|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Tianjin municipality, the sixth largest city and one of four special municipalities in the PRC with a provincial status, has a total area of 11,760 square kilometers (km2) and a population of 11.6 million. It is located in the lowest reach of the Hai River basin. Of the nine major rivers in the basin, seven flow through Tianjin to the Bohai Sea. The central government identifies the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA), established in January 2010 and administered by Tianjin municipality, as the third economic growth focal point of the country, after Shenzhen in the 1980s and the Shanghai Pudong area in the 1990s. With a planned area of 2,270 km2 and population of 1.4 million, this new development area is proposed to become a center of finance, business, and industry in the northern PRC in the near future. TBNA contributed more than 50% of TMG's gross domestic product in 2009.
The HEA, a land reclamation area in the tidal-flat portion of Bohai Bay, south of the Hai River estuary, is one of the functional areas in TBNA. The development of this state demonstration zone for the recycling economy began in 2003 and is due to be completed by 2018. The area will accommodate large domestic and international companies, including petrochemical industries, shipyards, offshore oil engineering bases, heavy equipment manufacturing, technological research, and development institutes; and will provide for residential areas and corresponding public utilities. It will also accommodate industries that will be moved from existing residential areas. The initial 2005 master plan for HEA development covered three phases, with a total area of about 80 km2. Land reclamation under phase I (about 20 km2) is complete; industries are still being established. Phase I includes the ADB-supported integrated gasification combined-cycle power plant, which is more efficient than other clean coal technologies and emits less greenhouse gases and only a fraction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollutants. Land reclamation under phases II and III is ongoing; about 30 km2 of the total 60 km2 are completed. In 2010, the Tianjin Harbor Economic Area Administrative Commission (HEAAC) approved the revised master plan, which (i) restructures the plan for phases II and III areas to accommodate cleaner, nonpolluting industries; and (ii) extends the HEA to 200 km2 to encompass the adjacent Harbor Manufacturing Park. Future impacts of climate change on the HEA are of concern for TMG, which is taking measures to ensure adequate resilience.
Rapid economic development in the Hai River basin and the Bohai Bay coastal areas of Tianjin municipality has resulted in the degradation and scarcity of natural and environmental resources. Impacts include (i) highly polluted waterways because of untreated wastewater discharges; (ii) silted canals with highly contaminated sediments, including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants; and (iii) serious degradation of the Bohai Sea ecosystems. The government has been addressing the serious water pollution problems in the Hai River basin and Bohai Bay by (i) promoting an integrated approach to water management in river basins and coastal development zones; (ii) reducing pollution sources, particularly industrial and urban point sources; and (iii) continuing institutional and financial management reforms to facilitate sustainable environmental management. Many development partners, including ADB, the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations, the World Bank, and international nongovernment organizations, provide assistance to help control pollution in the Hai River basin. These efforts have primarily focused on controlling upstream pollution sources and constructing WWTPs, which have resulted in significant improvements for the urban areas in Tianjin municipality. To reduce upstream pollution, TMG recently developed a 3-year action plan (2010 2012), which aims to (i) reduce sewage overflow to rivers in urban areas; and (ii) improve the wastewater collection and treatment ratio from 82% in 2008 to 90% by 2012. The action plan sets a target of 30% for the water reuse ratio. Both are significantly higher than for other cities in the PRC. The Bohai Gulf also suffers from frequent and serious storm surges year-round. Storm surges have caused serious damage to Tianjin and increase the risks of pollution accidents.
Implementation of related ADB-financed projects demonstrates that the introduction and strengthening of green growth approaches are critical for sustainable development of Tianjin's coastal areas. Rapid economic development often overshadows the need to integrate adequate environmental management practices and risk mitigation measures into development activities. The project integrates the lessons and complements achievements under related ADB-financed projects, including the Tianjin Wastewater Treatment and Water Resources Protection Project, the Hebei Province Wastewater Management Project, and the Shandong Hai River Basin Pollution Control Project; and the World Bank-financed Hai Basin Integrated Water and Environment Management Project. Lessons include (i) the need to promote innovative technology and standards for project components, including sound solutions for sludge treatment; (ii) the importance of providing realistic projections for wastewater flows; and (iii) the need to address financial and institutional arrangements for proper operation and maintenance (O&M). Activities are needed to (i) demonstrate practical green growth interventions that can be easily replicated; and (ii) strengthen sound environmental management for the rapidly developing TBNA functional areas, which poses significant challenges for local governments. Specific concerns include government capacity to (i) provide and protect scarce environmental resources, such as freshwater ecosystems; (ii) control existing and potential pollution sources and avoid accidents; (iii) establish adequate emergency and disaster risk management; and (iv) adapt to potential climate change impacts and sea-level rise. Climate change impacts have already resulted in an increase in the incidence of storm surges, subsequent economic damage, and increased exposure to environmental accidents and disasters.
The project supports ADB's strategic priorities in the country partnership strategy (2008 2010) and the country operations business plan (2011 2013) for the PRC. It aims to promote inclusive growth and environmental sustainability. The project has a strong linkage with ADB's emerging water operational plan, which focuses on wastewater management and reuse, pollution control, and river rehabilitation. It also supports the PRC's sustainable development agenda for a harmonious society, as outlined in the PRC's Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011 2015). Climate change and environmental sustainability are key considerations, including greater preparedness for extreme weather events, reduction of heavy metal and wastewater pollution, and conservation of water and natural resources.