Development of ecocities is one of the recent responses to climate change. What is envisaged in such developments is the creation of cities that are responsive to the surrounding environment in terms of pollution control, sustainable land use, mitigation of climate change and adaptation to changing climate conditions. Development of such cities from scratch or the conversion of existing cities into ecocities will be no easy task. The enormous financial and technological resources required for such developments may lead governments to rely on private sector participation in the development and management process of such cities. This paper argues that the concept of developing ecocities requires not only the successful completion of a project, but also the long-term maintenance of the sustainable features and their acceptance by the public. Thus, the paper points out that, in addition to the environmental sustainability concerns, the financial viability of the project, cultural considerations, community needs, capacity for future maintenance of the city and availability of a suitable regulatory and administrative framework for the administration of the city are important considerations. Further, the paper argues that the use of a traditional public–private-partnership (PPP) model of project development may not be a suitable vehicle for developing ecocities. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.