For my next article on sustainable European cities, I turn my attention to Zurich, Switzerland. Not just because I’m craving some Swiss chocolate, but because they were voted the world’s most sustainable city by a Dutch building consultant company called Arcadis. The competition was based on an index that measured three dimensions of sustainability, including people, planet, and profit. Other high ranked cities included Singapore, Stockholm, Vienna and London.
One sustainability indicator used by Arcadis was the amount of green space given up to citizens in each city. Zurich is home to many gardens and green spaces, offering a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. For example, the Parkanlage Zuerihorn is a park lined along the banks of a lake. Within the park, there is a Chinese garden and a large playground for children.
Zurich has committed to becoming a 2000-watt society by 2050, which means the city will only use 2000 watts of energy per capita. Their goal watts for 2050 is globally recognized to be a sustainable level of energy use. Public transit plays a major role in achieving this goal. Zurich uses a combination of democratic participation from citizens, effective transport coordination through one company, high quality systems, car-restriction, and use of a light-rail. A light rail is considered helpful to the environment because it uses clean/renewable energy and makes use of an inexpensive, space-efficient infrastructure.
However, as indicated by Arcadis, Zurich was unable to rank as highly for sustainability efforts among its’ people. This was cited as a common occurrence among cities surveyed, many performed well in one or two of the three areas (people, planet, and profit), but rarely all three. This shows that sustainability requires a guided and comprehensive effort by the entire population of a city.
Zurich not only gives tourists a travel experience filled with breathtaking views of Zurich Lake and decadent chocolates, it maintains an environmentally sound city plan dedicated to sustainability.
Written by Emma Briggs, Class of 2018
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons