World’s most liveable cities for 2019 revealed

Climate change causes shifts in many cities’ scores as Paris slides six places


Vienna has held off Melbourne to retain the top spot on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index for 2019, further strengthening its reputation as the world’s most pleasant city, while the “gilets jaunes” protests hurt Paris’ score.

The Austrian capital, which attracts tourists for its classical music scene and imperial history but also has abundant green spaces and excellent public services, last year ended Melbourne’s seven-year run at the top of the survey of 140 cities, helped by an improved security outlook across Europe.

Vienna and Melbourne have been neck and neck in the EIU survey for years, but the Austrian capital also regularly tops a larger ranking of cities by quality of life compiled by consulting firm Mercer.

The gap between the two cities - of 0.7 point out of 100, with Vienna scoring 99.1 - was unchanged in the 2019 ranking published on Wednesday, as were the cities in the top 10, though Sydney closed in on its old rival.

“Sydney has risen from fifth to third, thanks to an improvement in its culture and environment score, reflecting an increased focus on combating and mitigating the impacts of climate change, as outlined by the city’s ‘Sustainable Sydney 2030’ strategy,” the EIU said.

It poured cold water on Sydney’s prospects of overtaking Melbourne, however.

“With both cities already scoring very highly across all categories, there is only limited potential for Sydney to displace either Melbourne or Vienna at the top of the rankings. No other city in the top ten saw a change to its score.”

Japan’s Osaka was fourth, followed by three Canadian cities - Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Toronto was tied with Tokyo for seventh place. Copenhagen and Adelaide in South Australia rounded out the top 10.

Irish cities ranking were not yet revealed from the study but last year Dublin also ranked higher than London, coming in at 41st place.

A surfer during large swells at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Joel Carrett/PA
A surfer during large swells at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Joel Carrett/PA

Financial hubs London ranked at 48th place and New York at 58 lagged behind other domestic rivals. Hong Kong and Singapore fared better, but not much, charting at number 38 and 40 respectively. Hong Kong’s ranking overlooked for now the recent political unrest, but the disruption will likely show up next year.

The EIU’s index ranks cities by five headline criteria. Stability and culture and environment are the two most important categories, weighted equally at 25 per cent of the total. Healthcare and infrastructure are also matched at 20 per cent, with education coming in last with a 10 per cent weighting.

“Paris in France is the highest-ranked city to have seen a deterioration in its stability score, owing to the ongoing anti-government gilets jaunes protests that began in late 2018,” the EIU said of the French anti-government movement.

Paris slid six places to 25th, from 19th last year.

The culture and environment scores were reduced for many cities in poorer countries that are among the most exposed to the effects of climate change, including New Delhi and Cairo for their poor air quality.

Damascus in war-torn Syria remained the worst-ranked city, below Lagos in Nigeria and the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, which swapped places. – Reuters

The 10 most liveable cities 2019

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Melbourne, Australia

3. Sydney, Australia

4. Osaka, Japan

5. Calgary, Canada

6. Vancouver, Canada

7. Toronto, Canada

8. Tokyo, Japan

9. Copenhagen, Denmark

10. Adelaide, Australia

The world’s least liveable cities 2019

1. Damascus, Syria

2. Lagos, Nigeria

3. Dhaka, Bangladesh

4. Tripoli, Libya

5. Karachi, Pakistan

6. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

7. Harare, Zimbabwe

8. Douala, Cameroon

9. Algiers, Algeria

10. Caracas, Venezuela

Vancouver skyline in Canada. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times
Vancouver skyline in Canada. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times