A general night view of the Auckland skyline as seen from the new Park Hyatt Hotel in the Viaduct Basin area of the city on May 16, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images News | Getty Images
As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand’s metropolitan city Auckland has been named the most livable city globally The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
This is largely due to the country’s successful handling of COVID-19, which allowed schools, theatres, restaurants and other cultural attractions to remain open during the survey period from February 22 to March 21, 2021, according to the EIU.
New Zealand imposed a strict nationwide lockdown for several weeks last year to slow the spread of the virus. It also closed its international borders to most travelers.
Asia-Pacific cities dominate the top 10 rankings this year, even as the pandemic has caused a worldwide overall decline.
The top 10 most livable cities in the world, and their scores according to the Global Liveability Index 2021, are:
- Auckland, New Zealand (96.0)
- Osaka, Japan (94.2)
- Adelaide, Australia (94.0)
- Wellington, New Zealand (93.7)
- Tokyo, Japan (93.7)
- Perth, Australia (93.3)
- Zurich, Switzerland (92.8)
- Geneva, Switzerland (92.5)
- Melbourne, Australia (92.5)
- Brisbane, Australia (92.4)
The livability index ranks cities based on more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors in five broad categories: sustainability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Due to the pandemic, the EIU added new indicators of stress on health care resources as well as restrictions on local sporting events, theatres, concerts, restaurants and schools.
According to Simon Baptiste, global chief economist at EIU, the impact of COVID-19 in the rankings is quite clear.
“There’s definitely been a big setback in terms of the top 10, but even in the overall rankings, COVID-19 is right depending on the situation,” he told CNBC.
Baptiste explained that cities that were in lockdown or experiencing a surge in cases during the survey period had their scores lower on a number of criteria, causing many European cities to fall down.
This includes the Austrian city of Vienna, which has consistently topped the list over the years. This year, however, it failed to make the top 10 and dropped to 12th place.
On the other hand, cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan remained relatively open with good availability of services, while their health care systems were resilient due to comparatively fewer cases, he said.
Honolulu’s Hawaii capital was the biggest gainer on the index, up 46 places to 14th on its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus and rapid vaccine rollouts. Among other cities, Taipei was ranked 33rd while Singapore ranked 34th.
According to the EIU, on a regional average, Asia ranks well below North America and Western Europe. Damascus in Syria remains the least livable city in the world – Syria marked a 10-year civil war this year.
“Asia has some of the most livable cities in the world, some of which are less livable,” Baptiste said. Cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan dominate the top 10 spots, while places like Dhaka, Bangladesh, Karachi, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby are at the bottom and have been doing so for some time, he said. .
Baptiste said the list is updated twice a year.
Since the end of the first survey period this year, some of the top cities in Asia-Pacific have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, including Melbourne and Tokyo. European and North American cities, on the other hand, have aggressively launched their vaccination programs and are in the process of opening up.
Australia and New Zealand have yet to reopen their borders to most travelers – a factor Baptiste said could affect their cities’ future rankings.
“It will be interesting to see, if things open up more in Europe and America, especially in terms of international travel. But (if) things are still not there in Australia and New Zealand, we can find ranking Australian and New Zealand cities a little bit are suffering,” Baptiste said, adding that he expects European cities to potentially see a major improvement over the next survey period.
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