Bay Area Cities Dominate United Nations Sustainability List

San Jose is a longtime pioneer in environmental sustainability, including recycling and waste diversion, water use and renewable energy, according to a new index that placed the city and region at the top of its list. (Helene Labriet-Gross/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bay Area is home to two of the most sustainable metro areas in the country, according to a new study put together for the United Nations. The San Jose-Santa Clara-Sunnyvale area topped the list, and the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area came in fourth.

The San Diego-Carlsbad area and the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura area landed spots five and eight, respectively, giving California more cities on the list than any other state.

Using public, published data, the index measured how well cities met the 17 U.N. sustainable development goals (SDG), which include: zero hunger, no poverty, quality education, affordable and clean energy, and industry, innovation and infrastructure.

“I don’t think it’s an accident that California does so well on this because it has embraced many of these objectives for a long time, far ahead of the rest of the country,” said Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, who directed the network of experts that compiled the index.

Sachs hopes policymakers around the country will use the index as a tool to pinpoint problems to tackle in their region.

The San Jose and San Francisco metro areas scored poorly on gender equality, earning an orange rating — the second worst — on a four-tiered, color-coded scale. This comes in the same time period that a memo written by a former Google employee was scrutinized for saying the tech industry’s gender gap is rooted in “biological causes” between the sexes.

“It’s not the worst, thank goodness, but it means a lot of improvement is needed,” Sachs said.

In fact, only the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim and the New York-Newark-Jersey City areas scored higher for gender equality. No regions were rated green, the best possible score.

The index is expected to be used to make a list of goals for the United States to achieve by 2030, which includes plans for tackling climate change and moving toward clean and affordable energy.

“My hope is that this set of ideas and metrics, like the ones in this report, really become a guiding principle because America is off track, and it has all the potential to get on track,” Sachs said.

Bay Area Cities Dominate United Nations Sustainability List 14 August,2017Cesar Saldaña

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor