City Branding; From Green-washing to Urban Transformation
On the 21st of May, Professor Martin de Jong was invited by Shandong University’s School of Innovation (SI), located at the Qingdao campus in China, to give an academic lecture titled “City Branding, From green-washing to urban transformation’. Yue QIAO, vice dean of the school, hosted the seminar. Teachers and students from the School of the Environment, the Law School and the School of Innovation attended the lecture.
Martin de Jong took Shanghai Chongming Island as an example and introduced the policy background of eco-city development in China. He introduced reasons for the popularity of the concepts smart city, eco-city and green city. On the one hand, these concepts are conducive to attracting high-end talents. On the other hand, the trend may lead to growing income disparity in cities and overstate green ambitions. It is driven by economic growth policies, the use of assessment indicators, the aspiration for urban expansion, and goes hand in hand with the practice of city branding. He also gave Qingdao as an example, introducing the attractiveness of the Qingdao Green Eco-city to innovative projects. He illustrated the pathway to obtain this result by comparing multiple cases, including Tianjin, Guangzhou, Ningbo, Melbourne, and Amsterdam. Then he introduced 12 different city categories such as livable city, smart city, knowledge city, and information city and further elaborated their relevance. He further analyzed the successful pathways of city branding in Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi from the aspects such as aviation development, free economic zone, immigration policy, and high-quality tourism. He explained the success of city branding through self-designed identities in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and other cities and summarized the main objectives behind city branding, including attracting investors, industrial development, special projects, policy support. He emphasized the importance of achievable goals, a promising vision based on past and present, the collaboration between government, enterprises and residents, different elements such as labels, slogans, architecture, and infrastructure. Then he explained the classification and significance of city branding from three aspects: positioning, feasible evaluation and feedback from outside.
At the end of the seminar, Martin de Jong answered questions raised by teachers and students in terms of the role of residents and government playing in the development of city branding. He emphasized the importance of city branding in urban development. In addition, the city’s uniqueness should be respected.
Prior to the seminar, Martin de Jong had an informal panel discussion with the SI’s staff. After listening to the introduction and preliminary development plan of SI, Professor de Jong expressed that he would provide support in recruiting overseas teachers, jointly training PhD candidates, holding international conferences, and hosting visiting scholars. In addition, SI and the Erasmus Initiaitve for the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity and its affiliated schools will explore the possibility to cooperate with each other.