National and city officials have a new reason to hang their heads in shame—and to work harder.
A new study by the Amsterdam-based design and consultancy firm Arcadis found that Metro Manila is among the world’s least sustainable cities.
The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index, which takes into account social, environmental and economic factors, ranked Manila 95th out of 100 cities in overall sustainability.
In the people sub-index, where the quality of life is measured, Manila ranked 93rd overall.
The capital also ranked 91st in the planet sub-index, which measures green spaces and pollution.
Manila was almost at rock bottom at 98th in the profit sub-index, which takes into account the overall economic health of the city.
Manila’s low ranking in the 2018 survey confirms what many of us know by experience, living daily in a congested, dirty and polluted city, inured to the sight of children playing and begging on the streets. It is a reality that is drummed into us every day when we struggle with public transport systems that have been allowed to deteriorate over the years to the point that they are no longer safe.
In contrast to Manila, the top 20 sustainable cities are mostly established European metropolises, including London, which was ranked the world’s most sustainable city in 2018. Representing Asia in the upper ranks are Singapore (4th), Hong Kong (9th) and Seoul (13th).
Manila ranked 21st out of 23 Asian cities in the study, besting only Hanoi in Vietnam and Kolkata in India.
To improve the lot of its residents, Manila was urged to “boost its sustainability and livability by enhancing transportation network and resiliency against natural disasters.”
Arcadis also emphasized that “focus on building resiliency and investment in infrastructures to ease congestions will be the key to achieving sustainable success for Manila.”
National and local officials can take the results of the Arcadis survey two ways. The usual and more common reaction is to dismiss the survey out of hand, question its fairness and claim some kind of bias or error in the data.
The more productive approach, however, is to take the results as a call to action that something must be done soon to alleviate the suffering of Metro Manila residents. Results of the administration’s ambitious Build, Build, Build projects must come sooner rather than later. Officials can also use the survey results as a guide to specific areas that need improvement most.
It is a national shame that our capital so regularly fails its residents and fares so poorly against other major cities in the world. We need to right this wrong.