21 March 2019
UN-Habitat Publications Focus on Urban River Rehabilitation and Net Zero Carbon Villages in China
UN Photo/Kibae Park/Sipa Press
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The publication on the rehabilitation of polluted urban rivers in China outlines lessons learned in achieving sustainability in cities through wastewater management.

The publication on net zero carbon villages in China formulates guidelines for decision makers and planners on integrated and sustainable planning strategies.

The two publications were launched during UNEA-4.

19 March 2019: The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has launched a publication on the rehabilitation of polluted urban rivers in China and other countries and guidelines for net zero carbon villages in the Yangtze Delta Region, China. The publications help advance SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) in the country.

The publications were launched by UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif and Wu Jiang, Tongji University, on the sidelines of the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), which convened in Nairobi, Kenya, from 11-15 March 2019.

Introducing the first publication, ‘Making Cities Sustainable Through Rehabilitating Polluted Urban Rivers: Lessons from China and Other Countries,Sharif noted its emphasis on wastewater management in cities. She called for increasing investments in wastewater collection and treatment to restore river health to achieve SDGs 6 and 11, as well as the New Urban Agenda (NUA). She added that developing countries should follow China’s experiences in formulating wastewater management and river rehabilitation strategies.

The publication emphasizes that untreated sewage is the major source of river pollution, and outlines actions taken in China to address it, including investing in environmental infrastructure construction and increasing urban sewage treatment capacity. It also highlights challenges faced by China, such as: incomplete sewer systems; damaged sewer pipelines; and illegal connections of sewer systems to storm water systems. The publication focuses on: the Lake Victoria Basin, East Africa; Bethlehem, Palestine; the Densu Basin, Ghana; and the Mekong River Basin, East and Southeast Asia.

During the launch event, Thomas Chiramba, UN-Habitat, highlighted the underlying causes of urban river pollution such as high population growth, uncontrolled urbanization and industrialization, lack of sewerage infrastructure, inadequate governance, lacking institutional and technical capacity and financial constraints.

Joakim Harlin, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), outlined UN efforts to manage wastewater, and cited SDG target 11.6 (“reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management”) and SDG target 6.3 (“improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”), both with a 2030 horizon. UN-Habitat and the World Health Organization (WHO) are the custodians for monitoring the indicators for this target.

The second publication, ‘Net Zero Carbon Village Guidelines for Yangtze River Delta Region,’ is a guidebook to help decision makers and planners with integrated and sustainable planning strategies for “net balanced carbon emissions,” achieved by employing building design practices, renewable energy technologies, natural heritage protection and ecological development promotion.

Wu expressed hope that UN-Habitat and Tongji University continue to cooperate on sustainable urban planning, urban heritage protection, waste management, and South-South cooperation, among other issues. [UN Habitat News Story]

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