The top 100 most sustainable cities of the globe

01 November 2016 4 min. read
More news on

The global economic powerhouses, the world’s cities, are moving further towards sustainability. In a new report, the top 100 cities are mapped according to three key social, environmental and economic metrics. Zurich comes out on top, followed by Singapore and Stockholm. London comes in at number five, with six UK cities making the top 40.

Urbanisation is projected to result in a continued shift towards city life. Many cities around the world, are, in the face of increasing residency and consumption, transforming themselves into metropolises that benefit their people, the wider environment as well as providing a space for enterprise. Long term risks, from increasing environmental problems stemming from water overuse, climate change and urbanisation, as well as the consequences of automation and changes in social cohesion, are set to affect the sustainability of cities moving forward.

Top 20 most sustainable cities of the globe

Three Pillars

In a new report from Arcadis, titled ‘Sustainable Cities Index 2016’, the global engineering and consulting firm measures the top 100 global cities in terms of three pillars (sustainability, people, planet and profit), ranking cities within each dimension and overall.

The firm leverages a host of global reports from a variety of sources to develop the Index and its sub-indices. The ‘people’ pillar considers ‘quality of life’, including the quality of resident health, education, income inequality, work life balance, and security, among others. The ‘planet’ metric considers ‘green’ city transformations, including energy consumption and renewable energy share, green space within cities, recycling, natural catastrophe risks, and pollution, among others. The ‘profits’ metric, considers a range of business enabling and sustaining measures, from infrastructure to tourism, among others.

Top 21 - 60 most sustainable cities of the globe

Top and bottom 40

The top 40 is headed by the Swiss capital city, Zurich. The city has a strong performance in the planet metric as well as being world class in terms of business. Singapore comes in second, offering an impressive business environment as well as a strong planet score. Stockholm comes in third, offering a particularly powerful planet score as well as a relatively robust business environment. Vienna has a strong planet performance, as well as a strong social framework. London rounds off the top five, with a particularly strong business and planet score. The top 20 is dominated by European centres, 16 in total.

The UK does relatively well across the board, with six of its cities in the top 40, far outperforming the closest country, Germany on three. Edinburgh comes in at number 13, with a strong performance across the three pillars. Manchester, at number 25, scores well in the planet pillar, as does Birmingham at number 31. Glasgow comes in at number 36, with a strong performance in its planet score, while Leeds comes in at 38.

Top 61 – 100 most sustainable cities of the globe

The bottom of the top 100 list is dominated by emerging economies. The Indian city of Kolkata comes in last, performing well in civic measurements, but lacking in a strong planet and profit profile, New Delhi stands at 98, while Mumbai takes the number 92 spot. Egypt's capital Cairo holds the number 99 spot, suffering from continued political and economic quagmires, it has a poor profit profile and low planet score. The mega city of Mexico City takes the number 84 spot, while Shanghai and Beijing take the number 74 and 73 spots. A number of US cities score relatively poorly on the Index, including Detroit at 69, Atlanta at 66 and Chicago at 60.

Earlier this year Arcadis released a similar city ranking on the quality of their water management policies and programmes.