• London ranks top of the table, beating competition from Stockholm, Frankfurt, Singapore, New York and Paris
  • London’s ease of doing business, abundance of green space and world class education system drove high ranking
  • Increasing transport congestion and high cost of housing must be addressed for the capital to sustain long term competitiveness post-Brexit


(11 December 2018) London has been ranked as the most sustainable city in the world, putting it ahead of competitors including Stockholm, Frankfurt, Singapore, New York and Paris.


The capital’s status as one of the world’s foremost economic powerhouses and strong quality of life credentials meant it performed exceptionally in Arcadis’ 2018 Sustainable Cities Index, which ranks 100 global cities. However, with the population set to soar to over 10 million in the next decade, the Mayor of London and Borough leaders need to act now to tackle increasing transport congestion and address the lack of affordable housing.


Arcadis’ 2018 Sustainable Cities Index, which was launched this morning at an event in Central London, explores the three pillars of sustainability – social (people – reflecting quality of life); environmental (planet – capturing green factors, including energy, pollution and emission;) and economic (profit – reflecting the business environment and economic health) to develop a holistic ranking of the world’s leading cities. The research also features new work on city archetypes and clusters aimed at explaining the implications of the rankings on the evolving relationship between the city and the citizen.


Sitting at the centre of international trade, London ranked second on the ‘Profit’ index of economic performance, beaten only by Singapore. The city’s ease of doing business, top tourist attractions and multi-culturalism all combined to contribute to its success. As one of the greenest capitals in the world, with over 3,000 parks and green spaces, it reached 11th globally for environmental sustainability.


London also performed particularly well for ‘quality of life’, taking the number two spot in the ‘People’ rankings. This was driven predominately by increasing quality of health provision, world leading universities and unique cultural offering, but it was held back from the top spot by growing transport congestion and the high cost of housing.


London’s ranking gives an indication of both its strengths and areas it will need to compete on post- Brexit. Other global cities will be closely monitoring the withdrawal negotiations and look at opportunities to challenge London’s status as the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.


Peter Hogg, UK Cities Director at Arcadis, speaking at the launch of the report, said:


“London’s economic diversity, multi-culturalism, world class education system and abundance of good quality green space has propelled the capital to the top spot in the Arcadis Cities Index. With headlines dominated by Brexit and growing political and economic uncertainty, this is very encouraging news, but we can’t be complacent. Other cities will be vying for our position and we need to address our shortcomings.


“London’s population is growing, average house prices are fast approaching £0.5 million and at peak times our transport network is bursting at the seams.  The Mayor and Borough leaders need greater financial autonomy to plan for future growth. Top of the list of priorities must be securing the green light for Crossrail 2 and further tube upgrades, delivering more affordable homes and embracing digital technology like connected and autonomous vehicles. All will help improve quality of life in the capital and lay the foundations for future sustainable growth.”


James Murray, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing said:


“It’s fantastic to see London top the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index, with our diverse economy, vital green spaces, and exciting cultural scene helping us win the title. However, as our capital’s population continues to grow, so do the challenges we face. The Mayor is using all the powers and resources at his disposal to tackle London’s housing crisis, but to really turn things around the Government must play their part too, by stepping up with the investment we need and devolving more powers to City Hall and boroughs so we can build the council, social rented, and other genuinely affordable homes Londoners so desperately need.”


Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, London First said:


“London’s top ranking is a welcome tonic to help banish the Brexit blues. To stay there we now need to redouble our efforts to increase housing supply, tackle transport congestion and remain open to talented people from around the world.”


Overall London scored the highest across the three pillars, beating Stockholm and Edinburgh to take the top ranking. The Scottish capital’s ranking in third place was thanks to its high rating for social and economic sustainability.


Well-established European cities dominate the top of the overall ranking making up 14 of the top 20 positions. They are joined by the advanced Asian cities of Singapore (in fourth place), Hong Kong (9th) and Seoul (13th) as well as the North American hubs of New York (14th) and San Francisco (16th).


Global top 20 city ranking in Arcadis’ 2018 Sustainable Cities Index:


  1. London                                                 11. Copenhagen
  2. Stockholm                                           12. Amsterdam
  3. Edinburgh                                           13. Seoul
  4. Singapore                                            14. New York
  5. Vienna                                                  15. Paris
  6. Zurich                                                    16. San Francisco
  7. Munich                                                 17. Hamburg
  8. Oslo                                                       18. Berlin
  9. Hong Kong                                          19. Seattle
  10. Frankfurt                                             20. Dublin


The Index was compiled for Arcadis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr). A copy of the report is available for download here.

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