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Spanish cities among the most sustainable in the world

Author:   |  November 23rd, 2018

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London, Stockholm and Edinburgh top the list of the world’s most sustainable cities, with Madrid and Barcelona also featuring in the top 30.

According to the 2018 Sustainable Cities Index published this week by Arcadis, a global design and management consultancy firm, the two largest cities in Spain, Madrid and Barcelona, both feature in the top 30

The index rates the world’s major cities based on three key criteria: “People” (quality of life and social inclusion), “Planet” (energy usage, pollution and emissions) and “Profit” (business environment and economic performance).

These three pillars mirror the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, which track the progress made internationally with sustainability performance in the following areas: health and well-being; water and sanitation; industry, innovation and infrastructure; inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities; climate change impacts; life on land and partnership.

Overall, the index places London, Stockholm and Edinburgh first, second and third respectively, while Madrid comes twenty-first and Barcelona twenty-eighth on the list. See the full study here

According to Arcadis, the strongest category for both the Spanish national capital and Cataluña’s main metropolis was “People” – that is to say social factors such as having a low crime rate, good access to education, income equality and digitalised technologies. With regards to the requirements of this pillar, Madrid and Barcelona came as high as tenth and twenty-fourth respectively.

The index also identifies patterns present in the world’s top-scoring cities and groups them into clusters according to their predominant attributes – or defining city archetypes.

Spain’s two biggest cities belong to the thirty-five-strong “Balanced Innovators” cluster, whose cities are aligned to the needs of businesses and their employees, increasingly use automated and AI (Artificial Intelligence) processes, feature ever-improving infrastructure and allow for a high quality of life with an absence of disruption.

Other cities pertaining to this group include Brussels, Hong Kong, Milan, New York, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.

In the short-to-medium-term future, and due to big businesses abandoning the UK amid the uncertainty of Brexit, Spain stands to gain financially from Britain’s loss. This, among other factors, may lead to Spanish cities occupying a more favourable position in next year’s “Profit” category and thus a higher ranking in Arcadis’ 2019 Sustainable Cities Index.

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