Despite standing tall ahead of global competitors and taking the crown as the world’s most sustainable city in the latest rankings, experts are warning political leaders that London won’t remain at the summit unless there is further investment into infrastructure, transport congestion is tackled and more affordable housing is made available.
The insights come as global consultants Arcadis release its 2018 Sustainable Cities Index which puts the UK capital above competitors including Stockholm, Frankfurt, Singapore, New York and Paris against three pillars of sustainability.
In producing the league table, 100 global cities were ranked on social (people – reflecting quality of life); environmental (planet - capturing green factors, including energy, pollution and emission;) and economic (profit - reflecting the business environment and economic health) factors.
The research also features new work on city archetypes and clusters aimed at explaining the implications of the rankings on the evolving relationship between the city and the citizen.
Sitting at the top, London ranked second on the ‘Profit’ index of economic performance, beaten only by Singapore. The city’s ease of doing business, top tourist attractions and multi-culturalism all combined to contribute to its success. As one of the greenest capitals in the world, with over 3,000 parks and green spaces, it reached 11th globally for environmental sustainability. It also performed particularly well for ‘quality of life’, taking the number two spot in the ‘People’ rankings.
"London's economic diversity, multi-cultaralism, world class education system and abundance of good quality green space has propelled the capital to the top spot."
Peter Hogg, Arcadis UK cities director.
While the research makes for good reading, a word of warning has been issued to policymakers in London. With the population set to soar to over 10 million in the next decade, average house prices fast approaching £0.5 million and its transport system struggling to cope at peak times, Arcadis is calling for greater financial autonomy to plan for future growth and a commitment to vital infrastructure like Crossrail 2 and further tube upgrades.
The new data also provides welcome reading for the city of Edinburgh which has been highlighted as the “most liveable city in the world” thanks to its very low crime rate, high levels of education and the overall health of its workforce.
The city’s lively arts and entertainment culture, the Old and the New Town, both of which are World Heritage Sites, and tourism combine to make it a desirable place to live, according to researchers.
Peter Hogg, UK cities director at Arcadis, said: “London’s economic diversity, multi-culturalism, world class education system and abundance of good quality green space has propelled the capital to the top spot in the Arcadis Cities Index. With headlines dominated by Brexit and growing political and economic uncertainty, this is very encouraging news, but we can’t be complacent. Other cities will be vying for our position and we need to address our shortcomings.”
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, added: “London’s top ranking is a welcome tonic to help banish the Brexit blues. To stay there we now need to redouble our efforts to increase housing supply, tackle transport congestion and remain open to talented people from around the world.”
Global top 20 city ranking in Arcadis’ 2018 Sustainable Cities Index:
14. New York
16. San Franciso