Buenos Aires Scores Highest in LatAm on UN’s City Prosperity Index

The Argentine capital is the highest placed of the six Latin American cities in the ranking

Avenida 9 de Julio in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires.
February 04, 2022 | 12:10 PM

Bloomberg Línea — Six Latin American cities feature on the City Prosperity Index (CPI) published this week by U.N.-Hábitat, a United Nations program for sustainable urban development.

The CPI is a global initiative that enables city authorities, as well as local and national stakeholders, to identify opportunities and potential areas of intervention for their cities to become more prosperous.

Its composite index comprises six dimensions that serve to define targets and goals that can support the formulation of evidence-based policies, including the definition of city-visions and long-term plans that are both ambitious and measurable.

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The ranking is drawn up based on surveys in 54 cities in the developed and developing world, and seeks to conceptualize ‘prosperity’, with the final ranking comprising 29 cities that are evaluated using six criteria and 46 fundamental indicators that define a city’s prosperity, such as success, conditions of well-being, confidence in the future and opportunities.

“Prosperity, as defined by UN-Habitat, is a social construct that materializes in the realm of human actions,” the report states. “It deliberately and conscientiously builds on the conditions prevailing in a city at any time, despite its size or location.”

Buenos Aires and Colombia’s capital Bogotá, which stand out for urban governance and legislation, and Mexico City, are the CPI’s three highest ranking countries in Latin America, in 12th, 16th and 19th place respectively.

Buenos Aires earned 63.5 points out of a total of 100, and is categorized as having “moderately solid” urban policies, according to the CPI’s prosperity barometer, on which 80-100 points implies “solid prosperity”, with consolidated urban policies.

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Bogotá scored 58.97 points and Mexico City 57.55, implying that both cities have “moderately weak” prosperity.

Lima is in 20th position, São Paulo in 22nd and Santiago lies 25th, rankings that also put those cities in the “moderately weak” category in terms of prosperity.

The criteria used to determine a city’s prosperity are the following:

  • Productivity. The city contributes to economic growth and development by generating income, employment and equal opportunities for the entire population.
  • Infrastructure development. Cities deploy the infrastructure, physical assets and services such as water, sanitation, energy supply, road network, information technology and communications, necessary to sustain the population and the economy.
  • Quality of life. Cities provide the social services, education, health, leisure, safety and security necessary to improve living standards.
  • Equity and social inclusion. Poverty and inequalities must be kept to a minimum. No city can boast of being prosperous when large segments of the population live in misery and deprivation. This implies reducing the incidence of slums.
  • Environmental sustainability. The growth of cities and their economic development do not destroy or degrade the environment, but rather natural assets are preserved for sustainable urbanization.
  • Urban governance and legislation. Cities are better able to combine sustainability and shared prosperity through effective urban governance and transformative leadership, deploying appropriate and effective policies, laws and regulations, and creating appropriate institutional frameworks with strong local institutions and sound institutional arrangements.

“None of the above manifestations of prosperity should prevail over the others. All must be kept in balance, for the sake of a smooth journey on the road to prosperity,” according to the outlines of the CPI criteria.

Read More: Building Planned, Sustainable Cities: A Challenge for LatAm and the Caribbean

“Since sustainable urban development and a city’s prosperity depend on these elements and are interconnected, progress or stagnation in one dimension can affect others. Therefore, cities should aim to make progress in all of them and perceive them as equally important, as imbalance in any one can threaten the system as a whole,” it adds.

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The Top 10 cities in the CPI ranking are Singapore, Toronto, Moscow, Sydney, London, Paris, Madrid, Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York.

The complete CPI index report will be published in March.

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