The healthiest city in the Netherlands is…

The healthiest city in the Netherlands is…

According to a report published by Arcadis, the northern city of Groningen has been labelled the healthiest city in the Netherlands. Find out how your city performed below. 

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

  • Mobility
  • Outdoor spaces
  • (Natural) Environment
  • Built environment
  • Community

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: 

  1. Groningen 
  2. Nijmegen 
  3. Maastricht 
  4. Almere 
  5. Amersfoort 
  6. Apeldoorn 
  7. Emmen 
  8. Terneuzen 
  9. Breda 
  10. Haarlem 
  11. Leeuwarden 
  12. Utrecht
  13. Eindhoven 
  14. Arnhem 
  15. The Hague 
  16. Enschede 
  17. Amsterdam 
  18. Tilburg 
  19. Rotterdam 
  20. Zaanstad 

For more information about the ranking, or to read the full report, visit the Arcadis website

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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