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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Jie Liang

The pathway to sustainable infrastructure development in China -- A case study on Shanghai urban water development

Jie Liang

The pathway to sustainable infrastructure development in China
-- A case study on Shanghai urban water development

Sustaining urban development requires huge supplement of water, electricity and fossil fuel. In China, urbanisation process is expected to continue in the following 20 years. Considering the finitude of natural resources, sustainable infrastructure development strategy is called for to guarantee continuity of development and prosperity of economic growth. 

In order to deal with the complexity in infrastructure development, the method of system dynamics is selected, which adopts graphic logic connections and can present results for a specific scenario. In the case study on Shanghai urban water development, interrelationship among different stakeholders involved in urban water industry are illustrated by establishing system dynamic models. However, one single model is not able to cover everything and the solutions for development problems vary depending on the boundaries of models, which also represent the position the modeler stand at.

With consideration and assumptions for different stakeholders, three models are introduced which stand for governmental, corporate and residential level, respectively. As for government, economic growth, migration and resource management are essential concerns. Utility provision interconnects with these factors, which altogether consist of the whole process of urban development. Then, corporate operation status and individual behaviors are taken into consideration and became additional constraints in development in the other two models. Factors in microeconomics, such as profit rate and risk management which directly determine the behavior of corporations, can ultimately influence the performance of macroeconomics.

Experiences from developed city like London and best practice of eco-city in Tianjin city are used as reference in Shanghai’s context. Proposals in urban water development in the two cities are compared and summarized, of which seven suitable ones involved in resource management, energy efficiency, green building, leakage control and sewage treatment are selected and evaluated by the system dynamic model. Recommendations based on analysis results are presented