Australian experts from the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) have contributed to the guidelines released by the United Nations for the development of sustainable cities and communities in China.

China is predicted to add more than 300 million urban inhabitants in the next three decades. The situation is also quite alarming in the rest of the world; more than half of the world’s human population currently lives in cities – this is expected to rise to three-fourths by 2050.

The UN’s Sustainable Urban Development (SUC) Guidelines for Sustainable Cities and Communities in China were commissioned by the UN’s Environment Program (UNEP) and the Jai Cui (China) Environmental Promotive Centre (JCEP), under the SUC and Liveable Garden Community China Program. The report was released by the former UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang at the first International Conference on Sustainable Development in Egypt.

The Guidelines provide technical advice, sustainability goals, key performance indicators, and management toolkits, some developed by the CRCLCL, and also include Australian examples such as Josh’s House – one of the CRCLCL’s 15 Living Laboratories – and the Greater Sydney Region Plan.

“The world’s burgeoning urban population growth presents enormous developmental and environmental challenges that need to be addressed by a robust sustainable development framework,” said main author, CRCLCL CEO professor Deo Prasad, who travelled through China presenting sustainable options to government and city leaders.

The comprehensive report covers all aspects of sustainable city development and management, such as setting measures and providing technical advice regarding best practice for commercial and residential properties, and ensuring the transport plan meets certain standards. Some of the measures include maximising ventilation to reduce the need for energy-guzzling air conditioning, or increasing renewable energy production.

The report addresses issues such as water recycling, rainwater collection, water saving measures and waste management as well as utilising landscape and building design to enhance green urban features, while increasing oxygen in the atmosphere and absorbing carbon dioxide.

Senior co-author and CRCLCL researcher, associate professor Lan Ding from UNSW Sydney, says, “The publication is an A to Z of sustainable measures for urban development and includes less obvious aspects like indicators for a healthy lifestyle such as green recreation space and community facilities; access to quality and affordable aged care; economic opportunities to help business flourish; and ways to encourage community engagement and communication.”

She added that these guiding principles will directly assist Chinese cities and Governments as well as developing countries worldwide to achieve the highest international standards in sustainable cities and communities.

The UN Guidelines have been embraced by five major cities and are now being adopted globally.

Read the full report.