• New pathways
  • Sustainable


  • China's



The medium project

New pathways for sustainable urban development in China’s medium-sized cities

Photo: Valentina Anzoise

The MEDIUM project brings together European and Chinese entities (research centres, universities and companies), which work on sustainable urban development in China. Focusing on a large city and two medium-sized cities (1 to 3 million inhabitants), Hangzhou, Zhuhai and Datong, the project’s innovation is twofold: first it addresses urban sustainability from a socio-economic dimension and not only through the prism of environmental issues. Second it operates in fast-developing urban areas overlooked by scholars in comparison with China largest cities.

MEDIUM gathers researchers with very different backgrounds and interests, among which urban governance, strategic planning, urban mobility, inclusion of migrants, ICT or networks of multinational corporations.

Applying various approaches and methodologies, the project will contribute to better understand urban development dynamics in Chinese medium-sized cities so as to inform decision-makers and economic actors. It will allow innovative ideas to emerge and give rise to alternative patterns of urban development, smart, sustainable and socially inclusive.


Urban China and the Challenges of Sustainability – MEDIUM International Conference

Urban China and the Challenges of Sustainability – MEDIUM International Conference

The second international event organised in the context of the MEDIUM project. While research conducted in the context of the project focus primarily on medium-sized cities, the conference will consider urban China in its diversity, with a great variety of case studies including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin, the region of the Taihu lake etc.
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2017 International Conference on China Urban Development – May 6th (London)

2017 International Conference on China Urban Development – May 6th (London)

Natacha Aveline, Valentina Anzoise, Cinzia Losavio and Juste Raimbault's papers have been selected for 2017 International Conference on China Urban Development.
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3rd MEDIUM stakeholder workshop held in Zhuhai

3rd MEDIUM stakeholder workshop held in Zhuhai

The MEDIUM project organised its third stakeholder workshop on March 17th in Zhuhai. While the two previous workshops that focused on the Sci Tech City of Hangzhou, the topic of this one was the Zhuhai High Tech Zone.
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Key Actions

#1 Facilitate European researchers’ mobility;
#2 Train Chinese scholars to participatory approaches in urban planning;
#3 Organise collaborative workshops involving local stakeholders;
#4 Establish a dialogue between academic, political and economic communities.

The project activities include:

  • Research and publications by young researchers;
  • Annual international conferences;
  • Training to participative planning;
  • Participative workshops on urban planning;
  • Scientific seminars.

The main goal of MEDIUM is to study the dynamics of Chinese urbanization, focusing on medium-sized cities (according to Chinese parameters), their planning and governance, and the advantages these provide in terms of quality of life, access to services and facilities, as well as to the introduction of more sustainable production patterns and strategies for resource management.

Other objectives of the project are:

– to train European researchers and post-doc as experts of Chinese urban issues;
– encourage the knowledge and adoption of collaborative approaches to urban management;
– identify business opportunities for European and Chinese companies.

Essential characteristics of the project are dialogue and collaboration and the sharing of experiences between China and Europe since rapid urbanization, and its high pressure on the environment, is one of China’s key challenge. Top-down policies and technological innovation are not sufficient to address so complex – local and global – issues. These, on the contrary, could generate unexpected consequences (side effects) that might create, in turn, even new problems. MEDIUM partners’ vision is that more resilient policies and the engagement of different stakeholders in cities’ planning and management are needed.

According to the project, a team of different European researchers will conduct research and cooperation activities directly on the field together with Chinese partners. In each city, one per year, MEDIUM will organize a stakeholder workshop adopting participative techniques, a scientific seminar (as an opportunity for mutual learning for European and Chinese researchers), and an annual Conference to which different key actors will be invited (i.e. scholars, planners and urban developers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, civil society representatives, etc.).


institutions committed




young researchers


years research program


The medium cities

Over the past thirty years, China has recorded remarkable economic performance through steady integration with the global economy. This change has been inextricably linked with intense urbanization. In 1979, 18 percent of Chinese lived in cities, but this had surged to 54 percent by 2013, while the official number of cities (shi) increased from 193 to 9000. However, the virtuous circle of urbanization-economic growth has also created severe environmental problems. In 2010, China became the largest global energy consumer, and, with coal accounting for 69 percent of its consumption, is also the biggest energy-related CO2 emitter in the world (US Energy Information Administration 2014).

As a response to ecological issues, the Chinese central government established a set of environment protection standards at national and local levels — amounting to over 800 standards by the end of 2005. The 11th five-year plan (2005-2010) also introduced for the first time a target ratio (20% by 2010) aimed at reducing energy consumption per unit GDP.

