5 cities in the top five of the Global Sustainability Index

The planet is on a not-so-encouraging path in terms of pollution, but the cities in the top five of Global Sustainability are making exemplary strides.

In the race against time to prevent the global temperature from exceeding the 1.5°C threshold set by scientists, there are some destinations that are proving to be better than others for a more sustainable and less carbon-intensive future.

The five cities in the top five of the Global Sustainability Index are not only concerned, but also busy making change happen.

The latest Global Sustainability Destination Index (GSDI), which, based on 69 indicators, managed to select the cities that are contributing to making the world a better place.

5 cities in the top five of the Global Sustainability Index

Although the index is geared towards recognizing tourism sectors for their commitments to sustainability, it also takes into account data that affects city residents.


The cities in the top five of the Global Sustainability are:

Gothenburg, Sweden

In addition to having led the ranking between 2016 and 2021, that same year Sweden’s second largest city was also named by Lonely Planet as the best sustainable city in the world.

And in 2022 it signed a pledge to be one of 100 cities in the European Union that plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.

Ninety-five percent of the city’s public transport runs on renewable energy, its airport received one of the highest certifications from the Airport Carbon Accreditation program for its commitment to monitoring, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions, and nine out of ten hotel rooms are environmentally certified.

Oslo, Norway

Second on the list, among the top five of the Global Sustainability, is Oslo, Norway.

It is the second of eight Nordic cities in the top 10, plus Oslo, was also named Green Capital of Europe in 2019.

It is perhaps a paradox that considering Norway’s economic dependence on oil and gas, the country routinely gets top marks for its sustainability commitments.


On transportation alone it has 270 city bike stations, 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations and has introduced electric scooters.

Then there is how green the city is. Some 63% of the municipality is forest and another 9% is made up of green spaces and urban parks.

Glasgow, Scotland

Another of the cities among the top five of the Global Sustainability top five is Glasgow, who speaks of its environmental heritage as it comes from the Gaelic word Glaschu meaning “beloved green space.”

Some 1,500 years after its founding, the Scottish city ranks eighth in the IGSD, an index in which it has ranked in the top 10 every year since 2016.

That recognition comes as no surprise to Kathi Kamleitner, originally from Vienna, Austria, who moved to Glasgow 10 years ago.

It has also built charging stations for electric vehicles, installed “smart” LED streetlights and made notable efforts for cycling with rental systems and new dedicated lanes.

It has more than 90 parks, which means that, on average, eight out of 10 children live within 400 meters of a public green space.

Bordeaux, France

Most people may know Bordeaux for its stunning architecture and wine, but it also ranks among the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

In addition to public bicycles, one has electric buses, streetcars and even river shuttles. Zero-kilometer restaurants and second-hand stores abound.

About three-quarters of its vineyards and one-third of its tourism businesses have earned green certification, as has its own tourism bureau.

Goyang, South Korea

South Korea’s Goyang is the first non-European city among in the top five of the Global Sustainability.

Since becoming the first South Korean city to enter the IGSD in 2017, and being the most improved the following year, Goyang has gradually climbed the ranks to currently rank 14th in the world.

In 2022, it obtained its first ISO 20121 sustainability certifications.

One of the sectors that contributes the most to achieving these recognitions is the convention and exhibition center, which has a center that is able to recycle rainwater for toilets, pond and gardens.

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