Prioritising sustainability, inclusivity and innovation in Amsterdam and the Netherlands

For people around the world, 2020 was a difficult year. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic limited travel, made working from home the new normal and turned social distancing into a way of life. The situation wasn’t – and isn’t – any different for people living and working in Amsterdam. But despite the challenges and hardships, good things have happened here, too.

Looking back on some of the independent and international rankings from 2020, we noticed that Amsterdam and the Netherlands claimed top spots several times. And though we don’t yet know what 2021 will bring, we’ve rounded up ten rankings from the past year that centre on building a better future together. With a focus on topics like mobility, inclusivity, innovation and sustainability, they give us hope for the months ahead:

Strong social mobility

A study from the World Economic Forum, The Global Social Mobility Report 2020 – Equality, Opportunity and a New Economic Imperative, ranked the Netherlands sixth for social mobility, awarding it a score of 82.4 out of 100. The Netherlands also scored the highest when it comes to access to education, overtaking every other country.

Ready to embrace the power of artificial intelligence

In May, Amsterdam took second place in the small cities category in the Global Cities AI Readiness Index. Measuring how prepared cities are to handle challenges related to adopting AI tech, the ranking praised Amsterdam’s ability to adapt and thrive in the face of change. This year, the Dutch capital also launched a registry that will let locals see how AI algorithms are used to provide essential services, including the prevention of housing fraud.

A hotspot for renewable energy investment

The latest edition of Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index ranked the Netherlands as the ninth-best place for renewable energy investments. Receiving high scores in several areas, the country was recognised for its commitments to solar power and on- and offshore wind power, which are also part of Amsterdam’s sustainable energy plan.

Amsterdam canal ring houses Unesco, Jennie van Lenthe

A sustainable place to live and work

A study from British Business Energy named Amsterdam as the world’s fifth-most eco-friendly city for workers. The high rate of people getting to work by foot or bike helped push the capital toward the top of the ranking, which also looked at renewable energy use and the number of vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants.

Amsterdam is a city on the move

In October, Amsterdam claimed fifth place in the Urban Mobility Readiness Index 2020 from management firm Oliver Wyman. The study looks at how well cities are prepared to embrace the future of mobility and their commitments to innovation as the coronavirus continues causing challenges. Amsterdam was noted for its excellent cycling infrastructure (which includes 767 kilometres of bike paths) and commitment to electric vehicles, among other things.

One of the best places for green finance

Amsterdam was named one of the world’s best cities for green finance in the Global Green Finance Index, coming in first place for depth and second for quality. The survey evaluates the green finance offerings of 74 financial centres, looking at private and public initiatives focused on creating and supporting sustainable schemes – like the promotion of renewable energy – through financial instruments.

Skilled in speaking English as a second language

For the second year running, the Netherlands topped the EF English Proficiency Index. Described by the organisation as “the world's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills,” it’s based on the test results of more than two million adults in 100 regions and countries. The Netherlands also took first place in the 2017 edition and came in second in 2018. A high level of English language proficiency has also bolstered Amsterdam’s business ecosystem, enabling companies to compete on an international level.

Canal Amsterdam with lights at night

A future-ready mobility sector

According to Deloitte’s City Mobility Index 2020, Amsterdam has one of the world’s most robust and future-ready mobility sectors. Ranked third in the index, the city was evaluated using several criteria, including the health of its mobility system, and was praised for the strong coordination between the knowledge, government and business sectors. Amsterdam’s electric vehicle charging network was also highlighted, as was the cashless public transport ticketing system.

The most connected country in the world

The Netherlands claimed first place in the DHL Global Connectedness Index 2020 for the seventh year in a row. Both depth and breadth of a country’s connectedness are analysed for the index, which looks at how international information, capital, trade and people flows are, and whether they are spread across the world or more limited in scope. Amsterdam’s digital connectivity and close proximity to leading cities like Paris and London supported this achievement.

Ready to recover

A special edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report saw Amsterdam take fourth place in a list of countries ranked by their preparedness to recover from the coronavirus. The report said that no country is totally ready to deal with the financial impact of the outbreak, but those with strong healthcare systems and solid social safety nets – like the Netherlands – will do best. Additionally, the report said a thriving digital economy, like that of Amsterdam’s tech ecosystem – which was recently valued at €73 billion – will also play a vital role in recovery.

Read more business news from around the Amsterdam Area.