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Greenest city 2019: Durban, South Africa

Greenest city 2019 Durban

Durban (South-Africa) has been selected as the greenest city in the world in 2019. Followed by Rio de Janeiro (2d) and Austin, USA (3d). They all score high on the percentage of green space combined with great distribution and health of vegetation. In Europe Geneva has been scoring the best. This all according to the HUGSImonitor: 98 cities in 51 countries have been rated on a number of green Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).

The HUGSI (Husqvarna Urban Green Space Index) is an AI-powered satellite solution to help decision makers monitor the proportion and health of green spaces in cities across the globe.

Green spaces are the lungs of cities, improving air quality, managing flooding and rainwater, and contributing to the physical and mental health of citizens. As urbanization continues, it is vital to monitor the proportion between grey and green areas.

How green are cities for real?

By applying computer vision and deep learning techniques to satellite images, HUGSI unveils insights about the current state and historic development of vegetation and their surrounding environment in urban areas. This makes it possible to find out how green cities really are, and if densification is reducing the amount of urban green spaces.

Digitalizing green space management

“We believe AI and emerging technologies will play a key role in the future of green space management. With HUGSI, we want to draw attention to the importance of green spaces, and to empower decision makers to safeguard green areas in cities by providing them with undisputable facts. Digitalizing green space management will enable predictive care of parks, improving recreational and environmental values, as well as operational efficiency,” says Anders Johanson, CTO, of Husqvarna Group.

The HUGSI 2019 index provide green insights covering all C40 cities, plus Brussels (Belgium), Marseille (France), Geneva (Switzerland) and Gothenburg (Sweden). This makes for 98 cities in 51 countries rated on a number of green Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) including:

  • Highest percentage of urban green space
  • Best health of vegetation
  • Highest percentage of urban area covered by grass (and bushes shorter than 1 m)
  • Highest percentage of urban area covered by trees (and bushes higher than 1 m)
  • Best distribution of green space
  • Most green space per capita

Overall global winner of the greenest city is awarded to Durban, South Africa. It is the top scoring city overall on global level. Followed by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on second place and Austin, USA on third. They all score high on the percentage of green space combined with great distribution and health of vegetation.

Winners per region

  • Africa: Durban, South Africa
  • Central East Asia: Beijing, China
  • East, Southeast Asia & Oceania: Auckland, New Zeeland
  • Europe: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Latin America: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • North America: Austin, USA
  • South and West Asia: Dhaka, Bangladesh

“We are extremely happy and proud to award the winning cities with this acknowledgement. But we also believe that all cities in the index are winners. With this new data set they get the facts needed to monitor and drive the development for even greener and healthier development of their cities. Hopefully other cities can find the insights from the HUGSI-index inspirational and start their journey towards greener urban environments.”, says Anders Johanson.

The Husqvarna Urban Green Index 2019 was launched as part of the Husqvarna Living City event in Gothenburg, Sweden, gathering international thought leaders, industry people and media from the green space community.


A total of 24 European cities were measured with HUGSI. Well, I must say that European cities are a bit behind… At the European level, Geneva (76.5) is in first place, followed by Gothenburg (75.5) and Heidelberg (75).

The Netherlands follows at a distance: Amsterdam (56.4) is the 18th greenest city in Europe, Rotterdam (49.8) is in 22nd place.

More info on this topic

The full HUGSI data set on regional and city level are available at the website.

Download the report here: