Melbourne has overtaken Vancouver as the “most liveable” city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit – but does its survey take into account ecological sustainability and social inclusion?
Four Australian cities and three Canadian cities are in the top 10 list.
MOST LIVEABLE CITIES 2011
Source: Global Liveability Survey
The survey takes into consideration stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure, most likely from the viewpoint of the expat. According to the EIU:
the concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. Assessing liveability has a broad range of uses. The survey originated as a means of testing whether Human Resource Departments needed to assign a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages.
So basically, it started off as a ranking to give expats an idea of which are the most comfortable cities. Before we even think of where Penang or KL stands in the survey, we need to be aware of the survey’s serious limitations. Melbourne for instance has two of the world’s largest mines.
Australian cities may have scored highly in the survey, but the Australian Policy Online website expressed concern last year that “city liveability is being achieved at the expense of ecological sustainability”…
… the world’s most liveable cities are acquiring and retaining their status as a result of participating in a level of resource consumption – by their built environments and their residents – that is ecologically unsustainable under current ‘business as usual’ scenarios of urban development and household resource consumption. Amongst some of the worst offenders around the world are Australia’s capital cities (highlighted in the graph). Each Australian city resident is, on average, requiring six to seven global hectares of land and water to supply all the resources needed to support their current consumption lifestyle. The global ecological footprint is less than three hectares per person on average. Consequently, if all the world’s population aspired to the built environment quality and lifestyle offered to a resident of, say, Melbourne then two and a half planet earths would be required to supply the subsequent demand on resources – as things currently stand.