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Top 10 – sustainable cities

In October 2018, global management consultancy company Arcadis released its ‘Citizen Centric Cities – Sustainable Cities Index (SCI)’ report on the world’s top 100 sustainable metropolises. Scoring cities against three core sustainability pillars – people (social mobility, opportunity and quality of life), planet (energy use, pollution and emissions) and profit (business environment and economic performance) – the index offers a holistic understanding of the world’s top performing cities across social, environmental and economic resilience, and preparedness for the future. Here, CSO magazine takes a look at the overall top 10 cities in Arcadis’s report.

10 | Frankfurt, Germany

In 2000, the city of Frankfurt committed to becoming the most sustainable city on Earth and, alongside stiff competition, it is certainly making good on its promise. In the almost 20 years since, Frankfurt has been crowned with a major green belt that’s home to 200,000 trees, along with cash incentives for its citizens to cut their electricity usage, the gradual installation of an electric vehicle-friendly charging infrastructure, and an extensive metering and maintenance programme to minimise water wastage.

9 | Hong Kong, China

As one of the world’s greatest financial hubs, Hong Kong is never short of the capital necessary to augment its public services and sustainability initiatives with the latest tech and strategies. Its dense population means that air pollution is a key challenge for the city’s government, and one of its major smart city strategies is focused on implementing a host of IoT-enabled smart traffic systems to maximise the efficiency of its roads and cut vehicle-related carbon emissions.

8 | Oslo, Norway

Ranking 6th for Planet, the Norwegian capital of Oslo is also a top European smart city. With the aim of improving its citizens’ quality of life alongside clamping down on its environmental impact, Oslo’s smart city initiatives are focused largely on hydrogen and electricity-powered public transport, IoT-infused waste and traffic management systems and an extensive energy-efficient retrofitting project for an array of buildings across the city.

7 | Munich, Germany

Home to one of the world’s foremost football teams, Munich has a sustainability ethos to match its sporting prowess. The city’s population is set to grow significantly by 2030, owing to a high birth rate and an influx of young professionals seeking its abundant job opportunities, and so there has been significant investment in preparing for the strain on space and resources that such growth will cause. Considered to be Germany’s most liveable city, it also has an array of sustainability projects and goals that could go a long way to mitigating its environmental impact.

6 | Zurich, Switzerland

Replete with traditional Swiss architecture blended with a pristine corporate environment, Zurich is one of Europe’s most beautiful and modern cities. Having led the pack as the overall most sustainable city in the 2016 report, Zurich hasn’t quite kept pace with the rising surge in sustainability projects worldwide. Nonetheless, the Swiss capital remains a winning example of an effectively managed urban environment, with deep-running investment in renewable energy and extremely low rates of air pollution.

5 | Vienna, Austria

At 4th place in the SCI’s Planet pillar, Arcadis says Vienna effectively balances strong environmental policy with high quality of life. As a tourism destination, Vienna is pitched as one of Europe’s most verdant and sustainability-oriented holiday destinations, and this is corroborated by a deeply sustainable local economy based on ethics, organic produce and a robust green transport infrastructure for minimised environmental impact.

4 | Singapore, Singapore

Singapore plays host to some of the world’s most ambitious smart city initiatives, and its connectivity was a key differentiator in being crowned the leader of the SCI’s Profit pillar. With a potent transport infrastructure, legislative ease for conducting business, and high employment and output levels, Singapore has all the components of a global finance hub with longevity. Robust city-wide management and planning has established Singapore as both a digital leader and a prime example of effective green urban planning.

3 | Edinburgh, Scotland

Ranking 1st in the People pillar, Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most beautiful, historic and liveable cities. Sustainable Edinburgh 2020 has defined the city council’s sustainability framework for almost a decade: “Edinburgh in 2020 will be a low carbon, resource efficient city, delivering a resilient local economy and vibrant flourishing communities in a rich natural setting.” The framework has certainly positively impacted people’s lives in the city, with the SCI noting that Edinburgh possesses a “highly educated and healthy” workforce with a respectable distribution of wealth and a very low crime rate.

2 | Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm’s status as an ecological powerhouse is reflected in its 1st place position in the SCI’s Planet pillar. Named as the first European Green Capital by the EU Commission in 2010, Stockholm’s sustainability projects have not lost momentum in the years since. A current major and ambitious project is Hammarby Sjöstad 2.0, known as the city’s signature sustainability initiative, which showcases the levels of renewable energy, waste management, circular economies, and sustainable transport infrastructure that can be achieved in an inner-city district.

