Sustainable cities index: Australia behind, Scandinavia tops

The results are in on the latest ranking of global cities and Australia is dragging its feet.

Australian capital cities have missed out on a top 20 spot in the newly released 2022 Sustainable Cities Index.

The list, curated by Dutch global design and consultancy organisation Arcadis, ranks 100 global cities on their environmental sustainability.

However, not one of the three Australian cities included in the Index breaks into the top 20.

Sydney was the highest ranked at number 33, while Melbourne and Brisbane dropped much further down the list at numbers 60 and 64 respectively.

Arcadis found cities which reinvested their profits into social amenities, policies and environmental actions which improved the quality of life of their citizens took out the top spots.

Scandinavia was well-represented here, with Oslo, Norway at number one, Stockholm and Sweden at number two and Copenhagen, Denmark at number four. The northern European capitals were only separated by Tokyo, Japan at number three.

“The rankings for our Australian cities are middling at best,” said Arcadis’ Australian cities director Stephen Taylor.

“My take on this is that we’ve been trading on the natural beauty of our cities, but this is no longer enough; people demand more.”

The Sustainable Cities Index ranks global cities based on 28 indicators including air pollution, renewable energy share, cost of Wi-Fi, income inequality, employment rates and job quality.

Sydney’s ranking is thanks to high scores in relation to profit indicators such as ease of doing business and economic development.

However, the city rates poorly for environmental exposure and lack of bicycle infrastructure.

Melbourne scored strongly in health and income equality, but fell short for affordability and transport links.

Arcadis suggested a solution to housing affordability and the rising cost of living in Australian cities is to create “30-minute cities”.

“Enabling people to live, work and socialise within a much smaller radius takes pressure off those inner-city suburbs that are in such high demand because of their proximity to the best opportunities,” Mr Taylor said.

He said he is optimistic about the long-term sustainability and prosperity of Australian cities.

“For all our focus on hard infrastructure, ultimately our cities need to be malleable and constantly evolving to match new standards of sustainability,” Mr Taylor said.

Top 20 most sustainable cities:









San Francisco





Los Angeles

New York





Washington D.C.

Originally published as Australia falls on global sustainable city list

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