“From grey to green”: Shenyang transitions to sustainable green city
Known for its industry and pollution, Shenyang has forged itself a new image these past few years, as reflected in Courrier International’s title, From “grey to green”. How did the city convert from an industrial city to a sustainable city? The think tank Urban China Initiative, with McKinsey & Co, Columbia and Tsinghua Universities, has placed Shenyang at the top of the list of Chinese sustainable cities. In ten years, the changes have been dramatic. Beyond the ecological awareness that it provides, going green was an economically advantageous measure. Its state industries, which gradually became less profitable with the market opening reforms in the 1990s, forced the city to convert.
Shenyang therefore reinvented itself – heavy industry became light industry and was moved out of the city center – and its soils were decontaminated. In a two-year period between 2005 and 2007, its green areas seem to have increased by 30%, and 77% of its waste water is now treated. Compared to other Chinese urban areas, Shenyang is a green city; however it still has some way to go as it still does not meet the criteria of its Western counterparts.