Report: Sustainability Goals Go Unmet in Many Global Cities

New research from Brook­ings indi­cates that, around the world, “City lead­ers and their part­ners must do more to build healthy and sus­tain­able places.” Geoff Boe­ing describes the project, which devel­oped a set of for con­sis­tent­ly cal­cu­lat­ing sus­tain­abil­i­ty indi­ca­tors.

Accord­ing to their results, “Cities often adopt­ed poli­cies that: 1) were incon­sis­tent with pub­lic health evi­dence; 2) were far more like­ly to use rhetoric that endorsed health and sus­tain­abil­i­ty than adopt mea­sur­able pol­i­cy tar­gets; and 3) left sub­stan­tial gaps.”

The researchers exam­ined walk­a­bil­i­ty and acces­si­bil­i­ty in cities around the world, find­ing that “Old­er inner cities tend to be more walk­a­ble; new­er out­er sub­urbs less so. High-income Euro­pean cities tend to per­form well, while high-income cites [sic] in the U.S., Aus­tralia, and New Zealand tend to per­form poor­ly.” The study also looked at access to pub­lic tran­sit stops and healthy stores, find­ing that U.S. cities per­formed poor­ly in those as well.

Accord­ing to Boe­ing, “Our study devel­oped - soft­ware and open in con­junc­tion with local col­lab­o­ra­tors so that, for the first time, city lead­ers can both bench­mark their progress against oth­er cities and mon­i­tor that progress over time.” The researchers say they hope hav­ing mea­sur­able stan­dards can help cities set con­crete tar­gets for build­ing health­i­er cities and share knowl­edge and resources for achiev­ing them.

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