top of page

CDA Spring Conference

JANUARY 11/12 2024

Building the Green, Digital and Inclusive City of the 21st Century

Conference Picture 2024.png
Conference Picture 2024-2.png

Building the Green, Digital and Inclusive City of the 21st Century 

Online Conference

11th - 12th January 2024

Against the backdrop of the APEC Summit in November 2023 in San Francisco and the COP28 in Dubai CDA joined forces with George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations (Houston, Texas, US), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing, China) and The Carter Center (Atlanta, Georgia, US) to organise the trilateral conference ‘Building the Green, Digital and Inclusive City of the 21st Century’. With two thirds of world’s population living in cities by 2050 this conference was dedicated to evidence-based dialogue and to address urban innovation and solutions to mitigate climate change, capitalize on digital transformation and to support intergenerational and inclusive learning of citizens. Leading experts from Europe, China and the United States contributed their views and engaged in an interdisciplinary discourse with the participants of this two days virtual event.

With keynotes of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok, Thailand) and UNEP the conference featured distinguished speakers from leading academia, corporations, finance, governance institutions and NGOs. The peace-building dimension of evidence-based and systemic dialogue between the three world-regions was underlined and addressed in contributions of high-level representatives of the White House in Washington D.C., the European Commission, APEC Sustainable Energy Centre (APSEC), European Investment Bank (EIB), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), European Climate Fund (ECF), Bush China Foundation and The Carter Centre. From the corporate side one of the world’s largest banks (Bank of China) and the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (CBRE) gave insights in their climate-related business practice and strategic approach. Leading scholars amongst others from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua University shared their perspectives on the twin green and digital transition.

This conference was designed by the co-hosts as another deliberate multilateral contribution for dialogue, collaboration and joint problem solving of EU, China and the United States in the field of climate change mitigation. With registered participants from Europe, China, the United States, The Middle East and Africa this conference at the same time is meant to be the starting point for an ongoing results-oriented dialogue of all the individuals and institutions involved.

The main research questions/topics of this conference were:

  1. Could cities be organized in a way that they use mainly regional instead of global resources?

  2. Could cities be planned, built, and maintained in a way that the resources they need are regenerated continuously?

  3. How will large metropolises in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America be affected by sea-level rise in the coming decades?

  4. What can be done to mitigate to urban heat islands due to global warming?

  5. How can sustainable transport/mobility in cities look like in the 21st century?

  6. What are the necessary steps towards conveying a planetary patriotism and addressing climate change in intergenerational and inclusive dialogue with citizens?

  7. How can the AI and machine learning help solve complex problems in cities of the 21st century?


The final program of this joint conference of CDA, George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and The Carter Center is available here.


David J. FIRESTEIN, President and CEO of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations (Bush China Foundation), Houston, Texas, United States

HONG Yongmiao, Dean and professor at School of Economics and Management, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), Beijing, China

LV Ping, Vice Dean and professor at the School of Economics and Management, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), Beijing, China

Barbara SMITH, Vice President, Peace Programs of The Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Alexander G. WELZL, President of China Data Analysis and Research Hub (CDA), Vienna, Austria


All four co-hosts announced the conference on their homepage. Besides CDA the George H. W. Bush Foundation for US-China Relations and The Carter Center did it for the audience and institutions in the United States and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences published it on their UCAS website as well as on their official UCAS WeChat-account.

The registered participants comprised attendees from academia, corporations, governance, NGOs as well as associations and media from the three world regions including The Middle East and Africa.

Besides the conference documentation here on the CDA-homepage UCAS published a wrap-up of this two days symposium on the UCAS-website and European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice President Teresa Czerwinska published her contribution on her personal X (Twitter) account.




Welcome and Introduction by CDA 

Alexander G. WELZL, China Data Analysis and Research Hub, Vienna, Austria

Welcome and Introduction by UCAS

HONG Yongmiao, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China


KEYNOTE: Cities as Global Hot Spots of Climate Action - Resilience through Collaboration, Evidence Based Decisions and Innovation in the 21st Century

Curt GARRIGAN, Chief, Sustainable Urban Development Section, Environment and Development Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific / UN ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand

KEYNOTE: Urbanisation and the Agrifood System – Towards Coordinated Solutions to fight Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss and Ecosystem Degradation

Linxiu ZHANG, Director of United Nations Environment Programme - International Ecosystem Management Partnership (UNEP-IEMP), Beijing, China 


Clean Energy Transition and Carbon Emission Reduction - Chinese Cities’ Contribution to Fight Climate Change

Ji GAO, Director Energy and Nature, Environmental Defense Fund, EDF Beijing, Representative office, Beijing, China

The Contribution of APSEC and of the APEC Cooperative Network of Sustainable Cities to Promoting Green, Digital and Inclusive Cities 

ZHU Li, President, APEC Sustainable Energy Center (APSEC), Tianjin, China

Steivan DEFILLA, President Assistant, Professor, APSEC, Tianjin, China

Water-retaining Granules for Greener Cities – A European Climate Start-up 

Enrique NACIF, Founder and Managing Director of Green Legacy GmbH, Vienna, Austria

