What is it?
Each year, the Economist Intelligence Unit releases a report assessing 140 cities around the world according to a comprehensive liveability index. Back in April, we discussed the EIU’s index placing Vancouver in first position, followed by Melbourne then Vienna (post viewable here).
For the first time since 2002, Vancouver has dropped below first place, coming in third with a score of 97.3%. Melbourne steps up to first with 97.5% and Vienna to second with 97.4%.
What do we think?
As we observed in April, the EIU’s index is primarily interested in basic liveability, quantifying “the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in any given location”. Melbourne prevalence of violent crime is “acceptable” for instance, the highest possible result, so are our availability of public healthcare, level of censorship, quality of private education and availability of good quality housing. The only indicators where we drop below “acceptable” to “tolerable” are the prevalence of petty crime, climatic discomfort to travellers and, curiously, cultural recreation.
We are proud that Melbourne is the world’s most liveable city, proud also that Sydney, Perth and Adelaide come in 6th, 8th and 9th. It is clear that Australia offers as much, if not more, opportunity to its citizens as any other country. However, the EIU’s index must always be considered in its sobering context – Melbourne may score an even 100% in the broad categories of stability, healthcare and infrastructure, but this is only in contrast to Zimbabwe’s Harare, whose bleak prospects are reflected in stability and healthcare scores of just 25% and 20.8%.
There is a whole gamut of adjectives that describe a city’s qualities beyond “acceptable”, that can elevate a liveable city to a great city. Melbourne must never lose sight of this, must always seek to do as much with its natural qualities as it can.