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Special Issue "Institutions and Policies for Rural Land Conversion in the Quest for Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Volker Beckmann

Faculty of Law and Economics & Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, Soldmann Str. 15, 17487 Greifswald, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +49 3834 420 4122
Fax: +49 3834 420 4107
Interests: institutional change; institutional economics; environmental and resource economics; governance of natural resources; agricultural and land economics; conservation; technology adoption; sustainable land management
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Rong Tan

School of Public Affairs, Zhejiang University, P. R. China; Land Academy for National Development, Zhejiang University, P. R. China
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +86 571 56662168
Fax: +86 571 56662012
Interests: land economy; land institutions; natural and environmental management; governance; social-ecological systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rural land conversion is the process of converting land into alternative uses, in both rural and urban fringe areas, which is related to landscape change, social structure adjustment, and human–land relationship reconstruction. Conversions from agricultural to construction land, from constructed land to agriculture, or from unused land to agriculture, may serve as examples. The economic, social and ecological conflicts in rural land conversion are a common issue for sustainable development in many countries worldwide, including Germany and China.

As pressures from population, resource constraints, and environmental change are increasingly severe, economic development mode has gradually shifted from relying on incremental construction land supply to stressing on rural-urban idle construction land redevelopment and rural-urban land integrated use, including different off-set policies. How can countries facing these problems adopt suitable laws, institutions and policies that could guide and control rural land conversion practices in the quest for sustainability, i.e., facilitating “supply-side” structure reform of land resource, improving economic, social and ecological effectiveness of rural land conversion, as well as achieving harmonious, green and shareable development?

This Special Issue aims to bring researchers from multiple disciplines together to contribute to the theoretical and practical understanding on sustainable rural land conversion in different countries, including China and Germany. We welcome all researchers from relevant domains to submit papers that address the overarching concerns including but not limited to: 1) laws, institutions and policies reform on rural-urban land property rights; 2) laws, institutions and policies reform on rural-urban land use planning; 3) public participation mechanism for farmland conversion; 4) ecological offset mechanism for farmland conversion; 5) governance structures for rural-urban land redevelopment; and 6) agent-based modeling of institutions and policies for farmland conversion.

Prof. Dr. Volker Beckmann
Prof. Dr. Rong Tan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Rural land conversion
  • Institutions
  • Governance
  • Sustainable development
  • Rural-urban integration

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Planning Modes for Major Transportation Infrastructure Projects (MTIPs): Comparing China and Germany
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3401; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103401 (registering DOI)
Received: 29 July 2018 / Revised: 16 September 2018 / Accepted: 18 September 2018 / Published: 25 September 2018
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Abstract
Because major transportation infrastructure projects (MTIPs) have significant effects for a sustainable development, the planning modes used for these projects have been a popular topic among scholars and policy makers. However, detailed descriptions and comparisons of planning modes in different countries are still
[...] Read more.
