Category Archives: Ricci, Andrea

UrbaChina survey on “2050 – Storylines for Chinese cities”

The UrbaChina project is committed to devise long-term qualitative scenarios (2050) on the future of China urbanisation. In their final form, the narrative storylines will support the elaboration of policy recommendations on the four main pillars of the project: urban governance, economy, lifestyles, city planning and life. 

Storylines at the year 2050 are designed to help decision-makers and stakeholders “think outside the box” and to identify strategies, including for the medium term (e.g. to 2020-2025), to move towards desirable futures. The approach adopted is highly participatory, and relies heavily on the inputs provided by the project partners and by a wide community of experts from all world regions through on-line surveys and a series of dedicated workshops.

Building the UrbaChina Scenarios

We started by identifying the main critical uncertainties associated to the urbanisation process. These include macro drivers that affect the overall socio-economic framework of China, such as the ageing of population, the increase in the cost of labour, the pace of technological progress and its impact on economic efficiency, and the increasing attention towards the development of human capital, but also drivers that bear a specific relevance in the urban framework, such as the optimisation of land use, the increasing attention towards the urbanisation of people (as opposed to the urbanisation of land), and policy reforms such as notably that of the hukou system.

A scenario logic was then proposed, based on the combination of two main dimensions: (i) the pace of economic growth (and the priority it keeps receiving in the formulation of public policies), and (ii) the pace and nature of policy reforms. The four scenarios accordingly envisaged are illustrated in the scheme below.

Two of these scenarios were retained for full storylines development :

  • the “Bamboo” scenario, which features rapid, unregulated growth, and accelerated pace of production and consumption, constant change associated with the triumph of a global economic dimension
  • the “ginkgo biloba” scenario, pointing to a solid, slow and more structured growth, with strong roots in the contextual socio-economic and ecological environment, and a progressive build-up of systemic resilience, where the regulative dimension prevails as a driver.

 urbachina scenarios

The survey is on-line!

A survey is now on-line to help us developing the pathways and identifying policy changes that are required to reach one or the other of the two scenarios.

It features three main sections:

  • in the first we invite comments on the storylines and suggestions to improve them along the four main policy areas: urban governance, economy, lifestyles, city planning and life. 
  • in the second we elicit “educated guesses” on the foreseeable evolution of nine selected urbanisation indicators.
  • in the third section we invite you to suggest three wild cards that would apply, in general, to all cities and all scenarios

Your input and feedback are essential in order to fine-tune the storylines description and identify the scenarios pathways and milestones!

Please use your knowledge and imagination and answer the survey at:


Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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POREEN programme kick off meeting

On January 28th 2013 the Kick off meeting officially launched the EU funded project, POREEN (Partnering Opportunities between Europe and China in the Renewable Energies and Environmental iNdustries), a Marie Curie project focused on Europe-China cooperation in the green sector.
The POREEN project is funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. It is a People Marie Curie Action – an International Research Staff Exchange Scheme – whose aim is to help research organisations to set up or strengthen long-term cooperation with others, through a coordinated exchange programme for their staff.

POREEN project aims at increasing the availability of interdisciplinary studies providing a comprehensive overview (technical, legal and economic) of Europe-China relations in the renewable energy and the environmental sectors in order to support the development of a more rapid, sustainable and flexible industry in these sectors.

Dr. Andrea Ricci (ISIS), member of the UrbaChina programme  attended POREEN kick off meeting and made a presentation about UrbaChina)

Detailed information on the project, goals, activities and events can be found at:

The Consortium is formed by 9 Institutions, University of Macerata (Prof. Francesca Spigarelli) is the coordinating institution.


  • University of Macerata (Italy)
  • Polytechnic University of Marche (Italy)
  • Instituto Universitario di Studi Europei (Italy)
  • Toulouse Business School (France)
  • University of Ulster (United Kingdom)


  • Beijing Normal University
  • East China University of Political Science and Law
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • Tongji University of Shnaghai

POREEN kick off meeting programme

POREEN brochure

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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UrbaChina Paris workshop

On December 20, 2012, an UrbaChina workshop was held in Paris. Every European academic member of the consortium was represented. Cristina Marcuzzo (European Commission) attended this meeting and highlighted the importance of the UrbaChina FP7 programme on the future of EU-China academic relations. This meeting was an opportunity for the participants to review the work and progress made so far.

