With over five million inhabitants, Sydney is by far the largest metropolis in Australia. Considered one of the wealthiest and most dynamic cities in Oceania, how does Sydney perform in international rankings measuring economic competitiveness, sustainability, innovation, and global influence?
Let’s take a closer look at:
- Sydney’s economic competitiveness
- Sydney’s innovation potential
- How attractive for digital nomads?
- Sydney’s sustainability performance
- Sydney’s reputation and influence worldwide
Sydney’s economic competitiveness
Sydney is the largest metropolis and economy in Australia. With over five million inhabitants, the Greater Sydney metropolitan area has a GDP of 417 billion, which accounts for almost a quarter of Australia’s GDP (SGS Economics & Planning, 2016). However, the city’s economic importance goes well beyond Australian borders.
The Global Financial Centers Index (2017), which evaluates the competitiveness of financial hubs around the world in terms of business environment, human capital and infrastructure, sees Sydney as 8th strongest financial center, among 92. With an overall score of 707 out of 1000, Sydney is the first Australian city in the index and the 5th in the Asia Pacific region, after Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai.
Even though Sydney is also included among the world’s most economically powerful cities by CityLab, it is “only” ranked 14th among 25 (Global City Economic Power Index, 2015). One possible explanation for the city’s performance in this index is that the study looks at economic performance, social inclusion and environmental indicators.
Sydney’s innovation potential
The Innovation Cities Index takes a look at cities’ innovation potential and evaluates it through three factors: cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets. In its 2016-2017 study, Sydney was included in the leading group and was ranked 10th among 500 cities worldwide. The city is only outperformed in the Asia-Pacific region by Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul.
The Global Startup Ecosystem Report (2017) ranks Sydney 17th among the top 20 cities worldwide. The study measures the capacity of cities to build innovation-friendly ecosystems for their start-ups to thrive. It considers Sydney, the only Australian city included, to have the highest ecosystem growth rate (6.3), and counts as much as 2100 tech start-ups in the city.
How attractive for digital nomads?
Australia’s bad overall position in the Digital Life Abroad report, as a country regarding Internet-related issues, contradicts Sydney’s good performance, as attested by Nomad List, which considers Sydney’s free Wi-Fi great and also praises the Internet speed. Curiously, the Digital Nomad Index ranks the city’s Internet speed and availability of cafés with free Wi-Fi in the lower half of the ranking.
What both studies agree on is that Sydney is very expensive, expressed in average cost of renting an apartment and cost of a beer. Paying cashless is no problem though (that is, if you have enough to make this popular destination your next home!)
Sustainability performance of Sydney
According to the UN City Prosperity Initiative (2014), an online tool that measures cities’ sustainability performance, Sydney could be compared to metropoles such as Manchester, Dublin or Melbourne. With a score of 66 out of 100, the city is highly performing in urban governance (88%), quality of life (83%), social inclusion (82%) and infrastructure development (81%), but remarkably poor in environmental sustainability (26%). The share of renewable energy sources in overall electricity consumption is highlighted as the most critical environmental indicator.
In contrast, the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index (2016), which analyses sustainability performance based on a people, planet and profit approach, gives a high score to Sydney’s “planet” pillar. Globally ranked 21st among 100, the Australian city climbs to 8th position for environmental performance thanks to the abundance of green areas, quality of air and drinking water, and quality of sanitation. The Sustainable Sydney 2030 Program, which promotes a reduction of carbon emissions in the city by 70% in the next twelve years, is also mentioned as a crucial factor.
The index further points to tourism and transport infrastructure as two indicators where Sydney has room for improvement.
Sydney’s power, influence, and reputation
The Global Power City Index (2016), which evaluates a city’s attractiveness from a citizen perspective, ranked Sydney 10th among 44. Having climbed 4 spots since the previous year, the city’s strongest indicators are economy and environment, where it ranks 9th, and cultural interaction, where it ranks 10th. Once again, the accessibility (transport infrastructure) dimension is the most problematic for the city, ranking only 32nd for that indicator.
However, it is in the City RepTrack (2017) study where Sydney performs at its best. Ranked 1st among 56 for the third year in a row, it is described in the study as the top city worldwide people would like to live, work and visit.
Despite its overall excellent performance regarding perceived attractiveness in the eyes of international talent and businesses, Sydney takes the 4th position for attractiveness in the eyes of investors, after New York, Tokyo and Zurich.
Sydney ranks 25th in Resonance Consultancy’s index of the World’s Best Cities. In 2018, it’s best performing pillar is place (7th) and the lowest ranking pillar is prosperity (77th), showing that Sydney’s employment opportunities, GDP per capita and corporate offices could have a higher rating. Nevertheless, Sydney’s overall ranking makes it Australia’s best-performing city in this index.
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