The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has ranked 33 Chinese cities according to their environmental “livability,” through a series of indexes pioneered under a technical assistance study.
The chosen cities were ranked by the state of their water resources, atmospheric pollution, solid waste, noise, ecology, domestic livability (factors such as water and gas availability, and green space), and environmental management, as well as according to “environmental livability” as a whole.
The ranking is based on the latest available 2011 data.
The study found that China’s urban livability is generally higher in southern and coastal cities — and areas with higher levels of development — than in northern, western and northwestern cities.
According to the 2011 data, Chengdu tops the overall environmental livability index followed by the cities of Guangzhou, Ningbo and Changsha.
Beijing is in the middle of the index while Shanghai is in the last third of the table. The bottom three cities are Lanzhou, Harbin and Taiyuan.
The study team, working in consultation with China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, designed the livability index from scratch, the parameters of environmental livability, which is an index system to measure it, and the appropriate research methodology.
“The 33 cities were chosen based on the availability of data, which was sourced from statistical yearbooks and environmental bulletins published by provinces and cities,” said Sergei Popov, ADB Principal Environment Specialist.
The index was able to identify specific problems in different sectors. For example, the study found out that in Shenzhen, poor water environment results from low surface water quality which in turn comes from the discharge of relatively untreated wastewater.
In addition to the overall index, the project carried out more in-depth studies of six cities: Beijing,
Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan for which historical data were available.
Between 2000 to 2011, Guangzhou recorded the highest improvement rate (45.4%) and Lanzhou the lowest (17.9%).