From left to right: Hanna Ai (CNRS), Cristina Marcuzzo (EU commission), Stephan Feuchtwang (LSE), Jacqueline Nivard (EHESS), François Gipouloux (CNRS), Athar Hussain (LSE), Andrea Ricci (ISIS)

Each workpackage leader presented to the audience his or her first fieldtrip results and his or her observations about a particular topic on China’s urbanisation trends.

  • Prof. Gipouloux (CNRS) and Prof. Daniels (University of Birmingham) focused on the consequences of fiscal policies on urban design and service industries in Chinese cities.
  • Prof. Hussain (LSE) presented the audience with his latest results of studies on property rights in Chongqing.
  • After a presentation on urban planning, Prof. Bina (ICS) and Dr. Ricci (ISIS) focused on the predominance of economic growth as the main driving force behind urban policies in China.
  • Prof. Feuchtwang (LSE) pointed out the difficulties that municipalities face in building low cost housing.

Management and dissemination issues were also discussed during this workshop. Participants agreed to increased cooperation for fieldtrips. They also decided to start conducting surveys on improving syllabuses for urban studies in Chinese and European academic institutions.

The second international UrbaChina conference, including both European and Chinese institutions, will be held in Kunming, China on June 3-5, 2013.

「城镇化中国」项目于2012年12月20日在巴黎召开欧盟伙伴会议,席中每一位欧盟成员皆出席,欧盟委员会(European Commission)的Cristina Marcuzzo在会议中再次强调了欧盟第七架盟下: 「城镇化中国」项目中,欧盟与中国伙伴间合作交流关系的重要性。此次会议的目的,在于提供与会者交流并检讨过去项目计划的缺失与改进方法。

「城镇化中国」项目计划中的每位专题主持人,皆介绍了他们的调研成果与发现,也分享了他们对未来中国城镇化的看法 :

  • Gipouloux教授(法国国家科学研究院)与 Daniels教授(英国伯明翰大学)针对中国城市的税务政策与服务性产业发展提出看法。
  • Bina教授(萄葡牙里斯本大学)与 Ricci博士(罗马系统整合研究中心)在介绍城市规划现况后,认为经济增长是中国城市政策实施的主要动力。
  • Feuchtwang 教授 (伦敦政经学院)则针对城镇化中面对的困难提出看法,例如设立廉租房的议题等。
  • Hussain 教授(伦敦政经学院)则介绍了他对于重庆产权的最新研究成果。

会议中也针对「城镇化中国」项目研究成果的管理与未来传播管道进行讨论,与会成员皆赞同未来各专题间共同参与调研的可能。在项目计划专题6 (Workpackage 6)中,未来将对中国与欧洲学术机构在促成城镇化发展中,所开设的课程进行比较研究。


Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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UrbaChina at the EU-China Mayors’ Forum – Brussels

In the framework of the recently established EU-China partnership on urbanisation, a major event was organized in Brussels on 19/20 September to launch the EU-China Mayors’ Forum. Several hundreds of mayors from both Regions attended the plenary sessions as well as the side events focusing  on specific themes.

Olivia Bina (1st person on the right) and Andrea Ricci (3rd person on the right) attending the EU-China Mayors’ Forum

The workshop on “Research for Sustainable Urbanisation – Turning Challenges into Opportunities” turned out to be the one attracting the largest participation. It featured URBACHINA as one of the three research initiatives of the EU dealing with urbanization issues (together with Urban Europe and the Smart City Platform), and the only EU-China joint research project in the field.

Andrea Ricci (ISIS) and Olivia Bina (ICS Lisbon), partners of UrbaChina, illustrated the main features of the project and its current advancement. They highlighted the interdisciplinary and historical as well as comparative and future-oriented approach to achieve the overall objectives of enhancing the common understanding of urbanisation trends in both China and Europe. More specifically, UrbaChina is expected to identify the main challenges and characteristics of urban sustainability in China’s rapidly changing context, combining perspectives from economics, political sciences, anthropology, sociology, geography and environmental sciences. The project seeks to engage policy-makers and society in discussing and exploring sustainability issues through strong dissemination strategies, and to strengthen the EU-China cooperation in the field of Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities.

