Asia’s two leading financial centers Hong Kong and Singapore have made it into the top 10 of the 2018 Sustainable Cities Index by Arcadis, the leading global Design & Consultancy for natural and built assets. Singapore is #4 and Hong Kong is #9. Aside from these two Asian cities, European cities dominate the Index with London ranked the most sustainable city in the world.
- Singapore is ranked #1 for ease of doing business globally and features fourth globally in this year’s Index
- Singapore is the leading Asian city, followed by Hong Kong (9th) and Seoul (13th) on the overall index
- Digital technologies are having rapid impact on citizens’ experience of a city
- Focus on citizens’ needs is secret of cities’ sustainable success
The Sustainable Cities Index (SCI) ranks 100 global cities on three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit. The three pillars are closely aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Leading Asian cities Hong Kong and Singapore are closely matched in different areas of sustainability. Hong Kong ranks #3 in the Profit sub-index, which is two places behind Singapore, which tops the list. In the People sub-index, however, Hong Kong’s well-established and accessible public transport services earned it a respectable #21 in the rankings, considerably ahead of Singapore (#31). Roles are reversed in the Planet sub-index with Singapore ranked #41, beating Hong Kong, which came #50.
Hong Kong ranks higher overall than other Greater Bay Area (GBA) cities such as Guangdong, Shenzhen and Macau, yet there is an urgent need to address its affordability and environmental challenges to re-invent itself and progress as a sustainable city, stay competitive within the region and among other world cities.
The GBA economy is poised to be among the biggest bay area economies in the world, however in the overall SCI, Guangzhou and Shenzhen score in the middle to lower quartiles across the Profit, People and Planet pillars, indicating a need for a regional smart and resilient city strategy to enable sustainable growth and improve livability.
Growing Asian cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Manila feature at the middle and lower end of the rankings respectively. Kuala Lumpur lies in the middle of the list in the Profit and People sub-index, but sees an immediate need to enhance its environmental efforts. Manila ranks at the lower end of the rankings due to the low scores on sustainability.
The SCI data consistently highlights that the foundations of city sustainability are an educated and healthy workforce, effective low-carbon infrastructure and ease of doing business. Affordability, access to public transport and income inequality are the big swing variables that make or break a city’s sustainable success.
John Batten, Arcadis Global Director of Cities said: “In many cities, developed or developing, citizens face huge challenges to meet basic needs, including shelter, food, water and warmth. Therefore, it is critical that cities maintain and evolve their services based on current needs, as well as ensuring that they address future requirements. City policy makers will play a key role by helping create long-term sustainable policies that specifically address these issues.”
About Sustainable Cities Index 2018
In addition to looking at the triple bottom line of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit, this year’s research also features new work on city archetypes and clusters aimed at explaining the implications of a citizen experience showing a close correlation to the SCI rankings. The four city clusters used are based on an analysis of the citizen experiences of city living combined with the Index data.
- Balanced Innovator – cities which are prosperous and see technology as a vital part of its sustainable development (Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Tokyo)
- Post-industrial Opportunists – consists mainly of American, European and Australian cities, which have a balanced economy and citizens enjoy technology as part of their lives (Birmingham, Los Angeles, Washington, Melbourne)
- Evolutionary Cities – rapidly growing cities in emerging markets, with core citizen experiences centering around informal entrepreneurialism (Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta)
- Fast-growing megacities – cities that are in rapidly growing economies, subject to high levels of inward-migration, investment in infrastructure and change (Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen)
The rankings for Asian cities in the 2018 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index are:
Arcadis is the leading global Design & Consultancy for natural and built assets. Applying our deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services we work in partnership with our clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets. We are 27,000 people, active in over 70 countries that generate €3.2 billion in revenues. We support UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities around the world. www.arcadis.com