Birmingham named the 31st most sustainable city in the world

on September 16, 2016

The 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index has named Birmingham as the 31st most sustainable city in the world, beating capitals such as Beijing – China (73), Moscow – Russian Federation (57), Tokyo – Japan (45) and Melbourne – Australia (32).

The annual report, which for the first time ever includes 100 cities, looks at a given cities viability as places to live for the public, their environmental impact on the world, including energy consumption and their financial stability for both businesses and the public.

John Batten, Global Director of Water and Cities who forwarded the publication said that;

“The 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index goes deeper in assessing the people dimension of the urban experience. A city revolves around its people, and sustainability ultimately improves their quality of life. The range of people’s needs in a city is broad, encompassing livelihood requirements of nourishment, housing and safety, education and vocational opportunities, recreational outlets and access to culture and arts.”

Birmingham is one of the six UK cities that featured in the list. Glasgow (36th) and Leeds (38th) both performed worse than Birmingham. However, Manchester (25th), Edinburgh (13th) and London (5th) all outperformed the city.

With Zurich claiming the top sport for the worlds most sustainable city in the world and 9 out of 10 of the most sustainable cities in the world being from Europe, who are the other 90 cities? Check out the map below to see the full list.

The 100 most sustainable cities in the world:


What factors are cities judged on when they are being ranked for their sustainability?

The analysis of the cities across the world looks at three key factors. Social, environmental and economic. All three are looked at and are used to rank each city.

People (Social)

The People sub-index (In Blue) rates health (life expectancy and obesity), availability and quality of education (literacy and universities), income inequality, work-life balance, the dependency ratio, crime, housing and living costs. These indicators can be broadly thought of as capturing quality of life.

Planet (Environmental)

The Planet sub-index (In Green) ranks cities on energy consumption and renewable energy share, green space within the city, recycling and composting rates, greenhouse gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, drinking water, sanitation and air pollution. These indicators can broadly be thought of as capturing “green factors”.

Profit (Economic) 

The Profit sub-index (In Red) examines performance from a business perspective, combining measures of transport infrastructure (rail, air and traffic congestion), ease of doing business, tourism, GDP per capita, the city’s importance in global economic networks, connectivity in terms of mobile and broadband access and employment rates. These indicators can broadly be thought of as capturing “economic health.”

But what are people saying?

Whilst Birmingham City Council was unavailable for comment. Simon Marks, cities director in Birmingham at Arcadis spoke to the press earlier in the month about Birmingham’s place on the list saying that:

“Birmingham is in the midst of great change. After decades of under investment the city is moving quickly forward. Next year the West Midlands will appoint its first ever elected mayor – tasked with overseeing over £1bn of central government investment which will be leveraged up to form an £8bn investment portfolio – and huge regeneration works are taking place in key areas of the city.

Yet, despite the obvious progress, this is not yet enough to support a city of Birmingham’s size. Much more needs to be done to produce a more sustainable local and regional economy.”

Award-winning journalist based in Birmingham UK. Data Editor @ Birmingham Eastside and owner of @UKbynumbers. Contact me: @Loftysandro or

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  1. Pingback: Five things that we learnt in September 2016 – Birmingham Eastside

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