Ricci and Bina illustrated in some detail one aspect of the project, which aims to adopt the concept of “functional regions” as a geo-administrative analytical framework for thinking about sustainable urban development in China. They reported some preliminary comparative case study results of the concept’s application to the City of Huangshan and two city-regions in Europe, and highlighted issues linked to sprawl and lock-in due to urban design chocies.  The focus of UrbaChina on future-oriented scenario studies raised considerable interest from the audience, confirming that this line of joint investigation can also provide meaningful opportunities for cooperation between Europe and China.

Further information:

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Interview with Andrea Ricci

Following the EU-China Mayors’s Forum on September  20 2012, Andrea Ricci gave an interview to News Eurideas, a Brussels-based company specialised in linguistic services.

Europe’s 2020 growth agenda and China’s 12th Five Year Plan make way for opportunities for China-EU cooperation to develop in areas such as urbanisation. Both China and Europe have to tackle the challenge of dealing with ageing populations, the growth of mega-cities and setting up the foundations for an inclusive society. Have common goals and the exchange of best practices been fruitful for both entities in the field of sustainable urbanisation?

Indeed, the ultimate goal is common to the EU and China: to ensure the sustainability of their cities. It is, however, too early to draw lessons from the experience of cooperation so far: a structured, strategy-driven cooperation has only been devised recently, while in past years cooperation activities have been rather uncoordinated and often left to the initiative of individual Member States. On the other hand, although the ultimate goal is shared, the EU and China are following quite different paths, owing to past history and to the differentiated challenges and constraints that characterise their respective socio-economic and political contexts: China looks at city sustainability in the context of a very fast growing economy and of a massive movement of population from rural to urban settlements, which is not the case for the EU, where the overall structure and pattern of urban settlements is rather stabilised, and has in fact contributed to the growing awareness of the severity of the environmental impacts potentially associated with urbanisation. 

The EU-China Urbanisation Partnership covers a lot of ground and it has ambitious goals. Has energy proven to be a central factor in urban policies?

Energy is one of the preferred fields of cooperation between the EU and China, and this was the case even before urbanisation was identified as a priority for cooperation: several flagship initiatives, such as the EU China Clean Energy Centre, have already been successfully launched. The EU-China Urbanisation Partnership now follows an agenda that clearly confirms and reinforces the priority role of energy, and does so in a context that should help streamline concrete cooperation, based on the commonality of energy-related issues in cities across the planet, on both the supply and demand side: the integration of renewable sources in high density settlements, the smart provision and use of electricity, energy efficiency in buildings, and electromobility, to name a few.

How about the concept of Smart Cities? Has it proven to be a viable policy, central to our EU-China cooperation on urbanisation?

Smart Cities have been so far looked at primarily from the energy angle, which has the merit of laying concrete ground for cooperation in an area that certainly has a considerable potential, and expected impacts are high at both the local (city) and the global level (e.g. through the reduction of GHG emissions). The Smart City concept, however, encompasses a much wider range of drivers, impacts, policies and technologies, which will hopefully be integrated in the EU-China cooperation framework. For instance, the interrelation between urban form (and land use patterns) and the potential “smartness” of cities, is a key element in urban development and this should be explicitly recognized.

What instruments for bilateral cooperation have been used between China and the EU so far?

The range of instruments is rather broad, from research all the way to policy agreements, including demonstration projects, exchanges of best practices, twinning programmes, technology transfer and support services such as those targeted by the above mentioned EU-China Clean Energy Centre. Each of those can be potentially effective, provided that their design and implementation are part of an integrated strategy. The URBACHINA project, funded within FP7, is a good example of how EU and China can, with the same instrument, pursue the dual objective of (i) jointly addressing common challenges while (ii) establishing and reinforcing the cooperative relationship in the field of social sciences.

Interview full version 

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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UrbaChina scenarios workshop n°1 (Renmin university)

Last October, Olivia Bina (ICS) and Andrea Ricci (ISIS), members of the UrbaChina programme attended a workshop on urban scenarios at Renmin University in Beijing.

The main objective of this workshop was to start to design scenarios on urbanisation in China. Many interesting concepts and challenges were discussed during this meeting.

Participants studied the common perception of overall strategic societal goals (wellbeing, equity and environmental sustainability) and insisted on the need to specify ‘material’ wellbeing in the case of China.

This conference also highlighted the strategic choices made through China’s urbanisation process:

  • Urban form (density versus sprawl)
  • Self sufficiency (specialized versus diversified)
  • Economic activity (industry versus services).

A second workshop will be held in Spring 2013. Participants will design, in a realistic way, the possible scenarios for Chinese urbanisation.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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