Policy Mechanisms for Sustainability: exploring scenario and storyline building techniques for sustainable urbanisation – The case of China in 2050


This policy brief is meant as a contribution towards exploring the concepts and methods for the envisioning of sustainable urban futures, and towards shaping the research agenda for this fundamental area of 21st century inquiry. It engages specifically with the potential role of scenario building in promoting sustainable urban futures for China, as part of the EU-funded research project on urbanization in China (URBACHINA), and in doing so seeks to contribute to the ongoing discussions and propositions by the Chinese authorities and international organisations mentioned.

This Brief presents the results of a scenarios and storylines building exercise combining exploratory and normative approaches, and uses the resulting storylines to discuss and reflect on the nature and direction of the current policy discourse around China’s urban future, and on the implications of URBACHINA’s findings for sustainable urban futures. It also presents the results of an international conference organised to engage a wide range of scholars and practitioners from 28 countries on the theme of “Urban Futures Squaring Circles 2050: China, Europe, World” (held in Lisbon, 10-11 October 2014).