Sustainable Cities Index 2018

Citizen Centric Cities

The 2018 edition of Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Index (SCI) explores city sustainability from the perspective of the citizen. We seek to understand in more depth how different cities meet the needs of their citizens.

Sustainable Cities Index 2018 – North America

The Index highlights that emerging needs, such as digital connectivity, are being addressed in U.S. cities at all levels of sustainability.

The research features new work on city archetypes and clusters aimed at explaining the implications of a citizen’s experience.

 Download North America spotlight

 Download global report

Explaining patterns of city sustainability

City Clusters

To provide greater insight into the factors that influence city development and performance, we have developed a deeper understanding of how citizens and cities relate. This insight is derived from city archetypes based on urban ethnographic research into how cities are evolving and the experience of the citizens living within them. The results of this research is a set of four city clusters.

Balanced Innovators

The key citizen experiences associated with this profile are convenience and security associated with Automation and Sensing and high quality of life associated with an absence of Disruption as well as the infrastructure necessary for a Connected city.

Post-industrial Opportunists

Citizen experiences supported by a growing role of technology are mostly positive but might potentially be undermined by the impact of automation on legacy employment. Cities that match this profile have a more balanced economy so are less likely to be faced with the economic dislocation that has been seen in some recession-hit cities such as Detroit.

Evolutionary Cities

Core citizen experiences in these cities are focused on aspects of informal entrepreneurialism - articulated possibly as micro-enterprise or alternatively as community self-help.

Fast-growing Megacities

Citizen experiences include high levels of informal economic activity as well as the powerful influence of enterprise – often directed by the state to deliver development and services.

Canada Spotlight

Balanced Innovators



The five Canadian cities in the 2018 Index – Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary – were generally consistent and all ranked within the top 40 cities worldwide. However, digging deeper into the sub-indexes highlights some contrasts among the cities in the Great White North. Four out of the five Canadian cities fell within the top 20 of Planet rankings, with Montreal breaking into the top 10. The country’s strengths within the Planet sub-index include air pollution, electric vehicle incentives, and natural disaster monitoring. The Profit sub-index proved to be Canada’s greatest opportunity to improve city sustainability, while consistent low crime rates and strong health indicators boosted Canada’s scores in the People sub-index. The SCI findings for Canadian cities highlight the importance of the Profit pillar as a driver for long-term sustainability. There is growing potential for Canadian cities to use the digital evolution to engage with citizens and improve the citizen experience of city life.

>> Download North America spotlight to learn more

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