China’s dramatic economic rise has been fuelled by multiple global forces, but one of the key drivers has been the development of Guangdong province. Guangdong has rapidly developed into the manufacturing heartland for many global products and the home of millions of migrant workers from across China. As China begins to enter a new phase of industrialisation and looks to move away from traditional manufacturing and a resource-intensive development trajectory to a more sustainable future, the provincial leaders of Guangdong are seeking out solutions for this ‘New Normal’.
As part of this work, 24 Mayors, Vice Mayors and senior departmental leaders from the Guangdong Provincial Government spent three weeks working with CISL and the Centre for Rising Powers in Cambridge and London. The programme was designed to explore the role of industrialisation and technological innovation in promoting sustainable economic activity.
The programme was tailored specifically to the needs of the delegates, and covered three main elements: critical analysis of global trends; review of the enablers of a high-tech industrial future; and reflection on leadership.
The programme combined site visits, expert presentations from within academia, business and policy, case studies and group projects to take these leaders through a three phase learning journey. The initial phase focused on reviewing current global trends and change within industry and urban landscapes. In the second week was focused on ‘learning by seeing’ and included a range of site visits demonstrating some of the ways in which the UK and London are focused on sustainable development and urbanisation. This helped delegates understand the operationalisation of many of the concepts learned in the first week as well as to meet with government officials and exchange ideas and knowledge with peers. The final phase saw the leaders taking time to critically review the knowledge they had acquired, consider their own roles as leaders of change and develop their own action plans for implementation on return to the province.
Not only did the programme enable the delegates to further their methods of thinking and take away practical ideas for a sustainable future, it also offered networking opportunities with UK business and government further developing the connections between our two nations.
Each delegate finished the programme by completing a personal action plan as well as a group report. Delegates commented that they felt their “horizons have been broadened”, that the programme was “refreshing and thought-provoking” and that they now “realise the importance and urgency of sustainable development, as well as the responsibility to implement a scientific outlook on development”.