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Yangtze delta integration reaps rewards

By Xing Yi in Shanghai Source: China Daily Updated: 2021-11-05


Workers clean a river in Henggang village, Jiashan, Zhejiang province. [Xu Yu/Xinhua]

In the border area of Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, billboards announcing "Demonstration Zone of Yangtze River Delta Integration Strategy" have been erected along a highway, while a dredging project to connect waterways encircling a 35-square-kilometer area has been underway since last month.

The zone, known as the "Watertown Living Room", will feature a Yangtze River Delta exhibition and convention center in its core area, which will be surrounded by walking trails, residential areas and office buildings.

According to the blueprint for the zone, a paddy field, fishpond and a wetland conservation area will also be built to showcase green and smart agriculture.

Duan Jin, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who proposed the "Watertown Living Room", spoke in an earlier interview about the concept of bringing people from different provinces to work together on a model that other regions could learn from.

"The Yangtze River Delta region has rich industrial, cultural and livelihood resources, but in the past, these were not fully shared and used. In the future, they will be connected by an unimpeded transportation network," he said.

In the past three years, 71 bus routes connecting neighboring cities and towns have been introduced.

The Yangtze River Delta Institute for Sustainable Development is a 10-minute bus journey from the zone's core area.

Viewed from the outside, the institute looks like a traditional Chinese courtyard in the delta, with white walls and black tiles. However, inside, there is a wealth of high technology for ecological conservation work.

The institute was launched by Tongji University in April, and cofounded by eight leading schools, including Fudan, Zhejiang and Nanjing universities.

Liu Jianxiong, Party chief of the College of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tongji University, said the institute focuses on promoting green technologies throughout the Yangtze River Delta, with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality as soon as possible.

"Every detail at the institute represents some aspect of our scientific achievements. It is a laboratory and also an exhibition of our scientific and technological innovation," he said.

A real-time digital screen at the institute shows visitors' carbon emissions, the water quality of nearby rivers, and weather conditions.

The walls in the meeting room are made from two materials-one of them being recycled coffee dregs. The other material absorbs toxic substances, while at the same time releasing negative oxygen ions to clean the air.

The toilet next to the meeting room processes excreted matter, which is reused to flush the device, creating a "green loop" of zero emissions, Liu said.

The institute is powered by rooftop solar panels, with surplus electricity used to electrolyze water for carbon-free hydrogen in the daytime, which is transformed back to electricity at night to provide, for example, hot water for showers.

Rainwater receptacles have been installed under the black tiles on the roof to help irrigate the garden at the institute.

"We hope to bring scientific advances from university laboratories to the institute. Most of these have already been applied in the market," Liu said, adding that the institute also works with the UN Environment Programme and aims to "take these green applications to the world".

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