In the midst of rapid international development and urbanization and an evolving understanding of its environmental impact, major cities around the world are struggling with how to protect the planet.
But there are a handful of metropolises that have pulled ahead of the pack thanks to the efforts of their city governments and their citizens to be eco-friendly through local programs and policies.
While there’s no international standard or widely agreed on measurement for ranking the greenness of a city or even defining what “green” means, many organizations and publications have conducted their own research, using a variety of different parameters, such as air and tap water quality, recycling, energy consumption, green space, greenhouse gas emissions and more.
Comparing data from different cities around the world isn’t easy, as a myriad of factors come into play, such as how cities define their boundaries, whether or not they track certain variables such as CO2 emissions, and even whether or not they even have the government stability or resources to create or sustain environmental programs.
Despite these challenges, here are 19 cities that have earned acclaim in for their environmental efforts. These pioneers are setting the standard to make their countries and the world more sustainable.