From an eco-industrial park towards an eco-city: a case study in Suzhou, China

"As eco-industrial park policies have been in place for years, many mature eco-industrial parks tend to acquire more than just industrial functions and become new urban districts. We investigated this development and conducted empirical research in Suzhou Industrial Park, to obtain insight in how a mature eco-industrial park influences if not leverages the development of an eco-city. To this end we inventoried and analyzed policy instruments and environmental infrastructures and deduced how in Suzhou Industrial Park these led to improved energy efficiency, reduced pollution and contributed to its eco-city development. Eco-efficiency and decoupling theory were used to evaluate the environmental performance relative to economic growth in Suzhou Industrial Park. Our results showed that relative de-coupling of environmental performance and economic growth was realized for most eco-efficiency indicators, while non-decoupling and absolute decoupling occurred incidentally. This was caused by the deployment of strict regulatory and economic instruments (such as stricter environmental entry rules and requirements on sulfur dioxide emissions). Moreover, the increasing share of tertiary industry, urban service and residential activities also lead to this result. Thus, the experience in Suzhou Industrial Park reveals that an eco-industrial park may evolve into an eco-city development when it leads to an improvement of its environmental performance and a growth of tertiary industry, develops synergies between its infrastructures for industrial and residential areas and enhances the economic prosperity derived from its industrial sites." (


Scientific article

Author names: 

Chang Yu, Gerard P.J. Dijkema, Martin de Jong, Han Shi

Length (pp): 

11 (pp. 264-274)




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Policy changes: 

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Environmental impacts: 

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