CCIEE Releases “Evaluation Report on China’s Sustainable Development (2020)”

  • Date:2020-12-10
  • Source:CCIEE

On December 1, 2020, China Center for International Economic Exchanges, Columbia University, Ali Research Institute, and Social Sciences Academic Press jointly released the “Blue Book of Sustainable Development: Evaluation Report on China’s Sustainable Development (2020)” at the Columbia University Global Center.




Promoting sustainable economic and social development is the theme of the current era, the only way for China to achieve high-quality development, and an inevitable requirement for creating a new development pattern. Exploring a comprehensive evaluation method for achieving the sustainable development goals is not only a new requirement for implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also an urgent need for China to embark on a new journey of building a modern socialist country comprehensively.




A scientific and simplified sustainable development evaluation index system will help us to improve the current GDP-based evaluation system. The practical and measurable evaluation system can evaluate the effects of economic transformation and sustainable development comprehensively, and implement the five development concepts of “innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing”. The system will be used as a guide for the future economic and social development of China, especially as an important basis for the performance evaluation of governments at all levels during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period. Furthermore, the new evaluation system will guide us to a new era of ecological civilization, promote high-quality development, and realize the new journey of comprehensively building a modern socialist country.

The blue book has constructed a new evaluation system for measuring China’s sustainable development, including a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the sustainable development status of 100 cities in China. The research findings are important for China’s implementation of sustainable development in the future.

The book reviewed the achievements of China’s sustainable development in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period, and analyzed the complex internal and external environment we will face during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period. Although China’s economic sustainable development has a long way to go and China faces the unprecedented challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and other events, China’s economic improvement has not changed and will continue to move forwards in the long-term, and sustainable development faces both challenges and opportunities.

The blue book analyzes the impact of the pandemic on globalization, economic operations, supply chains and other fields, and demonstrates the success in using an online map to fight the pandemic. Furthermore, the book puts forward suggestions for improving China’s sustainable development capabilities comprehensively, including prevention and control of the pandemic, ensuring employment and supporting people’s livelihood, continue to use green financial policies; promoting the reform of the medical and health system; observing the special value of new infrastructure and corporate practices from the perspective of sustainable development; strengthening pollution prevention and ecological civilization construction to achieve sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

The book includes case studies on Shenzhen, Kunming, Wenzhou, and Zhili, analyses the exploration and development of these cities in promoting sustainable development. It shows the diversified sustainable development practices and models adopted by different cities, which is of great significance to other cities’ sustainable development.

Through a comprehensive literature review, the book summarizes the sustainable development indicator system and framework formulated by various organizations and governments to promote economic development and transformation. To provide an international reference for the sustainable development of cities in mainland China, the book makes a comparative analysis of the sustainable development indicators implemented by cities from both developed and developing countries, including New York, Sao Paulo, Barcelona, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Based on the framework of China’s sustainable development evaluation index system, the book conducts a comprehensive and systematic data verification analysis and makes a ranking for 100 large and medium-sized cities in China. The following conclusions have been made.

First, China’s sustainable development has made a continuous improvement and economic development has been relatively stable. From 2010 to 2018, China’s economy maintained steady growth despite the decline at the beginning. From 2016 to 2018, the growth rate of economic development was above 12%, reflecting that China’s new momentum of economic growth has been restored and economic structure and growth have continued to improve. In addition, people’s livelihood has made significant progress, and environmental protection has begun to show progress. However, consumption and emissions still have a significant impact on economic and social activities.

Second, the eastern coastal provinces and municipalities of China have a relatively higher ranking. The top ten are Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Anhui, Hubei, Chongqing, Shandong and Henan. Among them, Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Tianjin have superior performance in economic development, social and people’s livelihood, consumption and emissions, and environmental governance, but have a disadvantage in terms of resources and environment. For places like Heilongjiang, Jilin and Qinghai, there is great room for improvement in sustainable development. Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang are the top three. In the central region, Anhui Province has the best ranking, rising from 10th in 2018 to sixth in 2019. In the western region, all the provinces are out of the top ten except for Chongqing.

Third, cities such as Beijing, Zhuhai, Shenzhen and other well-developed areas along the eastern coast have a much better sustainable development. The top ten cities are Zhuhai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Wuxi, Nanjing, Shanghai and Xiamen, among which Zhuhai ranked first for three consecutive years.

Fourth, to advance the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with high quality amid the spreading pandemic, China needs to introduce a systematic plan to maintain a balance among the economy, society and the environment to achieve strong, inclusive and sustainable growth. Below are several suggestions.

First, building a domestic cycle based on domestic demand and use it to promote the international cycle and accelerate the formation of a new development pattern. Second, we should strengthen pollution prevention and ecological civilization construction to achieve sustainable economic, social and environmental development. Third, taking digital transformation as the core, realize the old-new kinetic energy conversion through innovation and technological leadership, and promote the upgrading and high-quality development of advanced manufacturing and modern service industries. Fourth, focusing on the supply-side structural reform and abolish institutional obstacles and unleash development potential through comprehensive economic system reform. Fifth, promoting regional economic development with complementary advantages and high-quality development, stimulating the endogenous driving force of economic growth, and building a new source of power for national high-quality development. Sixth, improving the pandemic prevention and control systems and accelerating the reform of the medical and health system. Lastly, promoting deeper opening-up to the outside world and improving economic and financial management.


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