Indicate, Evaluate, Incentivize: Environmental Behavioral Steering in Urban and Rural China 

Alexander TRAUTH-GOIK, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna, Austria

Biocities and Circular Bioeconomy in the 21st Century - Urban Forests and Nature Based Solutions for Climate Change Mitigation and Well-Being of Citizens

Robert MAVSAR, Director of the European Forest Institute (EFI), Joensuu, Finland


Subnational U.S-China Cooperation to Promote Green and Resilient Cities - The State of Play following COP28 in Dubai and the APEC Summit in San Francisco

James BRAINARD, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, and Member of the Board of Directors of U.S. Heartland China Association, United States

Towards Sustainable Built Environment in Continental Europe - Best Practice Cases from Selected European Cities

Dragana MARINA, Sustainability Research Lead, Continental Europe, and Head of Research & Data Intelligence, CBRE Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

Wrap-up & Closing by Bush China Foundation

David J. FIRESTEIN, President and CEO of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations (Bush China Foundation), Houston, Texas, United States




Welcome and Introduction by UCAS

LV Ping, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Welcome and Introduction by CDA

Alexander G. Welzl, China Data Analysis and Research Hub, Vienna, Austria

Climate Change and Sustainable Urbanization as Part of Europe-China Science and Technology Relations

Vojko BRATINA, Policy Officer- S&T Attaché, Science and Technology Section, Delegation of the European Union to China, Beijing, China

Green Real Estate Solutions in China - The State of Play in Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Chinese Cities

LI Gary, Director, Head of Tech Solutions & Sustainability, CBRE China, Shanghai, China

Sustainability, Big Data, and Sino-Western Collaboration for a Common Future  

David Qingzhong PAN, Executive Dean, Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University Beijing, China


Climate-related Financial Risks and Risk Management for Urban Infrastructure Investments - Facilitating Green Transition, in Large Urban Agglomerations

Morgan DESPRÉS, Executive Director at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), Berlin, Germany

BRI Mach2: Superior Technology, Faster and Deeper Deployment

Henry TILLMAN, CEO, Alyana International, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Financial Market Conditions for Green, Digital and Inclusive Cities - The Role of Sovereign Wealth Funds and Institutional Investors

Winston MA, Adjunct Professor, New York University School of Law, New York, United States

Sustainable Finance for Green Cities in the 21st Century – Bank of China-USA’s Strategy, Track Record and Commitment in Practice

Xiaojun (Dennis) HUANG, Executive Vice President, Bank of China, US Branches, New York, United States

The EIB as the EU Climate Bank - Financing Innovation for a Sustainable and Resilient Future

Teresa CZERWINSKA, Vice President, European Investment Bank, Luxembourg


Addressing Climate Change in Intergenerational and Inclusive Dialogue with Citizens - Lessons Learned from Austin, Texas and the U.S.

Stephen I. ADLER, former Mayor, City of Austin, Texas, United States

Climate Change Perception of Young People – Recent Evidence from China and Western Countries

Emilly FAN, Schwarzman Scholar, Dallas, Texas, United States

Wrap-up & Closing by The Carter Center

Barbara SMITH, The Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia, United States


The Way Ahead – Remarks by the National Climate Advisor to the President of the United States

Ali A. ZAIDI, Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor, Head of the White House Climate Policy Office, Washington D.C., United States


Founded amidst the beginning pandemic in April 2020 with its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, China Data Analysis and Research Hub (CDA) follows its motto "Ex Sapientia Lux" and is dedicated to act as an independent, non-partisan and non-profit Sino-European think tank. With systemic and systematic research and analyses CDA strives to contribute to a peaceful bridge-building and evidence-based dialogue between Europe (the West) and China in the coming decades. With an interdisciplinary focus on innovation, deep-tech and sustainability CDA understands itself as an international hub of academics, professional experts from business and governance as well as institutions engaged in bi-/multilateral research and collaborative projects. Against the backdrop of the Grand Challenges of mankind addressed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals CDA strives to make a planetary patriotism and geo-innovation a reality in the 21st century.

With its headquarters in Houston, Texas, United States, the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations honors its namesake’s life-long view that the U.S.-China relationship is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world and that a constructive relationship between the two countries serves a vital interest of the United States, as well as the interests of the entire global community. Bush China Foundation seeks to advance engagement, education and information-sharing among the U.S. and Chinese policymaking, business and academic communities. It is committed to promoting diversity, cross-generational inclusion in foreign policy and to giving back to their communities. The Bush China Foundation’s active, wide-ranging, and highly innovative program of activities reflect President Bush’s vision of honest and open dialogue between nations and a safer and more prosperous world for all.

