Manchester has ranked in the top third of the world’s leading cities in the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2022 (SCI) sustainability list.
Its transport infrastructure tells a similar story to London – among the world’s best for the quality and accessibility of its infrastructure, but lacking sustainability.
The good news is that it’s the best connected English city outside of London, showing many advantages over Leeds and Birmingham, while the sustainability of its transport system is comparable to Mexico City and Beijing.
Lowest greenhouse gas emissions
Manchester’s greenhouse gas emissions per person are the lowest in the UK – though in international terms, it is 43rd overall. That puts it on a par with Paris, Budapest and Cape Town, but below other comparable cities such as Lyon and Lisbon.
Manchester can also boast the cleanest air among English cities by a small margin, and the city also has the most green space outside of London. The areas where the most investment is required are energy (efficiency and share of renewables) and the sustainability of transport.
Arcadis Northern Cities Director Richard Bonner said: “Manchester has been ranked at 32 overall in a cluster with similar UK cities and has performed well where metrics take into account immediate city needs such as air pollution, green spaces and waste management.”
He added: “The overall data suggests that our Northern UK cities are held back by their performance from the profit pillar, indicating that prosperity for people is being constrained.
“That certainly appears to resonate with the drivers for levelling up, and recent National Audit Office data indicates that the economic performance of cities across the North has been constrained in the period after the pandemic.”
The SCI table examines cities across three pillars of sustainability: planet, people and profit.
Though all three factors are weighted equally in the rankings, an interesting result is that the data shows putting the planet and people first is a more reliable road to prosperity than putting profit first, as long as there is some profit to finance the necessary progress.
Way forward for Manchester
Arcadis is working on several key schemes to help Manchester prepare for the future including:
Working with the University of Manchester on electrifying heat networks to support its zero carbon goal by 2038.Tackling restraints of income inequality, working with the North Manchester health trust to improve facilities and digital inclusion to offer better connected services.Helping Manchester City Council and Far East Consortium with regeneration plans for Victoria North. The work will help to provide 15,000 new low carbon and energy efficient homes, schools, health care, transport and green areas by bringing brownfield land back into use.
Mr Bonner said: “It’s that long-term investment that Manchester needs to improve our economy, health and wellbeing in order to improve our lives.”
Find out more
To find out more about the sustainability of Manchester and the rest of the world’s top 100 cities download the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2022 here.