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Dongtan: China firms up eco-city proposal

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On January 19, UK prime minister Gordon Brown and Shanghai mayor Han Zheng watched the signing of a landmark memorandum of understanding in Shanghai. At stake is a model for building eco-cities in China: a step to bring environmental sustainability to the country that arguably presents the gravest threat of all to the local and global environment.

The focus of this ideal is a place called Dongtan, which sits on Chongming Island in the mouth of the Yangtze river near Shanghai. Here, the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC), Arup, HSBC and Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL) have agreed a partnership to work out how such a city can be planned, funded and built – not just in Dongtan, but elsewhere in China and around the world.

SIIC engaged Arup in 2005, with HSBC and SDCL joining along the way, but it is the signing in Shanghai that really gives the clearest signal that Dongtan is actually going to happen.

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