The concept of the eco-city becomes rather significant in nowadays world, where traditional cities with their powerful socio-economic and engineering infrastructures act as the key causes of environmental degradation. However, the eco-city development encounters various problems that are associated with financial, political, technological, and other aspects. In particular, political instability, the lack of knowledge and experience, insufficient funding, and the gap between policies and reality impede the realization of eco-city projects.
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The economic problems raise because of the necessity to fund eco-city development while many banks refuse to do it as they question the potential profitability. The example of Masdar City shows that the logic of the market dictates funding initiatives to both local and national banks that examine the economic stability rather than the ecologic points (Cugurullo 2430). In effect, the projects than cannot guarantee profitability and are not feasible to lose the opportunity to be funded sufficiently. In other words, by the very definition, the capitalist system tends to consider economic issues even though it occurs at the expense of ecology disregard. However, it is of great importance to fund the eco-cities in terms of social responsibility and the preservation of ecology.
The role of governance and, in particular, institutional conditions also creates some challenges to the realization of the eco-city (Jong et al. 32). The lack of government understanding regarding the importance of these cities and sometimes reluctance to consider this issue causes difficulties in environmental policy implementation. The study by Yin et al. illustrates that Chinese and Sweden’s eco-cities face communication and knowledge exchange problems, including environmental and technological awareness, that retard the development of the projects, causing misunderstanding between the government and the authors of such cities (84). This results in improper relationships between the mentioned actors, thus creating a gap and impediment (Jong et al. 33). The development of new policies on ecology concerns and sustainability seem to be beneficial to successfully address the above challenges and promote the environment-friendly approach.
Furthermore, the sector-specific responsibility system that is applied in many countries contradicts the essence of the shared responsibility accepted by the supporters of environmental integration. In other words, the lack of a cross-sector standpoint leads to the dissociation of different sectors along with the bureaucratic challenges. The latter is emphasized in the research by Ghiglione and Larbi: “bureaucratic fashion: the core tells the periphery what to do” (111). This means that no local official may introduce a new policy or even change it at the given level, leading to the sluggishness of the system. In this connection, it becomes evident that there is a need for the down-top transition of knowledge that would ensure the increased awareness of the issue.
It should also be noted that the political issues serve as one more aspect that creates problems in the development of the new format cities. Yin et al. argue that “political will and commitment may be unstable in the long-term, for example, due to the resignation of supportive local political leadership” (85). The degree of ecological sustainability in terms of urbanization strongly depends on political stability. In case the politics of the country is unclear, unaware of ecologic needs, or ignorant towards them, it becomes hardly possible to implement the project of the eco-city as it is associated with tendencies and regulations issued by the political leaders.
Cugurullo, Federico. “Urban Eco-Modernisation and the Policy Context of New Eco-City Projects: Where Masdar City Fails and Why.” Urban Studies, vol. 53, no. 11, 2016, pp. 2417–2433.
Ghiglione, Silvio, and Martin Larbi. “Eco-Cities in China: Ecological Urban Reality or Political Nightmare?” Journal of Management and Sustainability, vol. 5, no. 1, 2015, pp. 101–114.
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Jong, Martin De, et al. “Eco City Development in China: Addressing the Policy Implementation Challenge.” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 134, no. 1, 2016, pp. 31–41.
Yin, Ying, et al. “The Role of Local Governance and Environmental Policy Integration in Swedish and Chinese Eco-City Development.” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 134, no. 1, 2016, pp. 78–86.