Can we develop an urban growth theory?
Professor Peng GONG Vice-President & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development), HKU
Peng Gong is Chair Professor of global sustainability at University of
Hong Kong. He built the Department of Earth System Science at
Tsinghua University and served as Dean of School of Sciences at
Tsinghua. He also served as the founding director of Tsinghua Urban
Institute. He had previously taught at the University of Calgary and
the University of California, Berkeley. His major research interests
include mapping, monitoring and modeling of global environmental
change, and modelling of environmentally related infectious diseases
such as schistosomiasis, avian influenza, dengue and COVID-19, and
healthy and sustainable cities. He is the author/co-author of over 600
articles and 8 books. He chaired/co-chaired 8 Lancet Commission
reports on climate change and health, and healthy cities in China.
Quantifying the development of global cities and understanding their growth patterns can provide important guidance to planning and management of future cities. Here, we propose a quantifiable scaling-based framework for evaluating the development of global cities. We examined the global urban development from 2000 to 2015 in three dimensions that are critical to the sustainable development of cities. They are the gross domestic product (GDP), built-up area (BUA), and CO2 emissions. We find a universal pattern that the intensity growth of cities presents an inverted U-shape curve. In each dimension, cities at intermediate economic levels experience the most rapid intensity growth, which serves as the dominant driver of the city’s development.
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