The Most Sustainable Cities in the World

If composting is second nature and you grimace when you see people leave the grocery store with plastic bags (*shudders*), then where you spend your money while traveling is probably important to you. We’ve got you covered with a list of the most sustainable cities in the world. What does that mean? These are locales that have shown their dedication to renewable initiatives (e.g., bicycle infrastructure, efforts to lower emissions, electric vehicle incentives, etc.). Of course, overall quality of life plays a part, too. From Seoul to Stockholm, these destinations are making a positive impact on people and the planet.

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong ranks #1 on the Sustainable Cities Index with its well-connected and cost-effective metro. The recently launched climate action plan lays out a roadmap for carbon reduction that includes urban development and transport efficiency.

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Zurich, Switzerland

What sets Zurich apart? The Swiss capital is applauded for its affordable mass transit. The financial hub is investing in renewable energies and has shown a strong commitment to green technology as well as electric vehicle uptake. 

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Paris, France

Paris has a great rail network, which makes it easy and cost-effective to get to the myriad landmarks throughout the city. And with a new wave of civic projects on the horizon, the future is bright.

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Seoul, South Korea

High-tech subways, cutting-edge infrastructure, sustainability strategies—Seoul is an excellent example of a modern metropolis. The global superpower is home to industrial giants and innovative start-ups plus a unique bike rental system.

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Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is packed with gardens and parks. It’s also synonymous with beer. Of late, the brewing industry seems to be moving toward more eco-friendly practices. Bonus: Recycling bottles and cans isn’t just encouraged; it’s mandatory.

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Vienna, Austria

Vienna was a pioneer in electric-powered buses, leading to decreased carbon emissions and better commuting efficiency. Hungry? Head to one of the many ethical micro-roasters or organic cafés. 

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London, England

London proves that population isn’t a barrier to sustainability. The city has embraced diesel-electric buses and funds transit needs through revenues. Strategies are also in place to improve air quality and advance recycling programs.

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Singapore was an early adopter of self-driving technology. And this pioneering mind-set extends to its state-of-the-art water and waste management. This sovereign island nation is also dedicated to green building standards and viable development.

stockholm sweden
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Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm has an unwavering commitment to sustainability that extends from urban planning to organic food consumption. It also boasts one of the preeminent eco-neighborhoods, Hammarby Sjöstad, which has inspired numerous international projects, including Toronto's Waterfront.

frankfurt germany
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Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt has superb bicycle infrastructure, public transport and electric vehicle incentives, which has helped progress policymakers’ agendas to cut carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030. And if you’re looking for natural beauty, you’ll find plenty of parks, too.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...