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 tools for consistently calculating urban 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 goals than adopt measurable policy targets; and 3) left substantial implementation 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 food stores, finding that U.S. cities performed poorly in those areas as well.

According to Boeing, “Our study developed open-source software and open data 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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