Decoupling analysis of water-environment-economic growth in the city: A case study of Beijing

Miss Wenjing Zhang1, Professor  Mark  Wang1, Professor Michael Webber1

1University of melbourne, Parkville, Australia


With the increasing threat of water availability in megacities around the world, integrating different dimensions of water management has become significant in contemporary China. The realization of “water-saving society” calls on decoupled development between water resources and economic development. This study adopted the water resource developing model and added environmental factors into the method to quantify the relationship within water-environment-economic (WEE) nexus in Beijing. This study traces the development pattern of water policies within the city and seeks its interaction with the decoupling relationship. Contrary to existing researches, our analysis shows that the decoupled relationship in WEE nexus did not realize in Beijing’s overall development and regulations and policy shifting still needed as the city will soon have surplus water after moving out its non-capital function to a new city.  Further, the unconventional method to secure water supply-South-North water transfer project fails to urge the city towards decoupled development nexus.  We suggest that the policy focus shall move to quantity control and water saving in domestic water usage and finding alternative conventional water resources. Our study will bridge the information gaps regarding urban water management model, environmental impact and water resource consumption in the Chinese context.


Wenjing Zhang has joined School of geography in University of Melbourne as a PhD candidate under the supervision of Professor Michael Webber and Mark Wang. Wenjing graduated from Tianjin University. She received her Master degree of Public Administration from the College of Management and Economics at Tianjin University in 2017. Currently she is a PhD student working on South-North Water Transfer project and her major areas of research include the relationship between water availability and urban proposals in Chinese northern cities. So far, she has been published 6 papers in SCI/SSCI.

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