Along with rapid economic development, China is facing the challenges of serious eco-environment and socio-economic problems, which lead to widening inter-regional disparities. In order to reduce this gap, and to promote national sustainable development and harmonious society, China needs a more systematic and effective regional development planning system from the central to local governments. European, especially German, regional development planning is at the forefront of the world. Their experiences and lessons can provide a good reference for China. At the same time, Chinese central and local government planners are also keen in learning internationally advanced experience and technology to improve their work.
Based on the above, under the China-Germany/Europe inter-governmental cooperation framework, Beijing Normal University (BNU) and City of Trier, Germany, jointly established the “European-Chinese Centre for Education and Research in Regional Development Planning” (ECER) in 2007 to improve Chinese regional development planning through academic education, professional training and scientific research, etc After three-year pilot phase implementation, ECER entered regular operation phase in May 2010.
- ECER is devoted to establish a platform for European and Chinese experts, scholars, and planners in fields related to regional development planning, to foster dialogue, exchange of experience, and further cooperation. This means taking a full account of China and Europe’s situation, exchange experiences and lessons on regional development planning, to promote the development of China’s planning and its legal system.
- Through scientific research cooperation between European, Chinese universities and other institutes in the related fields of regional development planning, ECER further enhances the academic level and international cooperation capacity of participating institutes.
- Through academic education and professional training programs, ECER short term training to develop international education, to improve talent cultivation in these fields, and to elevate the professional standards of central and regional government planning officials.
The cooperation activities in ECER include three modules: academic education, professional training, and scientific research, all of which support and supplement each other. The results of scientific research could be applied in academic education and professional training modules. Professional training module could broaden expert network, and therefore contributing to scientific research programs. Moreover, our scientific researches could also benefit from pragmatic experiences and knowledge from participants of professional training, which could make research more apply oriented. Besides, academic education, especially PhD programs in ECER, are designed with ECER research programs; this integration will benefit both research and student cultivation.
Each program in every module revolves around the theme, “sustainable urban and regional development,” referring to several related subjects in the field of regional development planning, such as, geography, environment science, economics, law, and sociology. To be specific, it consists of five major directions:
- Disaster and emergency governance
- Land use and aquatic ecosystems conservation
- Comparative study on environment planning
- Social and economic governance for urban-rural integration
- Transportation and Regional development planning.