The triple bottom line
The headline ranking can be divided into three broad subcategories: People, Planet and Profit. These correspond to three dimensions of sustainability – social, environmental and economic – which ARCADIS describes as the ‘triple bottom line.’
People: Each city’s social performance, including the quality of life for those who live there. This sub-index rates transport infrastructure, health, education, income inequality, work-life balance, the dependency ratio and green spaces within cities.
Planet: Environmental factors such as emissions and pollution. Each city is rated for its energy consumption and renewable energy share, recycling rates, greenhouse gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, drinking water, sanitation and air pollution.
Profit: Performance from a business perspective, combining measures of transport infrastructure (rail, air, other public transport and commuting time), ease of doing business, the city’s importance in global economic networks, property and living costs, GDP per capita and energy efficiency.
Rotterdam tops the People sub-index due to broad success including high literacy and a good work-life balance. Two Germany cities – Frankfurt and Berlin – lead the way on Planet factors, scoring particularly well for waste management and low levels of air pollution.
While London ranks second overall – plus second for Profit and third for People – it comes 12th for Planet, or environmental performance. Birmingham edged ahead in this sub-index, ranking 10th, while Manchester came 14th.
‘For years London has suffered from underinvestment in its infrastructure and is struggling to meet the demands of the existing population, let alone the impact of growth.
‘Congestion and aging infrastructure are at the heart of current issues, but so too are a chronic shortage of affordable housing, air quality, and the more visible impact of climate change and resilience against the elements.’
Sustainable Cities Index report, ARCADIS
Top 10 cities for the planet
‘As our world becomes increasingly more reliant on its urban centers, it is our hope that city leaders find this to be a valuable tool in assessing their priorities and pathways to urban sustainability for the good of all.’
John J Batten, Global Cities Director, ARCADIS
The full Sustainable Cities Index can be found on the ARCADIS website.