Madrid and Barcelona can boast of being two of the most sustainable cities in the world. The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index, compiled by Arcadis, places these two Spanish cities among the 30 most sustainable in the world. The ranking is headed by London, Stockholm and Edinburgh, which are the three most sustainable cities on Earth.
According to the Index, Madrid is ranked 21st in the global calculation and Barcelona 28th. However, when focussing solely on environmental factors, both of Spain’s major cities go up several positions, with Madrid in 15th place and Barcelona in 22nd place.
In environmental terms, the best evaluated aspects of both cities would be CO2 emissions, energy use and incentives for electric car use. However, the Index determines a low overall score due to the availability of green spaces, which is more pronounced in the case of Barcelona.
Purely in the analysis of social factors, Madrid would be in the top 10 and Barcelona would take 24th position. Both cities shine in terms of access to education, low crime and level of digitalisation in transport systems and in public services in general. It’s also worth pointing out that Barcelona has the second highest life expectancy of all the cities analysed.
However, the economic situation of both cities affects their overall position, as Madrid and Barcelona occupy places 49 and 47 in this sub-index, respectively. This is because the employment situation and wages have been slow to recover in these two cities compared with the rest of the world.
The results of the ranking are based on three fundamental pillars: People (quality of life and social opportunities), Planet (energy use, pollution and emissions) and Profit (business environment and economic performance). These three ‘P’s are closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by the United Nations.