MEDIUM’s main action will take place in three medium-sized Chinese cities that will serve both as case studies for empirical research and as nodes for networking activities.
The three cities have been carefully selected to represent different types of urban profiles: an advanced prosperous coastal city (Hangzhou), an ethnically diversified regional centre (Zhuhai), and an inland resource-based city undergoing an industrial conversion (Datong). Particular attention was given to the position of these urban areas within the system of ‘city clusters’ defined by Mc Kinsey (2011, i.e. areas presenting distinct characteristics in terms of their demographics, industry structure and consumer profiles). The purpose of this is to ensure sufficient business potential for European firms. Although the three cities are involved in —or are at the head of— clusters of different sizes, they are all close to the major mega city clusters centered on Beijing-Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

SOURCE: McKinsey Insight China; McKinsey Global Institute Analysis

SOURCE: McKinsey Insight China; McKinsey Global Institute Analysis


The MEDIUM work plan encompasses 4 Work Packages (WPs) whose leadership has been entrusted to project partners according to their expertise and responsibilities as detailed below:

WP1. Project management and overall coordination (CNRS)
WP2. Coordination of MEDIUM’s action in China (HZNU)
WP3. Organization of stakeholders’ meetings (S4S)
WP4. Dissemination & Communication activities (UNIVE)

The fact that MEDIUM focuses on the multiple challenges linked to urban sustainable development implies that close collaboration is required between all partners involved. Therefore, the management structure of the project has been designed to ensure a responsive and flexible management with limited decision-making bodies in order to ensure efficient cooperation between the participants.

  • A total of ten PhD students and postdocs of nine different profiles will benefit from the individual mobility schemes. The duration of their stays is mainly from one to two years, but a continuous presence of four young researchers (YR) in the three Chinese universities will be ensured throughout the life of the project, and supervisors will check the progress of the YRs regularly.

Irene Poli and David Avra Lane

European Centre for Living Technology, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy)

BA and MA degree in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Information Society at the University of Milano-Bicocca. Since 2004 she has been teaching Sociology of Culture, Visual and Qualitative Research Methodologies at the University of Milan, University of Padua and European Institute of Design. Currently Associate researcher at ECLT within the EuropeAid project MEDIUM.
Since 2014 she is also President of the Visual Sociology Working Group of the International Sociological Association (ISA).

Current Research
Her research in China will concern the socio-territorial changes produced in rural and urban landscapes by the way sustainable development is framed and pursued by different stakeholders. More in particular, relying on complex systems theories and qualitative and collaborative approaches, she will develop field case studies on the specific narratives underlying Chinese urban development policies and the changes (material and immaterial) they are introducing in Chinese society and environment. The aim is to study in depth the different dimensions and stakeholders implicated and develop analysis, scenarios and approaches useful for decision-making and for the design of more resilient policies.



Jean-Pierre Gaudin and Audrey Freiermuth.

Postdoctoral fellow at Sciences Po Aix (CHERPA), France.

She holds a PhD in Political Science from Sciences Po Paris. Her main research interests include power relationships at the neighbourhood level, administrative and social work of neighbourhood residents’ committees, urban housing, segregation, and housing conflicts in Beijing and Chongqing. She recently published « Gouverner par la communauté de quartier en Chine: ethnographie de la bureaucratisation participante des comités de résidents à Pékin », Revue française de science politique, vol. 65, n°1, February 2015.

Current Research
Her latest research focuses on medium-size cities in China. She currently lives in Datong, in Shanxi province, where she studies the main political and social issues raised after the former mayor was transferred to another city. For instance, she tries to analyse the interactions between inhabitants and city representatives (information, conflict, mediation) during the process of demolition-relocation (chaiqian) in the city centre.



Cinzia Losavio

Natacha Aveline.

UMR Géographie-Cités, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

She holds a BA and MA Degree in Oriental languages and civilizations (Chinese) from La Sapienza University of Rome.Last year she joined the Comparative political sociology Master Programme at Sciences Po Paris as a visiting student, discussing a research paper on Chinese rural-urban migrants integration in Wuhan.
Her research interests include urban development, rural migrants economic, spatial and social integration in medium and small Chinese cities, morphology and spatial dynamics of urban villages (chengzhongcun).

Current Research
Her research will focus on the current situation of Chinese rural-urban migrants (nongmingong) in the city of Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Since Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms (1978), China has witnessed a huge wave of internal migration from the countryside towards the Pearl River Delta region, and more recently towards other provinces. Rural migrants presence in the urban space has lately become intertwined with the development of Chinese small and medium-sized cities encouraging the creation of new forms of urban spaces and new standards of urban living.Favouring a qualitative approach, her empirical research will thoroughly analyse the different stakes behind rural migrants integration policies (on both national and local levels), migrants’ actual economic and social conditions as well as their participation in the urban life, in order to understand their role in China’s New Urbanization strategy.



Juste Raimbault

Denise Pumain.

UMR CNRS 8504 Géographie-cités

Juste Raimbault is a PhD candidate in geography (supervision by HDR A. Banos and MCF F. Le Nechet). Trained as an engineer at Ecole Polytechnique and at Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées with a specialty in urban systems (City, Environment, Transportation), he also holds a Msc in Complex Systems Science from Ecole Polytechnique. This multidisciplinary formation is due to and the source of broad research interests linked to the application of Complex Systems methods to the study of urban systems.

Current Research
His thesis is focused on the study of Interactions between Networks and Territories, questioning in particular the construction of models for the co-evolution of land-use and transportation systems, and an associated geographical theory of co-evolutive networked territorial systems. Implications and applications range at various scales from e.g. the modeling of urban growth to the empirical study of transportation systems.
His work in China is aimed to collect empirical field support for the application of models: one at the meso-scale including decision making processes for transportation planning, applied on Guangzhou Mega-city Region, with a focus on the role of Zhuhai on regional development; the other at the macro-scale as a model of growth for Chinese cities, interrogating in particular the influence of medium-sized cities on global dynamics.
He also currently works on interdisciplinary collaborations from a Complex Systems Science perspective (in very different fields such as Ecology, Evidence-based Economics, Quantitative Finance, Urbanism, Epistemology).



