Background and Rationale
China is in the midst of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. As one of the results of rural reform in the last two decades, small towns in all kinds have been emerging and gaining in importance. The small towns have an urban-rural dualistic character and serve a strategic function. However, these economic feats have been achieved at a high cost to the environment. Environmental pollution is increasingly threatening the sustainability of small towns. To facilitate the development of strategies that will address the issues of environment, employment and development in the context of small town development in China, there is an urgent need to conduct research.
For the reasons above, a PhD research project has been initiated. This project is a cooperation between the Administrative Center for China Agenda 21 and Wageningen University, and is partly funded by the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences. It runs from 1999 until 2002. The PhD research aims to develop appropriate environmental management approaches to facilitate and support the environmentally sound socio-economic development of small towns in China, and to tackle environmental pollution problems through promoting integrated management instruments.