Have you ever thought that happiness is a measure of a nation’s progress? Well, it is, and it’s also strictly linked to how we conduct our lives. Happiness is closely related to the Sustainable Development Goals, which are one of the most important points guiding the EU Agenda 2030. A healthy planet means healthy people, and sustainability is not only a worldwide duty but a way of living. Countries with a higher SDG Index score tend to have better Subjective Well-Being (SWB) performance.
Every day technology becomes more and more sustainable: at home, in our ways of traveling. Since for many people an important goal is to achieve a better level of well-being, we have to admit that there are nations that do it better. Then, which are the happiest countries?
Icelandair, a leading airline that prioritizes sustainability, wanted to see whether these policies are having a positive effect on their citizens. To find out, it compared the happiest cities from the World Happiness Report against eco-friendly metrics to see if there was a correlation between the two. The cities were measured against a variety of factors including recycling rates, the percentage of “green” hotels available, air quality index scores, availability of green space and Walk Scores.
|City||Happiness index||Road vehicles per 1000 inhabitants||Air quality index||Renewable energy||% green hotels||Green space per capita (m2)||Recycling rates % (country)||Walk Score|
|Wellington, New Zealand||7.553||712||13||86%||6%||197.8||28%||98|
|Tel Aviv, Israel||7.461||346||65||5%||3%||96||19%||74|
|San Jose, Costa Rica||7.321||177||72||5%||5%||9.6||9.60%||90|
|Toronto Metro, Canada||7.298||607||42||37%||7%||44.3||24%||96|
|Auckland, New Zealand||7.232||712||21||83.30%||2%||357.2||28%||100|
|Christchurch, New Zealand||7.191||712||37||33%||3%||20||28%||93|
|Washington DC, USA||7.185||797||25||5.56%||25%||55||35%||98|
Helsinki is the happiest city. It is evident that the happiest countries benefit from a low number of cars per 1000 inhabitants, a high proportion of energy from renewable sources, and high Walk Scores, an index that assigns a numerical score based on access to amenities in walking distance.
Good Job Copenhagen, Ahrus and Bergen! A perfect 100 Walk Score! They both have a high percentage of energy from renewable sources at 66% and 98%. A city made for bikes, Copenhagen also boasts a robust cycling infrastructure of 350km of curb segregated cycle tracks, 23km of on-street cycle lanes, and 43km of off-street green bicycle routes.
Reykjavik blows every other city on the list out of the water in terms of renewable energy production, with 99% of its buildings currently being powered by green energy. It also boasts the greenest space per capita, at 410.8m2 per resident – nearly half a kilometer per person. Coming in at 8th on the Global Happiness Index, suggests a city’s eco-friendliness contributes to happy residents.
4. New Zeland
Wellington, New Zealand scores fourth in terms of renewable energy at 86% closely followed by Auckland, which gets 83.30% of its energy from renewable sources. Moreover, Christchurch is aiming zero pollution goal through their rate of 93% or Walk Score.
This country achieved first place in 2015 and then it continued being one of the most involved countries in European Goal for Green goals.
According to a recent report, over 50% of the population walk to work in the city. With walking being a great way to ease stress, anxiety and boost your mood it’s easy to see why the eco-friendly city of Toronto is a happy one too.
Brisbane’s clean air makes it stand out from the other Australian cities on the list at a very low 9 of Particulate Matter, making it a popular place to live, work and play. The city also has the highest percentage of green hotels at 7%, in comparison to Melbourne (6%), Perth (4%) and Sydney (5%). However, Perth wins the prize for the best green places.
Oslo has been the green capital of 2019 and it is another perfect example of how sustainability has been put into practice through the creation of a collaboration between 250 partners from the business community, academia, and NGOs. They created new sustainable festivals and mobilities
USA’s cities Dallas and Washington DC are American examples of sustainable living. Although they are positioned at lower places on the classification, their investment in a greener lifestyle is exemplary.
10. Costa Rica
San José won the happiest place prize on 2016. Thanks to the motto “Less War, more health” it is clear that green activities and a greener environment have been the first aim of this city.
Although it presents just the 5% of Renewable Energy and just the 3% of Green Hotels, it provides a score of 74 on Walk Score and allows her to be placed right upper to Sweden
Stockholm, the rate of 99% of Walk score makes it one of the greenest cities.