José-Frédéric Deroubaix, Céline Bonhomme

Ecole des Ponts – Université Paris-Est

Yinghao Li is postdoctoral researcher at the Ecole des Ponts in Paris. His current research is about eco-city projects in China, with a special focus on the sustainability indicators. Yinghao Li holds a Ph.D degree in urban hydrology from the Ecole Centrale Nantes in France. Before joning the Ecole des Ponts, Yinghao Li had worked successively in the Etablissement Public Paris-Saclay (Parisian urban development authority) and the CEREMA as Ph.D candidate. He developed an urban hydrological model and applied it at the Paris-Saclay campus.

Current Research
I conduct currently a research program on the indicators in Chinese eco-cities, supervised by Mr. José-Frédéric Deroubaix and Mrs Céline Bonhomme, and granted by the Labex Future Urban. By decrypting the definition process of these indicators and observing their real application on ground, we aim to provide an insight in the roles that the indicators can play in the decision making during urban planning, urban design, implementation and operation of these model sustainable cities. We are interested primarily in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, where we made a first field survey in March 2016. During the survey, we conducted interviews with a wide range of stakeholders (authority, planning institutes, urban engineering institute, environmental academy, residents, etc.) around the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) system. An article about the application of Tianjin KPI has been submitted to the journal China Perspectives. At the meantime, we have been working on a literature review of the frequency of occurrence of the indicators of Tianjin in international scientific publications.



Nicolas Douay.

UMR Géographie-Cités, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Iraklis Argyriou holds a Ph.D. from the Center of Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware, U.S. His doctoral dissertation focused on the area of urban sustainable energy development using the city of Philadelphia as a case of study. Iraklis has also completed MPhil and MSc studies on Energy Policy in the U.K. and a BSc degree in Physics in Greece.

Current Research
Iraklis current research involves an empirical study in the area of strategic planning and smart city development. This work involves analyzing the political and economic dimensions of the design and application of smart city applications in the nexus of innovation, planning and urban space for a sample of Chinese cities. In particular, the key policy-related factors that drive smart city development within a multi-level governance environment for urban sustainability as well as the relevant role of a diverse range of stakeholders in the development of such type of initiatives will be explored. Based on the studied Chinese cases, wider theoretical and practical implications for the analysis of strategic planning and smart city development will be drawn.



Natacha Aveline, Denise Pumain, Céline Rozenblat.

UMR Géographie-Cités, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

I’m interested in Geography and Urban Economy, (demography, quantitative geography and cartography, analysis of socio-economic policies and related outlook, spatial analysis) as well as in Statistical analysis, (integration, evaluation and improvement of data and metadata quality; management and analysis of statistical data; statistical computing and data modeling, multivariate statistical methods).

Current Research
During the last four years I collected a huge amount of population and socio-economic data concerning Brazil within a project focusing on BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) European countries and United States aiming to investigate the connection between population, economic growth and economic specialization in different city systems characterized by a long standing urbanization (Cina, India, Europe), relatively new urbanization (Brazil, United States), different geographical peculiarities, historical paths and exogenous shocks, (such as colonialism for some cited countries).
Concerning this project I would like to examine the Chinese system of cities from a holistic point of view in order to discover which are the main peculiarities of Chinese medium cities, the evolution of their population, their functional specialization by means of the ORBIS database in collaboration with the University of Lausanne reporting the number of national and foreign firms operating within a circumscribed geographical region, their NACE codes (in order to define their statistical classification of economic activities), the number of employees involved in different specific sectors of economic activities focusing importantly on innovative activities such as research and development, real estate, bank, insurance and finance and finally the networks shaped by the interaction among different companies operating in the whole Chinese system. It is also my goal to compare directly the Chinese and the Brazilian system of cities since they are both development economies and members of the BRICS countries highlighting both their differences and similarities.



  • The management structure of the project has been designed to ensure a responsive and flexible management with limited decision-making bodies in order to ensure efficient cooperation between the participants.

Natacha Aveline-Dubach (Scientific Coordinator-CNRS), Florent Resche Rigon (Project Manager-CNRS), Agnese Boscarol (Work Package Leader-Cà Foscari), Erik Gløersen (Work Package Leader-Spatial Foresight), Weiliang Zhang (Work Package Leader-Hangzhou Normal University), Andrea Critto (Supervisor-Cà Foscari), Nicolas Douay (Supervisor-CNRS), Audrey Freyermuth (Supervisor-SciencePo AIX), Irene Poli (Supervisor-Cà Foscari), Denise Pumain (Supervisor-CNRS), Jean-Pierre Gaudin (Supervisor-SciencePo AIX), Rozenblat Céline (Supervisor-Université de Lausanne), Chen Shuzhen (Liaison Professor-Shanxi Datong University), Chunshan Zhou (Liaison Professor-Sun Yat-Sen University), Crevoisier Olivier (Scientific Collaborator-Université de Neuchatel), Liao Liao (Scientific Collaborator-SciencePo AIX), Elfie Swerts (Scientific Collaborator-Université de Lausanne), Ludovic Chalonge (Scientific Collaborator-CNRS)


A CONSORTIUM of scholars from various disciplines will conduct the MEDIUM project: environmental science, political science, geography, history, sociology, urban & regional economy, and computing science. Coordinated by CNRS (France), it involves four co-applicants (Hangzhou Normal University in China, Science Po Aix in France, Ca’ Foscari University in Italy, Spatial Foresight GmbH in Luxembourg), and two associates in Switzerland (the universities of Lausanne and Neuchatel).

