SDSN Report: US Cities Perform Best on SDGs 6 and 15, Worst on 2 and 7
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Cities have made the most overall progress on SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 15 (life on land), and the least progress on SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy).

San-Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California Metro Statistical Area placed first on the index, with a score of 69.7% towards reaching the SDGs.

The report features specific analysis on leave no one behind indicators.

8 July 2019: The Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s (SDSN) US Network launched the 2019 US Cities Sustainable Development Report, which ranks 105 cities on progress towards the SDGs. SDSN released the report to inform the 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The 2019 US Cities Sustainable Development Report shows an average score of 48.9% for US cities, which means that most US cities are not quite halfway towards achieving the SDGs. The report uses 57 indicators across 15 of the 17 SDGs to rank city performance on a range of sustainability topics, including early education (SDG 4), clean water (SDG 6), sustainable transit (SDG 11) and incarceration (SDG 16). The report identifies particular challenges related to inequality, energy transition, rent affordability and sustainable transit.

There is as much work to do on leaving no one behind as there is to do on the SDGs overall.

Cities are ranked using a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the highest score. No city scored 100, while 101 cities scored a 0 on at least one indicator. Among the nearly 6,000 indicator scores, only 14% are classified as “green,” or good performance. Cities have made the most overall progress on SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 15 (life on land). They have made the least progress on SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). Cities scored an average of 77% on SDG 6, indicating a high percentage of the US population with access to safe drinking water. Positive performance on indicators related to water conservation and water pollution contributed to cities’ performance on SDG 6.

San-Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California Metro Statistical Area (MSA) placed first on the index, with a score of 69.7. Other cities and metropolitan areas in the top ten are: San-Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington; Madison, WI; Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington; San Diego-Carlsbad, CA; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; and Raleigh, North Carolina. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, scored the worst, with a score of 30.3.

The report features specific analysis on “leave no one behind” indicators, and examines which groups are farthest behind. The report finds that the average score on these indicators “is nearly identical” to the average score of all the indicators, suggesting that there is “as much work to do on leaving no one behind as there is to do on the SDGs overall.” On SDG 1 (no poverty), more than 5% of children live below the poverty line in 94 of 103 cities with data. In McAllen, Texas, 23.3% of children live below the poverty line. On SDG 5 (gender equality), women make, on average, 70 cents per dollar compared to their male counterparts in over 25% of the cities analyzed. In three cities, women only make 60 cents compared to a man’s dollar. The report also analyzes racial inequality in US cities, including policies that limit access to schools, jobs and housing.

According to SDSN, the report helps identify priorities for early action in cities and metropolitan areas. The report identifies a list of data gaps that hinder the ability of cities and the federal government to plan and implement sustainable development action. In addition, the plan suggests pathways for considering equity and access across the SDGs, in line with the principle of leaving no one behind.

The report is SDSN’s third city-level report on US cities. [SDSN Press Release] [Publication: 2019 US Cities Sustainable Development Report] [SDSN US Website]


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