The healthiest city in the Netherlands is…
The Healthy City Index 2020
What makes a city healthy? The World Health Organisation defines a healthy city as one “that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.”
With this definition in mind, engineering company Arcadis examined 20 Dutch cities, ranking them based on a 2016 study conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) which assessed each city in five different categories
- Outdoor spaces
- (Natural) Environment
- Built environment
The company focused its rankings on the impact and importance of the physical environment, and how it affects the general health of the local population.
John Boon, head of landscape architecture at Arcadis, said Dutch cities performed well in comparison to other cities around the world: “The life expectancy of our people is relatively high and so is the number of years that we live in good health. Our Healthy City Index was already in the pipeline for the corona pandemic. It is precisely this pandemic that emphasizes the importance of a healthy city!”
Groningen the healthiest city in the Netherlands
Groningen managed to achieve a top 10 spot in all five categories, claiming the number one position in the built environment category. The municipality is also striving (like many other Dutch cities) to be energy neutral by 2025. Furthermore, they have established a “Healthy Ageing Vision,” which features and encourages the concepts of active citizenship, healthy moving and eating, and making green spaces accessible.
According to Boon, Groningen’s number one ranking shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the city has taken steps to limit the use of cars in the centre and has become the most bicycle-reliant city in the Netherlands. He also notes the efforts made by the city to improve bike lanes and connections, and the high number of green spaces that can be found in the city.
This latest news marks the end of a good year for Groningen. In 2020, the city secured a spot as one of the world's best small cities, and the new library and cultural hub Forum Groningen was named the best building in the Netherlands.
Arcadis found that the major Dutch cities, notably Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, performed poorly - all thee secured a spot in the bottom six - scoring particularly badly in the categories of outdoor spaces, community, and environment. They note that the city of Utrecht achieved the best ranking out of all the big cities, but still didn't make it into the top 10.
20 Dutch cities - which are the healthiest?
Groningen may be the healthiest, but how did the rest do? Find out where your city ranked in the 2020 index now:
- The Hague
For more information about the ranking, or to read the full report, visit the Arcadis website.