were 58% in Marina Bay and 15% in Southwest, Singapore. Even though the cost of the electricity itself is cheap, the manpower costs of charging can be significant, e.g., the scooter company Lime pays between $3 and $12 per scooter for independent contractors to perform charging and Bird pays $5 for each. One solution is equipping solar-charging platforms at the parking places so that their battery life can be extended continuously during the riding gaps. Assuming that the PV module is 20% efficiency and a scooter consumes 16 Wh/km, real-time simulation suggests that 24%-67% of the real fleet size of scooters with 10 minutes reservation and 1-3 m2 PV cells at each parking space can support 99.8% of the user trips. This achieves nearly a 98% reduction of the charging trips. If the cost of each charging trip is $5 as Bird pays, then it saves more than $35,000 in the two small areas in a single month in 2019 and it will accumulate to a large expense in a city-wide area. In an extreme condition that there is no solar charging due to continuous thick clouds, it still supports over 90% trips for 3-20 days if each scooter starts at the full-battery capacity (900 Wh), suggesting a favourable resilience. The significance of utilizing renewable energy for smart mobility is not only generating electricity with zero-emission and zero-cost but also creating social and economic impacts because of the way we use it.



Mr. Jesper SVENSSON PhD Candidate, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK; Senior Editor, Global Water Forum, UK

Two hands, multiple fingerprints: How the central government shapes spatial and temporal patterns of water rights trading in China (2000-2019)


Intensifying competition for water has led to the emergence of water markets in many countries for sharing water between cities and rural communities. While there is a growing recognition that adoption of market mechanisms in environmental governance depend on the state and other institutional arrangements, less is known about how the interactions between the state, the market and community works in practice. In China’s distinctive political system, the central government has adopted a ‘Two-Hands’ approach (两手发力) to water governance – a combination of strong central regulation and infrastructure development on the one hand, and adoption of market principles on the other to improve water reallocation. A recent study has explored the policy evolution underpinning this transition. However, none have systematically examined the implementation of the Two Hands approach to reveal the underlying institutional hybrid patterns in environmental governance. This study fills this research gap by employing a Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to examine how the interplay of the central government, the market and local governance influence patterns of water rights trading. A total of 32 water-scarce cities using water rights trading with 396 transactions were investigated for the time period between 2000 to 2019 by combining evidence from fsQCA and qualitative case-studies. The implications drawn from interpreting the results are as follows: (1) the central government shapes the development of the market and its transactions but this is expressed in multiple ways through pilot projects and the national water exchange platform; (2) establishing water markets and investing in water infrastructure are mutually reinforcing, rather than mutually exclusive; and (3) local governments employ different mechanisms of institutional exclusion to adapt water markets in the politically centralized institutional context of China.


All are welcome!

Please register by email to Zoom link will be provided upon successful registration.



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