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UAE cities lead the way on sustainability agenda in the Middle East, finds Arcadis report
Source: Arcadis , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Fri September 16, 2016 9:45 am

UAE. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have emerged as the two most sustainable cities in the Middle East region, according to the 2016 Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis, the leading global Design & Consultancy for natural and built assets.

The study was compiled for Arcadis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) and explores three core pillars of sustainability - social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (profit) to develop an indicative ranking of 100 of the world's leading cities. The overall index is informed through an analysis of 32 different indicators and is also broken down into three sub-indices across each pillar.

Dubai ranked first out of the eight Middle East cities covered in this year's report and 52nd overall. The city scored exceptionally well on the profit indicators finishing in fourth place globally, well ahead of other major business hubs like New York, Paris and Tokyo.

It also performed well from a social perspective although fared less well on the environmental side, finishing 7th in the region and 96thglobally. The picture in Abu Dhabi was equally positive with the city finishing second overall in the region and 58th globally. It scores very well on economic sustainability too but faces similar challenges around its environmental performance.

Ben Khan, Client Development Director, Arcadis Middle East said: "It's no surprise to see Dubai and Abu Dhabi perform so well as both cities have well-planned strategies around how they want to develop. The 2021 Dubai Plan has a clear goal to become the most business-friendly city in the world and this is being supported through continued investment in the city's infrastructure. Similarly, in Abu Dhabi, we have the Complete Sustainable Communities initiative that was set up by the Urban Planning Council, which is focused on creating a better-connected, safer and greener city that provides a better quality of life."

Energy consumption and carbon emissions do remain high in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, largely due to the climate, volume of development, and the traditional reliance on fossil fuels. This is an area that both cities are actively looking to address though and it forms a key part of the UAE's Vision 2021. The focus on improving the energy efficiency of buildings through rating systems like Estidama and Al Safat will help, as will planned investment in upgrading the water and transport networks in both cities," added Khan.

The overall ranking for the eight cities in the Middle East in this year's report are as follows:

Significant variation in sustainability performance of many GCC cities:

This year's report highlights that cities within the Middle East are living at extremes and many exhibit divided personalities, scoring particularly well in some areas but poorly in others. This is most apparent in the profit sub-index where cities are placed as far apart as 4th (Dubai) and 97th (Amman) globally

These extremes are also notable at an individual city level with clear differences across the three sustainability pillars. As an example, Muscat places in the top ten globally on the people sub-index but ranks 85th in the world for economic sustainability.

Similarly, Amman scores lowest in the region for profit (97th globally) and people (71st globally) but it leads the region on planet (55thglobally). Where there is a degree of consistency for all Middle East cities, is around low environmental sustainability scores. This is an area where both Dubai and Abu Dhabi struggle and it ultimately down their overall performance.

John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis said: "Our index shows that all cities around the world face their own urban challenges and none of them can yet claim to have earned the title of being a completely sustainable city. Understanding the interplay between the physical, social and economic systems can help a city to achieve a more effective balance and a stronger sustainability performance."

Cities in the Middle East have younger populations on average:

All of the cities in the Middle East have comparatively young populations compared with other parts of the world. Doha has the highest median age in the region (35.6 years) whilst Amman is the youngest (23.1 years). This should hold these cities in good stead in the future as a significant portion of citizens will remain in the labour force for longer, enabling faster growth than can be achieved in older economies.

This year's report recognizes that all cities in the study are at various stages of evolution, some further along their sustainability journey than others. Established European cities lead this year's index, occupying 16 of the top 20 places, however they enjoy a clear advantage due to a more moderate climate and an economically balanced population. Developing cities in other regions contend with more extreme climates and rapid urbanization, whilst a lack of financial resource continues to inhibit their overall performance.

About the research
The research examines 100 cities ranking them across 32 indicators to estimate the sustainability of each city. The cities included within this report were selected to provide an overview of the planet's cities, providing not only wide-ranging geographical coverage, but also a variety of levels of economic development, expectations of future growth, and an assortment of sustainability challenges.

A detailed, evidence-based metric is derived to quantify each city's performance. The headline ranking can then be divided into three broad subcategories: people, planet and profit. These correspond to three dimensions of sustainability - social, environmental and economic, described as the triple bottom line.

Building on last year's index, Arcadis has sought to create a more indicative global picture of urban sustainability by including an additional 50 cities and incorporating seven new indicators of sustainability in the report. As a result, it would be inaccurate to compare the rankings to last year's study.

Explanation of the sub-indices:

·         The People sub-index rates health (life expectancy and obesity), education (literacy and universities), income inequality, work-life balance, the dependency ratio, crime, green space within cities and housing and living costs. These indicators can be broadly thought of as capturing "quality of life".

·         The Planet sub-index ranks cities on energy consumption and renewable energy share, recycling and composting rates, greenhouse gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, drinking water, sanitation and air pollution. These indicators can broadly be thought of as capturing "green factors".

·         The Profit sub-index examines performance from a business perspective, combining measures of transport infrastructure (rail, air, traffic congestion), ease of doing business, tourism, GDP per capita, the city's importance in global economic networks, connectivity in terms of mobile and broadband access and employment rates.  These indicators can broadly be thought of as capturing "economic health".

Photo Caption: John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis

About Arcadis:
Arcadis is the leading global Design & Consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Applying our deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and cost management services we work in partnership with our clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets.

We are 27,000 people active in over 70 countries that generate €3.4 billion in revenues. We support UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities around the world. 

For more information, please visit www.arcadis.com

 

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