Conference on Resilient Cities

Event: Sustainable Growth Model

Together with Shanghai Municipal Government’s Counsellors’ Office and around 100 guests, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Shanghai Representative Office discussed on November 15th and 16th, 2021, how cities can deal with vulnerability and transform themselves into ‘resilient cities’.

Cities are the driver for economic upswing and societal prosperity. Therefore, urbanization is an incessant phenomenon in many countries in the world. However, as the number of inhabitants increases, so does the complexity of cities and thus their vulnerability.

In their welcome remarks, Chen Qun, vice-mayor of Shanghai, and FES executive board member Sabine Fandrych both emphasized the importance of finding solutions to this topic in current times.

The first day focused on the subtopics “urban development” and “climate adaption”. Giving examples from China and Germany, experts debated that resilience means seeing the city as an interrelated system with governance as its pivotal actor. Governmental strategies and actions should then subsequently be supported and assisted by all members and stakeholders.

For Shanghai as one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world, it became distinct that technology will play a big role in the future design of resilience. Artificial Intelligence shall bring smart solutions for early detection of disasters, traffic control and infrastructure through futuristic planning and design system channels for intelligent greening of the city.

Giving the example of the city of Hamburg, it became prevalent that cities do not only try to avert the consequences of the climate change, but also initiate a paradigm shift on the governance level. The adaptive concept “living with water” represents a new way of thinking compared to the widespread research for mitigating rising sea levels.

On the second day, the focus was on “mobility”, acting as the pivotal city function. The commonalities between China and Germany became distinct, as urban mobility systems face similar challenges globally caused by weather phenomena, traffic and infrastructure disorders.

In many fast-growing cities, spatial areas become continuously scarce. Therefore, new hubs and the homogeneous and quick setup of infrastructure are two emerging necessities. In addition, new forms of mobility and mobility services should give relief to traffic congestion and ecological burden. Experts from both countries also emphasized the call for a 15-minute city or life circles that increase availability and accessibility for everybody.

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