Whilst 16 European cities are basking in the top 20 of the global Sustainable Cities Index, published on Monday by the company Arcadis, Brussels pales into insignificance in comparison. Suffering both as a result of mobility and unemployment rates, the capital is in 40th place.
Antwerp, in 29th place, performs a little better.
The classification compares 100 cities according to 32 indicators, divided into three categories.
These are social indicators (education, health and safety), indicators linked to environmental performance (air quality, share of renewable energy and exposure to natural disasters) and lastly economic indicators (mobility, employment-to-population ratio, economic environment and the GDP of the given city).
According to these various criteria, Zurich leads the field as the most sustainable city, followed by Singapore, Stockholm, Vienna and London, which complete the top five.
Arcadis elaborates, “Zurich’s first place is explained by the city’s positive results in both the environmental and economic spheres. In the category comprising social indicators, the Swiss city is only 27th. Such contrasts occur frequently in the study.”
Arcadis goes on, “As a financial centre, London produces good results for economic aspects (3rd) and environmental performance (8th) but is only 28th in the “social” category, owing to the increased cost of living.”
Classified 40th in the global index, Brussels achieves a good score from a social point of view, with an excellent 13th place. However, it lags behind, in terms of environmental performance (42nd) and even further from an economic point of view (in 66th place).
“This position is partly caused by mobility problems. Journey times by car are on average 70% longer at peak times,” Luc Hellemans, the Belgian CEO of Arcadis comments.
He goes on, “However, the most significant factor is the rate of unemployment which increased to 17.5% in the first quarter.”
Moreover, the capital is suffering from the shockwaves of the March 22nd attacks. Mr Hellemans pursues, “It is important to rebuild Brussels as an attractive tourist destination.”
For its part, Antwerp, which is 29th in the global classification, is close to Brussels’ scores in terms of social factors (11th) and environmental factors (37th). From an economic viewpoint, it is in 40th position.