Cities are under pressure from all angles; some pressures are easily forecasted while others are more difficult to predict. Balancing the immediate needs of today without compromising the demands of tomorrow is at the heart of sustainability, and of this report. The 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index ranks 100 global cities on three dimensions or pillars of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit. These represent social, environmental and economic sustainability to offer an indicative picture of the health and wealth of cities for the present and the future.
In the Middle East, UAE cities lead the rankings with Dubai and Abu Dhabi as the two most sustainable cities in the region taking the 52nd and 58th globally.Dubai ranked first out of the eight Middle East cities. The city scored exceptionally well on the profit indicators finishing in fourth place globally, well ahead of other major business hubs like New York, Paris and Tokyo. It also performed well from a social perspective, although fared less well on the environmental side, finishing 7th in the region and 96th globally.
The picture in Abu Dhabi was equally positive with the city finishing second overall in the region. It scores very well on economic sustainability too but faces similar challenges around its environmental performance.
Doha finished fourth out of the eight Middle East cities covered in this year’s report and 72nd overall, making good progress in becoming more socially and economically sustainable, however a number of environmental issues still need to be addressed. The city scored relatively well in the people and profit categories with major investment in both transport and social infrastructure, as part of Qatar’s 2030 National Vision, beginning to pay dividends. However, Doha finished 98th based on the environmental indicators, which dragged down the city’s overall sustainability ranking.
Riyadh and Jeddah need to address a number of key issues if they want to improve their sustainability performance. Both Riyadh and Jeddah are ranked in the lower quartile in this year’s report, finishing in 76th and 81st place respectively. This is behind five other cities in the Middle East, with low scores on the planet and profit indices negatively impacting their overall performance. Large populations in both cities are creating issues around demographics including a need for better social infrastructure, whilst high-energy consumption, emissions and limited use of fossil fuels is driving a lower environmental score.
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