CNRSf-200Founded in 1939, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique is a state-funded science and technology establishment placed under the authority of the French Minister for Research and Higher Education. CNRS has more than 1100 research units throughout France, which employ a large body of tenured researchers, engineers, and support staff. Laboratories are all linked by renewable four-year contracts, with bi-annual evaluation. As the largest fundamental research organization in Europe, CNRS is involved in all scientific fields of knowledge. It encourages collaboration through national, European and international projects, bringing strong administrative support to them, with dedicated staff on financial, legal, and administrative issues.

The Géographie-Cités laboratory (UMR 8504 – a research unit under joint supervision arrangement of CNRS and the Universities of Paris-Diderot 7 and Pantheon-Sorbonne 1) comprises some 60 researcher-lecturers or researchers, engineers, technicians and more than 70 phD students engaged in research combining theoretical and epistemological approaches, qualitative and quantitative methods, and empirical and comparative procedures. Three research teams with complementary objectives make up this unit: the C.R.I.A research team, the E.H.GO research team, the P.A.R.I.S research team.

Research work is organized according to seven key themes :

  • Theme 1 – Metropolitan territories confronted to new scalar relations
  • Theme 2 – Systems of cities and territorial systems in the world
  • Theme 3 – The exploration of new patterns to represent and analyse space and time dynamics
  • Theme 4 – The European Union and neighboring countries: functional integration, territorial cohesion and multi- scalar governance
  • Theme 5 – Reversibility and proximity: what are the issues for urban planning?
  • Theme 6 – Geography in its writing
  • Theme 7 – Situated Knowledge

And to one transverse subject: Mobility and territoriality: experiences, concepts, issues. The objective of this cross-cutting theme is to bring answers to the following question: how can the concept and practices of mobility bring us to think over territorialities outside of classic binary representations? It is important to comprehend how mobility produces territoriality.

Geographie-Cités has been involved, both as partner and coordinator, in various international and European projects, e.g. ERC grants, ESPON and FP7 projects among others.

Scientific Coordinator
Professor Natacha Aveline-Dubach

Project Manager
Florent Resche-Rigon
Tel. +33 6 42 12 86 71

IUS-200The Institute for Urban Studies (IUS) is a specialist research institution that combines the disciplines of geography, ecology, city planning, architecture, etc. Based on the development of the field of social sciences at Hangzhou Normal University (HNU), IUS aims to form an interdisciplinary and special study of urbanology. It maintains active relationships with the Hangzhou International Urbanology Center (of Hangzhou Municipal Government) and other relevant research centers and institutions across the world.

The IUS is consist of eleven researchers from different schools of HNU, including two invited researchers and one foreign researchers from other universities. The institution conducts the teaching in urbanology and related fields. Our Masters courses offer a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the study of the city, with a range from theory of urbanology, urban sociology, urban governance and public policies, space economy and city planning, world urban history, specific topics on urban geography and historic heritage, to urban fieldwork.

Main work in recent years: organized the project of urban studies, including programs of urbanology, transportation and local history and culture in HNU; presided projects on The Comparative Study on the Development Model of Small Cities in Zhejiang Province (2013-2015), Study on the Development of Urbanization in 5 Counties/Cities of Hangzhou (2013), Study on Countermeasures of Urban Agglomeration, Metropolitan Area and City Domain Network in Urban Development (2013-14), Study on the Development Mode of Beautiful Towns in the New-type Urbanization in Zhejiang Province (2013-14).

Scientific Referent
Professor Weilang Zhang

Administrative Staff
Zhou Zhenzhen

Science-Po-200Sciences Po Aix is a public higher education institute created in 1956. It is one of ten Political Studies Institutes (IEP) in France, the only located near the Mediterranean coast. It is a “grande école” which delivers a high-quality qualification and prepares future man agers in both public and private sectors. The admission is determined by a competitive entrance examination.

Since January 2008 Sciences Po Aix has been endowed with a single research center named CHERPA (Beliefs, History, Territories, Political and Administrative Regulation). CHERPA is an integrated, pluridisciplinary structure, the purpose of which is to create unity between the research fields and to set up a new scientific project around three transversal axes : International Governance and Globalization; Mobilisations, Expertise and Political Processes; Governing Religion.

Scientific Referents
Professor Jean Pierre GAUDIN

Liao LIAO, PhD

CaFoscari-200Ca’ Foscari University of Venice has an outstanding international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Advanced research is developed in 8 departments and 20 interdisciplinary centers, among which the European Centre for Living Technology (ECLT, www.ecltech.org). Founded in 2005, and linked by convention to 17 European universities, research laboratories and companies. The Centre aims to create and develop a new area of science associated with technologies exhibiting life-like properties such as self-organization, adaptability and evolvability. Most of the current activities are mainly in the fields of sustainability, innovation and ICT, and have implications in local development, innovation and industry studies. ECLT also provides support and competences of coordination and planning to SMEs and creative industries. Over the years, ECLT has participated in several FP6 and FP7 projects (14 projects from the European Commission) and others from public Italian Institutions. Recently ECLT has been Coordinator of the EU funded projects INSITE: The Innovation Society, Sustainability and ICT, (2011-15 a Coordination Action aimed at constructing a research and practice community on Innovation, social sustainability and ICT and generating a debate on these issues at the European and international level), MD: Emergence by Design (2011-15 a Research project based on complex systems and innovation dynamics theories, that is developing also new approaches to the evaluation, monitoring and support of innovation projects and processes), and partner of GREEN-WIN: Green growth and win-win strategies for sustainable climate action (2015-2018).

