Singapore has ranked third in the Asia-Pacific region, behind Seoul and Tokyo, in the latest ranking of model cities. Last year, it was also No. 3 regionally, but it moved up seven spots from 2014 in the global ranking.
It moved from the 29th spot, out of 180 cities, in 2014, to 28th in 2015, and to 22nd last year, in what is called the Cities in Motion Index, released by Barcelona-based IESE Business School yesterday.
Of Singapore's progress, IESE said in a statement: "This evolution is also due to advances in the general ranking for social cohesion and environment.
"The ranking aims to be a tool for mayors, city managers, companies and interest groups that want to improve the quality of life of city residents."
Seoul came in first in the Asia-Pacific and seventh globally, improving seven places since 2014, while Tokyo took the second spot in the region, and was eighth globally.
The index studied the sustainability and quality of life in 180 key cities in 80 countries, using 79 indicators covering areas such as governance, urban planning and economic development. Singapore was in the top 10 globally in environment, for instance, which was topped by Zurich.
New York, London and Paris topped the index, noted IESE, adding: "New York is the world's most important economic centre, ranking first in this dimension, and is in second place in technology. London tops the mobility and transportation and the human capital factors, being the city with the highest number of business schools and universities, while also standing out in (having) international impact."
IESE professor Pascual Berrone noted: "Globalisation, combined with a higher population moving towards cities, is generating new challenges that put the sustainability of cities at risk."
He said those new problems include ageing population, refugees, inequality, pollution and energy inefficiency. "They are all complex problems that require cities to review their strategies, decide their priorities and determine what they want to become.
"Moreover, the transformation of a city is not an individual's undertaking but a collective endeavour, so collaboration with different social partners - public, private, educational institutions, non-profit organisations - is essential."