Words from the Chairperson

 - Purpose of Establishing the CAUM       

Challenges Facing Us

The year 2007 marks the turning point of human history, as global urban population exceeded rural population for the first time and unfolded a new chapter for global urbanization. In this context, the Expo 2010 Shanghai China adopted “city” as its theme, proclaiming the arrival of an urban era for human beings. Since the revolution and opening up in 1978, the rate of urbanization in mainland China has increased to 50%, with urban population accounting for approximately half of the total population, and this rate will continue to accelerate in the future. Therefore, large-scale and rapid urbanization has posed an unprecedented challenge to urban land use, housing, infrastructure, socioeconomic development, and environmental protection. Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a famous economist and the winner of Nobel Prize in Economics, noted that the urbanization of mainland China will be one of the major forces that change human history in the 21st century. As for Taiwan, the trend of urbanization never ceased in the last three decades. Businesses and people gradually clustered in the northern areas, particularly the metropolis of Taipei (including Taipei City and New Taipei City), resulting in severe imbalance between urban and rural as well as Northern and Southern developments. The question of how to cope with problems caused by rapid global urbanization will be a great challenge to people of this century. According to the late renowned urban theorist Jane Jacobs, affluent society is established upon sound urban development. As worldwide populations continue to urbanize, Taiwan is at a crucial turning point where new thinking in urban management must be adopted to create opportunities for future development. It was under this historical background that the Chinese Association of Urban Management (CAUM) was established.

Traditionally, the thinking of urban planning centered on urban design in the last 100 years, and public policies were formulated on the basis of rational decision making in the past 50 years. However, as scientific knowledge has changed our understanding of city, we must adjust these principles to cope with challenges currently posed by global urbanization. Specifically, we must shift our attention from the formulation to the use of plans to establish reasonable, relevant decisions and take actions to improve people’s living environments. On the other hand, we must get rid of the scientific paradigm of reductionism that has been dominant for the last four centuries, view city as an organized complexity, and interpret the operation of a city from a new perspective to enhance knowledge related to urban studies. Therefore, the goals of the CAUM includes: (1) research and develop innovative management technologies for solving intricate urban problems incurred by urbanization; (2) provide a platform for academic exchanges on urban planning and public management to investigate urban affairs and propose relevant solutions from an interdisciplinary perspective. The CAUM’s scope of work involves promoting educational, academic, and professional services and activities pertaining to urban management in Chinese-speaking regions such as Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao. Urban management can be broadly defined as, but not limited to, the regulation, governance, planning, and management of cities. The CAUM is concerned with urban phenomena that cover physical, economic, political, and social environments, and believes that city must be regarded as an organic whole due to these mutually influencing environments. We need new thinking and new methods to cope with the challenge of global urbanization, and the establishment of the CAUM is a good beginning of such endeavors.

- Concepts and Future Developments of “Urban Management”

The aforementioned are the missions and goals of the CAUM. We appreciate Miss An Qi’s (安琪) dedication and efforts during preparation. In fact, after I raised the idea of introducing urban management to Taiwan, we have spent almost one year building up the CAUM from nothing. “Urban management” is a new field known to urban practitioners, and associations devoted to this field can be found in the United States as well. Although associations of “urban management” are different from those of “urban planning,” the two groups of associations are engaged in close interactions. Mainland China began to develop “urban management” as a discipline just recently. For example, I assisted the Zhejiang University in establishing a department of urban management. While helping them with the preparation, I thought that Taiwan should develop this discipline as well, and therefore I decided to start with an association.

Then what exactly is the discipline of “urban management” about? I think the answer to this question will become clearer as the CAUM grows and matures. Urban management involves not only management of general details (e.g., violations of use and parking). The “urban management” promoted by the CAUM accentuates the aspect of policy, and particularly the integration of urban planning and public policies that covers a greater range of concerns compared with conventional urban planning. As I previously described, current urban developments have surpassed the urban planning of one hundred years ago in scale, technology, speed, and characteristics to reach a completely different level. Therefore, we will probably have to make adjustments in both approach and technology if we attempt to solve the current problems of rapid global urbanization from the relatively conventional perspective of urban design. In this regard, the CAUM expects to be an initiator in integrating different disciplines from natural and social sciences in order to determine and solve problems derived from rapid urbanization.

