What are the cities where it would be better to live? There are several rankings available, and each follows different criteria. Real estate companies, newspapers, and research centres make them. However, in 2022, at the height of the hottest summer so far, some do not seem to be more realistic. Places where services are better, transport works or there are parks are certainly preferable. Still, with the climate and pandemic crisis that has overwhelmed society, these parameters are no longer sufficient.
This is why, to identify the cities where the quality of life is highest and draw up its Sustainable Cities Index 2022, Arcadis, a company that deals with consultancy and planning in civil and environmental engineering, has evaluated the overall sustainability of 100 of the main cities in the world, in 47 countries, based on 3 fundamental pillars: Planet, People and Profit.
The theme of the survey is prosperity in addition to profit and analyzes cities according to how they manage both to create environmental benefits and opportunities for people and the economy, in a logic that also thinks about the future of the next generations. “Cities need to be radically rethought. This is why the report takes a different approach, which aims to consider realities from several points of view and classifies them according to three elements that make the experience of urban life more complete and satisfying. In particular, we used ” Planet ” to measure the environmental situation, not only about climate change but also about how we take care of nature at home. and other extreme events, the use of renewable energies, global emissions, and the amount of greenery per inhabitant. ” People ” relates to the social quality of relationships and experiences of urban life, services, the ability to express innovation on the part of the inhabitants, connectivity but also the level of crime and the balance between life and work.
” Profit ” aims at the economy. It does not analyze the financial aspects, but the socio-economic values, including the ease of starting new activities, also considering the effects on an individual level “, says Andrea Vercellotti, Arcadis Italia team lead government.
In the Arcadis ranking, the best city ever is Oslo, which is also the first on the planet. The top five are all European cities, except Tokyo, which occupies the third position. The others, Stockholm and Copenhagen, are Scandinavian like Oslo. The fifth is Berlin.
Europe is also generally high in the scores regarding the People category, according to which Glasgow is the first. Also Berlin, Amsterdam, Zurich and Rotterdamthey offer their citizens a healthy, well-connected environment in which economic inequality is low and the quality of work is high. The only ones competing in this area are Asian cities such as Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore, which offer efficient transport, health services and communications, have excellent education and have low-income differences.
It is interesting to note the absence of American cities, which instead become first in the Profit category, at the top of which is Seattle. In the overall score, he comes only seventh, followed by Los Angeles, fourteenth. Profit does not equate to prosperity, although it does help. 80% of the cities that have achieved the highest score in this sector are also in the first half of the overall ranking. Having money allows you to provide more energy for renewal, although it is not a guarantee of change. In fact, of the 20 best cities, seven are at the top of Planet and 3 on People.
As for Italy, we are in place 51 with Milan and 68 with Rome, the only two cities present. Milan ranks 21 in Planet, 39 in People and only 71 in Profit. Rome 34 in Planet, 66 in People, 74 in Profit. “Our cities were formed in historical epochs and many exploded in the 1950s-70s based on goals very different from those that interest us now. Public spaces can no longer be dominated by cars, public transport must be of quality, health services must have a widespread presence on the territory and there must also be an aesthetic and environmental quality. Unfortunately, if we compare Italy to Europe, we are far behind”, explains Vercellotti.
It is now clear that cities are sustainable only if they are designed on an ecological basis but also if local authorities support the liveliness of the communities and if the economy is shared. It is a dynamic situation, in which nothing is stationary or programmable forever and a concept of evolution that includes both the Planet and society must be respected. More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050 it is expected to become two-thirds because it is a growing phenomenon. The United Nations estimates that while urban areas cover 2% of the earth’s surface, they consume 78% of energy and produce 60% of greenhouse gases… However, they are also among the most vulnerable points to global warming. Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, and Miami are coastal and are threatened by rising seas.
Sustainability can therefore no longer be considered a luxury, but something indispensable. “A holistic approach is needed, because a solution that is sustainable from one point of view may not be sustainable in another. Different disciplines and knowledge must therefore dialogue and coexist”, says Vercellotti. On the other hand, of the 10 cities that achieved the highest combined scores, none made it into the top ten across all three pillars of the report. This indicates that excellence in one category alone is not enough to ensure overall long-term sustainability.
The Sustainable Cities Index offers a new vision of the wealth that can be aimed at. The Planet and people are at the centre, profit is a way to achieve these goals. Arcadis, which in Milan has won the redevelopment project of Piazzale Loreto, aims at the recreation of natural equilibrium, not at technological interventions. However, the approach of local administrations must change.