European cities dominate Sustainable Cities Index 2016

Cities are challenged to balance the immediate needs of today without compromising the demands of tomorrow. That is at the heart of sustainable urban development and of Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2016. Our Index ranks 100 global cities on three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit. Well-established European cities dominate the top of the overall ranking making up 16 of the top 20 positions.

Carolien Gehrels

European Cities Director +31 (0)6 1261 2990 Ask me a question

Putting people at the heart of city sustainability

>>> Download the full report

>>> Discover the result of your city

Zurich leads the way for sustainability – alongside other European cities such as Stockholm, Vienna, London and Frankfurt – according to the Sustainable Cities Index of Arcadis. Despite the good score of most European cities, there is no room for complacency. Many European cities struggle with making their business model sustainable and with reaching international sustainability and climate agreements.

Governments on all levels are trying to fulfill the commitments agreed upon during the December 2015 Cop21 Paris Sustainable Development Forum. This is not an easy task at all, not even for the cities topping Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Index. With this report, Arcadis gives a clear signal to cities worldwide that we willingly share our knowledge with them, in order to reach the COP21 commitments and improve their citizens’ quality of life. We also wish that our Sustainable City Index can be an inspiration for the participants to the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) conference that will take place from October 17 onwards in Quito, Ecuador. The future of our planet is determined in the urban areas. 

Central and Northern European cities dominate top positions throughout the index. Rotterdam and Hamburg come in second and third on the people sub-index. Amsterdam also scores strongly for people in seventh place. Switzerland performs well in the planet sub-index with Zurich and Geneva taking the first and third spots. They are joined in the top five by Stockholm, Vienna and Frankfurt.

Europe is most challenged in the profit sub-index, with could be a consequence of slow growth following the economic crisis. Notably Lyon, Brussels and Lisbon all score in the top half for both people and planet, but when it comes to profit they rank substantially lower is 71st place, 66th and 61st respectively.

Many cities in Europe are not effectively balancing the three pillars of sustainability in their communities. European cities particularly score lower on profit. This split story is dragging down the sustainability of several European cities. As our report shows, the challenge of putting people and their wellbeing at the heart of a city’s sustainability goals is one that many have yet to rise up to meet. 

Score European cities in the 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index:

1. Zurich

3. Stockholm

4. Vienna

5. London

6. Frankfurt

8. Hamburg

9. Prague

10. Munich

11. Amsterdam

12. Geneva

13. Edinburgh

14. Copenhagen

15. Paris

17. Berlin

18. Canberra

19. Rotterdam

20. Madrid


22. Rome

24. Barcelona

25. Manchester

29. Antwerp

31. Birmingham

35. Dublin

36. Glasgow

37. Warsaw

38. Leeds

40. Brussels

42. Milan

46. Lisbon

47. Lyon

57. Moscow

66. Athens

77. Istanbul

T(1The full findings can be found here:  

Towards future cities

The United Nations Habitat III conference (October 2016) presents a New urban agenda to guide future development policies in cities around the world. In that context our Sustainable Cities Index provides authorities and stakeholders with insights they can use to enhance the performance of their cities. To make cities and human settlements more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Questions about this article

Carolien Gehrels

European Cities Director +31 (0)6 1261 2990 Ask me a question
Share on Wechat
"Scan QR Code" on WeChat and click ··· to share.