1 | London, United Kingdom

Coming in 2nd in both the People and Profit pillars, and 11th in Planet, London represents a small few cities to perform consistently at the top end of each pillar. The UK’s capital is known for offering the widest and deepest range of job prospects in the country, along with increased average salaries over the rest of its major cities. Given that London stands as one of the most pivotal financial hubs in the world, it is only natural that significant investments have been made in sustainable infrastructure, ease of transport, and international connections.

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10 | Frankfurt, Germany

In 2000, the city of Frankfurt committed to becoming the most sustainable city on Earth and, alongside stiff competition, it is certainly making good on its promise. In the almost 20 years since, Frankfurt has been crowned with a major green belt that’s home to 200,000 trees, along with cash incentives for its citizens to cut their electricity usage, the gradual installation of an electric vehicle-friendly charging infrastructure, and an extensive metering and maintenance programme to minimise water wastage.

9 | Hong Kong, China

As one of the world’s greatest financial hubs, Hong Kong is never short of the capital necessary to augment its public services and sustainability initiatives with the latest tech and strategies. Its dense population means that air pollution is a key challenge for the city’s government, and one of its major smart city strategies is focused on implementing a host of IoT-enabled smart traffic systems to maximise the efficiency of its roads and cut vehicle-related carbon emissions.

8 | Oslo, Norway

Ranking 6th for Planet, the Norwegian capital of Oslo is also a top European smart city. With the aim of improving its citizens’ quality of life alongside clamping down on its environmental impact, Oslo’s smart city initiatives are focused largely on hydrogen and electricity-powered public transport, IoT-infused waste and traffic management systems and an extensive energy-efficient retrofitting project for an array of buildings across the city.

7 | Munich, Germany

Home to one of the world’s foremost football teams, Munich has a sustainability ethos to match its sporting prowess. The city’s population is set to grow significantly by 2030, owing to a high birth rate and an influx of young professionals seeking its abundant job opportunities, and so there has been significant investment in preparing for the strain on space and resources that such growth will cause. Considered to be Germany’s most liveable city, it also has an array of sustainability projects and goals that could go a long way to mitigating its environmental impact.

6 | Zurich, Switzerland

Replete with traditional Swiss architecture blended with a pristine corporate environment, Zurich is one of Europe’s most beautiful and modern cities. Having led the pack as the overall most sustainable city in the 2016 report, Zurich hasn’t quite kept pace with the rising surge in sustainability projects worldwide. Nonetheless, the Swiss capital remains a winning example of an effectively managed urban environment, with deep-running investment in renewable energy and extremely low rates of air pollution.

5 | Vienna, Austria

At 4th place in the SCI’s Planet pillar, Arcadis says Vienna effectively balances strong environmental policy with high quality of life. As a tourism destination, Vienna is pitched as one of Europe’s most verdant and sustainability-oriented holiday destinations, and this is corroborated by a deeply sustainable local economy based on ethics, organic produce and a robust green transport infrastructure for minimised environmental impact.

4 | Singapore, Singapore

Singapore plays host to some of the world’s most ambitious smart city initiatives, and its connectivity was a key differentiator in being crowned the leader of the SCI’s Profit pillar. With a potent transport infrastructure, legislative ease for conducting business, and high employment and output levels, Singapore has all the components of a global finance hub with longevity. Robust city-wide management and planning has established Singapore as both a digital leader and a prime example of effective green urban planning.

3 | Edinburgh, Scotland

Ranking 1st in the People pillar, Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most beautiful, historic and liveable cities. Sustainable Edinburgh 2020 has defined the city council’s sustainability framework for almost a decade: “Edinburgh in 2020 will be a low carbon, resource efficient city, delivering a resilient local economy and vibrant flourishing communities in a rich natural setting.” The framework has certainly positively impacted people’s lives in the city, with the SCI noting that Edinburgh possesses a “highly educated and healthy” workforce with a respectable distribution of wealth and a very low crime rate.

2 | Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm’s status as an ecological powerhouse is reflected in its 1st place position in the SCI’s Planet pillar. Named as the first European Green Capital by the EU Commission in 2010, Stockholm’s sustainability projects have not lost momentum in the years since. A current major and ambitious project is Hammarby Sjöstad 2.0, known as the city’s signature sustainability initiative, which showcases the levels of renewable energy, waste management, circular economies, and sustainable transport infrastructure that can be achieved in an inner-city district.

1 | London, United Kingdom

Coming in 2nd in both the People and Profit pillars, and 11th in Planet, London represents a small few cities to perform consistently at the top end of each pillar. The UK’s capital is known for offering the widest and deepest range of job prospects in the country, along with increased average salaries over the rest of its major cities. Given that London stands as one of the most pivotal financial hubs in the world, it is only natural that significant investments have been made in sustainable infrastructure, ease of transport, and international connections.

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