Over five decades, the economy of the Ruhr Valley in Germany has undergone a dramatic restructuring, away from its original coal and steel-based economy to a more diversified and sustainable service economy. Now, China is facing similar challenges like those that initiated the restructuring of the Ruhr Area. Factors like worsening environmental pollution and decreasing demand for steel products require a restructuring of the industrial sector. The restructuring should go hand in hand with a further development of the service sector to soften social hardships and job loss as well as to help stem the tide of the country's worsening environmental pollution.
In the framework of the project, selected researchers and political consultants from Beijing visited North Rhine-Westphalia in order to gather first-hand knowledge of the transition process in the Ruhr Valley. Through interviews with experts, who accompanied and witnessed the local restructuring process closely, the guests from China obtained an overview of historical and current developments. The aim of this interchange was to figure out how the Chinese region Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei can benefit from the experiences made in the Ruhr Valley. In the long run, a continuous knowledge exchange between German and Chinese experts could be initiated on topics yet to be identified.
The project is based on a cooperation between the Wuppertal Institute and the Institute for Industrial Productivity (IIP), an independent non-profit US-American NGO with offices in China, India, the USA and Europe. The role of the IIP is to accelerate the uptake of industrial energy efficiency practices by partnering with both industry and governments.