Scientific Referents
Professor Irene Poli

Professor Andrea Critto

Secretariat – Administrative Management
Agnese Boscarol

S4S-200Spatial Foresight GmbH, Luxembourg, is a private limited company founded in July 2007. Its subsidiary Spatial Foresight Germany was founded in 2013. Spatial Foresight staff have more than ten-years of professional experience in international research and consultancy in the field of territorial development across Europe. The company’s fields of activity comprise analysis and evaluation, process facilitation, strategy development, training and dissemination, territorial foresight processes, and European and comparative studies. The Spatial Foresight team members have extensive experience from a number of European projects e.g. for DG Regio, ESPON, INTERACT or INTERREG programmes, as well as national projects e.g. for the Nordic countries, Germany, Poland or Cyprus. Our projects cover more than 30 countries, and deal mainly with issues related to territorial development including data analysis and mapping, and regional development policies including EU Cohesion Policy, intergovernmental cooperation related to the Territorial Agenda and the understanding of different national approaches. Our team members have advised, among others, the Swedish, Polish, Cyprus and Luxembourg EU Presidencies on territorial cohesion matters, and drafted most of the available ESPON Synthesis Reports.

Scientific Referent
Erik Gløersen

UNIL-200Founded in 1537, the University of Lausanne is composed of seven faculties where approximately 13,000 students and 2,700 researchers work and study. According to the European classification of the most influential schools and universities (University of Leiden), UNIL ranked 5th in 2013 (1st according to citations per publication). UNIL seeks to encourage cross-disciplinary researches with EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne) and is founding member of the UNESCO-UNITWIN Digital Campus of Complex System. The Institute of Geography and Sustainability (IGD) of UNIL will be participating in MEDIUM project. IGD is part of the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment which is essentially an inter-disciplinary faculty, since the disciplines studied include pure, experimental, and social sciences.

Scientific Referent
Professor Céline Rozenblat

UNINE-200The University of Neuchatel is an internationally recognized institution as well as a university on a human scale. With 4380 students from Switzerland and beyond, it provides high quality teaching and support. Among different research groups, GRET (the Research Group in Territorial Economy) has been active in two main fields. First, territorial innovation models, and more precisely innovative milieu, were the developed in the context of the European research network on innovative milieus (GREMI), with recent research about the knowledge economy and sustainable innovation. Second the territorial aspects of financialization of the economy were developed, with specific researches about exchange rates, pension funds and corporate governance. Today, an accent is put on the construction of markets and value, with an emphasis on urban and territorial value, thanks to researches on large urban projects, on tourism, the presential and residential economy and finally on real estate markets. All these research projects are based on the same theoretical approach which postulates that economic phenomenon and territorial shapes are the two faces of a single coin.

Scientific Referent
Professor Olivier Crevoisier

Scientific Referent
Professor Shuzhen Chen

Sun Yat-sen University, founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen and with an educational tradition spanning over 100 years, is a preeminent research, academic and cultural center and the premier location for talent development in South China. Under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, and strongly supported by both the Ministry and Guangdong Province, Sun Yat-sen University has developed into a modern comprehensive university that enjoys a reputation as a top-tier university nationally and a renowned university internationally. With five campuses in the three cities of Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen, and ten affiliated hospitals, the University is striving to become a world-class university and global center of learning.

Scientific Referent
Professor Chunshan Zhou

Administrative Staff
Chenyi Shi


Natacha Aveline-Dubach

  • Project Leader and Scientific Coordinator
    Géographie-cités (CNRS/Paris I/Paris 7)
    13 rue du Four F- 75006 Paris
    Tel : 01 40 46 40 07/00
    Fax: 01 40 46 40 09

    CNRS professor at the Géographie-cités laboratory
    University Paris I – Panthéon Sorbonne
    Natacha Aveline-Dubach graduated from the EHESS in urban studies, and from the INALCO in Japanese Language and Civilisation. She joined the CNRS in 1993 as a specialist of land policy. She was visiting scholar in several universities in North-East Asia, in Japan (Kyoto, Waseda, Tokyo, Keio) and in Hong Kong (HKU). From 2006 to 2010, Natacha was the Director of the CNRS representative office for Northern Asiain Tokyo. She is currently in charge of the course ‘Real estate economy’ in the Science Po Master in Urbanism.

