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These cities have figured out how to grow sustainably

frankfurt-sustainable-city
Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
Top marks for Frankfurt.
By Jeanne Kim
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

European cities are living up to their reputation for being greener and more pleasant than cities in the US and the rest of the world. That’s according to a top-10 list of sustainable cities released by the design and engineering consultancy firm Arcadis in a recent report (pdf).

Arcadis looked at a selection of 50 cities around the world, using a definition of sustainability that goes beyond the environment, wrapping in economic viability and a sustainable quality of life for its citizens.

The report, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), looked at 50 cities’ sustainability levels by culling data from a range of sources, including the Siemens Green City Index and the World Bank’s World Development Indicators.

The study’s 50 cities were selected by CEBR to reflect a wide geographical coverage and range of levels of economic development, according to Colin Edwards, a senior economist at CEBR. Arcadis asked CEBR to look at cities that were urbanized, growing, and facing major challenges to sustainability, such as rapid urbanization and population growth.

To measure a city’s sustainability, Arcadis looked at quality of life based on transportation infrastructure, education, and income inequality. It quantified environmental sustainability by tallying measures of recycling rates and air pollution, among others. And for financial stability, the firm took commute times, property and living costs, and a city’s energy-consumption-to-GDP ratio into account.

Here are some notable takeaways:

  • Frankfurt, the top-ranked city, has set aside more than half its urban space for recreation and green initiatives. It is also home to the European Central Bank, which helps boost its financial standing.
  • Among the top 10 sustainable cities, seven were in Europe and the other three were in Asia. None were in North or South America.
  • Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, and Paris scored lower because of high property prices, with the latter three not even making it into the top 10.
1
Frankfurt
Europe
2
London
Europe
3
Copenhagen
Europe
4
Amsterdam
Europe
5
Rotterdam
Europe
6
Berlin
Europe
7
Seoul
Asia-Pacific
8
Hong Kong
Asia-Pacific
9
Madrid
Europe
10
Singapore
Asia-Pacific
11
Sydney
Asia-Pacific
12
Toronto
North America
13
Brussels
Europe
14
Manchester
Europe
15
Boston
North America
16
Paris
Europe
17
Melbourne
Asia-Pacific
18
Birmingham
Europe
19
Chicago
North America
20
New York
North America
21
Houston
North America
22
Philadelphia
North America
23
Tokyo
Asia-Pacific
24
Rome
Europe
25
Washington
North America
26
Kuala Lumpur
Asia-Pacific
27
San Francisco
North America
28
Los Angeles
North America
29
Dallas
North America
30
Santiago
Central & South America
31
São Paulo
Central & South America
32
Mexico City
Central & South America
33
Dubai
Middle East
34
Abu Dhabi
Middle East
35
Shanghai
Asia-Pacific
36
Istanbul
Europe
37
Johannesburg
Africa
38
Buenos Aires
Central & South America
39
Beijing
Asia-Pacific
40
Rio de Janeiro
Central & South America
41
Doha
Middle East
42
Moscow
Europe
43
Jeddah
Middle East
44
Riyadh
Middle East
45
Jakarta
Asia-Pacific
46
Manila
Asia-Pacific
47
Mumbai
Asia-Pacific
48
Wuhan
Asia-Pacific
49
New Delhi
Asia-Pacific
50
Nairobi
Africa

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