Talking Point  

London in top 10 of world's most sustainable cities

London in top 10 of world's most sustainable cities
City of London skyline (credit: Olga Lioncat via Pexels)

London has been ranked sixth overall in this year’s Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index. Oslo topped the list, followed by Stockholm and then Tokyo, which came in third place.

The Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2022 ranks cities on three pillars of sustainability: people, planet, and profit.

Under the planet category, it measures environmental factors like energy usage, emissions and investment in low-carbon infrastructure, while ‘people’ measures areas such as; work-life balance and urban living - the reliability of public transport infrastructure, broadband, Wi-Fi availability.

Lastly, profit is focused on factors such as; commercial transport infrastructure, economic performance (ease of doing business, economic development, employment) and business infrastructure (access to reliable electricity, connectivity).

In the previous edition, published in 2018, London came top of the list, but Arcadis has said the data collated in both reports are not comparable on a like for like basis.

John Batten, Arcadis global cities director, explained: "Since 2018, for example, there been a much greater focus on the climate emergency, with the introduction of increasingly stringent climate targets, and we’ve had the pandemic to grapple with.

"Our understanding of sustainability in cities has evolved, and – with the availability of new data sets – this year we have included a range of new metrics across the three pillars, such as the percentage of female completion rates in education, the number of weeks of paid maternity/paternity leave, and commitment to climate action.

"This year, we are also featuring 10 new cities that were not previously included in the 2018 Index, such as Bogota in Colombia and Marseille in France, in a bid to recognise cities that are ramping up their sustainability initiatives."

Earlier this month, Swiss Life Asset Managers' published its European Thematic Cities Index in 2022, in which London came top, followed by Zurich and then Stockholm. 

The proprietary index measures European cities against five core city themes that are aligned with major trends shaping a city's real estate market:

  • Dynamism – the ability and means to adapt to and embrace changes
  • Healthiness – the ability to build resilience to a shifting climate and support the wellbeing of citizens
  • Networks – the ability to support and grow professional and personal communities
  • Cosmopolitanism – the ability to meet changing consumer demands of multicultural residents
  • Accessibility – the ability to connect citizens to the physical and digital world.

The index provides an overall ranking for 135 European cities from 28 countries.

Swiss Life said the index, which helps in the development of investment strategies and portfolios, can enables investors to allocate capital to thematically stronger cities that are expected to outperform. 

Cities can also be selectively targeted, based on specific investment strategies. 

A focus on environmental sustainability can for example lead to a prioritisation of cities with superior ecological credentials by attaching greater weight to cities it determines to be healthier.