Located in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) is administered and managed by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), established in 1949. Comprising more than 100 institutes, CAS is China's highest academic institution in the Natural Sciences, the highest-ranking consulting institution in science and technology, the preeminent research and development center for the Natural Sciences and high technology, and the most important base in the training of advanced scientific talents. As of August 2020, UCAS had 57 teaching and research institutes as well as 16 affiliated hospitals. At that time UCAS had 3,090 professors and 11,257 supervisors, including 176 CAS Members, from three national research centers (or labs), 73 national key labs, 189 CAS key labs, 29 national engineering research centers (labs) and various national frontier scientific research projects. In 2019, UCAS had over 51,700 postgraduate students enrolled. The UCAS School of Economics and Management (UCAS SEM), strives to be a first-class research-oriented school with a global outreach and an AACSB as well as an AMBA accreditation.

Since its foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, in the early 1980ies The Carter Center has been guided by the principles of its founders, the 39th president of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. Founded, in partnership with Emory University, on a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering, the Center seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health. President Carter's decision to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China in 1979 changed both countries and the world. The Carter Center remains committed to preserving the legacy of President Carter and Deng Xiaoping’s historic decision while adapting to the demands of the 21st century. Through its research, workshops, and online engagement initiatives, the China Focus and program fosters greater dialogue, exchange, and critical reflection on the past, present, and future of U.S.-China relations.

CDA Autumn Conference


SEPTEMBER 22/23 2020

CDA Conference Session at Beijing Humboldt Forum


Metropolitan Innovation Systems

on the Eurasian Continent in the 21st Century


22nd - 23rd September 2020


With estimated two thirds of world’s population living in urban areas by 2050 the future of mankind’s problem-solving capacity lies in the metropolises. This holds true for Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the other parts of the world. Based on their schools of thought and professions the distinguished speakers in this conference session therefore take stock of the state-of-play. Exploring the development opportunities of metropolitan innovation ecosystems in a national and international context new insights will emerge how to unleash and nurture the hidden innovation potential.

Against this backdrop this conference session contributes to the ongoing dialogue between China and Europe - representing the historical orient and occident - with peoples living on the same landmass, the Eurasian continent.

Organized jointly by CDA and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) in Beijing this conference/conference session was part of the annual Beijing Humboldt Forum (BHF). This year BHF 2020 attracted around 100 international and Chinese speakers as well as more than 1500 participants (according to the main organizer - University of International Business and Economics, UIBE, in Beijing).  

From 2020 onwards the CDA Autumn Conference will be an annual international CDA event in the second half of each year. It will be organized as an online event in collaboration with CDA partner institutions in China, Europe and in other parts of the world.


See the CDA-UCAS conference program 2020 here.

The program was also published on the UCAS homepage here.


Below the organizers provide you with the presentations of the distinguished speakers who allowed us to publish their contributions:

DAY 1: Tuesday, 22nd September 2020

KEYNOTE: Digital Transformation for Inclusive and Sustainable Development


WONG Tsuen Yip, Chief of Technology and Innovation - Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific / UN ESCAP, Bangkok/Thailand


TRACK I: Metropolitan Innovation Systems (MIS) Systemic Evolution


Boosting the Green and Digital Transformation of Cities and Communities in the European Union

Cristina MARTINEZ, Deputy Head of Unit Smart Mobility and Living, DG CONNECT, European Commission, Brussels/Belgium  

Digitalization and the New Force of Regional Innovation in China

LIU Xielin, Professor at School of Economics and Management, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), Beijing/PR China


DAY 2: Wednesday, 23rd September 2020

TRACK II: MIS Healthcare Development


The Healthcare industry and Innovation in China

Francesca SPIGARELLI, Vice-Rector for Entrepreneurship and Technological Transfer, Associate Professor at University of Macerata, Director of the University of Macerata’s China Center, Italy

Creating Value for Bayer’s early Product Pipeline from emerging Chinese Pharma Innovation Ecosystems

Tom KINZEL, Vice President, Head of Open Innovation Center Europe, Bayer AG Research & Development, Pharmaceuticals, Wuppertal/Germany

Transforming the Quality and Sustainability of Food and Beverages with Biotechnology

WU Guifang, Director Asia-Pacific F&B Application Research, Novozymes (China) Investment Co. Ltd., Beijing/PR China


TRACK III: MIS Digital Transformation


Smart Manufacturing in Smart Cities - The Italian Perspective

Sergio CAVALIERI, Vice-Chancellor for Innovation and Technology-Transfer, Professor at University of Bergamo, Bergamo/Italy

Six Observations about Firm Level Digital Transformation in China

GAO Xudong, Professor at Department of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, School of Economics and Management (SEM), Tsinghua University, Beijing/PR China

Disruptive Innovation in the 21st Century - Creative Metropolitan Clusters as Centers of Gravity for Design-Driven Digital Transformation

Ingo ROLLWAGEN, Professorship for General Management, Academy of Fashion & Design (AMD)/Department of Design, University Fresenius (HSF), Berlin/Germany

Manufacturing and the Future of Work

WANG Jason, Secretary General of China Science and Technology Automation Alliance (CSAA), Beijing/PR China

bottom of page