Kuala Lumpur is the second most sustainable city in South East Asia
- Seoul leads the way on sustainability in Asia Pacific, taking seventh place in the global top ten, followed by Hong Kong (8th) and Singapore (10th) in the inaugural ARCADIS Sustainable Cities Index
- Asian cities show the most divergence, with Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore in the top ten while New Delhi, Wuhan, Mumbai, Manila and Jakarta make up the lower rankings
- Developing cities have focused on economic sustainability, but must now focus on people and environmental issues
Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Lumpur ranks seventh in Asia Pacific and second in South East Asia after Singapore in the inaugural Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis, the leading global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm.
The Index, which was conducted by the Center for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) explores social (People), environmental (Planet) and economic (Profit) demands to develop an indicative ranking of 50 of the world’s leading cities. The 2015 report finds that no utopian city exists, with city leaders having to manage a complex balancing act between these three key pillars of sustainability. Frankfurt sits in first place, followed by London and Copenhagen on the ranking.
Kuala Lumpur ranks 26th out of the 50 cities studied. KL performs slightly better within the Profit section, scoring only 3% less than London and 8% less than Seoul, Asia’s leading sustainable city. Low property costs and good work-life balance are areas where Kuala Lumpur performs best however the city scores lower in terms of inequality and literacy.
Girish Ramachandran, Corporate Development Director at Arcadis comments: “Sustainability and development are closely connected. It is important for KL to transform the city into one of Asia’s new financial hubs. It will also need to focus on other areas such as people and social welfare. Over the next few decades, KL will face greater stress to improve areas such as health, education and quality of life as well as developments around the transport networks, water supply and waste collection systems.”
Three advanced Asian cities, Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore, make the global top ten. Seoul performs particularly well on the People sub-index which rates transport infrastructure, health, education, income inequality, work-life balance, the dependency ratio and green spaces within cities, reaching second place globally. In part this is due to a strong performing transport infrastructure, which is second only to another city in the continent, Melbourne. Yet, the Index also shows that high working hours (20 per cent higher than the global average) and a consistently poor work-life balance hold several Asian cities back from performing stronger on its people factors.
Hong Kong excels on the Profit sub-index. The Profit sub-index examines performance from a business perspective, combining measures of transport infrastructure (rail, air, other public transport and commuting time), ease of doing business, the city’s importance in global economic networks, property and living costs, GDP per capita and energy efficiency. Hong Kong also leads the way on university education and life expectancy, and offers its people the highest percentage of green space
Whilst Singapore is placed in the top ten in the Sustainable Cities Index, it ranks lower than Hong Kong and Seoul largely due lower scores for indicators like work-life balance, expensive property prices, low use of renewable energy and a high cost of doing business. However, Singapore is the only country in Asia Pacific which made it into the top 10 of the Planet sub-index. The Planet sub-index looks at city energy consumption and renewable energy share, recycling rates, greenhouse gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, drinking water, sanitation and air pollution. This demonstrates Singapore’s capability and commitment to green urbanization and to ensuring that sustainability is at the heart of its overall master plan.