A world-leading city for sustainability

The latest report from engineering organisation Arcadis has ranked Amsterdam the 10th most sustainable city in the world. This puts Amsterdam two places higher up than the last report in 2018. Rotterdam follows close behind at number 12, and Oslo is at number one. The report ranks 100 cities globally according to three broad factors: ‘planet’, ‘people’ and ‘profit’. Amsterdam proved a relative ‘all-rounder’, ranking 10th for ‘people’ (social factors, such as quality of life), 14th for ‘planet’ (environmental factors such as energy usage and emissions) and 25th for ‘profit’ (economic and business factors). The report summarises: “The quality of [Amsterdam’s] transport infrastructure is an obvious strength, and broadly speaking, the city’s transport infrastructure is quite sustainable.”

Sustainable for planet and people

Amsterdam’s high score in the ‘planet’ category places it alongside other mostly European cities, with non-European cities in the top 20 including Tokyo, Montreal, Los Angeles and Bogota. This part of the index assesses cities according to their greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable transport, renewable energy usage and efficiency; their green spaces, air pollution, water usage, and waste management; and policies for dealing with local climate-related threats.

In the ‘people’ category, Amsterdam is once again mostly accompanied by (Western) European capitals, praised for their “healthy, safe, and well-connected environments, in which income inequality is typically low and job quality is high”.

Turning profit to prosperity for all

Though ranking 25th worldwide on the report’s ‘profit’ index, Amsterdam comes fourth among European cities in a top 25 otherwise dominated by cities in the US. This part of the Arcadia index ranks cities according to their business environments and economic performance, together with how those benefit individual citizens and the environment. Along these lines, the report praised Amsterdam in particular for its strengths of connectivity, job quality and transport infrastructure.

Unlike most of the American cities ranking higher on this ‘profit’ index, Amsterdam – alongside other European cities – was also recognised for its continued investments towards prosperity for people and planet, hence its higher ranking overall.

A strong track record for sustainable development

While praising these sustainable factors in Amsterdam, the report does highlight opportunities to improve Amsterdam’s per-capita emissions and use of (renewable) energy. Nevertheless, these are areas being addressed through Amsterdam’s and the Netherlands’ ongoing efforts to sustain a green recovery after the pandemic.

Since the Netherlands ranked fourth in a 2020 report of countries best-equipped to recover from coronavirus, the country has pledged to double wind energy production, and the City of Amsterdam has laid out plans to become climate neutral by 2050Seventeen Amsterdam initiatives have been awarded REACT-EU funding for sustainable economic recovery. And as part of its broader green recovery, the City of Amsterdam has become the first municipality in the world to adopt the doughnut economic model, according to which economic growth should not exceed planetary boundaries.

The news follows many other recent accolades for the city’s sustainable investment and development. Amsterdam was recently ranked second on the Global Green Finance Index, and last year took second place on the Schroders European Sustainable Cities Index and Time Out’s overall cities ranking.

Read more about Amsterdam-based initiatives addressing climate issues, sustainable fashion or planet-saving AI, and catch up on other business news in the city.