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Implementing China Sustainable Cities Programme: Potential Risks and Appropriate Risk Management Schemes Proposal


Abstract

This is according to UN HABITAT’s latest release on the state of the world Cities 2010/201, about 50% of the people from all countries live in cities and urban areas. It is also estimated that the trend will continue in the foreseeable future. This directly translates to overstraining of the available infrastructures in the world cities and possible increase on the environmental pollution. Agreeably, this is a challenge to policy makers, city planners, ecologists, and governments.

There have been clarion calls for a quick paradigm shifts on how urban and city planning is done to combat the looming challenge of urban residence, and make our cities environmentally safe and self sustaining without sacrificing future generations’ lives. This has led to the establishment of sustainable cities/eco-cities, designed and dedicated to reducing of the adverse effects on the environment through minimization of required inputs and waste outputs (Designed with environmental impact consideration in mind)

Implementation of the China sustainable cities program is a commendable task that aims at mitigating and reducing the possible adverse effects of the increasing human population in the cities. Many articles and researches have been written and skewed towards the benefits and values to be reaped from the implementation of this mega program. The path of benefits of excellently implementing and executing the project is truly amazing, and overly to many, the project seems without any impeding risk.

Chandra (2009) alludes that risk is inherent in almost every business/project decision. Guided by this, the author of this research seeks to follow a rather unique path and critically aims to dig deeper into the possible risks that may arise on the implementation of this mega project. The author also seeks to find out possible strategic risk management schemes to be put in place in order to avert possible adverse effects.

To comprehensively address the primary goal of this study, a quantitative approach to research is used with questionnaire guided survey used as the main data collection tool. Kothari (2004) identifies questionnaire tool of data collection as the most efficient and reliable tool in cases of big inquiries as it is cost effective free from possible bias of the interviewer.

This study targets responses on the likely risks of the China sustainable cities program and the appropriate strategic risk management scheme from a wider population of respondents; which include, but not limited to, Scientists, Policy Makers, Interest groups, Representatives from the NGO world and City planners.

Introduction

There is a need to analyze the other side of the coin of implementing the China Sustainable Program and analyse any possible scenarios of risks and appropriate risk management tools, to contain the risks. Cadle (2004) indicates that all projects involve risks of some sort, which may arise from the nature of work, resources available, contractual relationships, and political factors among other factors.

The researcher agrees and commends the likely positive results of this project, but again believes that for maximum benefits of the project implementation to be attained, there is a need to be conscious of the possible jeopardy (CNKI 2007).

Cadle (2004) affirms that it is not practically possible to eliminate all risks associated to any project, but it is likely to run tasks in a way that makes out risks that inherently exists and come up with ways and tools to deal with them in case they arise. Past researches have dwelt on the positives of sustainable urban/cities programs. Register (1987) writes comprehensively on the need of building and designing cities for a healthy future.

He delves into a need to address the shortcoming of the available city planning that causes an upsurge of human population in cities and the possible resulting adverse consequences on environment and infrastructure.

Eva, Hage and Ton (2010), in their ‘The Sustainable City Project: A Future-oriented Study to Support Urban Policy Development in the Netherlands’, explain the need for a paradigm shift in societal attitude towards living and working conditions, recreation and mobility in order to have healthy and energy neutral city environments (Register 1987; Slovic 1993).

Problem statement

Sassen (2009) calls for initiatives to make our cities a solution to the looming environment pollution and challenges, since our environmental future depends on our cities. May (2008) joins the band wagon of other researchers calling for a need to transform cities for sustainability.

This is just but to mention a few. Unfortunately, little has been said and written on the possible negative risks of implementing sustainable city programs, other than the work done by May (2008) on the lessons from Huangbaiyu.

It is evidently clear that much needs to be researched on the possible risks that may arise from the implementation of the China Sustainable Cities Program and outline the possible strategic risk management schemes that can be timely put in place to curb possible consequences, which are unintended.

In this research, therefore, the author seeks to follow the path of May (2010) and find out more on the likely inherent risks on this project and the risk management tools to avert these risks (The UN HABITAT: State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011).

Aims of this research study

  • To investigate the likely inherent risks in the implementation of China Sustainable Cities Program.
  • To identify and suggest possible strategic risk management tools that should be implemented by the implementers to avert possible unintended negative consequences.
  • Draw lessons from Hangzhou and Shanghai China Eastern sustainable cities projects in the above programme and analyse their relationship with the current case (San Francisco Ecocity Declaration 2008).

