Compiled by the Dutch engineering firm Arcadis, the annual report looks at facets of three core dimensions of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic. Researchers factor in everything from the life expectancy of residents to housing costs, energy consumption, sanitation, tourism, and GDP.
European cities dominated the top 10, with Zurich just barely beating Singapore for the designation of Most Sustainable city in the world. Arcadis cites Zurich’s ambitious green energy goal of using just 2000 watts per person by 2050. The city’s investments in sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency were key to its placement on the list. Additionally, as a global financial center, Zurich was high for both economic success and the quality of life of its residents.
Cities in the United States were positioned firmly in the middle of the rankings, with New York City deemed the 26th most-sustainable in the world. While many of the country’s urban centers had high scores for economic might, they fell short when it came to social support and environmental initiatives.