As sustainability becomes a global hot topic, cities around the world have started to step up their efforts. At the same time, many areas encounter financial and policy-related challenges. How can these locations improve? They could consider some real-world examples of eco-friendly leaders.
If we can recognize and support green epicenters, other regions could be inspired to change. Here are the top seven eco-friendly cities around the world.
1. Zurich, Switzerland
Year after year, several different reports cite this Swiss city as the most sustainable on the globe. Zurich’s eco-friendly achievements encompass categories such as energy, transportation, pollution and awareness. A massive part of that effort can be attributed to both officials and citizens, who pride themselves on a conscious way of life.
In 2015, a report found that Zurich has the cleanest air in Europe — even though it’s Switzerland’s largest city. That’s because Zurich places emphasis on its public transit systems. Residents rely on buses and trams to get from one point to another. As a result, vehicle emissions aren’t typical. The majority of Swiss people also prioritize outdoor space, which helps to lessen carbon dioxide levels.
Recently, Zurich set a goal to consume 2,000 watts of energy per capita by 2050. That’s widely known as the most sustainable amount, so it’d be a notable accomplishment.
2. Stockholm, Sweden
As the first city named the European Green Capital by the European Commission, Stockholm offers many lessons.
Its world-famous neighborhood, Hammarby Sjöstad, features many notable examples of green construction. The community’s environmental influence is much less than that of a typical suburb, as it supplies energy through renewable sources. Stockholm’s local leaders consult an administrative system that prioritizes eco-friendly tactics. Essentially, Swedes put the planet first.
Almost all of the city’s buildings and neighborhoods are accessible by foot or bike. Even though most citizens travel sustainably, Stockholm intends to be free of fossil fuels by 2040.
3. Frankfurt, Germany
In 2015, Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Index called Frankfurt the world’s most sustainable city. Frankfurt’s green actions date back decades, as the location has always made an effort to act sustainably for the planet and its people.
Frankfurt offers more than 200,000 trees throughout its city centers, which emphasizes the importance of nature. The German city also founded the Climate Alliance of European Cities, which strives to work toward an environmentally friendly Earth. It does so alongside indigenous partners as a way to support everyone’s goals. Like Zurich and Stockholm, Frankfurt offers effective transportation systems.
As for its plans for the future, Frankfurt aims to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030.
4. Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver ranks as one of the most sustainable North American locations. It boasts some of the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emissions and plans to become carbon-free by 2050. On top of that, Vancouver’s residents enjoy a plethora of bike paths and streamlined public transport methods. Recently, officials announced a new initiative to convert into a nearly entirely walkable city.
Like other areas on this list, Vancouver makes room for over a hundred parks and other green spaces. As a result, it recognizes the need for locations that both animals and people can call home. Many key environmental organizations and agencies have headquarters in Vancouver, too.
5. Singapore, Southeast Asia
Although Singapore spans less than 300 square miles, it houses more than 5.6 million people — and still manages to be Asia’s most eco-friendly city. Singapore’s urban environments feature green construction and several gardens. Since the 1960s, officials and executives have made it their mission to provide a clean, healthy atmosphere for citizens.
To enhance connectivity, planners and engineers continue to install efficient public transportation systems. Despite the city’s insignificant water supply, scientists found a way to purify it so it’s drinkable. Aside from imported water from Malaysia, Singapore uses technology to make the most of its current resources. As a result, it’s a prime example of how areas can work within their means to achieve sustainable solutions.
6. Oslo, Norway
Last year, the European Commission awarded Oslo as the European Green Captial. It ranks high on many other indexes as well, so it’s clear that Norway’s capital has a lot to offer by way of eco-friendly practices.
The city continues to address numerous issues like fossil fuels, as it promotes public transit and electric vehicles over traditional modes. Oslo wants to become a mostly car-free city over time, and it offers a host of biodiverse gardens and streams. Its officials put together initiatives that aim to reduce energy usage. For example, in 2018, architects announced a plan to create a neighborhood that only uses local power.
Like its European counterparts, Oslo continues to be a sustainable leader among other eco-friendly cities.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
Many cities look to Copenhagen as a notable model of eco-friendly practices. Like Singapore, the Danish capital prioritizes sustainable urban locations that work for its residents. It’s also well-known for its walkable and bikeable streets. In fact, 62% of its citizens commute to work and school on bikes. As a result, they record fewer carbon emissions on average.
When it comes to renewable energy sources, Copenhagen uses massive wind farms to power many of its buildings and residences. An energy plant called Copenhill turns waste into electricity that tens of thousands of buildings use. In addition to paths for walking and biking, Copenhagen’s buses run entirely on electricity. Along with many other cities on this list, it offers expansive green space, too.
These Are Some of the Most Sustainable Locations
As the fight against climate change continues, it’s more important than ever to recognize and support eco-friendly cities. Their way of life is something others should strive for.