The Cleanest (and Dirtiest) Cities in the World


Most “Global” Cities Aren’t the Dirtiest (The City Fix, Feb. 9, 2009)

Also discussed here: Global Cities Index (Foreign Policy, Oct. 15, 2008)

And here: Quality of Living worldwide city rankings 2010 – Mercer survey (Mercer, May 26, 2010)

What makes a large city sustainable and clean is the focus of today’s review article.

Key Quotes

“gives each city a “globalization score” according to 24 metrics across five different dimensions: business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience and political engagement.”

“Foreign Policy found that rapid urbanization (which brings with it more people and more waste) doesn’t necessarily result in dirty cities. For example, some of the world’s biggest cities, Washington, Stockholm, Zurich, and Boston, also rank in the cleanest top 20 of 215 cities”

“The problem of cleanliness, then, depends on how a city’s level of integration with the rest of the world and its access to resources”

Mercer ranking (2010)- based on “water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewage systems, air pollution and traffic congestion”:

  • “European cities continue to dominate the top of the ranking
  • Vienna remains at the top, Baghdad at the bottom
  • Calgary is first in the new Eco-city ranking”

“A high-ranking eco-city optimises its use of renewable energy sources and generates the lowest possible quantity of pollution (air, water, noise, etc). A city’s eco-status or attitude toward sustainability can have significant impact on the quality of living of its inhabitants.”

“A certain standard of sustainability is essential for city living and forms a very important part of its inhabitants’ quality of living. Though a high standard of living may be taken for granted in certain cities, a lack thereof is much more noticeable and can even lead to severe hardship”

“The lack of adequate modern infrastructure in some of the African cities combined with relatively high air pollution explains why many of them are ranked below 100.”

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