America Is Falling Behind, But California Is Doing Just Fine – Bloomberg

San Jose, Calif.; Provo, Utah; and Seattle top a new list of America’s 100 most populous cities ranked by their performance across ambitious United Nations standards. Detroit, Cleveland, and Baton Rouge, La., take up the bottom three spots. 

The study applies recently developed UN global well-being goals to U.S. metropolitan areas. Conducted by the UN-affiliated Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the research is a methodical attempt to bring an arcane multilateral initiative into a perpetually resistant American civic discourse. 

More than 190 UN member states, including the U.S., unanimously adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in September 2015 with the hope of achieving them by 2030. The program is a testament to humanitarian ambition: It’s made up of 17 general goals that branch out into 169 “targets,” each of which will have two “indicators” they’re measured by. 

Coming in behind San Jose in the top 10 were California metros San Francisco, San Diego, and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura. The same research group recently published a review of countries and the SDGs, in which the U.S. ranked 42 out of 157 nations, losing points for gender inequality, unsustainable consumption habits, and failure to address climate change. 

The new report, Achieving a Sustainable Urban America, concentrates on 49 specific variables while taking into account things as diverse as per-capita income, obesity prevalence, sexually transmitted disease, patents, and “disconnected youth,” a term for young people who have dropped out of school and the workforce. Data are drawn from a large universe of official or otherwise standard sources. 

San Jose earned top marks in part for its work in waste management, water reuse, and clean energy. It scored 61.04 on an index of 100, meaning that the Bay-area tech-hub can be interpreted as reaching 61 percent of its potential toward optimal, sustainable living. The report lauds Baltimore for trying to adapt the SDGs locally through neighborhood-level dialogue and subsequent planning following riots over the death of Freddie Gray, a resident who prosecutors said was illegally arrested by Baltimore police in April 2015 and later died in their custody. More recent developments, however, including videos of Baltimore police appearing to plant drugs, may have set the effort back a ways.

The report’s league tables show which cities perform best across each of the 17 marquee SDG goals, such as education (Los Angeles), clean water and sanitation (Orlando), and gender equality (Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.).

    America Is Falling Behind, But California Is Doing Just Fine – Bloomberg

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