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Sustainable Cities Programme in China

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Sustainable Shenyang Project

Brief Introduction of Shenyang City

Shenyang is the largest city in the Northeast of China and having developed as a leading heavy industrial city for the country. Over more recent years it has become the main transportation node, political, economic, cultural, scientific, technical and commercial center of Liaoning Province; known as "the birthplace of one dynasty, and the capital of two generations of Kings".

Sustainable Shenyang Project (SSP)

In May 1997, UNDP, UN-HABITAT, Shenyang Municipal Government, and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE) formally launched the SSP project, which made Shenyang part of the fist global SCP demonstration cities. This project was financed by the UNDP with technical support from UN-HABITAT, nationally executed by The China International Center for Economic and Technical exchange (CICETE) of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC); and locally implemented by the Shenyang Environmental Protection Bureau, UNEP-IETC provided some financial assistance and technical support through the introduction of Environmental Risk Assessment (EnRA) & Environmental Technology Assessment (EnTA). Project support aimed to solve Shenyang's environmental problems through improved environmental planning and management capacity. Whilst SSP finished in June 2000, the city has continued to play an important role in disseminating its experiences to other cities in China and the Region.

Shenyang Environmental Profile

The Profile analyses the impact of urbanization on the city's resource base, by describing the interaction between development activities and environmental resources, assessing environmental management capacities and operational mechanisms that restricted the harmonious development of the city. The profile utilized international environmental planning and management methodologies to collect data and identify the main environmental problems such us air pollution, river pollution and solid waste. The process identified the key stakeholders that had to be mobilized to promote the sustainable development of Shenyang's environment.

Shenyang City Consultation

The City Consultation was held in May 1998, when 337 participants including representatives from international organizations, government, scientific and research institutes, and universities attended the three-day event. Three consultation groups were established to discuss the causes and suggest strategic solutions to the air and river water quality, and solid waste management problems being faced; resulting in four cross-sectoral working groups being established to strengthen Air Pollution Prevention, Groundwater Resources Protection, Water Pollution Control, and Urban Domestic Waste Disposal Management. A draft strategy and implementation action plan was defined by the end of the conference and announced to all participants, which enhanced follow up project implementation.

Key Environmental Issues and Demonstration Projects

Priority Issues
  • Air pollution
  • Inadequate water supply and quality
  • Liquid Waste Management
  • Industrial Re-structuring and Technology
Demonstration Projects
  • Introduction of unleaded petrol
  • Dual water distribution in Teixi District
  • Construction of the North Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Closure of the Copper smelting plant
  • Creation of Industrial Parks

Shenyang Air Quality Improvement Strategy

Shenyang Air Quality Improvement Strategy

Results and Lessons Learned


  • Mobilized the broad-based participation of key stakeholders, strengthened cross-sectoral coordination, and increased public participation and environmental awareness of decision makers and the general public.
  • Mobilized high-level political support from the Mayor and other leading group members to strengthen environmental protection and enforcement actions, which elevated the status, negotiating position, and impact of the EPB.
  • The Mayor embarked on a number of environmental improvement campaigns across the city.
  • Established a "Hot Line -- Green Channel" to strengthen citizens participation
  • Local institutional capacities were strengthened, based on the Working Groups established during project implementation.
  • Conducted a series of environmental protection measures which enforced policy regulations and standards that reduced air pollution; including the closure of the Shenyang smelter, small stove burners, and introduced clean coal for district central heating systems.
  • Banned the use of lead gasoline, which reduced lead pollutants from vehicle exhaust by 93.6%
  • Relocated several enterprises from the city center all of which contributed to Shenyang dropping out of the WHO list of the ten most polluted air shed in the world
  • City Greening programmes were implemented, beautifying and recovering 30% of the green areas
  • Negotiated industrialist "cleaner production" strategies to reduce end of pipe impacts through new technology investments.
  • Built two waste water treatment facilities with capacities of 400,000m3 and 100,000m3 per day, benefiting 800,000 people.
  • Introduced gray-water treatment and recycling as part of a water resource management strategy
  • Built three disposal facilities for solid waste
  • Awarded the UN-HABITAT Scroll Honor.

Lessons Learned

  • Strong political support through the "Leading Group" implementation structure drove project development, ensuring effective and coordinated sustainable strategy implementation. This provided not only the necessary human and material resources, but also played an important role in policy adjustment and departmental coordination.
  • Extensive participation and publicity amongst government departments, communities, enterprises and the emerging private sector were important foundations to implement SSP
  • Well designed project profiles through international cooperation can help introduce innovative environmental protection processes and foster coordination within the government and participation from public groups
  • Sustained communication with international organizations and amongst Municipal departments can improve project management capacities and facilitate the introduction of new experiences to build a harmonious city.

Key Contacts and Associates

Shenyang Municipal Government

Shenyang Environmental Protection Bureau

Website: (Chinese)


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