CCCH9033 China: Culture, State and Society
Sustainable Urban Development and Hong Kong

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]

Course Description

The course explores how Hong Kong responds and reacts to various issues relating to sustainable urban living. As a global city with unique cultural, historical, economic and political setups, sustainability is a pressing concern and holds the key for the long-term urban development of Hong Kong. The emphasis of the course is on understanding sustainable urban development in the context of a high-density, market-oriented Asian world city. Urban sustainability is more than an environmental concept. Ethical utilization of resources, geographical equity and living within the carrying capacity of Mother Nature are important components underlying the principle. Sustainable urban living is concerned with both inter- and intra-generational equity; touching upon such social, economic and political issues as satisfying basic needs, accommodating multi-cultural and diversified aspirations, ensuring public engagement as well as nurturing public participation and partnership in the development process. The course offers a regional and comparative perspective to the understanding of the challenges that Hong Kong faces in maintaining her role as a world city.

[There will be a 2-hour compulsory field trip during Reading Week.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain urban sustainability challenges at the global level and examine responses in Hong Kong.
  2. Explore and use various sources of information to assess Hong Kong’s performance in terms of tackling various global issues.
  3. Apply knowledge generated in the cases of Hong Kong to understand and examine sustainable urban development issues in Chinese cities.
  4. Demonstrate a reflective response to global sustainability challenges in the context of Hong Kong and an awareness of the implications of such responses on the challenges China is facing in her ongoing quest for modernization.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Fieldwork / Visits 10
Reading / Self-study 20
Video 4
Assessment: In-class assessments 10
Assessment: Field trip reflection 40
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 30
Total: 150

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Class participation 10
Mid-term quiz 20
Group presentation 30
Field trip reflection 40

Required Reading

  • Chan, R. C. K. (2010). Economic integration in the Pearl River Delta Region: A study of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. In J. Y. S. Cheng (Ed.), Guangdong: Challenges in development and crisis management (pp. 159-192). Hong Kong: Contemporary China Research Project, City University of Hong Kong.
  • Chelleri, L., & Olazabal, M. (Eds.). (2012). Multidisciplinary perspectives on urban resilience. Spain: BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change.
  • Mottershead, T. (Ed.). (2004). Sustainable development in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • Ng, M. K., & Chan, A. (2005). A citizen’s guide to sustainable planning in Hong Kong: Concepts and processes. Hong Kong: Community Participation Unit, Department of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong and CUPEM, University of Hong Kong. 
  • United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. (1993). Agenda 21: Programme of action for sustainable development: Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: Statement of Forest Principles. The final text of agreements negotiated by governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), 3-14 June 1992, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. New York: Department of Public Information, United Nations.
  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme. (2011). Cities and climate change: Global report on human settlements, 2011. London; Washington, DC: Earthscan.
  • World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Recommended Reading

  • Chan, R. C. K., & Lin, G. C. S. (2008). From a colonial outpost to a Special Administrative Region: Hong Kong’s first decade of reunion with China. China Review, 8(1),1-6.
  • Chiu, R. L. H. (2007). Planning, land and affordable housing in Hong Kong. Housing Studies, 22(1), 63-81.
  • Chu, C. (2007). Heritage of disappearance? Shekkipmei and collective memory(s) in post-handover Hong Kong. Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, 18(2), 43-55.
  • Cuthbert, A. R. (1987). Hong Kong 1997: The transition to socialism – Ideology, discourse and urban spatial structure. Environment and Planning D, 5, 123-150.
  • DiStefano, L. D., Lee, H. Y., & Cummer, K. (2011). Heritage: a driver of development – Hong Kong style conservation. Paper presented at The 17th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium, Paris, France. Conference paper retrieved from
  • Hills, P., Welford, R. (2002). Ecological modernisation as a weak form of sustainable development in Hong Kong. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 9(4), 315-331.
  • Meyer, D. R. (2000). Hong Kong as a global metropolis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ng, C. M., & Lee, Y. S. F. (2007). Environmental safeguards and breakthroughs. In Y. M. Yeung (Ed.), The first decade: The Hong Kong SAR in retrospective and introspective perspectives (pp. 321-350). Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.
  • Ng, M. K. (2002). Sustainable urban development issues in Chinese transitional cities: Hong Kong and Shenzhen. International Planning Studies, 7(1), 7-36.
  • Ng, M. K. (2006). World-city formation under an executive-led government: The politics of harbour reclamation in Hong Kong. Town Planning Review, 77(3), 311-337.
  • Ng, M. K. (2008). From government to governance? Politics of planning in the first decade of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Planning Theory and Practice, 9(2), 165-185.
  • Page, E. (2006). Climate change, justice and future generations. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Raco, M., & Street, E. (2012). Resilience planning, economic change and the politics of post-recession development in London and Hong Kong. Urban Studies, 49(5), 1065-1087.
  • Romer, P. M. (2010). What parts of globalization matter for catch-up growth? American Economic Review, 100(2), 94-98.
  • Schiffer, J. R. (1983). Anatomy of a laissez-faire government: The Hong Kong growth model reconsidered. Hong Kong: Centre of Urban Studies & Urban Planning, University of Hong Kong.
  • Yeh, A. G. O., & Xu, J. (2006). Turning of the dragon head: Changing role of Hong Kong in the regional development of the Pearl River Delta. In A. G. O. Yeh, V. F. S. Sit, G. Chen, & Y. Zhou (Eds.), Developing a competitive Pearl River Delta in South China under one country-two systems (pp.63-95). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • Yeh, A. G. O., Sit, V. F. S., Chen, G., & Zhou, Y. (Eds.). (2006). Developing a competitive Pearl River Delta in South China under one country-two systems. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr R.C.K. Chan
Department of Urban Planning and Design, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 3917 2277
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr R.C.K. Chan
Department of Urban Planning and Design, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 3917 2277