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August 5, 2019

The most livable, cleanest and healthiest cities in the world

Top Story

August 5, 2019

LAHORE: As the PTI government, supported by private companies and celebrities from all walks of life, has launched a cleanliness drive in Karachi to remove garbage from the streets, besides clearing the 38 clogged ‘nullahs’ and drains of this Metropolis to resolve the decades-old problem of water-logged roads after rains, one wonders if picking empty wrappers, plastic bags and used sanitary napkins would alone make this port city more livable.

However, one hopes the authorities at the helm of affairs in Karachi would also pay heed at some later stage to the personal safety, air and water quality, the ever-surging crime graph, effectiveness of law enforcement and the unsanitary living conditions that ultimately lead to poor health of this city’s inhabitants, the case of which is no different to other Pakistani cities.

It goes without saying that waste management should have been the first step, rightly initiated, but if it is followed by placing an ideal transportation infrastructure that has an impact on air quality and cleanliness both, Karachi would become a more livable city. A cleaner environment in any given city or town facilitates safe living with fewer odds of the spread of disease. It certainly would be a herculean task for the PTI zealots like sitting federal minister Ali Zaidi to transform a city that has otherwise been a waste disposal station for years and years.

One may also hope against hope that someday the sitting premier Imran Khan captures the national television screens for different reasons; boasting of the satisfactory, if not high, cleanliness levels in all the major cities, including Karachi.

Remember during July this year, the American Vice President Mike Pence had claimed in an interview to the “CNN” that the United States had the cleanest air and water in the world!

On July 24, 2019, Mike Pence had remarked: “I think we’re making great progress reducing carbon emissions. America has the cleanest air and water in the world”. Research shows that the United States has been ranked on 10th slot in the world (of 180 nations) in terms of air quality by the prestigious Connecticut state-based “Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy” of Mike Pence’s own country.

If one looks at the data released by the “Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy”, the American Air Quality score is 97.52 (of 100), behind Australia (100), Barbados (100), Jordan (99.61), Canada (99.28), Denmark (99.16), Finland (99.00), New Zealand (98.99), Brunei (98.76) and Iceland (98.55). Surprisingly, many countries otherwise deemed to be gifted with clean air have not succeeded in finding a place in the top 10 nations with high air quality.

These countries are France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden etc. In fact, not a single large Western European country has better air quality than the United States, contrary to the common perception. So, one can give the American Vice President Mike Pence some leverage here. Over the years, many global think tanks and esteemed media houses have come out with lists of the cleanest and most livable cities.

For example, the “Daily Telegraph”, a known British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London since 1855 and having a daily circulation of 363,183 (as of December 2018), had published a list of 10 cleanest cities in the world in its April 22, 2018 edition.

According to the “Daily Telegraph”, the cleanest cities were: 1-Stockholm (Sweden), 2-Wellington (New Zealand), 3-Canberra (Australia), 4-Ottawa (Canada), 5--Edinburgh (Scotland), 6-Monetvideo (Uruguay), 7-Tallinn (Estonia), 8-Helsinki (Finland), 9-Monaco (a tiny independent city-state on France’s Mediterranean coastline) and 10-Madrid (Spain).

Meanwhile, the New York-based Messrs “Mercer”, the largest human resource consulting firm in the world, possessing the world’s largest institutional investment adviser with over $10 trillion in assets under advice and more than $200 billion in open architecture assets, had conducted a “Quality of Living Survey” of 231 cities from Vienna and Baghdad in 2019.

According to “Mercer”, which is served by more than 23,000 employees in more than 43 countries, and had gone to earn revenues of $4.3 billion (2016 figure), the world’s 20 most livable cities are: Vienna, Zurich, Munich, Auckland, Vancouver, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen, Basel, Sydney, Amsterdam, Berlin, Bonn, Wellington, Toronto, Melbourne, Luxembourg, Ottawa and Hamburg.

According to another “CNN” report, the healthiest and happiest cities of the world include Copenhagen, whose 96 percent residents had stated that they could count on someone if they were in need. Copenhagen was followed by the Japanese city of Okinawa, which has the longest-lived population in the world. Life expectancy for women in Okinawa is 86 years, and it is 78 for men, which is 10 years longer than the average life expectancy for men worldwide and 13 years longer than the average life expectancy for women. Okinawa also has the highest concentration of centenarians (over 900) in the world. People here are at a low risk for all the major diseases that tend to kill people, including cancer, heart disease and type-2 diabetes; then follows Monte Carlo, a city located in the tiny European country of Monaco. Monte Carlo has the world’s lowest infant mortality rate with an estimated 1.81 deaths per 1,000 live births. This figure alone speaks volumes of Monte Carlo’s wide healthcare coverage in the city, with a focus on prevention, education and screening, the World Health Organisation has stated. The “CNN” report of the healthiest and happiest cities of the world under review also includes Vancouver, which had adopted the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan in 2011, which aims to make the Canadian metro area the most environmentally-friendly city in the world.

Other world cities where residents are leading healthy and happy lives include New York, Stockholm, Havana in Cuba (a country with 11 million people, has an average life expectancy of 79 years, the same as the life expectancy in the United States), Singapore (which spends less on healthcare than any other wealthy country in the world) and California’s Napa city (best known for its wine).

Many other international websites have ranked Calgary in Canada as the world’s cleanest city, followed by Zurich in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Adelaide in South Australia (the city that has an extraordinary waste recycling system which enables them to recycle approximately 85 percent of the waste generated by its residents) and Singapore (where spitting in public places is considered an offence and one can be charged for it by the government).

Coming to air pollution, according to a March 5, 2019 report of the “CNN”, some 18 of the world’s top 20 most polluted cities are in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, including the major population centres of Lahore, Delhi and Dhaka, which were placed 10th, 11th and 17th respectively last year.

The “CNN” had further reported that 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities in the world were in India. The American media house had added: “India accounts for seven of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution, but previously smog-bound Chinese cities have seen a marked improvement”.

According to this report, air pollution would cause around seven million premature deaths globally next year and will have a major economic impact. And last but not the least let us talk a bit about the world’s cleanest beaches.

Denmark’s capital Copenhagen was named by “CNN Travel” as the top city for swimming, ahead of Rio de Janeiro and Sydney.

It said, “It's not just about having access to good recreational facilities. Bathers need to know if the water quality is safe. This is of paramount importance to Copenhagen, as one of the few cities in the world which can boast to have harbours clean enough to swim in”. Other best international beaches include: The Baia do Sancho Beach in Brazil, the Varadero Beach, Cuba, the Eagle Beach in Aruba Island near Venezuela, the La Concha Beach in Spain, Clearwater Beach, Florida, the Sicily Beach, the Seven Mile Beach in Cayman Islands, the Playa Norte in Mexico, Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica, the Falesia Beach in Portugal, Prainhas do Pontal Beach in Brazil, the Playa de Ses Illetes Beach in Spain, Balos Lagoon Beach in Greece, Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island (India), Playa Manuel Antonio (Costa Rica), the Manly Beach, Sydney, Kelingking Beach in Bali, Bournemouth Beach in the United Kingdom, Elafonissi Beach in Greece, Fig Tree Bay, Cyprus, Paradise Beach, Queensland, Australia and Santa Monica (Los Angeles).

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