Forbes has just published an interesting list of the 10 Best Places to Live. Below is how they describe their criteria and selection process.  It is interesting to contemplate whether “Best Places” can measure up to “most sustainable places”.  It strikes me that these are beautiful and inspiring places, and I wonder if they are economically self-sustainable and what their relationship with their eco-region is? (ie. how much of their livability are they importing beyond their eco-region footprint? and how much of their unsustainability they are exporting to their own and/or other eco regions; eg. solid waste, air pollution?).  How will they fare under the pressures of climate change, peak oil (and the current financial crisis)? I wonder what the criteria for the 10 Most Sustainable Cities would be and how many of these cities would make that list. In short I don’t think you can assess the “Best” of any city without using an Integral Vital Signs Monitor — that would measure the bio/psycho/cultural/structural capacities of triple bottom line – People, Profit, Planet.

Forbes Report

“European cities dominate Mercer’s list, which rates 420 global cities on the basis of the political and social environment (including stability, crime and law enforcement); the strength of the economy; restrictions, such as censorship and limitations on personal freedom; the quality of health care as well as exposure to infectious diseases; and school quality. In addition, it looked at recreation, theaters, sports activities, access to grocery markets, the availability and cost of housing, as well as the climate and susceptibility to natural disasters.

It’s a mouthful of criteria, to be sure. Cities were ranked on an index where New York City was 100. Vienna, for example, scored a 108.6, Zürich, Switzerland, came in second at 108, Geneva was next at 107.9 and Vancouver notched a win for North America by finishing fourth at 107.4. At the bottom, by contrast, were Baghdad, at 14.4; Bangui, the politically corrupt capital of the Central African Republic at 29.3, and N’Djamena, Chad, notable for it’s difficult pronunciation and constant rebel attacks, at 31.3.

For the first time, Mercer also evaluated cities on the basis of their infrastructure, including electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transportation, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports.”