Aligning ancient and modern approaches to sustainable urban water management in China: Ningbo as a “Blue-Green City” in the “Sponge City” campaign

Y. T. Tang, F. K.S. Chan, E. C. O'Donnell, J. Griffiths, L. Lau, D. L. Higgitt, C. R. Thorne

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Modern urban flood and water management emphasises holistic strategies that reduce flood risk while providing cobenefits to urban economies, societies, and environments. The “Blue-Green City” concept provides a viable framework for putting this into practice. Ningbo, is a coastal city with high flood risk, whose history as a Chinese “water town” demonstrates that approaches to water management implicit to the “Blue-Green” concept were practiced in ancient times, and lessons can be learned from these applications. Furthermore, recent launch of the “Sponge City” campaign by China's National Government demonstrates the political will to implement sustainable flood and water management in ways consistent with the “Blue-Green” ideals. Selection of Ningbo for a pilot project presents the opportunity to integrate new “Sponge city” approaches with ancient “Blue-Green” principles, within the contexts of both new urban development and retrofit. Reinventing traditional approaches to urban water management and governance offers the possibility of maintaining flood risk at acceptable levels without constraining urban growth in China and other countries experiencing rapid urban development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12451
JournalJournal of Flood Risk Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Blue-Green Cities
  • integrated flood risk management
  • integrated water management
  • Sponge Cities
  • sustainable drainage systems
  • water-sensitive urban design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Water Science and Technology


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