Follow the Money: The Financing and Financialization of Sustainable Urban Projects in China
The recent two decades have witnessed a surge of urban sustainable projects in the global South. Under the guidance of relational geography and “Southern” urbanism, following the movement of planning ideas and policies has been the primary method scholars use to study these evolving urbanism models. This approach, however, largely overlooks the increasing importance of the profit-driven and technology-oriented urban sustainability industry. Nor does it offer insight into the indispensable role of financial arrangements in facilitating and shaping sustainable urbanism models. To address these shortcomings in the endeavor to understand sustainable urbanism, I propose to develop a new research approach that centers on tracing financial and economic interests. Adopting this new approach, this project aims to analyze the financial arrangements underlying Chinese sustainable urban projects, and focuses on two major Sino-Singaporean sustainable urban projects as relational-comparative case studies. This approach helps understand the influence of project funders, the allocation of critical resources, the workings of the urban sustainability industry, and the competition between sustainable urbanism models.