Media Release
Benchmarking Sydney: High scores for talent and transport, marked down on affordability, nightlife
07 December, 2021

Media contact

Matt Levinson
  • Annual benchmarking review of 800 global metrics released by urban think tank Committee for Sydney
  • Sydney ahead or improving on talent and transport; behind or declining on affordability, nightlife and a range of federal policy measures
  • Covid impacts continue, with measures of community resilience increasingly considered as being as important as competitiveness in city rankings.

At the end of a second year of pandemic, the Committee for Sydney’s 2021 annual benchmarking report sets Sydney’s performance against the rest of the world, giving us the opportunity to see our city as global investors see us.

The research team reviewed 800 global city metrics, selecting 140 critical rankings for understanding Sydney’s challenges and opportunities – on performance and perception, and short through to longer term measures.

Gabriel Metcalf, CEO of the Committee for Sydney, said Sydney had been incredibly successful in attracting people to live and work here, but the big challenge was to make sure citizens have a great quality of life as the city grows.

“What’s clear is the really successful cities are working out how to service much bigger populations as they grow,” he said.

“This is an important by-product of the Covid era – understanding community sentiment and the resilience of city communities is becoming as important a consideration as their economic competitiveness.”

Sydney is ahead or improving on:

  • Real GDP and purchasing power impacts through Covid-19 – sixth least severe among 21 leading global cities in 2020, falling to 10th least severe
  • Citizen satisfaction with healthcare and safety – climbed 13 places to 29th globally
  • Rail infrastructure boost – climbed five places to 34th out of 48 leading global cities for metropolitan-wide density of rail stations
  • Still resilient for student experience – now fourth globally, up from 21st in 2019
  • Growing promise in life sciences – now 18th globally for potential to become a leading life sciences destination, ahead of Stockholm, Tel Aviv and Toronto
  • Gender pay equality – first among 15 top global cities for gender pay equality.

Sydney is behind or declining on:

  • Air pollution – falling 13 places to 15th of 48 leading global cities for annual average exposure to air pollution, as data catches up to the 2019-2020 bushfires
  • Housing affordability – bottom three of measured global cities
  • Renewable energy – 14th of 20 peers
  • Resident satisfaction with nightlife – second lowest level among 37 leading global cities
  • Sustainable mode share – still at just 34%, average is 44%
  • Foreign investment and financial sector perceptions for business friendliness – fallen out of the top 15 cities.

Across the world, city rankings have typically focussed on elite investors and tourists, considering the number of restaurants, size of orchestras and other measures, but the Benchmarking Sydney 2021 report marks a significant shift. 

“Increasingly these rankings focus on the way people experience their own cities, with measures of air quality, public health, performance of schools, transport infrastructure and other shared amenities,” he said.

You can read the full Benchmarking Sydney 2021 report here.