Because major transportation infrastructure projects (MTIPs) have significant effects for a sustainable development, the planning modes used for these projects have been a popular topic among scholars and policy makers. However, detailed descriptions and comparisons of planning modes in different countries are still rare. Therefore, this paper first provides a simple analytical framework based on the elements of the planning goal, the planning process, the planning result and the evaluation criteria. Focusing on the hierarchic mode adopted in China, and the democratic participatory mode adopted in Germany, the governance practices used in MTIP planning are clearly shown. Furthermore, by using two airport cases, this paper compares the differences between China and Germany in the realms of preparation, review, coordination, final approval, and planning performance. The main conclusions are: (1) The analytical approach presented in this paper provides an appropriate standard for describing and comparing planning modes for MTIPs; (2) the planning modes in the two countries each have advantages and disadvantages, reflecting the trade-off between ex ante and ex post costs; (3) the comparison between China and Germany may be instructive for both of these countries and for other countries in terms of improving their planning performance in the future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Understanding Land Use and Rural Development in the National Scheme of Village Relocation and Urbanization in China: A Case Study of Two Villages in Jiangsu Province
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3227; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093227
Received: 30 July 2018 / Revised: 5 September 2018 / Accepted: 6 September 2018 / Published: 10 September 2018
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Abstract
Large-scale village relocation and urbanization, one of the most significant social changes in China, bring villages both development opportunities and social risks. The social risks mainly stem from the government’s strong position in land expropriation and policy preference for urban development. We observe
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Large-scale village relocation and urbanization, one of the most significant social changes in China, bring villages both development opportunities and social risks. The social risks mainly stem from the government’s strong position in land expropriation and policy preference for urban development. We observe the amalgamation of Anyang and Bomu Village in China and explore the specific role of land policies in the social change and restructuring of the two villages. We find that clan gentries challenge the government’s “absolute” authority over land and landless villagers start the trend of “de-urbanization.” Our research presents targeted policy recommendations in terms of weakening the role of the government in urbanization, strengthening dialogues between the government and clans and coordinating urban and rural land use. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Rethinking Rural Transformation Caused by Comprehensive Land Consolidation: Insight from Program of Whole Village Restructuring in Jiangsu Province, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2029; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062029
Received: 22 May 2018 / Revised: 13 June 2018 / Accepted: 13 June 2018 / Published: 15 June 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3022 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
China has made great progress in its economy and urbanization in the past 30 years, but rural development has lagged behind the cities and the gap between urban and rural areas continues to widen. The Chinese government implemented the “Building New Countryside Plan”
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China has made great progress in its economy and urbanization in the past 30 years, but rural development has lagged behind the cities and the gap between urban and rural areas continues to widen. The Chinese government implemented the “Building New Countryside Plan” in 2006, which used a new policy of increasing the urban land quota linked with decreasing rural construction land to promote rural transformation and the coordinated development of the urban–rural area. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of rural transformation caused by comprehensive land consolidation and to improve the future practical operability of the policy, a field survey on 42 projects in Jiangsu Province was conducted from March–August 2016. The results of this study showed that: (1) Comprehensive land consolidation had a significant role in promoting rural transformation based on the premise of excluding the average growth rate and 88.1% of the project’s farmers’ income achieved a faster increase than other areas; (2) the increase in the farmer’s income was mainly attributed to non-agricultural income as non-agricultural employment was still a precondition for rural transformation and the degree of local industrialization and educational levels received by farmers were limited for rural transformation; (3) the transfer fees of the land quota were the key factor to maintain the financial balance between demolition and resettlement, but local land quota demand and government capacity in financial operations affected rural restructuring; and (4) the absence of rural social welfare systems significantly affected the land transfer rate. The above conclusions are helpful in understanding the dynamic mechanism of rural transformation, enriching the academic literature in related fields, and are of practical significance for rural revitalization in developing countries. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effects of Infrastructure on Land Use and Land Cover Change (LUCC): The Case of Hangzhou International Airport, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2013; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062013
