Durban is the greenest city in the world according to the Husqvarna Urban Green Space Index (HUGSI) 2019, an AI-powered satellite solution to help decision makers monitor the proportion and health of green spaces in cities across the globe.

Jenna Robinson, Husqvarna South Africa marketing manager for this leading global manufacturer of outdoor power products, said the Husqvarna team was elated that Durban had taken first place out of 98 cities.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil took second place and Austin, USA was third

The Husqvarna Urban Green Space 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.

It applies computer vision and deep learning techniques to satellite images, unveiling key insights into the current state and historic development of vegetation and the surrounding environment in urban areas. This shows just how green cities really are and alerts urban planners if densification is reducing the amount of urban green spaces.

Robinson points out that green spaces are the lungs of cities, improving air quality, managing flooding and rainwater and contributing to the physical and mental health of citizens.

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As urbanization continues, it is vital to monitor the proportion between grey and green areas.

Green spaces are the lungs of cities, improving air quality, managing flooding and rainwater and contributing to the physical and mental health of citizen

“Safeguarding our urban green spaces is a huge part of our global culture and the team works hard to help create a sustainable future through innovative products that are built around low carbon emissions and community work,” explains Robinson.

Anders Johanson, CTO, Husqvarna Group adds that the company believes that 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,” he says.

The HUGSI 2019 Index provides 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

Top scoring city overall on global level* is awarded to the city of Durban, South Africa. 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 are:

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 Johanson.

The full HUGSI data set on regional and city level is available at www.hugsi.green