ADB Study Ranks Most Environmentally Livable Cities In The People’s Republic of China

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has ranked 33 cities of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) according to their environmental “livability,” through a series of indexes pioneered under a technical assistance study.

The chosen cities were ranked by the state of their water resources, atmospheric pollution, solid waste, noise, ecology, domestic livability (factors such as water and gas availability, and green space), and environmental management, as well as according to “environmental livability” as a whole. The ranking is based on latest available data, which are for 2011.

Developing Indicators and Monitoring Systems for Environmentally Livable Cities in the People’s Republic of ChinaDownload report: Developing Indicators and Monitoring Systems for Environmentally Livable Cities in the PRC

The study found that the PRC’s urban livability is generally higher in southern and coastal cities—and areas with higher levels of development—than in northern, western, and northwestern cities.

Top of the overall environmental livability index, according to the 2011 data, was Chengdu, followed by the cities of Guangzhou, Ningbo, and Changsha. The capital Beijing is somewhat in the middle of the index, while Shanghai is in the last third of the table. The bottom three cities in the index are Lanzhou, Harbin, and Taiyuan.

The study team, working in consultation with the PRC’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, designed the livability index almost from scratch, defining the parameters of environmental livability, an index system to measure it, and the appropriate research methodology.

“The 33 cities were chosen based on the availability of data, which was sourced from statistical yearbooks and environmental bulletins published by provinces and cities,” said Sergei Popov, ADB Principal Environment Specialist.

The index was able to identify specific problems in different sectors—for example in Shenzhen the study found that poor water environment results from low surface water quality, which in turn comes from the discharge of relatively untreated wastewater.

In addition to the overall index, the project carried out more in-depth studies of six cities—Beijing, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Wuhan for which historical data were available. Over the period 2000 to 2011, Guangzhou recorded the highest improvement rate (45.4%) and Lanzhou the lowest (17.9%).

“By comparing data for each city, it is possible to measure government efforts to improve environmental livability and living conditions and will give them reliable scientific data with which to take action,” Popov added.