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Urban & Rural Governance and Planning Reform: Annual Conference of China City Planning 2014 Successfully Held in Haikou
From Sept. 13 - 15, the Annual Conference of China City Planning 2014 was held in Haikou City, Hainan Province. Around 6,000 experts and scholars attended the conference and were engaged in vigorous discussions about “Urban & Rural Governance and Planning Reform.” Contents covered almost all fields of urban & rural planning and practice, addressing numerous hot topics and difficult issues of the urban and rural planning circle.

As a social management model characterized by the coordinated efforts and joint participation of the government, market, and people, modern governance necessitates a reform of the conventional management concept and system that is centered around government-dominated resource allocation, and government-controlled market operation and social activities. This requires a redefinition of the boundary of government behavior, and a promotion of a pattern of “joint governance” by the government, enterprises, grassroots self-government organizations, and other social organizations. In this context, one topic is awaiting urgent discussions: what role should urban planning play in building the state governance system and the governance capacity?

Keeping up with the timesAt the plenary session held on the first day, invited guests for keynote speeches included: Ci CHEN, Secretary of the Haikou Municipal Party Committee; Anjun SUN, Director of the Urban Planning Division, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development; Professor Yang YAO, Director of the National Center for Economics Research, Dean of the National School of Development, Peking University; Professor Yingfang CHEN, School of International and Public Affairs, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Professor Shoulong MAO, School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China; Professor Xuefeng HE, Director of the National Research Center for Rural Governance, Huazhong University of Science and Technology; Professor Jingxiang ZHANG, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University; Professor Zilai TANG, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University; Xiaojiang LI, President of the China Academy of Urban Design & Design.

From different perspectives, experts initiated in-depth discussions on “Urban & Rural Governance and Planning Reform.” Generally, they reached the consensus that, in the context when localities seek to change development modes, to adjust industrial structure, and to benefit our people, planning should all the more keep up with the requirements of our times, conform to and serve the quality and efficiency improvement, so as to take the lead. Faced with a changed economic and social environment, planners should get rid of the singular mode of elite planning, show concern for people of all social levels, respect multiple value orientations, promote negotiations and exchanges, and actively explore an inclusive planning mode for extensive social participation. A cutting-edge forum for sharing and exchangeThe conference solicited 2,447 papers, among which 163 were represented at the 18 special meetings. In addition, the conference ran 38 parallel sessions in total, including 12 free-talk forums, 1 themed forum, 3 high-end forums, 2 special forums, and 2 working meetings. The good quality and large quantity of solicited papers, as well as the number of participators, all spoke for the prosperity of China’s urban and rural planning, demonstrating the concentrated attention paid to the theme “Urban & Rural Governance and Planning Reform” by the planning circle of China.

To cope with urban development and planning problems in the context of new-type urbanization, the conference ran several meetings, including those on increment and inventory master planning, citizenization and aging, shanty town transformation, and a special meeting on small town development. To explore how to build governance ability in urban planning under the changed social background, the conference set up several meetings, including those on the role of planning and planning reform, plan implementation and public administration, reform of the planning management system, the role of residential area planners, three categories of planning in one, and tailored regulatory planning. In the field of regional coordination, there was a special meeting on regional planning and urban economy, and a free-talk forum on coordinated regional planning. To facilitate rural human settlement changes, there was a special meeting on beautiful village planning, construction, and management, as well as a free-talk forum on rural planning and governance. To explore urban planning under ecological civilization, there were three special meetings, respectively on new-type urbanization under the guidance of eco-civilization, ecological governance and green development, and national park construction and green system improvement. As for urban feature and historic site protection, there were two special meetings, respectively on regulation and quality, urban cultural inheritance and planning reform, as well as planning history and theory. To explore new challenges and opportunities brought by new technologies, there was a special meeting on planning reform and technological innovation, and a free-talk forum on big data and urban & rural governance. To encourage young planners’ participation in urban planning research, there was a special meeting on urban & rural residential area planning and governance.

In addition, several parallel sessions were set up in the fields of master planning, residential area planning, development area construction, traffic space and its improvement strategy, planning compilation and practice for urban and rural disaster prevention, and also planning education. Two special forums featuring overseas experience were held in collaboration with the Hong Kong Institute of Planners and the Macao Urban Planning Institute respectively.

Promoting scientific spirits and public valuesThe opening ceremony was started with brief deliveries by government officials, followed by a ceremony to award individual and collective winners for a series of academic and non-profit events held by the Urban Planning Society of China (UPSC).

As the only state-level society in urban planning, UPSC is dedicated to fully motivating scientific and technical (S&T) workers in urban planning, with a mission to promote academic exchange, to encourage the innovation of scientific knowledge, and to accelerate social development. Benefiting from its concentrated material and personnel resources, UPSC has not only built cooperation platforms, but launched numerous featured and influential events in response to the demands of the planning industry and the Society members. These events have received wide recognition as well as public praise, which in turn constantly enhanced the Society’s academic influence, member cohesion, and social credibility. The theme of the 2014 annual conference, entitled “Urban & Rural Governance and Planning Reform,” has on the one hand fully reflected UPSC’s innovative spirits and historical responsibilities, and on the other hand expressed S&T workers’ wish to contribute their intelligence to the construction of an innovation-oriented country by serving for its urban and rural issues.

Afterwards, a commending and awarding ceremony was held. At first, UPSC issued the 2014 Outstanding Organization Awards to commend its member units who actively participated in the annual conference. The objective of the ceremony is to promote scientific spirit, encourage scientific advancement, as well as cultivate and recommend scientists through non-profit scientific awards. Then, certificates of merit and medals were awarded to winners of the “Light of the West” Summer-Vacation Planning and Design Competition for College Students and for the 6th “Truth Seeking” Paper Competition, as well as S&T Workers of Excellence in Urban Planning.

Through a series of academic and non-profit events, UPSC aims to promote the scientificity and standardization of both theoretical and practical studies in urban planning, as well as to promote scientific spirit and public values of China’s urban and rural planning circle.

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