Amsterdam ranked 11 in Sustainable Cities Index 2016

Amsterdam has been ranked 11th in the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2016, which assesses 100 global cities against three dimensions of sustainability: people, planet and profit.

With the goal of putting people at the heart of sustainability, the ranking aims to provide an indicative picture of the health and wealth of cities, both for the present and the future.

European cities lead the way

Well-established European cities dominate this year’s ranking, holding 16 of the top 20 places. Zurich ranks first, while Stockholm, Vienna and London appear in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

Asian capitals Singapore and Seoul also perform strongly, placing second and seventh respectively.

The highest North American city to appear on the ranking is Vancouver at 23, while New York, at 26, is the highest ranked city within the United States.

Revised ranking for Amsterdam and Rotterdam

The first edition of the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index, introduced last year, ranked Amsterdam in 4th place and Rotterdam at 5th. However, in this year’s index the two cities placed 11th and 19th respectively.

Changes to the second edition

So why have these Dutch cities moved down so much since last year? The researchers behind the index explain that much feedback from the first edition has been taken into account.

By incorporating seven additional new sustainability indicators, and by doubling the study to include 50 more cities, this year’s index provides a broader global view and comparative base.

As a result of such changes, the authors state that the results of the first and second editions cannot be accurately compared. They hope, however, to further establish their methodology to allow for year-on-year comparisons in the future.

Sustainable Cities Index methodology

The Sustainable Cities Index is produced by Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets based in Amsterdam.

They introduced the index in 2015 to help policy leaders balance planning and policy considerations, to highlight innovations and to shine a spotlight on global challenges.

The index is based on the three pillars (or sub-indexes) of people, planet and profit, each with their own focus.

› People: the social pillar evaluates health, education, employment to form a picture of quality of life.

› Planet: the environmental pillar assesses each city’s "green factors" such as energy consumption, renewable energy usage, green space, recycling rates and quality of air and drinking water.

› Profit: the economic pillar gauges a city’s economic health by measuring factors such as infrastructure, transport, tourism, GDP, ease of doing business and connectivity.

This year’s index highlighted the polarised performances of many of the cities in the ranking. With findings revealing that cities are living at extremes, usually performing well in two out of the three categories but not consistently across all three.

Amsterdam’s performance in 2016

In this year’s edition Amsterdam performed strongest in the people pillar, with a ranking of 7, compared to ranking 19 in the planet pillar and 16 in the pillar for profit.

The index recognised Amsterdam as showing one of the overall best balances, performing well across the three pillars of sustainability, unlike many other cities with more uneven performances.

The index gave a nod to Amsterdam’s reputation for commerce and entrepreneurship, its healthy cycling lifestyle and the fact that it was awarded European Innovation Capital for 2016.

Amsterdam is also involved in the Zero Emissions Cities (ZEC) program and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) which highlight the Dutch capital’s commitment to working towards long-term sustainability.

Arcadis Top 20 Sustainable Cities 2016

Rank City Points
1 Zurich 74,6
2 Singapore 74,1
3 Stockholm 73,9
4 Vienna 73,4
5 London 73,2
6 Frankfurt 70,6
7 Seoul 69,6
8 Hamburg 69,2
9 Prague 69,1
10 Munich 68,6
11 Amsterdam 68,2
12 Geneva 68,1
13 Edinburgh 68,1
14 Copenhagen 68
15 Paris 67,6
16 Hong Kong 66,8
17 Berlin 66,7
18 Canberra 66,6
19 Rotterdam 66,6
20 Madrid 66,3




Beatrice Clarke


Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independent publishing and fashion, Beatrice honed her understanding of Dutch language and culture working...

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