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Who Has Been Crowned Australia's Most Sustainable City?

Date: 29-Jun-10

Sust Cities list © Amy Nancarrow

Darwin is known for its warm weather, rich indigenous culture, national parks and laid-back lifestyle. But now it can add Australia’s top sustainability city score to its list of attractions. Conducted by the Australian Conservation Council, the Sustainable Cities Index ranked the comparative performance of Australia’s 20 largest cities against 15 sustainability indicators. But it also aims to encourage healthy competition, stimulate discussion and suggest new ways of thinking about our cities.

In 2010 Darwin has come out on top, scoring highly on biodiversity, household repayments and employment. At the other end of the sustainability scale was Perth, with the highest level of water use, car ownership and ecological footprint, comparatively it came out as Australia’s least sustainable city.

Room for improvement

The ACF index showed that many cities are taking steps in the right direction, but there is still room for improvement, with no city scoring well across all 15 indicators. Darwin despite being the winner came second last on ecological footprint, preparedness for climate and health indicators. In Sydney it was consistency that let the city down, taking top place for density but second last place for subjective well-being (a measure of community sentiment). In Australia no city can yet be held up as a real champion in sustainable urban development.

Other Sustainable Cities

Around the world other groups are taking initiatives to award cities with great green credentials. The European Green Capital Award showcases and encourages the exchange of best practice among European cities. In 2010, Stockholm came out on top. The city has measures in place such as all trains and inner city buses running on renewable fuels and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since 1990, making it a deserving winner.

For more information on the ACF Sustainable City Index go to Or for a great discussion on sustainable cites around the world listen to Radio Australia's Sustainable Cities series - you can download the MP3s or read the transcript online.

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