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Once the most rural area of Shanghai, it is now the subject of a major urban and agricultural master-plan led by Philip Enquist of SOM. With the construction of a trans-Yangtze tunnel, the island is expected to increase in population while incorporating specialized agriculture in a sustainable design. It is also a major relocation centre for migrants from Three Gorges Dam area. Chongming has an area of 1041.38 km² and a population of 694,600 as of 2001. The city of Dongtan is currently being planned in this county.
Dongtan was presented at the United Nations World Urban Forum by China as an example of an eco-city, and is the first of up to four such cities to be designed and built in China by Arup, a global design and engineering company. The cities are planned to be ecologically friendly, with zero-greenhouse-emission transit and complete self-sufficiency in water and energy, together with the use of zero energy building principles. However, the planned ecological footprint for each citizen in Dongtan is currently 2.2 hectares, higher than the 1.9 hectares that the World Wildlife Fund claims is theoretically sustainable on a global scale.
Dongtan proposes to have only green transport movements along its coastline. People will arrive at the coast and leave their cars behind, traveling along the shore as pedestrians, cyclists or on sustainable public transport vehicles. The only vehicles allowed in the city will be powered by electricity or hydrogen.