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Published on October 31st, 2016 | by James Ayre


Zurich Named “World’s Most Sustainable City” By Arcadis

October 31st, 2016 by  

The city of Zurich, Switzerland, has been named the world’s most sustainable city by the Netherlands-based building consultancy Arcadis.

Considering that the city has an economy based largely around banking, I have to wonder if naming the city the most “sustainable” makes sense. When you look at the factors used to compile the list, though, then the choice makes more sense.

The report uses metrics across 3 “pillars of sustainability” — involving social, economic, and environmental elements — to determine the ranking. Using such a system, Zurich obtained a score of 74.6%, largely as a result of environmental and economic factors.

This score was trailed closely by the scores for Singapore, Stockholm, Vienna, and London — all of which were above 73%.

London (ranked 5th) is another city that I have a hard reconciling with the word “sustainable.” The high ranking was apparently mostly down to economic factors, and the relatively large numbers of parks and green spaces (more than 3,000), though, so that explains things somewhat.

The report ranked most US cities fairly lowly, based mostly on the relative lack of green spaces and higher per-capita carbon emissions. Los Angeles and San Francisco, for instance, ranked 60th and 53rd, respectively.

The cities on the bottom of the list aren’t too surprising, considering the metrics used, with Cairo and Kolkata taking the very last spots. The reasons for the supposed lack of “sustainability?” Mostly economic factors, low air quality, high carbon emissions, low energy efficiency, and limited access to green spaces.

“A clear link between economic development and environmental sustainability is apparent,” the report stated. “Therefore, cities in advanced economies are largely at the top while those in emerging and developing economies tend to cluster towards the bottom.”


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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