chengdu-and-un-habitat-revive-their-environmental-partnershipNairobi, 12 September 2016 – A delegation from the municipality of Chengdu, located in the Sichuan region of China, visited the UN-Habitat headquarters to agree on a newly developed project. This project will be developed by the Greener Cities Partnership, a joint UNEP and UN-Habitat initiative, and the Urban Planning and Design LAB.

During the meeting, participants reviewed and analyzed the operational aspects of the project, and agreed on the technical expertise and financial contribution to this project. The project tackles two main components: first, the advanced development of an ecological ring that spans 187.15 km² and surrounds the whole city; and second, the renewal of Shaocheng district, a historic and cultural neighborhood in the center of the city.

The green and ecological ring is a highly ambitious plan to integrate the environment into the city life. Chengdu does not have natural barriers such as mountains or rivers confining the city in a particular shape. As a result, the city faces urban sprawl, causing a centralized urban heat island, poor ventilation, ecological fragility, traffic congestion and other urban environmental problems.

To solve these problems, Chengdu is planning to set up an ecological green line with the help of the Greener Cities Partnership to protect the environment, curb urban sprawl, and optimize the spatial infrastructure of this ring. This area contains six lakes and eight wetlands, six urban forests, open public space and a bike lane system. The outcomes will significantly enhance ecological protection.

Shaocheng district has over the last few decades experienced various issues of deterioration. Not only is the historic significance of this neighborhood disappearing; the area also lacks green space, suffers in terms of air quality due to vehicle pollution; and has become overly touristy and commercial over the years. The municipality has now decided that with the help of UN-Habitat and UNEP, several activities can be undertaken to upgrade the area: attract young citizens through the development of artist studios; connect contemporary urban life with the historic value of the place through walking tours and exhibition areas; and making the neighborhood healthier through increasing green space.

A project document and contribution agreement has been prepared for this meeting and agreed upon by all parties. The parties furthermore planned site visits to Chengdu with experts from UN-Habitat and UNEP. This will be a successful new collaboration leading to improved infrastructure, sustainable policies and results in the long history that the city of Chengdu has had with the United Nations.