2008 Congress Report, Dalian, China
“Urban Growth without Sprawl”
The following points would outline the wide-ranging debates during the congress, centred 120 carefully selected papers and about 15 invited contributions, including the keynote speeches:
- “Cities without sprawl” – the complex subject matter was discussed by participants in a series of six thematic workshops spread over three days, as well as in several plenary sessions.
- Urban sprawl may be defined in the most general manner as unbalanced city growth where the physical extent is faster than the population growth; sprawl also implies land fragmentation and loss of fertile agricultural land at the periphery of growing cities; the densities in sprawling suburbs are notoriously low so that the provision of infrastructure becomes unnecessarily expensive, and public transport is unfeasible.
- In affluent countries, urban sprawl is associated with automobile dependency and over-proportional and environmentally damaging use of cars – a luxury that is simply not affordable in many poorer countries where other forms of urban sprawl occur nevertheless.
- Urban sprawl now is a world wide phenomenon although it originated from North America, but it must be distinguished from the massive urban growth which is taking place all over the world, especially in the developing countries.
- With appropriate policies, China (and other countries alike) would have a chance to work against the trend of low-density and land-consuming city growth to achieve the much wanted more sustainable urban patterns.
- There are some truly encouraging projects of such environmentally friendly and public-transport oriented cities in China, and the host city Dalian seems to be setting a very good example in this respect.