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Most vibrant cities 2021: Auckland tops the list

(CNN) – The impact of Covid-19 on global viability has been devastating.

Well over a year into the pandemic, ongoing health crises, border closures and lockdowns continue to affect millions of people worldwide.

But some destinations have fared much better than others in controlling the virus, meaning those living there were able to get back to some of normal life fairly early.

New Zealand has been praised significantly for its handling of the crisis, so it is perhaps not surprising that one of its cities has been named the world̵
7;s most habitable city by 2021.

Auckland came out on top of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index over 140 cities around the world thanks to its success in quickly containing the pandemic, making it possible to lift restrictions early.

The annual list did not continue in 2020, but Austria’s Vienna, number one in both 2018 and 2019, has completely dropped out of the top 10 after being heavily influenced by Covid and is now in 12th place.

Down Under dominance

    A general picture of Cottesloe Beach is seen at Sculpture by the Sea on March 14, 2021 in Perth, Australia

Perth was one of four Australian cities in the top 10.

Paul Kane / Getty Images

New Zealand’s capital Wellington was fourth on this year’s list and linked with Japan’s Tokyo, and four cities in Australia where tough border controls have been in place throughout the crisis occupy the top 10.

Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane came in third, sixth and 10th place respectively, while Melbourne teamed up with Switzerland’s Geneva at number eight.

“The cities that have risen to the top of the rankings this year are largely the ones that have taken strict measures to curb the pandemic,” Upasana Dutt of The Economist Intelligence Unit said in a statement.

“New Zealand’s hard lockdown allowed their communities to reopen and allowed citizens of cities like Auckland and Wellington to enjoy a lifestyle similar to pre-pandemic life.”

Meanwhile, Tokyo was not the only Japanese city near the top of the list. Osaka, which finished fourth in 2019, has moved up to second place.

Although cities in Asia and the Pacific seem to have excelled, Canada, which had three cities, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto close to the top two years ago, has completely dropped out of the top 10. As number 16, Vancouver is the highest Canadian city ​​on the list.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the overall global average viability score has dropped by seven points compared to pre-pandemic figures.

The index takes into account more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors, spanning five broad categories: stability (25%), health care (20%), culture and environment (25%), education (10%) and infrastructure (20%). .

While the categories were not changed this year, a number of indicators, such as stress on health resources and limitations of local sporting events, were taken into account when calculating scores for the categories health, culture and environment and education.

However, the way each city handled the pandemic, how quickly vaccines were rolled out, and the level of border restrictions that were introduced have led to major changes in rankings.

Health impact

Tourists pose outside Osaka Castle on March 5, 2020 in Osaka, Japan.

The Japanese city of Osaka has sprung up in two places and is now ranked as the second most populous city in the world.

Buddhika Weerasinghe / Getty Images

“The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on global viability,” Dutt adds. “Cities around the world are now much less habitable than they were before the pandemic began, and we have seen regions like Europe have been hit particularly hard.”

In Europe, Germany saw the biggest falls in the rankings, especially the city of Hamburg, which dropped 34 places to 47th on the list.

But despite some social constraints still in place in Switzerland, the Central European country has seen two cities move up, with Zurich and Geneva rising from 11th and 14th to seventh and eighth places.

Overall health results have also declined due to the pandemic, where the Czech Republic’s Prague, Greece’s Athens and Indonesia’s Jakarta, where the number of cases increased at the time the survey was conducted, scored significantly lower than in previous years.

By comparison, the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid performed well in the health category, gaining almost 25 points due to their health systems experiencing less strain compared to the early wave of Covid-19 in 2020.

The Hawaiian capital Honolulu also raised its health score by a 33-point increase as a result of reducing the number of Covid cases and good vaccination rates.
In fact, Honolulu was one of the biggest movers on the 2021 list, rising 46 places to number 14. Houston has jumped 25 places to number 31, an increase likely to be associated with Texas being among the first U.S. states to lifting restrictions on public spaces.

Deteriorating conditions

People rest at a fountain in front of Karlskirche or St Charles Church in Vienna on April 21, 2021.

Austria’s Vienna, which was number one for two years in a row, has dropped to 12th place.

JOE KLAMAR / AFP via Getty Images

But while there have been many significant differences towards the top, very little has changed at the bottom of the list.

While Damascus again sits in last place “as the effects of the civil war in Syria continue to take their toll”, it is closely followed by Nigeria’s Lagos, Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby and Bangladesh’s Dhaka, all of which were in either similar or identical locations in 2019.

These cities have consistently performed poorly over the years due to instability caused by ongoing civil unrest and military conflicts, among other issues.

According to the report, conditions here have deteriorated further over the last 12 months, especially when it comes to healthcare due to Covid-19.

Although successful vaccination roll-out and easing of restrictions in various countries have created hope, the pandemic continues to rage, with India currently in the midst of a deadly outbreak.

“Conditions in the poorest cities are likely to worsen further if cities do not get the vaccines they need to prevent the spread of new Covid-19 variants,” the report reads. “Weak health systems can come under greater strain, as they have done in India.”

This ultimately means that we are likely to see more significant changes to the annual list in 2022, where some of the cities that have fallen may regain their previous positions.

“The pace of viability recovery in most regions will be determined by how effectively the pandemic’s health risks can be managed through a combination of vaccination, testing, tracing and quarantine,” the report continues.

“The exclusion of huge setbacks, such as the emergence of vaccine-resistant varieties, needs to improve the score for culture and the environment.”

The world’s most populous cities 2021

1. Auckland, New Zealand

2. Osaka, Japan

3. Adelaide, Australia

4. Wellington, New Zealand

4. Tokyo, Japan

6. Perth, Australia

7. Zurich, Switzerland

8. Geneva, Switzerland

8. Melbourne, Australia

10. Brisbane, Australia

The world’s least habitable cities 2021

1. Damascus, Syria

2. Lagos, Nigeria

3. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

4. Dhaka, Bangladesh

5. Algiers, Algeria

6. Tripoli, Libya

7. Karachi, Pakistan

8. Harare, Zimbabwe

9. Douala, Cameroon

10. Caracas, Venezuela

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