2016 Global Sustainable Cities Index: Putting people at the heart of city sustainability

The index shows that cities often underperform in one element of sustainability which negatively impacts their overall performance.

Peter Glus

City Executive New York +1 718 397 2378 Ask me a question

With urban cities home to more than half the world’s population, cities are under pressure to  deliver an an attractive place to live, work and invest, which ultimately makes them more sustainable. Arcadis’ 2016 Sustainable Cities Index (SCI) report ranks 100 cities across the globe, featuring 22 North American cities, on three dimensions 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.

Well-established European cities dominate the top of the overall ranking making up 16 of the top 20 positions. They are joined by the advanced Asian cities of Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong.

North America peaks in Profit but lags in People and Planet

This year’s report found that U.S. cities rank just below most other developed nations in sustainability and are most challenged in two categories: People and Planet. To achieve greater sustainability in the People category, U.S. cities need to improve social factors such as work-life balance, crime, health, and affordability. To improve in the Planet sub-index, U.S. cities need to lower their per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, use less energy, and generate more urban green space.

Canadian cities ranked ahead the U.S. cities, with Vancouver taking the highest spot and Toronto and Montreal ranking in the top five. New York tops the charts for U.S. cities and ranks ahead of Boston (5th), San Francisco (6th) and Seattle (7th) while the least sustainable U.S. cities are Indianapolis, Tampa and Detroit.

The 2016 index shows that all cities face unique challenges and there is always room to take sustainability to the next level. So how can cities do more to ensure they develop and implement strategies and policies to address challenges while putting people at the forefront of their sustainability?

Download the 2016 report or view the interactive data to further explore.

Click here to experience an interactive view of the Global Sustainable Cities Index.

Questions about this article

Peter Glus

City Executive New York +1 718 397 2378 Ask me a question

Arcadis White paper

2016 Global Sustainable Cities Index

Download the 2016 report

Download PDF