Sustainability outcomes and policy implications: Evaluating China’s “old urban neighborhood renewal” experiment

Rui Wang, Hong Wu, Robert Chiles, Yizhao Yang

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Globally, old urban neighborhood transformation has become a new urban sustainability focus for its significant contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11. A regeneration-oriented approach is particularly important for Chinese cities with a dwindling land supply, obsoleting infrastructure, and inadequate standard of living. Using a mixed-methods approach informed by BREEAM Communities, we examined two Chinese initiatives—old urban neighborhood renewal (OUNR) and sponge city development (SCD) —through a comprehensive study of pilot project sustainability, policy emphases and gaps, and broader governance implications. We found that SCD’s top-down technocratic management was highly efficient in enhancing neighborhood hydrological functions and physical environment. However, successes were undermined by the lack of climate considerations and civic participation. Besides actionable recommendations for applied scholarship and policymaking in China, we provide insight into how the OUNR/SCD initiatives may broadly inform worldwide urban regeneration practices through project and policy experimentations that build adaptive capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0301380
JournalPloS one
Issue number4 April
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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