Literature Review

If the figures of the UN Habitat are anything to go by, the mass flow of humanity from rural areas to urban regions absolutely posses a great, complex and more pressing challenge for cities and urban regions, world over, in the 21st century.

To many policy makers and Urban/City planners, sustainability programs, which entails redesigning of infrastructures and buildings in Cities/Urban regions to combat the increasing threat on the environment and available resources seems to be the most viable solution (UN-Habitat 2009; Register 1987; Slovic 1993).

McKinsey Global Institute (2009) indicates that by 2025, the urban population in China alone will shoot by over 350 Million people. Absolutely, this spells doom to all stakeholders unless policy and infrastructure is laid down to avert the possible looming crisis. Carbon Disclosure Project and Accenture (2010) call for the need to find a state of equilibrium between urbanization and sustainability.

Climate Leadership Campaign 2020 suggests that a possible structural adjustment for transition into the post-carbon economy may be a solution to the crisis of the increasing human population in cities and urban regions. Other studies and reports such as; Suzuki et al (2009), Fiona (2010), Greg (2010) and Steve (2010) delve into the need for redesigning and creation of cities that greatly considers and minimizes the adverse effects of city inhabitants on the environment (Shenyang Environmental Protection Bureau 2005).

This study will, therefore, draw much of the required information from keenly following the Hangzhou and Shangai China Eastern Sustainable Cities Projects and May (2008) to correlate their relevance to the case under study.

May (2008) researches on a case of implementation of sustainable development in Huangbaiyu with its initial promise of residents reaping the urban privileges without adversely impacting on the planet, but which resulted in the relocation and displacement of well over four hundred families and radically affected their lives and resulted in continuation of inequalities in resource distributions and allocations.

Chan and Taylor (2008) ran a story on Hundreds of Shangai protests on the Shangai Maglev rail extension in fear of their health and lives, noise and loss of property. The China Sustainable Cities Program is evidently commendable and intended for the good of both humanity and environment. Even with the likes of Hangzhou and Shangai China Eastern Sustainable Cities Projects, there may be underlying risks inherent in the program roll out that may need to be adequately addressed (Steffen 2010).

Proposed Methodology

The author of this study proposes the use of quantitative research approach and use of the questionnaire as the primary data collection tool in investigating the China Cities Sustainable program’s improvements in the social aspect, its sustainability potential, the program’s feasibility and its co-benefits and trade-offs. The study will entail analysis of Hangzhou and Shanghai China Eastern sustainable cities projects in the above programme, and correlate the results of its analysis with the China Sustainable Cities Program.

The research aims at getting responses from a wider universe comprising Urban/city planners, policy makers, scientists and ecologists, private parties, interest groups and representatives from the NGO world on their perceived inherent risks in the roll out of the program with inferences from the Hangzhou and Shangai project implementation success and failures (Shenyang Environmental Protection Bureau 2005).

To enhance empirical validity of the proposed data collection tool (Nachmias & Nachmias 1996), the questionnaire is pretested on a smaller scale to remove any ambiguity, which ensures that the tool captures relevant and consistent information. This, as well, is in line with Dawson (2009), who insinuates that piloting of data collection tools is paramount in enabling the researchers identify if the tool for data collection is up to the task, and provides a measure for the empirical validity of the results.

The author recommends the use of test-retest method to reaffirm the reliability of the data collected. Nachmias and Nachmias (1996) defines the test-retest method as administering the measurement instrument to the same sample population surveyed at different times and analyse correlations between the responses and data collected (Wuhan Environmental Protection Bureau 2005).

Sample Selection

The author proposes data collection from a heterogeneous sample consisting of scientists, ecologists, representatives from the NGO sector, policy makers, private parties and interest groups.

Nachmias and Nachmias (1996) define heterogeneous samples as those consisting of persons who disagree with each other in some way (this may be in terms of their areas of expertise or interests) that might influence the phenomenon of interest. According to Dawson (2009), heterogeneity gives a true representation of the sample under study and greatly minimizes bias levels.

With limited resources and cost considerations, the author of the research proposes to randomly select two hundred participants, evenly distributed in numbers among the classes of participants identified (Ecologists, Scientists, Policy Makers, Interested and Private Parties and NGO representatives) for the rationale of data gathering for this study (Kunreuther 1997; Insag 1992; Horlick-Jones 1995).

