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Urban Development

Building a Climate-Resilient “Sponge City” in Jiangxi Province, People’s Republic of China

  • Project Name: Jiangxi Pingxiang Integrated Rural–Urban Infrastructure Development
  • Region/Country: East Asia/People’s Republic of China
  • Sector and Themes: Urban Development
  • Year: 2015-2022
  • Project Leaders: Stefan Rau
Building a Climate-Resilient “Sponge City” in Jiangxi Province, People’s Republic of China
ADB is working with the People’s Republic of China to address flooding and other water management problems in Jiangxi Province, which are holding back development and growth.

Picture a whole city that absorbs, harvests, stores, filters, purifies, and slowly releases rainwater, like a sponge.

Development challenge

Situated in flood-prone Jiangxi province, Pingxiang—one of the poorer cities in the PRC—is hindered by inadequate flood risk management, suboptimal wastewater and solid waste management, and environmental pollution. Within the city boundaries, there is a clear rural–urban divide. If unsustainable urban development were to persist, the social, economic, and environmental divide between urban and rural areas of Pingxiang would worsen. Pingxiang was chosen as one of 12 cities for industry transformation and diversification, and for implementing an innovative approach to rural–urban integration.

Solution

ADB collaborated with the Jiangxi provincial and Pingxiang municipal governments on sustainable urban–rural development with a $150 million loan. The project contributed to making Pingxiang a pilot “Sponge City”—a flood-resilient urban and rural territory and community. It designed and implemented best practices in integrated ecological flood risk management and river rehabilitation using a green infrastructure and nature-based solutions approach. It also integrated farmland irrigation. The project supported wastewater collection and treatment in county cities and towns by expanding sewer pipe networks and building state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plants. The project improved connectivity between the city, small towns, and industrial areas with construction of a new 44-kilometer rural–urban road.

Knowledge products and services delivered

The project continues to implement several features and knowledge services. These include capacity building of PRC government officials through workshops and on-the job training, study tours, and stakeholder technical consultation. Training materials on the Pingxiang project’s approach and design have benefited many. The project was publicized through articles in Chinese newspapers and on the ADB website. A book Creating Livable Cities in Asia, includes this project and a description of the sponge city concept.

The project is financing flood protection works
The project is financing flood protection works, river and wetlands rehabilitation, irrigation system upgrades, and wastewater treatment in four main urban sub-centers in the province, including Pingxiang.

Impact and results

The project is well on the way to helping Pingxiang establish itself as an important and innovative pilot “Sponge City” covering urban and rural areas. All river rehabilitation works are under construction, and some are already completed. This is expected to benefit about 308,000 farmers and rural and urban residents directly from reduced flood risk.

A total of 96 kilometers of sewer pipelines have been installed. A wastewater treatment plant and associated sewers are under construction, benefiting around 175,000 residents. Road construction and associated safety and public transport features as well as landscape improvements have been completed. The new road financed by the project will benefit about 247,000 residents and positively impact villages, schools, and industrial areas.

Lessons for Replication

Cities can benefit from lessons learned from this project. The integrated approach of managing rivers on a catchment basis and applying ecosystem-based adaptation and nature-based solutions is cost effective, delivers a high-level of flood protection, and delivers additional ecosystem service benefits like water cleansing and filtration, urban air quality improvement, recreational amenities for residents, and land value increase.

Using inteligently planned urban green spaces
Using inteligently planned urban green spaces as blue-green networks will retain, naturally infiltrate, and slow down stone water. Asia’s cities can significantly reduce the risk of floods and manage water resources in a sustainable way, while also making cities more livable and green.

Climate-resilient farming and rural–urban flood risk partnerships are among the innovative features that may be replicated elsewhere. Other municipalities can look at the strategic approaches to climate risk assessments and investments in rural or peri-urban subcenters to promote inclusive development. Finally, the project provides insights on engaging local communities on reducing environmental pollution and increasing road safety.

Using inteligently planned urban green spaces
Using intelligently planned urban green spaces as blue-green networks will retain, naturally infiltrate, and slow down stone water. Asia’s cities can significantly reduce the risk of floods and manage water resources in a sustainable way, while also making cities more livable and green.

We have been suffering from more and severe floods in recent years and the project will be reducing the risk of floods for many people in Lianhua county. We are very grateful for the integration of wetland rehabilitation and improving flood resilience which will create benefits for our residents, and also attract tourists as they will enjoy the wetlands and make Lianhua an even more pleasant as well as safer place to live and visit.

—He Tian Hua, Vice Mayor, Lianhua County
Hashtags:
#PRC #Jiangxi #Pingxiang #UrbanDevelopment #SpongeCity #Floods #ClimateResilience
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