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 7 June 2018 / Accepted: 7 June 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1878 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents an analysis of the land use and land cover change (LUCC) of major infrastructure construction as exemplified by the case of Hangzhou International Airport (HIA, Hangzhou, China), which is one of the busiest airports in Eastern China. The airport’s effect
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This paper presents an analysis of the land use and land cover change (LUCC) of major infrastructure construction as exemplified by the case of Hangzhou International Airport (HIA, Hangzhou, China), which is one of the busiest airports in Eastern China. The airport’s effect on LUCC is evaluated by comparing the actual pattern from 1996 to 2001 with a counterfactual simulated land use pattern that would have occurred without the intervention of airport construction. This research is based on land use maps from Landsat images that were analyzed by supervised classification and visual interpretation. To simulate the land use pattern occurring without airport construction, the counterfactual, we applied a cellular automata (CA)–Markov model. Through before and after comparison, we found that cultivated land has decreased and that constructed land has increased because of airport construction. However, according to the counterfactual scenario, airport construction to some extent prevented a decrease in cultivated land and decelerated the expansion of constructed land at a small scale and in the short term. We discuss several reasons for this result, including governmental regulations, such as the setting of the airport clearance area for the safety of plane take-off and landing, the adverse effects of aviation noise or pollution, which may limit the construction activities in the surrounding areas of the airport, and, importantly, the unique land use and land management system in China, mainly the cultivated land requisition-compensation balance policy. We conclude that (1) the counterfactual CA–Markov model simulation is a suitable and unbiased way of evaluating the effect of infrastructure on LUCC that can solve the deficiency in the previous literature relying on before and after comparisons and (2) regulatory, economic, and institutional factors should be considered when explaining and assessing the LUCC due to large infrastructure projects, such as airports, in China and in other countries. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Laboratory Experiments of Tradable Development Rights: A Synthesis of Different Treatments
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1972; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061972
Received: 26 April 2018 / Revised: 14 May 2018 / Accepted: 16 May 2018 / Published: 12 June 2018
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Abstract
Tradable development rights (TDR) are considered by scholars and regulators in various countries as a means of reducing land consumption efficiently. Similar to the development of CO2-certificate trading schemes, the methodology of experimental economics can be used to derive empirical evidence
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Tradable development rights (TDR) are considered by scholars and regulators in various countries as a means of reducing land consumption efficiently. Similar to the development of CO2-certificate trading schemes, the methodology of experimental economics can be used to derive empirical evidence on the core parameters and problems of TDR schemes, thus extending theoretical modelling and evidence from case studies. Building on a common laboratory experimental framework, we discuss results from five distinct experiments that consider mechanisms of allocation, resilience against external shocks, political business cycles, communication and collusion, and risk. These results provide initial empirical directions for the further study and introduction of TDR schemes for managing and reducing environmental issues related to land consumption for building projects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Does Property Rights Integrity Improve Tenure Security? Evidence from China’s Forest Reform
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1956; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061956
Received: 7 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 9 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of land property rights integrity, subdivided into use rights, mortgage rights, and transfer rights, on household perceptions of long-term tenure security in China. To this end, we establish a theoretical framework that links
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The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of land property rights integrity, subdivided into use rights, mortgage rights, and transfer rights, on household perceptions of long-term tenure security in China. To this end, we establish a theoretical framework that links China’s collective forest tenure reforms undertaken since 2003 to property rights integrity and two sources of tenure (in)security based on property rights theory: forestland reallocation and expropriation. Probit models are applied in the empirical analysis to household data collected in Jiangxi province in 2011 and 2013. The results indicate that household perceptions of tenure insecurity resulting from forestland reallocation expectations are affected by transfer rights, whereas household perceptions of insecurity resulting from forestland expropriation expectations are not affected by forestland rights. We thus suggest that it is crucial for policymakers to identify the sources of local property rights insecurity before they take steps to strengthen land tenure security. This paper contributes to the available literature on the relationship between property rights integrity and tenure security by identifying different sources of tenure insecurity, emphasizing the effect of property rights integrity on long-term tenure security, and taking into account the potential endogeneity problem. Full article
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Open AccessArticle How Do Policies and Actors’ Attitudes, Interests and Interactions Influence Farmland Conversion Outcomes in Land-Use Planning?
