Sustainable urbanization

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, July 6, 2010
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China, as the most populous nation in the world, cannot afford to stumble when it comes to its family planning policy. Neither should it chart a development roadmap without taking into consideration its demographic realities.

The country's population is likely to touch 1.4 billion by the end of 2015, and as many as 700 million people will be living in urban areas, according to estimates from the National Population and Family Planning Commission. This will be the first time that the number of urban residents will surpass that of rural areas.

The implication is that the amount of energy and other resources that will be consumed by such a large number of urbanites will increase rapidly, since the urban way of life has proved to be more resource intensive than its rural counterpart. So, it has become yet more urgent that China realizes its target of reducing energy intensity by 20 percent per unit of its production output and 10 percent of its total discharge of pollutants by the end of this year.

In fact, the country needs to do much more to ensure sustainable development, as its population will likely peak at 1.5 billion in 20 years' time, before it starts to taper off.

The central government must strive to make urban life more resource efficient and environment friendly.

For instance, 90 percent of the country's cities suffer from water shortages. If the nation can effectively use recycled water for purposes other than drinking, it will contribute greatly to warding off water scarcity in big metros.

Despite pressures from a rapidly aging population - the number of people over 60 years of age is expected to increase by 8 million annually to 200 million by the end of 2015 - the family planning policy needs to be retained to ensure the country's long-term development.

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