Smart and sustainable planning: towards an integrated spatial approach

Project Details


Future cities development has been preoccupied with the concepts of smart cities and environmental sustainability. While these concepts are interlinked, our understanding of the spatial relationships between environmental challenges, technological advances and urban planning remains fuzzy and general; which means that it is not easy to operationalise the concepts and even more difficult to translate them into planning policy and practice for future urban management (Hojer and Wangel, 2015; Trindade et al, 2017). Klaus Schwab (2016), the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, comments that decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear thinking rather than thinking strategically in an integrated way.

The research approach will be underpinned by three strategic principles, by focusing on concepts and contexts, robust evidence and the research-policy-practice nexus. Encompassing the cases of Greater Manchester and Shenzhen, our emphasis is to identify innovative but actionable approaches of smart and sustainable planning for smart and equitable growth, lower carbon emissions, and environmental resilience to enhance the well-being of urban communities. Cities such as Manchester and Shenzhen have transformed to post-industrial economies, driven by knowledge-intensive activities, spatial agglomeration (vertical and horizontal) and highly ambitious low carbon futures. The advancement of digital technologies and smart infrastructure has major and differential impact on sustainable development across different places, which opens up both opportunities and challenges. The Greater Manchester (GM) model is seen as a new way of delivering unified public services in Britain, whereas Shenzhen is dubbed ‘more than Silicon Valley with Chinese characteristics’ (Yamamoto, 2019). Both CUHK and UoM team members have experience in these two cities and will aim to upscale the findings from these cases to other spatial contexts (e.g., Hong Kong, Ghana, Peru, and Turkey) in future funding applications. The deliverables will include the publication of journal papers; submission of research grant applications; workshops and a conference; and staff and PGR exchange and visits.
Effective start/end date1/05/2030/04/22

Collaborative partners

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


  • smart city
  • sustainable development
  • urban planning

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures
  • Manchester Urban Institute


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