The CAUM aims to serve Chinese-speaking regions (mainly Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and mainland China), basing itself in Taiwan while remaining open-minded to mainland China and the whole world. Moreover, few associations delineate their scopes of service so specifically like the CAUM does. In short, the CAUM covers a greater range of fields than conventional urban planning does. The CAUM’s scope and target of service are mainly based in the Greater China Region, and therefore its articles of association were also sent to the Mainland Affairs Council for review. The council’s comments and suggestions were also incorporated into the CAUM’s articles of association and concepts for establishment.

I appreciate the great support from the seven preparation committee members during the preparation for establishing the CAUM. Similarly, I thank everyone present for supporting this association so that we can finally hold this founding conference here today. So, what are we going to do in the future? I think the CAUM should focus on “service.” We should serve our fellow members, create value for the CAUM, and develop it into an integrated platform for academic research, practical experience, service experience, and opinion exchange among industrial, official, and academic professionals. Therefore, professionals from these circles are welcome to join the CAUM. First of all, there will be a public speech at an international conference jointly organized by the Queensland University of Technology at National Taipei University on 19th July. At the conference, I will deliver a speech on the problem of zoning control in Taipei City as the first international academic exchange activity of the CAUM. Another important thing to mention is the Journal of Urban Management, as you can see in the poster on the wall (as the figure below). It will be the journal of the CAUM, and its initiators and editors are Professor Ding Chengri from the University of Maryland, Professor Wang Ming-Shen from the National Sun Yet-sen University, and me. The first issue is due to be released before the end of this year. We will operate both the Journal of Urban Management and the CAUM.

The discipline of urban management is still waiting for us to brainstorm and define its scope through the platform and journal of the CAUM. A city involves a broad array of things and topics, and everything visible in a city (e.g., the problem of stray dogs) is a concern of urban management. Topics on, but not limited to, physical environments, society, and economy are our concerns as well. Perhaps some would like to know whether or not Taiwan has the discipline or department of “urban management.” In my opinion, courses involving urban planning and public administration offered by the Department of Urban Planning and Development at the Chinese Culture University are compatible with the content of urban management that I imagine. When the CAUM gradually develops to a mature state in the future, we will contact the U.S.-based Association of City Manage or seek exchanges with mainland China. In addition, a proposal of an English program titled the “International Program on Urban Management” was just approved at National Taipei University. Later after a discussion, Vice President Huang Shu-Li, Dean of the College of Public Affairs, and I changed the title of this program into the “International Program on Urban Governance.” The purpose of this program is to explore “urban management” under the support from the faculties of the Departments of Public Finance, of Public Administration and Policy, and of Real Estate & Built Environment in the College of Public Affairs at National Taipei University. The Zhejiang University has also renamed its Department of Human Resources into the Department of Urban Development and Management to promote the concept of urban management.

I think urban management should involve urban governance that covers the fields of planning, regulations, public administration, and governance. Basically, to improve people’s living environments requires not only conventional planning but also the integration of these fields. In the past, multiple plans were formulated without being implemented, and multiple urban plans were shelved after completion. As I have mentioned, we must shift our attention from the formulation to the use of plans to make reasonable and relevant decisions, take actions, and improve people’s living environments. According to my experience as a committee member of Regional Planning at the Ministry of the Interior, regional planning was frequently neglected during review. In this case, the formulation of regional plans failed to achieve its goal and function properly. Therefore, I think the improvement of people’s living environments requires not only urban planning but also public administration and governance. And governance involves public affairs, active selection, and action (e.g., a referendum on a crucial issue).

In the future, the CAUM, Journal of Urban Management, International Program on Urban Governance (if it is approved by the Ministry of Education) will work together to promote “urban management” from various aspects. Also, we encourage all CAUM members to freely offer suggestions and exchange experiences or opinions with one another because we are a team in the CAUM!