Hurricane Harvey pummeled Houston and New Orleans last week, and Hurricane Irma hit Miami and other cities near the US southern coast this weekend. Meanwhile, officials in cities across the American West have been trying to tame massive wildfires in recent weeks.
And then there are the everyday disasters that plague many American cities, like poverty, unsanitary water, substandard education, and inequality.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a cluster of research center and universities, analyzed which places may be better off than others in the face of a range of disasters. The SDSN’s recently-published 2017 US Cities Sustainable Development Goals Index pinpoints the US metro regions least vulnerable to everyday issues as well as climate risks, like sea level rise, mega-storms, and heat waves.
Using public data and surveys for the 100 largest metro areas, it analyzed 49 indicators across several factors, including poverty, health and well-being, education, clean water and sanitation, social equality, affordable and clean energy, work and economic growth, climate action, and justice.
The 10 metro regions that scored the highest are below.
10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington
Index score out of 100: 43.93
9. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire
Index score out of 100: 53.88
8. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
Index score out of 100: 53.98
7. Boise City, Idaho
Index score out of 100: 55.23
6. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York
Index score out of 100: 56.29
5. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
Index score out of 100: 56.38
4. San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, California
Index score out of 100: 56.43
3. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
Index score out of 100: 57.98
2. Provo-Orem, Utah
Index score out of 100: 58.05
1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
Index score out of 100: 61.04
San Jose, California is the 10th most populous city in the US, and has long been a pioneer in environmental sustainability, including recycling and waste diversion, water reuse, and renewable energy, according to the SDSN.
Established in 2007, San Jose’s 15-year Green Vision plan aims to convert all of its street lights to LEDs and run its convention center completely on renewable energy. In addition, the city plans to create 100 miles of trails connecting with 400 miles of on-street bikeways, reduce per capita energy use by 50%, and create 25,000 clean tech jobs by 2022.
Compared to the national median, incomes in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region are higher due to its high concentration of well-paying jobs in science and technology.