As China’s economy, cities, and industry continue to grow so does the fear that they will not be able to catch up to sustainable developments in the West. But China’s cities might be farther ahead than previously thought. In November 2010, Urban China Initiative (UCI), an NGO jointly founded by McKinsey & Company, Columbia University, and Tsinhua University, published the results of a five-month study evaluating the sustainability of 112 cities in China.
The study is a first run for the Urban Sustainability Index (USI), a measurement tool created to fill in the gap between existing tools that are either mostly theory or focus on national-level statistics. USI “is designed to measure relative performance over time of Chinese cities across a common set of sustainability categories.” USI uses five broad categories to define sustainability with 18 individual indicators that evaluate the environmental stability, the services offered by each city, and each city’s resource efficiency.