    Current research
    Natacha Aveline-Dubach is currently involved in three important projects relating to China’s urban and housing issues.
    In the MEDIUM project, she is simultaneously the Scientific Coordinator of the project and the supervisor of (post) doctoral work regarding the social inclusion of the migrants in China’s medium-sized cities.
    She is also leader of a national (ANR) project, FINURBASIE, which explores the financialisation of real estate in China and India (https://finurbasie.hypotheses.org/) Finally, N.Aveline-Dubach is involved in the ODESSA international project managed by UCLAN (Optimising care delivery models to support ageing-in-place: towards, autonomy, affordability and financial sustainability  – web site). She is in charge of the work package 5 “Innovative financial channels to provide healthcare facilities and promote ageing-in-place”.
    In parallel to these funded projects, she is pursuing research on Japan’s financialisation of real estate in the housing sector.

    Recent publications
    – Population ageing and urban shrinkage in Japan, new challenges for regional development (in French, editor 2015), La Documentation Française, collection Endétail GCET.
    – Globalization and new intra-urban dynamics in Asian cities, with S.C. Jou, and H.H. Hsiao (editors, 2014), National Taiwan University Press.
    – The Invisible Population — The Place of the Dead in East Asian Megacities (editor, 2012) Lexington Books.

  • Chunshan Zhou

  • Liaison Professor
    School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University
    No. 135, Xingang Xi Road, Guangzhou, 510275, P. R. China
    Tel: 86-20-84111963
    Fax: 86-20-84110803
    M/P: 13312855533; 18602051533

    Education background
    – Visiting scholar, environmental impact assessment, University of British Columbia 1994.
    – Postdoctoral study, application of GIS in regional and urban planning, University of East London, 1996-1997.
    – Visiting scholar, transportation planning, University of Montreal, 1999.
    – PhD, Sun Yat-sen University, 1994.
    – MA, Henan University, 1988.
    – BA, Central China Normal University, 1985.

    Research interest
    – Urban internal spatial structure.
    – Regional development and urban and rural planning.
    -Urban Geography.

    Scientific projects
    The projects of National Natural Science Foundation of China.
    – Formation mechanism and social spatial differentiation of middle class during the period of transition 2012.01-2016.12.
    – Space growth of saving city 2010.01-2012.12.
    – Study on urban development and spatial structure influenced by the non-public sectors of the economy 2002.01-2004.12.
    – The development of functions of CBD and its space effect during the period of transition 1998.01-2000.12.
    Recent main consultation projects.
    – General planning of tourism development of Chaoan county.
    – Education planning of the primary and secondary school in Guangzhou city.
    – Study on social mobility and cicilization in Guangdong province.
    – Problems of the implementation of planning in the Pearl River Delta and its countermeasures.
    – Planning of affordable housing in Nanhai district of Foshan city between 2016 and 2020.
    – Quality improvement and spatial layout optimization of Foshan city.
    – General planning of land use in Doumen district of Zhuhai city.

    Recent publications
    – Zhou Chunshan, Xie Wenhai, 2015, Institutional Innovation of Urban-rural Planning under the Market Economy, Journal of Planners, 4, 42-47.
    – Zhou Chunshan, Dai Dandan, 2015, Transition of Urbanization in the Pearl River Delta, Tropical Geography, 3, 343-353.
    – Zhou Chunshan, Jin Wanfu, Shi Chenyi , 2015, Development strategy of the Pearl River Delta Urban Agglomeration under the current socioeconomic situation, Progress in Geography, 3, 302-312.
    – Zhou Chunshan, Bian Yan, 2014, The Growth and Distribution of Population in Guangzhou City, Scientia Geographica Sinica, 9, 1085-1092.


  • Andrea Critto

  • Supervisor
    University Ca’ Foscari of Venice
    Dept. of Environmental Sciences Informatics and Statistics
    Via delle Industrie 21/8
    c/o INCA – VEGAPARK,
    30175 Marghera-Venice, Italy
    Tel. 0039-0412348579

    Associate Professor
    Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy
    Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change (CMCC), Italy
    Andrea Critto is Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Risk Assessment and Management at the University Ca’ Foscari Venice. He has a Ph.D in Environmental Sciences at University Ca’ Foscari Venice. He was post-doctoral fellow at the University of Adelaide, Australia (2006), and at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China (2009-2011). Coordinator/partner of several international and national research projects, he is author/coauthor of more than 60 papers published by international peer reviewed journals.

    He is member of: European Geosciences Union (EGU), Italian Society for Climate Sciences (SISC), Italian Society for Environmental & Cultural Heritage Chemistry, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Actively involved in the Mediterranean Coastal (MEDCOAST) Foundation.
    He has been a foreign expert confirmedbythe State Administration of Foreign Expert Affair of thePeople’sRepublic of China.

    Current research
    Development of research activities on Environmental Risk Assessment associated with: formulation of Environmental Quality Standards and planning of environmental monitoring; development of Decision Support Systems for the integration of environmental, technological, economical and societal issues; selection/comparison of remedial technologies for contaminated sites; nanotechnology; climate change environmental impacts.
    Recent EU projects included in-depth investigation of: a) environmental risk related to engineered nanoparticles; b) assessment of environmental impacts of climate change; c) remediation of contaminated sites; d) risk based management of riverbasins; f) human health risks related to environmental stressors.

