A new study has revealed that Zurich is the most sustainable global city. European cities lead the way on urban sustainability, capturing 16 of the top 20 places in the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index.
The index examined 100 of the world’s leading cities on all continents according to what Arcadis calls the “three pillars of sustainability”: social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (profit).
The index reveals that the city of Zurich leads the world for sustainability, coming first in the overall ranking as well as environmental sustainability. The Swiss city topped the planet sub-index because of its commitment to becoming a 2000-watt society by 2050. In pursuit of this goal, the city is investing and focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable mobility and mobility for the future. Arcadis also called the city’s public transit “a sustainable model for other cities”.
European cities dominate the overall ranking, taking 16 of the top 20 positions and with Stockholm, Vienna and London come in third, fourth and fifth respectively. They were joined by the Asian cities of Singapore (2nd), Seoul (7th) and Hong Kong (16th) as well as Australia’s Canberra (18th)
The index shows that cities around the world exhibit polarising results across the three pillars of sustainability. For example, Zurich led both the overall ranking and environmental sustainability and scored well for economic sustainability, but came in only 27th place with respect to social sustainability, in part due to the very high cost of living. London also did well in terms of environmental and economic sustainability, but came in 37th place for people.
The cities of Stockholm and Vienna achieve the best balance, wrote Arcadis, coming in the top 15 across all three categories.
No North American city made it into the top 20, and Canadian cities placed noticeably higher than their US counterparts. Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal took three of the region’s top four places. New York came in second in the region and 26th overall, followed by Boston in 34th.
The mediocre placement of North American cities is due largely to their low ratings in environmental and social sustainability, including high per capita emissions, high energy use, lack of urban green space, low work-life balance, crime, health and affordability.
The bottom 10 is made up of cities in India, China and Africa.
Image credit: www.zuerich.com