Zurich is world’s most sustainable city, according to a new index

100 global cities were ranked according to their performance on three parameters—people, planet and profit

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 13 September 2016

Zurich also topped the planet sub-index (Photo courtesy: Pedro Szekely/CC BY-SA 2.0)

A new index, the 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index by international design and consultancy firm Arcadis, has ranked 100 global cities according to their social, environmental and economic health. The index has assigned to them overall as well as parameter-specific rankings. These three parameters are people, planet and profit.

In overall rankings, Zurich, Singapore, Stockholm, Vienna and London make the top five spots on the list. But when ranked according to performance on the people parameter, Zurich appears in 27th place, Singapore is placed 48th and London is at number 37. This parameter takes into account demographics, education, income inequality, work-life balance, crime, health and affordability.

The planet sub-index, which considers energy consumption, environmental risks, green spaces, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management and drinking water and sanitation, placed five European cities—Zurich, Stockholm, Geneva, Vienna and Frankfurt—in the top five positions.

The profit sub-index includes transport infrastructure, economic development, ease of doing business, tourism, connectivity and employment. Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Dubai and Zurich came in the top five under this parameter.

Indian cities were among the last 12 to appear on the overall index with Chennai ranking 89th, Bengaluru 91st, Mumbai 92nd, New Delhi 97th and Kolkata taking the last spot on the list.

The report recommends that cities must aim to create a sense of community by ensuring equality among different neighbourhoods. This means they must ensure that all people enjoy at least a basic standard of living, with access to dwelling, water, employment, education and health. The report also asks cities to improve people’s quality of life by increasing the number of green spaces. Increasing cities’ resilience to extreme weather events and unforeseen water shortages is another way of making cities sustainable.

“Getting a city to invest, develop, evolve and, ultimately, be a better host for its permanent residents, will propel it to become more sustainable and competitive,” writes John Batten, Global Director of Water and Cities at Arcadis, in the report.

The release of the index assumes importance in the context of Habitat III, an event by the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to be held in October in Ecuador. At the conference, countries will negotiate and possibly adopt the New Urban Agenda, an international roadmap for achieving sustainable urban development.

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