Are Model Cities an Effective Instrument for Urban Environmental Governance?
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Since the 1980s, China’s central government has created various model and incentive schemes aimed at systematically and concurrently promoting innovative approaches for protecting the urban ecological environment. In this context, programmes such as the ‘model city for protecting the environment’, ‘garden city’, ‘eco-city’, or ‘low-carbon city’ have become an integral part of China’s system for urban environmental governance. However, the role of these policy-incentive schemes for promoting best practice is only partly understood. This chapter contributes to the literature with a conceptualization of model cities as a dynamic governance instrument. The analysis suggests that the distance between programme objectives and local practices increases with programme maturity. Model-city schemes inevitably reach a point of saturation once a competing programme provides new opportunities to gain political and economic rents.
KeywordsNational Model City for Environmental Protection programme Model-city programmes Incentive schemes Urban project’s life-cycle perspective
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