With the rapid process of urbanisation in China, cities have become more and more important in terms of economic development but also in terms of environmental issues. As today more than half of the Chinese population lives in urban areas it becomes increasingly necessary to direct urbanisation towards a socially and ecologically sustainable path. In Europe, cities are as well important economic and ecologic hotspots, as they contribute the lion's share of Europe's GDP but also to its environmental pollution.
Both the EU, its member states and China have recognised the need to shape urbanisation sustainably. Therefore, they agreed to promote Sino- European cooperation and set up a Sino-European partnership programme with 12 city twins in 2013. The Sino-German project "The Learning City - Interdisciplinary Studios for Sustainable Urban Development. A Sino- German Initiative" has been developed in the context of this Programme. It offers a new type of innovative idea generation for solutions in the field of sustainable urban planning in China and Germany. The focus is on the partnerships between the cities of Essen and Changzhou (Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai) and between the city of Düsseldorf and the city of Chongqing in the west of China.
Within the project, Chinese and German students will work together in Urban Studios to develop urban planning concepts for the two Chinese cities under guidance of German and Chinese experts. The experiences and questions of the German cities will further contribute to this process. The teams with the best three projects will be invited to participate in a Good Practice Tour in the German twin city and to work out an implementation strategy for their concepts. Afterwards, the propositions will be presented to the Chinese and German decision-makers of the twin cities.
The project "The Learning City" shall not only foster the cooperation between the twin cities but shall also serve as pilot project for other Sino-German partnerships and mutual learning processes. It will be conducted in a Sino-German consortium of research institutions under the leadership of the Energy Foundation China and the Wuppertal Institute in close cooperation with partners in both cities and the sponsor, Stiftung Mercator.