Beijing Hosts Third World Metropolitan Transport Development Forum
On October 24 and 25, Beijing, China hosted the third World Metropolitan Transport Development Forum, which centered on urban transit integration, sustainability and innovation in cities. Mayors, transportation agencies, experts and scholars came from across the country, region and world to participate in the event. As a co-organizer, WRI hosted a session on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Transport Demand Management (TDM), which many authorities, academics and professionals attended. The World Metropolitan Transport Development Forum has been held every other year since 2012, and, since its inception, it has become a major platform to discuss transit-related issues among city officials and urban transport experts.
Addressing “Big City Diseases”
As China grows to be increasingly urban, cities become an important pillar for national economic development. As a result, China’s core cities, like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, need to urgently address the challenges common to many of the country’s big cities, such as traffic congestion, environmental pollution and road safety.
Holger Dalkmann, Director of Strategy and Global Policy with WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, gave the Forum’s welcome address. In his opening remarks, Dalkmann indicated that air pollution and traffic congestion are the top two challenges many Chinese cities face. These “big city diseases” will cause significant health impacts and lead to economic loss, if no mitigation strategies are implemented. Emissions from the transport sector account for 2-6 percent of GDP loss in China, and, with increased motorization, the estimated loss will continue to grow.
Holger Dalkmann, Director of Strategy and Global Policy of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, delivers the welcome address. Photo by Shiyong Qiu / WRI China Sustainable Cities
During the Forum, WRI hosted a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Transport Demand Management (TDM) session. TOD is a strategy to maximize access to public transit and encourage transit ridership, and TDM refers to a set of strategies aimed at reducing travel demand, particularly for travel in personal vehicles. TDM strategies include parking management, car sharing, transit improvement and incentives. Both TOD and TDM can dissuade vehicle use and address a wide range of “big city diseases,” such as congestion and air pollution.
WRI invited transport experts, scholars and governmental officials from China, Japan, Mexico and Chile to discuss how to effectively implement TOD and construct comprehensive policy systems, through improving public transport services, coordinating strategic deployment and employing TDM measures. Daizong Liu, WRI China Transport Program Director, shared international, comprehensive practices for TOD, including transit-oriented land-use planning in Curitiba, Brazil, public transport infrastructure construction and right-of-way safeguard in Helsinki, Finland and sustainable public transportation economy in Hong Kong, China. Additionally, Jorge Macias, Urban Development Director for the Center of Sustainable Transport at WRI Mexico, showed how Mexico City transitioned out of being the most polluted city in the world, with the help of Environmental Emergency Programs, like Low Emission Zone, fuel taxes and fleet management strategies.
While WRI's session encompassed global case studies and solutions, there was a strong focus on improvement in the host country. Lailai Li, Director of WRI China, emphasized that, as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, the best way for China to reduce energy consumption is to increase energy efficiency. The country can reduce and avoid unnecessary demand through financial incentives, regulatory TDM policies and TOD planning. Furthermore, Hongpeng Lei, China Climate Change Project Manager from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), stated that climate change poses the single biggest threat to the future of today’s children. Since cities and transport hold the key to climate change mitigation, CIFF is strongly committed to the development of low-carbon, sustainable transport in China’s cities.
Finding Local Solutions to Global Challenges
The World Metropolitan Transport Development Forum has built a prominent platform to exchange best practices and lessons in urban development across the world; it has become an important channel to discuss challenges and trends in transport development. Our team in Beijing is working alongside its Chinese partners to identify and introduce international good practices and find solutions to China’s “big city diseases.”
China’s challenges are not unique; by searching for new approaches for sustainable transport development in China, the team is also providing solutions for other countries facing similar issues. China’s success will lead the way for global solutions.
WRI’s China team promotes sustainable mobility to enable better quality of life through improving urban form, providing better and safer access for all, bringing green technologies to vehicles and other transport tools and guiding people to develop greener travel behavior. The team has been working with the Ministry of Transport, China Academy of Transportation Sciences and local transport authorities. To promote road safety, the team is also involved with the Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Development and China Academy of Urban Planning and Design to improve road safety in Shanghai and across China.