U.S. Cities Fall Short in New Sustainability Analysis

Source: By By Katelyn Newman, US News • Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

America’s cities are far from reaching the U.N.’s top marks in providing a sustainable community system for all residents, according to a new index analysis.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network published its first Sustainable Development Goals report on 100 American metropolitan areas Thursday. With 62.7 percent of America’s domestic population living in its cities, the analysis looked into 49 indicators from 16 of 17 of the goals the U.N. determined would lead to a thriving society.

The U.S. Cities SDG Index is the first of its kind and its publication comes a year after the group’s first Global SDG Index, which ranked nations around the world on how well they are working to eradicate poverty and deprivation, grow their economies, protect the environment and promote peace and good governance, according to its website.

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, ranked at the top of the metropolitan city areas with an index of 61.04, meaning it has reached almost two-thirds of the established Sustainable Development Goals. Baton Rouge, on the other hand, was at the bottom of the list, with an index of 30.47, due to its high levels of poverty and unemployment.

“The SDGs present not only a set of challenges, but a tremendous opportunity to dedicate the skills of this generation to a great economic and social renewal and to build the new American economy of the 21st century,” said Jeff Sachs, Director of the SDSN, and coauthor of the U.S. Cities SDG Index, in a statement. “By measuring the current state of the SDGs across America’s metropolitan areas, we create an accurate starting line for our race to 2030 and a smart, fair, and sustainable future.”

Four of the top 10 U.S. cities are in California. Albany and Boston were the only cities in the Northeast to make the top 10 list, ranked at No. 6 and No. 9, respectively.

The U.S. cities’ ranking system will likely continue to evolve in the years to come, Sachs said, but for now it sets the groundwork for monitoring their commitments to establishing holistic societies by 2030.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, established by the United Nations in 2012, works to establish methods that educate and promote sustainable initiatives in regional communities around the world through tools such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Initially ranked 25th worldwide, the United States has fallen 17 places since 2016 to No. 42 in the recently published global Sustainable Development Goal rankings as a result of international spillover effects such as CO2 emissions and tax evasion, the organization reports.

The American cities report comes two months after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.