A recent whitepaper from an international design and consultancy firm has taken 50 of the world’s prominent cities and ranked them on a variety of  sustainability measures.

The “Sustainable Cities Index” by ARCADIS examines 50 cities from 31 countries across a range of sustainability indicators and results show that European cities performed better overall than other continents, taking seven out of the top 10 rankings, while Australia’s Sydney and Melbourne both finished in the top 20.

The 50 cities are ranked in each of the three sub-indices, “People”, “Planet” and “Profit”, and a breakdown shows in which respects cities are doing well, and in which they need improving on.

Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Berlin, Seoul, Hong Kong, Madrid and Singapore made up the top 10 while Sydney narrowly missed out, coming in at number 11 on the overall Sustainability Cities Index.

The sub-indices:

The People sub-index rates transport infrastructure, health, education, income inequality, work-life balance, the dependency ratio and green spaces within cities. These indicators can be broadly thought of as capturing ‘quality of life’ for the populace in the respective cities.

The Planet sub-index looks at city energy consumption and renewable energy share, recycling rates, greenhouse gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, drinking water, sanitation and air pollution.

The Profit sub-index examines 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.

Australia was represented by Sydney and Melbourne on the index and while both were rated highly in the People category (Sydney 4th and Melbourne 8th) both of their Overall rankings were let down by their performance in the Planet sub-indice. Sydney, ranked 18th, and Melbourne, 23rd, both missed points in the Planet category based on their energy use and renewables mix, as well as their solid waste management. In the Profit category, Melbourne actually outperformed its bigger brother Sydney and was ranked in the top 5 globally.

The Breakdown:

(click to enlarge)

The full report can be downloaded here: