Six UK cities make top 100 sustainable mobility cities

02 February 2018

Public transport remains a key driver in terms of city efficiency, environmental protection and well-being. A new report explores the world’s most sustainable cities in terms of mobility, with the UK boasting six cities in the top 100 most sustainable cities, with London in seventh spot.

Cities are supporting ever increasing numbers of people, as urbanisation continue apace. However, their sustainability is increasingly on the agenda as current practices clash with the reality of regional and global environments. As such, ICE cars are increasingly understood as producers of toxic pollutants, accidents and climate forcing exhausts, as well as the negative impact of their wider supply chains. Fines are also likely to become increasingly stringent as standards harden.

The rapid development of electric cars, as well as autonomous driving systems, are projected to significantly reduce their negative externalities; however, strong public transportation systems, as well as human locomotion, from walking to biking, continue to play a strong part in both human well-being, and wider city sustainability.Three pillarsIn order to identify the most sustainable 100 cities across the globe, in terms of their mobility, Arcadis has recently released its ‘Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017’ report. The report is based on mapping the mobility of 100 cities, across 23 key indicators. The cities are then ranked against each other across three key pillars: people, planet and profit. The data for the research was collected by Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) for the consultancy’s analysis.

The paper examined how efficient cities are at delivering a transportation system that can “simultaneously address and improve its functioning for all stakeholders, while facilitating economic opportunity without compromising environmental concerns.”

Top 10 cities

Hong Kong was dubbed the city with the most sustainable mobility system. The autonomous city state has a particularly strong ‘people’ profile, boosted by its modern metro system as well as 3G connectivity throughout the public transport network. The metro systems facilitate around 12.6 million passenger journeys every, at considerably lower costs than comparable systems in other countries – however, the city loses out on low pedestrian and bicycle options.

Top 10

Zurich, takes the number two spot, suffering from considerable congestion from private car use, but boosted by its relatively strong focus on public transport options – as well as plans to further expand its network. Paris takes the number two spot, due to the city’s strong focus on public transport, and its new more measured focus on increasing cycling and pedestrian options across the city. Seoul and Prague, the former with a strong performance in the people metric, and the latter in profit, round off the top five.

London takes seventh place, just behind Vienna. The UK’s capital has a strong showing in people and environment, although misses out on a strong profit sub-indices score. After years of a concerted effort to reduce congestion via a historic campaign of investment in public transport, the report notes that the current system will still need considerable investment, in order to stay on par with changes on the global stage.

The Next 20

European cities more widely perform well in the top 30, building on traditions, as well as moving quickly to make their cities more efficient, add sustainable capacity and move away from the wider pollution and congestion created by more inefficient forms of transportation.

Top 11-30

UK cities overall, perform relatively well in the top 100, counting six, including Edinburgh (#17) Manchester (#35), Birmingham (#38), Bristol (#38) and Leeds (#53). Edinburgh exceeding in people and environment, although congestion continues to hamper its score. While Manchester, as well as other ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities, are increasingly focused on improving public transport to improve commute times and wider productivity. 

In conclusion, the cities which had pursued bold moves of innovation and planned for future growth had seen the greatest sustainability and quality of life benefits. The authors stated, “With all the challenges that come from rapid urbanisation, policymakers must take note and become well informed of their options in order to be able to offer residents real social and economic benefits.”


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.