What are the world’s most sustainable cities?

Sandra Oberg

General, Industry News, SITU News, Travel, Travel News, Work & Play Guide

Do you want to move to an eco-friendly city? Here’s a guide to the world’s most sustainable cities to get you started. It’s no secret that climate change is changing our lives and ways of thinking. Temperature is rising (just think of the sudden, unusually high temperatures in Europe this summer of 2022!), icebergs are melting, coral reefs are collapsing – and you name it.

It’s comforting to know that many cities in the world have big plans for the future. This will certainly have a positive impact on green urban development, which hopefully will encourage more cities to follow.

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. Singapore
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Lisbon, Portugal
  5. San Francisco, USA
  6. Vancouver, Canada
  7. Bristol, UK
  8. Ljubljana, Slovenia

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

The city aims to be the first city to be a fully CO2-neutral capital by 2025. Copenhagen has, for the last ten years, made plans to remove the city’s two-million-ton carbon footprint completely. And this is while taking into account that the urban population of 1.3 million will increase.

Copenhagen is also changing to carbon-neutral fuels such as waste-to-energy, biomass, wind, and solar energy to generate electricity and heat. Another exciting change is that all diesel-fueled buses are being replaced with electric buses by 2025. The city is also planning to invest in electric and hydrogen-powered cars for Copenhageners.

View our wide range of serviced apartments in Copenhagen.

Read more about Copenhagen’s sustainability plans: This is why Copenhagen is a sustainable city | Carbon-neutral by 2025

2. Singapore

Singapore is rapidly growing in terms of its population, and its only landfill Semakau is set to fill up by 2035. However, the city is actively working towards a green change and is dedicated to economic and environmental sustainability. By 2030, 80% of Singapore’s architecture will be eco-friendly – this may sound like a long time, but a sustainable city can’t be built overnight!

The city is said to be the greenest in Asia, with its Garden City of the World by the Bay, Jewel Changi, and Marine One. Singapore has an interesting eco-building programme, which asserts that any greenery loss on the ground has to be replaced with greenery in the sky. Hence why you see all these brilliant parks and amazing areas in Marina Bay (check out the photo below!).

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Marina Bay – Courtesy of Yura Macro (Unsplash)

3. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is more than just a stunning city to visit. You probably think of the city as a financial powerhouse, but Zurich is also one of the world’s most sustainable cities. Zurich has some important goals in terms of efficient public transport, waste reduction, use of renewable sources of energy, and educating citizens on the importance of minimising their carbon footprints.

In Zurich, you can enjoy the stunning green parks, and go to vegan or other sustainable restaurants for some fresh local food – whilst breathing the fresh and clean air.

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Zurich – Courtesy of Benjamin Lim (Unsplash)

4. Lisbon, Portugal

This is very impressive – Lisbon has already achieved a 28% reduction in energy consumption between 2012 and 2017, and the city surpassed its 2030 target of 40% carbon emissions reduction back in 2016! With this remarkable reduction in a short time, Lisbon went even further and set a target for a 60% reduction of C02 emissions by 2030 – and carbon neutrality by 2050. Now that’s taking it to the next level!

But that’s not all, Lisbon was also the first capital in Europe to sign the New Covenant of Mayors for Climate Energy in 2016. The city then developed its local Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP).

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Lisbon transport – Courtesy of Aayush Gupta (Unsplash)

Need a guide on what to do in Lisbon? Read our blog on What to see in Lisbon for the perfect trip.

5. San Francisco, USA

San Francisco is a popular destination with an incredible culture unlike any other city in the US. It’s also one of the greenest cities in North America. People often refer to San Francisco as a global powerhouse on the eco-scene. San Francisco is one of the leading cities when it comes to the proper disposal of waste, eco-friendly buildings, air quality, carbon emissions, transport and land use.

The city was the first in America to ban plastic bags, and 77% of its municipal waste is recycled! Thanks to these efforts, the city has diverted more than 1.6 million tons of waste from its landfills every year. Go, San Francisco!

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San Francisco – Courtesy of Tim Foster (Unsplash)

Blog tip: Five fun things to do on a business trip to San Francisco, USA

6. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver has been ranked one of the greenest cities in the world due to its recycling protocol. The city had an increase in recycling rate from 40 % to over 60% in just over a decade.

“Over 122,000 trees have been planted here since 2010 (with the aim of reaching 150,000); the city’s emissions are among the lowest in North America, and it is aiming to go entirely zero-waste by 2040 – a movement reflected in grocery stores and cafes such as Nada and Kind Cafe,” writes Lonely Planet. 

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The greenery of Vancouver – Courtesy of Jeremy Allouche (Unsplash)

Blog tip: Relocating to Canada? Here’s everything you need to know.

7. Bristol, UK

This may come as a bit of a shock: Bristol has actually been named the most sustainable city in the UK. Scientists carrying out research found that Bristol achieved the highest score of 6.79 out of 10 due to its plentiful charity shops and the sustainability of its universities. Bristol has 928 renewable electricity sites per 100,000 people and a recycling rate of 47.1 per cent.

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Bristol – Courtesy of Nathan Riley (Unsplash)

Moving to Bristol? Have a look at our blog: 7 Things You Need To Know Before Moving To Bristol.

8. Ljubljana, Slovenia

This beautiful city is one of the world’s most sustainable cities. But what makes it sustainable? Firstly, Ljubljana has been traffic-free since 2008 and is so far the largest car-free zone in the European Union. Secondly, it won the title of European Green Capital of 2016 for having achieved the largest number of sustainable changes in the shortest period of time.

Ljubljana was redesigned by the architect Jože Plečnik: his vision was to respect the natural environment while allowing people to get around the city sustainably. Jože Plečnik liked the idea of using recycled materials and employed these to build St. Michael’s Church. He is also famous for the walkways along the river embankments with rows of chestnut trees so that people can enjoy a wonderful, green walk.

Ljubljana – Courtesy of Eugene Kuznetsov (Unsplash)

We hope you found this guide to the world’s most sustainable cities helpful for your next business trip. However, you’re going to need somewhere to stay, so to learn more about our range of serviced apartments in and around the world check out our website.