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Top 100 Most Populous Cities Evaluated Using the Sustainable Development Goals

New York – Today, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which co-produces the Global SDG Index, released the first-ever U.S. Cities SDG Index. The Index ranks the 100 most populous U.S. cities, using Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), based on their performance on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Results show that all U.S. cities, even those at the top of the Index, have far to go to achieve the SDGs.

The U.S. Cities SDG Index uses 49 indicators from 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – goals that were agreed upon by all countries at the United Nations in September 2015. The Index provides a more holistic and comprehensive assessment of sustainable development challenges faced by U.S. cities than available through other metrics.

The top rankings from the U.S. Cities SDG Index are as follows: The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro region in California wins the top spot, with an overall index score of 61.04. This means that the San Jose MSA is 61.04 percent of the way to achieving the SDGs, according to the measures used in this Index. The San Jose MSA is also in the top ten for 10 of the 16 goals. Provo-Orem in Utah secured second ranking with an Index score of 58.05, followed by Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (WA) and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (CA).

Why US Cities?

U.S. cities are at a critical juncture. America’s cities, home to 62.7 percent of the domestic population, are experiencing enormous challenges. The economy is in a state of rapid transformation as the result of new information technologies. Income and job inequalities are widening. Many cities are experiencing dangerous levels of water scarcity and drought, food insecurity and persistent poverty, underemployment, health disparities, flooding due to sea-level rise, and persistent levels of crime and violence. The SDGs are an opportunity to address many of America’s challenges while building on America’s great reservoirs of dynamism and talent.

America’s Goals for 2030

“We hope that the SDGs, suitably adapted to America’s context, will become America’s Goals for 2030,” said Jeff Sachs, Director of the SDSN, and coauthor of the U.S. Cities SDG Index. “The SDGs present not only a set of challenges, but a tremendous opportunity to dedicate the skills of this generation to a great economic and social renewal and to build the new American economy of the 21st century. We count on the new U.S. Cities SDG Index to be a help in this national endeavor. By measuring the current state of the SDGs across America’s metropolitan areas, we create an accurate starting line for our race to 2030 and a smart, fair, and sustainable future. No doubt there will be many areas of improvement to the U.S. Cities SDG Index in the years ahead. Yet time is short and 2030 is near.”

The Creation of the U.S. Cites SDG Index

The Global SDG Index established the foundation for the first unofficial U.S. Cities SDG Index, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In 2016, the Global Index ranked the U.S. 25th among all countries pursuing the SDGs. In 2017, the U.S. was 42nd as a result of the inclusion of additional indicators that assess international spillover effects such as CO2 emissions and tax evasion. It was these low scores that, in part, prompted the creation of this U.S. Cities SDG Index, so that we could better understand America’s specific challenges and cross-country variation.

About the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has been operating since 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. SDSN aims to accelerate joint learning and promote integrated approaches that address the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.