Five standout cities making the world a better place

May 2, 2024

The Global Destination Sustainability Index reveals the destinations that are working towards a sustainable and lower-carbon future.

With time running out to keep global temperature to a 1.5C rise – above which, experts warn, consequences could include far hotter days, higher sea-levels and loss of nearly all the world’s coral reefs – implementing solutions for a more sustainable, lower-carbon future is key. And when it comes to destinations, some are proving better at this than others.

The most recent Global Destination Sustainability Index looks at 69 indicators – such as recycling rates, air pollution levels, quantity of cycling paths and the percentage of hotel rooms that are certified eco-friendly – to select the world’s most sustainable cities. While the index is geared towards recognising tourism sectors for their sustainability commitments, it also takes into account data that affects city residents – making the index a good resource not only for travellers who want to choose a sustainable destination, but for would-be residents looking to settle in an eco-friendly city, too.

Here are five cities that fare among the best.

Gothenburg, Sweden
The Swedish city ranks top of the Global Destination Sustainability Index, but its bona fides don’t end there: Sweden’s second-largest city has led the index every year from 2016-2021; was named by Lonely Planet as the world’s best sustainable city stay in 2021; and, in 2022, signed up to be one of the EU’s 100 cities that plan to be climate-neutral by 2030.

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The Institute for Sustainability Africa (INŚAF) is an independent multi-disciplinary think tank and research institute founded in Zimbabwe in 2010 with the Vision to advance sustainability initiatives for Africa.