smart cities

What can we learn from the most sustainable cities in the world?

A lesson from each of the top five cities of the 2022 Global Destination Sustainability Index

Home Life Sustainability smart cities What can we learn from the most sustainable cities in the world?

The lives of billions of people today take place in cities: work, recreation and social activities occur in these complex ecosystems, which often stand on difficult environmental and social balances. To date, 4 and a half billion men and women live in urban areas, a number which could reach 7 billion in 2050, according to World Bank estimates. After the pandemic, we resumed life on the move, crowding cities all over the world. It is therefore critical to think about ways to make these places more liveable, and it might help to look at the example of the cities at the top of the 2022 Global Destination Sustainability Index, which annually uses seventy indicators to assess the sustainability performance of cities in four key areas: the environment, sociability, hospitality and governance. For we have thought of an aspect where the top five cities in the 2022 list can be seen as a guide for change.

The big picture of Göteborg, Sweden

With a score of 92.98, the Swedish city ranks first in the 2022 Global Destination Sustainability Index, thanks to great performance in all the Sustainable Development Goals. The highlight is the Göteborg Green City Zone, the ambitious project to transform the entire urban area into the world's first zero-emission zone. This goal can only be achieved through a complete rethink of the way people move around the city and through collaboration between institutions, communities, companies and research groups. In short, in Göteborg they have understood that "creating a system" is the key to accelerating the transition to smart mobility.

The courage to bet on the future of Bergen, Norway

Right behind Sweden's second largest city ranks Norway's second-largest city, Bergen, with 88.36 points. A gem in the fjords of the North Sea, Bergen has bet all its chips on electric cars, while elsewhere in Europe this transition is struggling to take off. Here 37% of cars on the roads are already electric (the highest percentage among Norwegian cities, which are the best in Europe in this perspective), and in the region 86.5% of new cars registered in 2022 were electric. In short, Norway and Bergen in particular are showing that, with foresight and willpower, the transition to electricity can really get off the ground.

The ability to get the best out of everything in Copenhagen, Denmark

We have already covered how Copenhagen, the third city in the ranking (86.70 points), is dealing with the climate crisis. In an article dedicated to the Danish capital's commitment to fighting the emergency, we called the Amager Bakke (the incineration plant built in 2017) the symbol of how Copenhagen conceives its new urbanisation. With a massive architecture, engineering and design task, Big (Bjarke Ingels group) has succeeded in making the world's cleanest facility for transforming waste into biomass energy iconic, installing a ski slope and a rock climbing wall. Proof of the fact that the best can and should be made of the opportunities that sustainable development brings along.

Aalborg's desire to change, Denmark

In 2016, the results of a European Commission poll had crowned Aalborg, in northern Denmark, as the happiest city in Europe. It is an incredible achievement if you look at the history of the city, once a grim industrial centre with a high crime rate. In recent decades, however, Aalborg (fourth in this ranking with 86.41 points) had a complete face-lift: in May 1994 it was the site of the first European conference on sustainable cities, it has invested in culture (becoming an important university centre), ecological transition and relations. The factories have turned into cultural institutions, and the city has experienced economic growth, as well as in the happiness of its inhabitants, who have embraced change to improve their quality of life.

Bordeaux's connection with its territory, France

Breaking the hegemony of the Scandinavian cities is Bordeaux, ranked fifth with 85.10 points in the 2022 Gdsm. Set among vineyards that produce some of the world's best wines and magnificent ocean beaches, Bordeaux's historic city centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. The French city's administrations have in recent years undertaken to promote an idea of sustainable and slow tourism, which enhances the quality of local produce through a constant dialogue with all local stakeholders. Standing in such an idyllic area can be a fortune, but managing it with care and attention is a skill that Bordeaux is continuing to demonstrate.