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Building Green Infrastructure: Eco-Cities and Sustainable Development Zones in China

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Historically, environmental degradation has often been the cost of concomitant urbanisation and industrialisation. China is no exception. Although China’s GDP has maintained the fastest average growth worldwide over the past four decades, the country has encountered multifaceted environmental challenges, with its ecosystems and biodiversity undergoing large-scale disruption. Since the 1990s, the central government has ushered in a series of campaigns, policies, and regulations focusing on an environmental agenda at different levels. This chapter tracks the shifting propositions of green infrastructure in China’s efforts during the eco-cities movement at the beginning of the 2000s and under the most recent Sustainable Development Zones (SDZs) initiative in 2016. This chapter analyzes the various planning principles, design approaches, and environmental, economic, and social considerations involved in the development of green infrastructure, both conceptually and through the lens of practice, in China’s search for a sustainable urban development model. Case analyses, comparative studies, and data analytics from social media are employed as research methods to examine how the concepts of environmental sustainability and green infrastructure have been evolving under the influence of locational dynamics and temporal characteristics in China.


  • Environmental planning
  • Eco-Cities
  • Sustainable development zones
  • Sustainable development goals (SDGs)
  • Green infrastructure
  • Design approaches
  • GDP

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-16-9174-4_9
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  1. 1.

    Ecosystem services refers to the benefits human populations derive from ecosystems.

  2. 2.

    The first phase of Dongtan Eco-City development was initiated in 2005, with the master plan by Arup dominating the process. The second phase lasted from 2010 to 2014, when transportation systems on Chongming Island were largely built, including the ocean tunnel-bridge linking the island and Shanghai. Dongtan Eco-City entered its third phase of development in 2015, and mixed-use programming has become the core of planning and development.

  3. 3.

    Approved by the central government, the SSTEC’s master plan was jointly developed by the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, and the Singapore planning team led by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

  4. 4.

    The word karst is a Germanized form of the name of a carbonate plateau. It is defined as a group of karst features including macroscopic forms and microscopic forms, surface forms, and subsurface forms, as well as dissolutional forms and depositional forms that developed under a similar environmental background.

  5. 5.

    The Comprehensive Air Quality or Common Air Quality Index (CAQI) was proposed to facilitate the comparison of air quality in Chinese cities in real-time. There are many air quality indices in use in the world.


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Correspondence to Bing Wang .

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Wang, B., Sun, S. (2022). Building Green Infrastructure: Eco-Cities and Sustainable Development Zones in China. In: Cheshmehzangi, A. (eds) Green Infrastructure in Chinese Cities. Urban Sustainability. Springer, Singapore.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-9173-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-9174-4

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