The Asian Green City Index, A 21 Century Social Innovation Study

The Asian Green City Index, a 21 century social innovation study commissioned by Siemens and performed by the independent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) states that Singapore is Asia’s greenest metropolis. The EIU analysed the aims and achievements of 22 major Asian cities with respect to environmental and climate protection. Singapore City stands out in particular for its ambitious environmental targets and its efficient approach to achieving them. Yet in other Asian cities, environmental awareness and climate protection guidelines are playing an increasingly important role. Barbara Kux, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer says, "This Index supports cities in their efforts to expand their infrastructures on a sustainable basis. We want to enable Asia's up-and-coming urban centres to achieve healthy growth rates coupled with a high quality of life."

The Asian Green City Index examined the environmental performance in eight categories: energy and CO2, land use and buildings, transport, waste, water, sanitation, air quality and environmental governance. The EIU developed the methodology with leading urban experts around the world, which included the OECD, the World Bank and Asia’s regional network of local authorities, CITYNET.

This social innovation study clearly shows that higher income does not mean higher resource consumption. While resource consumption increases substantially up to an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of about €15,000 per capita, it drops again when income rises beyond that figure because in the prosperous Asian cities, environmental awareness is greater and infrastructures are more efficient. These cities are actively cutting their consumption of natural resources and are developing more sustainably. Cities that performed well in the Index are characterised by their ability to successfully implement environmental projects and consistently enforce regulations.

The progressive rural exodus in Asia is unprecedented in human history. According to the United Nations Population Division, the proportion of Asia’s population living in cities has grown in the last 20 years by over 40 percent. In the last five years alone, the number of inhabitants in Asian cities has been increasing by about 100,000 a day! This will continue in the years to come and in China alone, experts predict that by 2025 there will be well over 200 cities with a population of over a million. Currently, Europe has 25 cities of that size.

This increasing urbanisation is having an enormous impact on infrastructure, with more inhabitants; more energy, clean water, transportation and energy-efficient homes are needed. To cope with the influx, The Asian Development Bank estimates that Asian cities must build 20,000 new homes, 250 kilo meters of road, provide transportation infrastructure and an extra six million litres of drinking water, all on a daily basis. This will make cities the main emitters of harmful greenhouse gases. They are responsible for 75 percent of worldwide energy consumption and for around 80 percent of the human CO2emissions. Cities are the growth engines of the future, but only green cities will make life worth living over the long term.

Photo Credit: Siemens

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