World Bank Report Proposes Priorities for Sustainable Urbanization

World Bank25 March 2014: ‘Urban China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization,' a report by the World Bank and China's Development Research Center, proposes a ‘new urbanization' path that will be environmentally sustainable, ensure food security, better allocate capital, labor and land, and place people at its center.

The report describes six policy priorities: reforming land management and institutions; reforming the hukou household-registration system; ensuring that a higher proportion of local expenditures is financed by local revenue; reforming urban planning and design; managing environmental pressures; and improving local governance.

On land management and institutions, the report finds that China's available farmland is close to the minimum level needed to ensure food security. It recommends more efficient land use, including stronger property rights for farmers, higher compensation for land requisition, and limits on rural land taken by local governments.

Enforcement is the most critical task in greener urbanization, according to the report. It recommends, inter alia: taxes and trading systems for air and water pollution, carbon and energy; and improving institutions to enable better environmental management.

“It will be difficult for any country to reach middle-income status and beyond without getting urbanization right,” declared Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, The World Bank Group, at the International Conference on Urban China, where the report was launched. He added that urbanization creates enormous opportunities for managing climate and disaster risk and saving energy, land and natural resources. Indrawati underscored the report's applicability beyond China, stating that “China's success in urbanization will lead the way for global solutions.” [World Bank Press Release] [Publication: Urban China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization] [Indrawati Statement] [Infographic on Higher Density Cities] [Infographic on Urbanization]