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1944; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061944
Received: 4 April 2018 / Revised: 4 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
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Abstract
Conversion of farmland to built-up land threatens future supply of food and other ecosystem services. However, little research covers how different goods provided by farmland are taken into consideration in planning processes or how different actors influence land-use outcomes. This paper explores this
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Conversion of farmland to built-up land threatens future supply of food and other ecosystem services. However, little research covers how different goods provided by farmland are taken into consideration in planning processes or how different actors influence land-use outcomes. This paper explores this by undertaking a comparative case study in two Norwegian municipalities. One of the main findings is that the national policies’ emphasis on food security is not decisive for local farmland preservation decisions. The land-use plan of the municipality which has the strictest farmland conversion policy is guided by other local values, such as the farmland’s provision of place identity and local food. In both municipalities, informal support networks of developers, other landowners, business interests, and politicians are established. Farmland preservation interests were less visible locally, and politicians found conversion proposals difficult to resist. The municipality which had converted most farmland was in favor of opening more land for development than needed. Then, the possibility space for development interest groups to influence land-use outcome increased. Findings indicate that farmland preservation policies require more emphasis on local public goods and inclusion of farmland preservation interests within the community. Further, farmland preservation strategies could benefit from linking agricultural policies and land-use planning, as well as more restrictive land-use planning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Farmers’ Cognition and Behavioral Response towards Cultivated Land Quality Protection in Northeast China
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1905; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061905
Received: 7 May 2018 / Revised: 6 June 2018 / Accepted: 7 June 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impacts of farmers’ cognition of cultivated land quality protection (CLQP) on their behavioral response to land use practices. To this end, this paper establishes a theoretical framework linking farmers’ cognition (on CLQP status, policies
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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impacts of farmers’ cognition of cultivated land quality protection (CLQP) on their behavioral response to land use practices. To this end, this paper establishes a theoretical framework linking farmers’ cognition (on CLQP status, policies and patterns) to their behavioral response (choices of farming methods, land inputs and agricultural waste disposal methods). A field survey was conducted in suburban areas in Liaoning province, Northeast China. A total of 240 households were selected using stratified random sampling. Results show that: (i) in regards to household cognition on CLQP, although a majority of households agree that CLQP is important and have a strong willingness to protect cultivated land quality, their cognition on the future prospect of CLQP is not optimistic; (ii) with regard to household responses to land use practices, a number of households have realized the importance of crop rotation, however, the use of chemical fertilizers is mostly based on past experience and is often excessive. Besides, the disposal of agricultural waste is inappropriate; (iii) household cognition on CLQP policies is found to be the most powerful factor that could lead to an improvement of CLQP practices. It is thus concluded that the government should help households adopt effective farming methods which are environmentally-friendly and sustainable by enhancing publicity of CLQP policies and strengthening farmers’ confidence in CLQP. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Conflict over Mining in Rural China: A Comprehensive Survey of Intentions and Strategies for Environmental Activism
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1669; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051669
Received: 20 February 2018 / Revised: 25 April 2018 / Accepted: 26 April 2018 / Published: 21 May 2018
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Abstract
Mining causes severe adverse effects such as pollution and forced resettlement. Accordingly, it has prompted conflicts that are also evident in China. Our study assesses whether and how rural residents’ engage in environmental activism (EA) against mining. This is achieved by constructing a
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Mining causes severe adverse effects such as pollution and forced resettlement. Accordingly, it has prompted conflicts that are also evident in China. Our study assesses whether and how rural residents’ engage in environmental activism (EA) against mining. This is achieved by constructing a model of EA strategies, coupled to variables that examine respondents’ intentions. The model uses data from a survey (n = 352) covering 37 villages spread over 5 provinces and 1 provincial-level municipality. The model is based on a refinement of the theory of planned behavior (TPB). Various findings are reported: (1) a majority of respondents (77%) believes that pollution in the mining areas is serious; (2) there is pessimism about the effects of EA with 41% believing it does not improve the environment, and less than one-fifth feeling the government supports EA, contradictorily; (3) well over half has engaged in one or more forms of EA, while (4) dominant EA strategies consist of complaining to local government or village authorities (both over 40%), or open protest (opted for by over 17%); (5) economic dependency and gender affect the intention for EA, as those employed in mining and women are less inclined to participate. Whereas studies pointed to “inclined abstainers” or the “silent majority”, this study ascertains that—with regard to mining—rural residents are not silent. We posit that a threshold of environmental endurance might have been reached. In this context, policymakers need to tackle the adverse effects of mining, as it is likely to generate more violent confrontations that ultimately pose risks to political credibility and social stability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Can Arable Land Alone Ensure Food Security? The Concept of Arable Land Equivalent Unit and Its Implications in Zhoushan City, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1024; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041024
Received: 12 March 2018 / Revised: 28 March 2018 / Accepted: 28 March 2018 / Published: 30 March 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (12796 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The requisition–compensation balance of farmlands (RCBF) is a strict Chinese policy that aims to ensure food security. However, the process of supplementing arable land has substantially damaged the ecological environment through the blind development of grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands to supplement arable land.