    Recent publications
    – J. Rizzi, V. Gallina, S. Torresan, A Critto, S. Gana, A. Marcomini. 2016. Regional Risk Assessment addressingthe impacts of climate change in thecoastal area of the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia), SustainabilityScience, in press.
    – V. Gallina, S. Torresan, A. Critto, A. Sperotto, T. Glade, A. Marcomini. 2016. A review of multi-risk methodologiesfornatural hazards: Consequencesandchallengesfor a climate change impact assessment, Journal of Environmental Management, in press.
    – S. Torresan, A. Critto, J. Rizzi, A. Zabeo, E. Furlan, A. Marcomini. 2016. DESYCO: a decision support system fortheregional risk assessment of climate change impacts in coastal zones, Ocean andCoastal Management, 120, 49-63.
    – Y. Deng, D. Brombal, P. Farah, A. Moriggi, A. Critto, Y. Zhou, A. Marcomini. 2015. China’s Water Environmental Management towardsInstitutional Integration. A Review of CurrentProgressandConstraintsvis-a-vis the European Experience. Journal of Cleaner Production, in press.
    – J. Rizzi, S. Torresan, A. Critto, A. Zabeo, D. Brigolin, S. Carniel, R. Pastres, A. Marcomini. 2015. Climate change impacts on marine water quality: The case study of theNorthernAdriaticsea, Marine PollutionBullettin, in press.

    Social connections

  • Liao Liao

  • Scientific Collaborator
    Sciences Po Aix (CHERPA), France

    BA degree in Public Policy in Sun Yat-sen University in China and MA degree in Comparative Politics and Ph.D. in Public Policy at Sciences Po Aix (CHERPA) in France. Her doctoral dissertation focused on decentralization reforms, local relations between different levels of governments and the local governance in China focused on two provinces: Zhejiang Province and Sichuan Province.

    Current research
    Her main field of study are local governance, urban governance, decentralization and intergovernmental relationships in China. She focuses on development zones. She will analyze the character of local governments, such as “growth coalition” that excludes the participation of citizens and “anti-growth” coalition which was developed in an authoritarian country and then discuss whether these new trends can be seen as a certain pluralization of public action in China and how the governance in development zones can be defined.

  • Nicolas Douay

  • Supervisor
    Géographie-cités (CNRS/Paris I/Paris 7)
    13 rue du Four F- 75006 Paris

    Chercheur (délégation CNRS) / Researcher (CNRS visiting fellow)
    French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (web site)
    Maître de conférences en urbanisme / Associate Professor of Urban Planning
    Nicolas Douay is associate professor of urban planning at the Université Paris‑7 Diderot and a researcher within the Géographie-cités laboratory (CRIA team). After obtaining his PhD, jointly supervised by the Université de Montréal and Aix–Marseille Université, he embarked upon a postdoctoral internship at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC Hong Kong) with the support of a Lavoisier postdoctoral grant in 2008 and 2009, and returned to the CEFC in 2015 as part of a CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) delegation. His research compares urban-planning approaches in Asia (China & Hong Kong), Europe (France) and North America (Canada), and focuses on the process of metropolisation, particularly with regard to urban policies, territorial planning processes and the uses of digital technology.

    Current research
    For the MEDIUM project Nicolas is currently supervising the work of Iraklis Argyriou on strategic planning and smart city. This workinvolves analyzing the political and economic dimensions of the design and application of smart city applications in the nexus of innovation, planning and urban space for a sample of Chinese cities. In particular, the key policy-related factors that drive smart city development within a multi-level governance environment for urban sustainability as well as the relevant role of a diverse range of stakeholders in the development of such type of initiatives will be explored. Based on the studied Chinese cases, wider theoretical and practical implications for the analysis of strategic planning and smart city development will be drawn.

    Recent publications
    – For the entire list of publications not related to China and Hong Kong: http://www.parisgeo.cnrs.fr/spip.php?article101&lang=fr and www.researchgate.net/profile/Nicolas_Douay
    – 2015 Douay N., “Aménagement de l’espace et mouvements sociaux urbains à Hong Kong,” in Trajectoires et territoires de l’urbain en Asie, lieux d’une autre modernité ?, M. Franck & T. Sanjuan (eds), Paris, CNRS Éditionspp. 207-219.
    – 2015 Yang Z., Y. Long & N. Douay, 大数据对人文—经济地理学研究的促进与局限 (Opportunities and limitations of big data applications to human and economic geography:
the state of the art), in地理科学进展- Progress in Geography, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 410-417, http://www.progressingeography.com/EN/Y2015/V34/I4/410.
    – 2015 Douay N., “Vancouverism: hybridisation and spread of an urban model,” Metropolitics, 12 June 2015 http://www.metropolitiques.eu/Vancouverism-hybridisation-and.html.
    – 2014 Douay N. & T. Cory, “Développement urbain durable en Chine : entre apprentissage et mirage marketing,” in Les grands projets urbains, Territoires, acteurs et stratégies, (dir. Hubert M., Raynaud MM. & Lewis P.), Montréal, Presses de l’Université de Montréal, pp. 239-262.
    2014 Douay N., “Mouvements sociaux numériques et aménagement de l’espace,” in Informations sociales, 2014/5, No. 185 « La Chine des questions sociales », pp. 123-130, http://www.cairn.info/revue-informations-sociales-2014-5-page-123.htm.

    Social connections

  • Elfie Swerts

  • Scientific Collaborator
    University of Lausanne, Switzerland

    Elfie Swerts has a PhD in geography from the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She carried out her PhD thesis (2009-2013) “Urban systems in India and China” (dir. D. Pumain and E. Denis,Lab. Géographie-Cités and French Institute of Pondicherry), founded by a “CIFRE fellowship (Industrial Agreement for Research Training) from Veolia Environment Recherche et Innovation(dir. M.Morvan).

