Climate change and COVID-19 redraw the map for the safest cities in the world


Copenhagen was ranked as the most safe city in the world, surpassing Tokyo who had been ranked the highest in all previous surveys conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The fourth edition of the World’s Safest Cities Index – the first compilation since the pandemic that shook the world’s economy and politics – ranked the Danish capital as the most secure. It is also the first survey to include environmental safety in its pillar measurements, which was a key reason why Copenhagen surpassed the Japanese capital.


The World Economic Forum has identified the challenges that mass migration of people will pose. The Future of Cities initiative of the World Economic Forum recognizes that urbanization presents new challenges in today’s digital age. It aims to use technology and environmental protection policies in order to create urban centres that are safe and stimulating.


Sustainability in the City

Cities have adopted green policies because of the urgent need to improve sustainability planning in order to achieve the Paris climate accord goals. The Index compilers stated that urban leaders must be held accountable for putting these measures in place.

The new Index category is expected to show whether leaders put their words into action.

Gino Van Begin is Secretary-General of Local Governments for Sustainability. He says that cities have progressively learned over the years that the greater their environmental security, the better their health security, and other types of security, are.


Highest scorer

Copenhagen scored the highest in the personal safety category. This category rates cities based on their risk of terrorist attacks, crime violence, and economic vulnerability.

It was sixth on an environmental list that examines how cities incorporate sustainability and carbon reduction into their planning strategies. The Index’s top ranking was held by Wellington, while Tokyo was at 12th. This explains why Tokyo fell from the top spot it occupied since 2015 (COVID prevented publication of the Index last year).

Copenhagen ranked third behind Singapore and Sydney in terms of digital security. This is a measure of citizens’ freedom to use the internet without worrying about their privacy being invaded.

The Danish capital was 26th in the ranking for health safety. This is a measure of the availability and quality of health services. It was far below Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong.


It was also behind Singapore and Sydney in terms of safety of its urban infrastructure. This gauge was based on the quality of the built environment as well as its resilience to natural catastrophes.

The report concluded that the functions of cities are interrelated, and must be planned to work together in order to ensure citizens’ safety.

COVID “has led us to consider the type of cities that we want to live, and a reconsideration has in turn led to us to reassess the longer-term dangers that stand in our way of creating safe, sustainable, and liveable cities, as well as the opportunities to get there.”

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