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Tackling the growing flood risk in the Pearl River Delta

Thursday 20 April 2017
Rapenburg 59

The cities of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) in China are among the most exposed to flooding caused by climate change in the world. Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, three major cities in the PRD, face severe and increasingly frequent flooding events, particularly water logging, which stem from a rapid urban development that prioritizes real estate and infrastructural development, while neglecting the centuries-long traditions of urban design and living in harmony with the omnipresent water in the delta. This legacy and ancestral wisdom has been mostly forgotten in the pursuit of urban expansion and growth. 

In this lecture, Marcin Dąbrowski (TU Delft) will attempt to take stock of emergent innovations in the three differentiated PRD cities, which share some common traditions in managing and living by the water, yet operate in different governance contexts of mainland China and Hong Kong. Using the conceptual framework of the 'three I’s’ (institutions, interests, ideas) as a heuristic device, Dąbrowski will attempt to shed light on the factors affecting the capacity of the PRD cities to adapt to the flood risk exacerbated by climate change.

The lecture will primarily focus on the tensions between the priorities in urban development, spatial planning and water management, as well as on the ways in which these are shaped. On the one hand, by the said departure from the historical practices that helped build resilient cities in the delta in the past, and, on the other, by the peculiarities of the current Chinese system of territorial governance and its urbanisation process taking place at break-neck speed. 

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