    Her PhD research focused on the dynamics of cities in China and India and the systems they form. The main challenge was to evaluate to what extent political or historical singularity could impact the structure and the dynamics of a system of cities. The comparison of the urban systems in China and India is based on dedicated database that have been constructed using comparable and harmonized principles.
    During her PhD and a first post-doc in the ERC GeoDiverCity,she constructed two urban demographic and economic databases for China (ChinaCities, 9,000 cities of more than 10,000 inhabitants) and India (IndiaCities, 6,000 cities of more than 10,000 inhabitants). The originality is a standardized delineation of urban agglomerations using remote sensing images and geographical information system (GIS), which make Chinese and Indian cities comparable with urban entities similarly defined in other world regions.
    As part of the French-Indian ANR SUBURBIN (Subaltern Urbanization in India),Elfie Swerts has conducted specific work onthe demographic and economic trajectories of Indian small towns (from 10,000 to 100,000 inhabitants).

    Current research
    Dr.Elfie Swerts is currently a Researcherat the University of Lausanne, involved inthe research project LOGIICCS (Likelihood of Orientations of the Global Integration of Indian and Chinese Cities’ Systems) she co-built with Pr. Céline Rozenblat, and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).The main goals of the LOGIICCS project is (1) to build studies on robust diachronic socio-economic description of urban systems; to make it correspond to the inter-urban network approach; (2) to develop some relevant theoretical combination of urban system and network approaches in order to confront networks developments with urban dynamics; (3) to build simulation models coupling urban and networks dynamics and assuming the probable effects of their interactions to explore possible future evolutions for long and middle terms.
    As part of the ANR Finurbasie, Elfie Swerts work on the onshore capital flows to the Chinese real estate market.

    Recent publications
    – Swerts E. (2016), The substantial share of small towns in India’s system of cities, in TheSubaltern Urbanization in India, Denis E., Mukhopadhyay P. et Zerah M-H (Eds.), Springer, to be published.
    – Swerts E. & Denis E. (2016), Mapping small towns’ productive and employment configurations, in TheSubaltern Urbanization in India, Denis E., Mukhopadhyay P. et Zerah M-H (Eds.), Springer, to be published.
    – Swerts E. & Liao L. (2016) The Chinese Urban Systems, in International and Transnational Perspectives on Urban Systems Rozenblat C., Pumain D. and Velasquez E. (Eds.), MIT Press, International Geographical Union and UN-Habitat.
    Swerts E. & Denis E. (2015), Megacities: the Asian Era in R.B Singh (ed) Urban Development Challenges, Risks and Resilience in Asian Mega Cities, Springer, 2015.
    – Swerts E. & Pumain D. (2015). 从国际比较角度看中国城市化近来的趋势 (translation: the recent trends of the Chinese urbanization in an international comparison perspective) proceedings from the conference « International Conference on China’s Urban Transformation and Restructuring », 13th-15th dec. 2013, Guangzhou, Shenjing He (ed.), SAGE,Urban Studies, pp 94-104.

    Social connections

  • Erik Gløersen

  • Work Package Leader
    Spatial Foresight
    Tel. +33 6 89 82 05 94

    Erik Gløersen holds a PhD in Human Geography (University of Rennes 2,) an MA in Spatial Analysis and Modelling (University of Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne) and an MSc in Geographic Information Science (ENSG). He has worked in the field of applied research in territorial development since 2001, first as a research fellow at Nordregio, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Centre for Regional Development and then as a Senior Consultant at Spatial Foresight. Since 2009 he also works as a researcher and teacher at the University of Geneva.

    Current research
    Erik’s current research and consultancy activities cover different fields:
    – Macro-regional cooperation in Europe, with a focus on challenges of multi-level governance and on the development of methods to map networking dynamics. His research has in particular focused on the Baltic Sea Region and on the Alpine Region.
    – Balanced and harmonious development in regions with geographic specificities, e.g. mountain regions, islands, sparsely populated areas and remote rural areas;
    – Services of General Interest in Europe, and their contribution to cohesive territorial development.

    Recent publications
    – Gløersen, Erik, Marius Drăgulin, Marius Drăgulin, Silke Haarich, Sabine Zillmer, Frank Holstein, Christian Lüer, Sebastian Hans (2016) Services of General Interest in the Funding Period 2014-2020, European Parliament.
    – Gløersen, Erik and Jacques Michelet (2014) Stratégies de développement dans les zonesrurales et de montagne : expériences européennes in Montagna, 2014, vol. 4, p. 14-16.
    – Mayer, Heike, Daniel Baumgartner, Erik Gløersen, and Jacques Michelet (2014) Theoretical basis for a coherent federal strategy for mountain and rural areas in Switzerland, Berne: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.
    – Mayer, Heike, Daniel Baumgartner, Erik Gloersen and Jacques Michelet (2014) Mountain and rural economies under pressure: Identifying global and national challenges for sustainable economic development in mountain and rural areas in Switzerland.
    – Gløersen, Erik (2012) « Renewing the theory and practice of European applied territorial research on mountains, islands and sparsely populated areas” in Regional Studies, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp. 443-457.

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