Shanghai Index to drive sustainable urban development

Yang Jian
Shanghai released an index on Sunday, World Cities Day, to gauge the sustainable development standard for global cities.
Yang Jian
Shanghai Index to drive sustainable urban development

The skyline of the Lujiazui financial hub in Shanghai's Pudong New Area.

Shanghai released an index on Sunday, World Cities Day, to gauge the sustainable development standard for global cities.

The "Shanghai Index" was unveiled at the opening ceremony of the 2021 World Cities Day on the North Bund waterfront.

The latest edition of "Shanghai Manual – A Guide for Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century" was also released with urban development cases selected from across the world.

The World Cities Day is a legacy of the 2010 World Expo Shanghai.

The United Nations designated October 31 as World Cities Day in 2013, which was initiated in the declaration of the city government on October 31, 2010, the closing day of the Shanghai World Expo. The general theme of World Cities Day is Better City, Better Life, the theme of the expo.

The opening ceremony on Sunday also marked the First Sustainable Development Goal Cities Global Conference.

As a highlight of this year's event, the Shanghai Index was jointly designed with the UN-Habitat, the UN agency for human settlements. It can evaluate and reflect the achievements and challenges facing global cities on sustainable development and help to adjust their development focus, according to the city government.

The Shanghai Index originated from the people-oriented urban development concept raised by President Xi Jinping. It covers education, transport, infrastructure, employment, social security, public participation, pollutants emission, public space and emergency response.

During a visit to Shanghai last November, President Xi Jinping said: "Cities are built by the people and for the people."

He said urban planning and development must be committed to a people-centered approach and focus on people's needs.

The theme of the 2021 event will be "Adapting cities for climate resilience." It will be held through Monday with forums as well as public activities such as orienteering, plogging and art exhibitions.

The theme reflects the fact that climate change will have a huge impact on city residents, with hundreds of millions of people experiencing floods, rising sea levels, storms and increasing periods of extreme temperatures, according to UN-Habitat.

"There are more than 1 billion people living in informal settlements with 70 percent of them highly vulnerable to climate change," said UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohamed Sharif. "We urgently need investment in climate resilience and innovative solutions."

Experiences in solving the various urban problems of Shanghai and other global cities are shared at a series of forums on historical cultural protection, urban governance, ecological resilience and new city construction during the event.

Global city representatives and experts made speeches at the event online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liu Yuelai, a professor of landscape design at Tongji University, shared his practices to encourage residents to plant herbs and flowers in community gardens.

The Clover Nature School, a non-government organization founded by Liu, teaches planting skills and also delivers seeds, soils and organic fertilizer free. It helped create a railway vegetable garden in Baoshan District along an abandoned Songhu Railway, China's first railway, in 2014. Since then, the organization has helped create 700 community gardens that require the participation of all community citizens.

The COVID-19 prevention measure of Biyun Community, an international community in Pudong, has also been listed as one of the best urban practices in the manual this year.

The city's largest international community is home to about 3,800 foreign residents from more than 60 countries. The community organized a multilingual volunteer team after the COVID-19 outbreak along with many cultural events inviting stranded foreign residents to spend the traditional Chinese festivals together.

Since the first World Cities Day was launched in Shanghai in 2014 to highlight the theme of the World Expo 2010 – Better City, Better Life – the annual event has been held in Italy's Milan, Ecuador's Quito, China's Guangzhou, Liverpool in the United Kingdom and Yekaterinburg in Russia.

Events were also held in the Chinese cities of Xiamen, Xuzhou and Tangshan.

Special Reports