List of eco friendly cities globally

Today, almost half of human’s population lives in cities. In just another 30 years, 7 out of 10 people will live in the city!

Every major activity, be it Olympic or gathering of G20 leaders, they all happen in cities. In some regions, city’s contribution to greenhouse emissions is as high as 70%.

With rising urbanisation and increasing global warming, it’s more important than ever for cities to become both eco-friendly and sustainable.

Here we have compiled a list of 5 cities that are amongst the top eco-friendly cities in the world. Also, read about the initiatives they have taken to become eco-friendly.

1. Copenhagen

What makes Copenhagen an eco-friendly city

Country: Denmark

About Copenhagen:

Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark and a hub of Scandinavian culture and commerce. The city is known for its mix of modern architecture and historical buildings.

Copenhagen is also renowned for its delicious cuisine, including the famous Danish pastry, and is a gastronomic destination for food lovers.

The city is home to several world-class museums, such as the National Museum of Denmark, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Copenhagen is one of the best eco-friendly cities in Europe, and its landscape is filled with parks and lakes, including the famous King's Garden and the Søerne.

What makes Copenhagen an eco-friendly city?

  1. Copenhagen has been recognised by organisations such as C40 Cities, which works to address climate change, and the European Green Capital Award, which recognises cities for their efforts to become more sustainable.
  2. The city has over 6,75,000 bicycles and just 1,20,000 cars! If that were not enough, 1/3rd of all journeys within Copenhagen happen on bikes. Now that's what we call a pedal for the planet.
  3. City is home to over 40 parks and gardens; more than 10% of its urban area is covered in green spaces.
  4. Copenhagen has set an ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 and has invested in renewable energy sources such as wind power.
  5. Over 80% of all food served in Copenhagen's public institution's canteen is organic! Residents are also increasingly turning to local produce, thereby further reducing the carbon footprint.

2. Curitiba

What makes Curitiba an eco-friendly city

Country: Brazil

About Curitiba:

Curitiba is a city located in Brazil. Curitiba is often considered a model for other cities worldwide because of its innovative urban planning and sustainability initiatives. It has a well-designed public transportation system, including an efficient bus transit system, and has implemented many green spaces and parks throughout the city.

Curitiba Botanical Garden, which features a diverse collection of plants, a Japanese garden, a planetarium, and a butterfly house, is a popular attraction in Curitiba.

Additionally, the city is home to several cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including the International Festival of Film and Video of Curitiba and the Curitiba Cultural Fair.

Curitiba offers something for everyone with its unique blend of sustainability, urban design, culture, and nature.

What makes Curitiba an eco-friendly city?

  1. It has efficient and integrated public transportation systems, which include a bus rapid transit system and pedestrian walkways. This has helped reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Additionally, Curitiba also has a large network of bike lanes and encourages cycling.
  2. The city introduced the "Garbage That's Not Garbage" program, and it was highly successful which led to recycling of 70% of the city's garbage.
  3. The city introduced unique currencies as a reward for sorting recyclables into organic and non-organic categories and taking them to designated waste stations, where the currencies can be traded for bus tickets, food, and school books.
  4. Curitiba has implemented several green initiatives to promote sustainability, such as creating parks and green spaces. The city now boasts 51.5 square metres of green cover per inhabitant, which is three times over the World Health Organisation's standard of 16 square metres per inhabitant.
  5. The city has been recognised by organisations such as the United Nations, which has designated it as a "Global Sustainable City," and the European Green Capital Award, which recognises cities for their efforts to become more sustainable.

3. Indore

What makes Indore an eco-friendly city

Country: India

About Indore:

Indore is a city located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, and it is a hub of economic activities in the region. The city is famous for its street food, and Indore's major tourist attractions include:

  • The Rajwada Palace
  • The Lal Bagh Palace
  • Kanch Mandir

The city has implemented several initiatives to promote sustainable practices and maintain a clean and green environment. Encouraging usage of electric vehicles, solar energy, and a robust waste management system makes it one of the most eco-friendly cities in India and globally.

