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How does Chicagoland rank in sustainability development?

by Lauren Clohessy

It’s time America steps up their sustainability measures around the country, and a new report shows which cities are leading the way.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its second annual report on U.S. city sustainability, which looked at 100 of the most populated metro areas and cities around the nation to record how each city meets the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

According to Fast Company, Senior Adviser for Sustainable Development Solutions Jessica Espey noted that the data from this year’s report cannot be directly compared to last year’s. Instead, she said, this year’s data should be seen as evolving data.

“We did change quite a few indicators either due to data quality concerns, or because we found better data. To the extent that we can, we will use replicable data every year so that we can look at comparisons over time,” said Espey to Fast Company.

The report found that 62 cities are less than 50 percent of the way toward making good on 15 of the 17 SDGs that are applicable to urban areas. The No. 1 metro area, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, was only 68 percent of the way toward meeting those SDGs.

While each city varied on good and bad performances for certain indicators, there were common SDG barriers throughout the nation: poverty, racial inequality, climate interaction and failure to provide residents with healthy food.

The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area ranked No. 71, with an index score of 43.84. The only indicator the Chicago metro area had good performance in was affordable and clean energy, where it ranked No. 10 out of all the cited cities.

The Chicago metro area category did see moderate performances in indicators like quality education, no in poverty, gender equality and decent work and economic growth.

However, similar to every other city on the list, the Chicago metro area had poor performance in climate action.  The area also needs improvement on its clean water and sanitation and responsible consumption and production. By highlighting a common problem across the country, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network hopes that officials will begin to make changes to improve. 

“It is hoped that the report will also enable cities to identify peers struggling with similar challenges, and help facilitate a national dialogue on how to accelerate progress,” the report states. “It also offers hope by highlighting cities that are tackling these challenges and can offer inspiration to others across the country.”

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