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How Sponge Cities in China manage urban water challenges

Cities in China face significant water-related challenges, including flood, reduced water quality and severe water scarcity – exacerbated by rapid urbanization and more frequent extreme weather events.  Nearly half of cities in China do not meet national flood prevention standards and over half are considered water scarce.

To address these challenges, China is implementing the Sponge City concept which requires rethinking and redesigning urban and peri-urban environments in an ecologically-minded way. The aim of the Sponge City program is to ensure 80 percent of urban built-up areas in China meet Sponge City building requirements by 2030. This means that local governments rely on low-impact development principles and nature-based solutions to improve drainage, filter out pollutants and store up to 70 percent of excess rainwater for reuse during periods of drought. Local governments are key actors in redesigning the urban fabric and can take key actions such as strengthening collaboration between all stakeholders and adapting local policies and plans to enable Sponge City redevelopment.

You can read more about urban water challenges in China, the Sponge City concept and key actions local governments can take in this ICLEI briefing sheet.

Photo: (c) Shenzhen Urban Management Bureau 2017

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