[...] Read more.
The requisition–compensation balance of farmlands (RCBF) is a strict Chinese policy that aims to ensure food security. However, the process of supplementing arable land has substantially damaged the ecological environment through the blind development of grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands to supplement arable land. Can arable land alone ensure food security? To answer this question, this study introduced the concepts of arable land equivalent unit (ALEU) and food equivalent unit (FEU) based on the idea of food security. Zhoushan City in Zhejiang Province, China was selected as the research area. This study analyzed the ALEU supply and demand capabilities in the study area and presented the corresponding policy implications for the RCBF improvement. The results showed that the proportion of ALEU from arable land and waters for aquaculture is from 46:54 in 2009 to 31:69 in 2015, thereby suggesting that aquaculture waters can also be important in food security. Under three different living standards (i.e., adequate food and clothing, well-off, and affluence), ALEU from arable land can barely meet the needs of the permanent resident population in the study area. However, ALEU from aquaculture waters can provide important supplementation. Therefore, we suggest that food supply capability from land types other than the arable land be taken seriously. Furthermore, RCBF can be improved with ALEU as core of the balance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Impossible in China’s Homestead Management: Free Access, Marketization and Settlement Containment
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 798; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030798
Received: 16 December 2017 / Revised: 26 February 2018 / Accepted: 8 March 2018 / Published: 13 March 2018
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Abstract
Rural settlement containment is a challenging issue for many countries. It becomes especially daunting when people want rural settlements to serve multiple social goals. For example, in China, the central government seeks to simultaneously achieve three goals with the rural homestead management system.
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Rural settlement containment is a challenging issue for many countries. It becomes especially daunting when people want rural settlements to serve multiple social goals. For example, in China, the central government seeks to simultaneously achieve three goals with the rural homestead management system. It wishes to: (1) contain rural settlements to preserve farmland; (2) entitle rural households to free homestead; and (3) encourage rural residents to accrue monetary income from homesteads. This paper, using survey data from 54 villages in China, shows that these three policy goals are an impossible combination. In fact, the latter two encourage settlement expansion. Moreover, with the latter two in place, we find that rural cadres expand homesteads more aggressively than others, exacerbating social and economic inequality within rural communities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Rural Renewal of China in the Context of Rural-Urban Integration: Governance Fit and Performance Differences
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020393
Received: 10 January 2018 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 2 February 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (6399 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent years, rural-urban integrated development has become a vital national strategy in China. In this context, many regions have implemented rural renewal projects to enhance the vitality and development of rural areas. The objective of this study is to reveal the reasons
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In recent years, rural-urban integrated development has become a vital national strategy in China. In this context, many regions have implemented rural renewal projects to enhance the vitality and development of rural areas. The objective of this study is to reveal the reasons why different rural renewal modes have emerged in contemporary China and assess their ability to facilitate rural-urban integration. An analytical framework, the Institution of Sustainability (IoS) and a comparative analysis of two cases are used for the rural renewal evaluation. Our findings indicate that the properties of transactions and the characteristics of the actors involved jointly determine the governance structures of rural renewal. Furthermore, different governance structures contribute to performance differences, particularly differences in the physical outcomes, distribution effects and process efficiency. Finally, we suggest relevant policy recommendations. Full article
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