Nonetheless, China, like other developing countries, has shown interest in this strategy, for improving its local water quality, upgrading environmental management, and improving quality of life for urban residents.

As developing world cities struggle to break from the traditional model of 'pollute first, clean up later', it is critical that they employ strategies which minimize or remediate environmental impacts while still promoting economic development.

This paper analyzes three such projects: the Qinhuai River Environmental Improvement Project in Nanjing, the Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation in Shanghai, and the Wuli Lake Rehabilitation in Wuxi. A critical analysis indicates that these projects have served numerous purposes which contribute to the cities' sustainable development.

Though waterways may not be restored to pristine conditions, the incremental improvements appear to be a necessary catalyst for sustainable urban development.

This forms the abstract of an article published in Environmental Research Letters. The full article is available here.