Three paradigms used in China to deal with urban water issues are compared. The analysis focuses on their definition and objectives, the role of different stakeholders, the issues they deal with and the possible solutions suggested. The use of these paradigms in Chinese cities is compared on different dimensions to conclude when and where they can be used for which purpose. The paradigms differ substantially in their scope (from the narrow focus of the sponge city paradigm to the broad goals of eco-city paradigms) and in terms of the governance mechanisms used to coordinate between different actors. The resilient and sponge paradigms mainly use government structures to achieve their objectives, while the idea is to also involve the private sector (certainly in case of the sponge city paradigm). This has not happened most of the times because project money had to be spent in time. In the eco-cities approach the citizens want to be involved through newly created governance structures. In resilient cities potential victims may be involved. Resilient and eco-city initiatives emphasize the involvement of stakeholders, while in the sponge cities approach the initiative is often taken by local government. Finally, in terms of expected solutions, the paradigms want to avoid disaster, create an eco-city or improve water management. Only in the case of eco-cities there is more space for different water management practices and using alternative technologies. Water-related technologies are available, generating energy from wastewater or underground water and diminishing the dependence on fossil fuels.

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Keywords China, Eco-cities, Paradigms, Resilient cities, Sponge cities, Water management
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Journal Sustainability (Switzerland)
van Dijk, M.P, & Zhang, M. (Mingshun). (2019). Urban water management paradigms in Chinese cities. Sustainability (Switzerland), 11(11). doi:10.3390/su11113001