Dubai top regionally – but Middle East cities rate low on global sustainability list

Dubai has been named as the most environmentally-friendly city in the Middle East – but across the world it only came 33rd out of 50.

Abu Dhabi was ranked one place below with Doha at 41, Jeddah at 43 and Riyadh at 44.

Consultancy Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Index ranked 50 of the world’s most prominent cities by looking at their environmental progress, viability as a place to live and financial stability.

The German city of Frankfurt was named in top spot with London second.

“Frankfurt’s high ranking in the Sustainable Cities Index may come as a surprise, however, the self-proclaimed ‘Green City Frankfurt’ has a long track record of proactively taking action to improve its sustainability,” Arcadis said.

The index takes into account 20 different indicators ranging from greenspace to income inequality to ease of doing business.

Arcadis defines a sustainable city as one that “works well for their citizens in the present without causing problems for themselves and the rest of the world in the future.”

A total of 52%  of  Frankfurt has been set aside for recreation and to offset climate change. It consists of parks, woodland, farmland, orchard meadows, grassland, allotments and hobby gardens, cemeteries, roadside grass verges and bodies of water.

European cities dominated the top ten, with London and Copenhagen following in second and third place, respectively, and Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the fourth and fifth spot.

“London scores highly in part due to good health outcomes and excellent higher education facilities, alongside being the best-connected global city, with New York, in terms of its importance to global business networks,” Arcadis said.

Rounding out the top 10 were Berlin, Seoul, Hong Kong, Madrid and Singapore, in sixth to 10th place.

“Whilst Singapore is placed in the top ten in the Sustainable Cities Index, it ranks lower than Hong Kong and Seoul largely due to lower scores for indicators like work-life balance, having expensive property prices, low use of renewable energy and a high cost of doing business,” Arcadis said

However, the city-state performs very well from an environmental perspective, demonstrating a commitment to green urbanisation, it noted.

Some of the fastest growing cities in Asia were the least sustainable including Jakarta (45th), Manila (46th), Mumbai (47th), Wuhan (48th) and New Delhi (49th). Nairobi was ranked last.