Financing Smart-Eco Projects in Taipei: Public-Private Collaborative Governance, Institutional Reconfiguration, and Resource Reallocation

Authors: I-Chun Catherine Chang*, Macalester College
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: smart-eco urban projects, financing, Taipei
Session Type: Paper
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Promising lasting economic and environmental progress, urban sustainability projects are embraced by cities across the globe. Over the last decade, these projects have increasingly become driven by a global industry that prioritizes proprietary information technology solutions. The costs associated with the for-profit industry, however, present new challenges to cities, especially to those with stagnant economic growth and limited fiscal flexibility. Given the growing interests of the industry in the previously overlooked Asian markets, this paper studies how smart-eco city initiatives in Taipei, Taiwan are financed and financialized to examine the operation of the emerging urban sustainability industry and their relations with urban planning regimes. The findings suggest that the current Taipei City government exploited the supposed technological superiority and political neutrality of its smart-eco projects to set a new growth agenda, form new development coalitions, and incorporate rising populist momentum into policy-making. In light of limited municipal resources, the City adopted the Amsterdam Smart City public-private collaborative governance framework to entice private investments and reduce public spending on the new projects. The Taipei City government has also undergone a series of institutional reform to integrate otherwise appropriated itemized assets (mostly real estate and rental income from previous urban renewal projects) to invest in its new smart-eco projects. Meanwhile, the city presents its construction of smart affordable housing and smart-eco communities as evidence of financial self-sufficiency. By detailing these financial arrangements, this paper provides insights into how urban planning regimes reconfigure government institutions and reallocate resource distribution to materialize smart-eco projects.

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