With its rich history, cultural heritage, and vibrant food scene, Indore is a city that offers a unique blend of traditional and modern experiences.

What makes Indore an eco-friendly city?

  1. Indore has implemented a comprehensive waste management system, including door-to-door collection, waste segregation at source, and recycling.
  2. The city has set up plants that convert waste into biofuel, and it has helped the city council earn over ₹8 Cr/annum (~$1 mn/annually).
  3. Indore has made efforts to improve public transportation and reduce traffic congestion. Its public bus network called Indore BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) has helped reduce traffic and enhance air quality.
  4. Several green initiatives have been implemented in the city, such as tree plantation programs, creation of parks and gardens to promote sustainability. The city has also introduced a unique concept of 'tree ambulance'; these are vehicles equipped with all necessary facilities and will tend to sick and worm-infested plants and trees.
  5. Indore is a role model for cities globally. It has been recognised for its efforts to become more sustainable and eco-friendly. It was declared the cleanest city in India for 6 years in a row!

4. Portland

What makes Portland an eco-friendly city

Country: United States

About Portland:

Portland is located in the state of Oregon, United States. Known for its vibrant culture and progressive values, Portland has become a popular destination for travellers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

The city is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, and the Oregon Coast.

Portland is known for its commitment to sustainability, with a strong focus on environmental conservation, alternative transportation, and green building practices.

What makes Portland an eco-friendly city?

  1. Portland has a well-developed public transportation system and a large network of bike lanes. The city has one of the highest bicycle commuting rates in the United States, with around 6.3% of residents using bicycles as their primary mode of transportation.
  2. The city has over 247 large parks and around 196 neighbourhood parks. It has a 6,000-acre Forest Park, which is amongst the largest municipal parks.
  3. Portland has been a leader in promoting sustainable urban development and has inspired other cities to follow suit. The city has been recognised by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  4. Since FY 15-16, 100% of the energy used in Portland has been through renewable sources. Here are 2 graphs from the City of Portland, Oregon website that highlight this remarkable success.​
Renewable energy sources in Portland
Renewable energy generated or purchased in Portland

5. Zurich

What makes Zurich an eco-friendly city

Country: Switzerland

About Zurich:

Zurich is Switzerland's largest city and offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. Zurich has a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire, and its Old Town is filled with mediaeval buildings and narrow alleyways.

The city is a hub for banking and finance and is a major tourist attraction in Europe. One of the city's main attractions is Lake Zurich, which is surrounded by parks and promenades.

This city is known for its cleanliness and eco-friendly initiatives. It has numerous green spaces and parks, including the famous Uetliberg mountain, that provide clean air and a peaceful environment.

It is also committed to reducing its carbon footprint, and many of its buildings are designed to be energy-efficient and use renewable energy sources such as solar power.

What makes Zurich an eco-friendly city?

  1. Zurich has an excellent public transportation system, including buses and trains, which reduce the reliance on personal vehicles and help to combat air pollution. Additionally, the city has an extensive network of bike lanes and encourages cycling as a form of transportation.
  2. The city is increasingly working towards green energy and has begun shutting down its natural gas network to fight climate change.
  3. Switzerland, the country where Zurich is located, is increasingly investing in renewable energy, and today 53% of all energy consumption in the nation is through renewable sources.
  4. Zurich has a robust waste segregation, collection, and recycling mechanism.
  5. The city has consistently ranked amongst the most sustainable locations globally and aims to become climate neutral by 2040.
List of 5 Eco-friendly cities globally

Your Actions Matters

A city is as good as its residents.

That wrapper you threw in the bin instead of on the footpath does matter.

Your decision to segregate waste at home does matter.

Choosing an electric vehicle (EV), bicycle, or public transportation over petrol and diesel vehicles will make a difference.

None of the cities mentioned above would have become eco-friendly if their residents didn't do their bit to improve their city.