Data Analysis

Data collected shall be analyzed with the help of the SPSS. It will be used to undertake correlation, cluster analysis and analysis of variance. The results from different variables will be taken, raw data analyzed and information drawn accordingly. Information will be presented in the form of tables, graphs, charts and correlation graphs and tables (Dong & Yang 2008).

Limitations and Recommendations

Unlike longitudinal designs in research, which cover a considerable length of period, this research is limited by time and cost constraints and hence adopts a cross-sectional design. To some extent, this may make it insufficient to make accurate studies on the possible risks that may arise on the roll out of the China Sustainable Cities Program (Dressel 2001; Geschwind 2001).

The author of this research, therefore, proposes that future research on the same to be carried out and the sample to be enlarged to include other categories of respondents who may include urban/city residents, and land economists among others (Brown, Kroszner & Jenn 2002). The researcher also recommends an extended study on risks noted in other projects of the kind in other countries and regions, and how the planners manage to combat the risks (Dressel 2001; Geschwind 2001).

References

Brown, R. J., Kroszner, K. & Jenn, B. 2002, Federal Terrorism Risk Insurance, National Bureau of Economic Research meeting, London.

Cadle, J. & Yeates, D. 2004, Prentice Hall, Harlow, London.

Carbon Disclosure Project and Accenture 2010, The Case for City Disclosure. Web.

Chan, R. & Taylor, S. 2008, . Web.

Chandra, P. 2009, Projects Planning, Analysis, Selection, Financing, Implementation, and Review, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi.

CNKI 2007, Livable City Scientific Evaluation Standards: is formally issued in Beijing. Web.

Dawson, C. 2009, Research Methods: A practical guide for anyone undertaking a research project, 4th ed, How to Books Ltd, Oxford.

Dong, X. F. & Yang, B. J. 2008, ‘The Advancement of Construction and Research on Livable City in China’, Earth Science, vol. 23 no. 3, pp. 323–326.

Dressel, K. 2001, Systemic Risk: A New Challenge for Risk Management, OCED, London.

Eva, K., Hage, M. & Ton., D. 2010, . Web.

Fiona, H. 2010, . Web.

Geschwind, C. H. 2001, California Earthquakes, Science, Risk and the Politics of Hazard Mitigation. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Greg, L. 2010, . Web.

Horlick-Jones, T. 1995, ‘Modern Disasters as Outrage and Betrayal’, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, vol. 13 no. 3, pp. 305-315.

Insag, P. 1992, ‘The Chernobyl Accident: Updating of INSAG-1. A report by the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group’, IAEA Safety Series, No. 75- INSAG 7.

Kothari, C. R. 2004, Research Methodology: Methods and techniques, New Age international Limited, New Delhi.

Kunreuther, H. 1997, ‘Rethinking Society’s Management of Catastrophic Risks’, The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance, vol. 83 no. 5, pp. 151-176.

May, S. 2008, Ecological citizenship and a plan for sustainable development, SAGE, New York.

McKinsey Global Institute 2009, Preparing for China’s Urban Billion, MGI, Hong Kong.

Nachmias. C. F. & Nachmias. D. 1996, Research methods in social sciences, Arnold, London.

Register, R. 1987, Ecocity Berkeley: Building cities for a healthy future, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley.

2008, Ecocity Media. Web.

Sassen, S. 2009, .Web.

Shenyang Environmental Protection Bureau 2005, Sustainable Shenyang Programme. Web.

Slovic, P. 1993, ‘Perceived Risk, Trust, and Democracy: A Systems Perspective’, Risk Analysis, vol.13 no. 1, pp. 675-682.

Steffen, L. 2010,The Principles of Green Urbanism. Transforming the City for Sustainability, Earthscan Publisher, London.

Steve, L. 2010, Bringing Efficiency to Infrastructure. Web.

Suzuki, H., Dastur, A., Moffatt, S., & Yabuki, N. 2009, Ecological cities as economic cities, Eco2 Cities, conference edition, Hong Kong.

The UN HABITAT: State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011, Bridging the Urban Divide. Web.

UN-Habitat 2009, United Nations Human Settlements Programme. Sustainable Cities Programme 1990–2000: A Decade of United Nations Support for Broad-based participatory management of Urban Development. Web.

Wuhan Environmental Protection Bureau 2005, Sustainable Wuhan Programme. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Implementing China Sustainable Cities Programme: Potential Risks and Appropriate Risk Management Schemes'. 25 May.

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