Media Release
Sydney’s beaches, bridge and bushfires brand needs a major refresh
26 March, 2024

Media contact

Matt Levinson

New data released today reveals a growing gap between Sydney’s performance and its perception on the global stage.  

“Sydney’s bursting with potential, it’s time to tell the world we’ve got more than just the beaches, bridge and bushfires,” said Jeremy Gill, Head of Policy at the Committee for Sydney. 

“The results show we’re making the right moves on Sydney’s most pressing challenges, but the message is just not getting out to the rest of the world. 

“We have globally competitive tech and engineering sectors, our cultural production is at an all-time high, and we’re in the middle of a wave of major policy reform and infrastructure delivery. 

“Sydney could be the next big tech hub of Asia, but if we build a tech sector and don’t tell anyone we’re not going to reap the benefits. We need to give our city’s global brand a major revamp to reflect the reality of Sydney, and attract the wave of global talent and investment that will help drive the next stage of our city’s growth.”  

The Committee’s 2024 Benchmarking report, developed in partnership with Business of Cities, measures Sydney’s performance against a carefully selected set of cities that share key characteristics and challenges, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dubai, Hong Kong, Miami, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm and Toronto. 

While Sydney is improving on most metrics, another challenge we face is how fast other cities are moving.  

“Our pace of change is strong, but others are just moving quicker. We need to redouble our efforts to reform, invest and transform if we want Sydney to capitalise on its potential,” he said.  

“Sydney’s performance, particularly in planning and mobility, is shaped by the city’s historic growth patterns. We’re in the midst of a transport infrastructure boom and undergoing major reforms in planning and vibrancy, but the reality is these changes take time to flow through to measurable results, and the challenge for us is to unlock the city’s untapped potential quickly enough. 

“We need to ensure the price of success is not the loss of people who can no longer afford to live here. If we’re to attract and retain the people who keep our city running, we can’t afford to be unaffordable.”  

Where Sydney shines 

  • 1 of only 2 peers to rate as a global top 15 city for deep tech  
  • 1 out of 8 for highly ranked engineering and computer science degree programs  
  • 3 out of 9 for all-round availability of skilled talent  
  • 2nd overall for nature  
  • 1 out of 9 for how well the provision of green space per person has held up over the past 5 years  
  • 3 out of 7 for reported use of publicly available micromobility options  
  • Highest visitor return rate among measured peers  
  • 1 of only 4 peers to be publicly rated a top 30 destination for music lovers – and overtaken Stockholm, San Francisco and Toronto for how highly locals rate the evening scene since 2019  
  • 3 out of 6 for share of office space that is green  
  • 1 out of 6 for share of female start-up founders  
  • 1 out of 7 for gender gap in unemployment rate (NSW data). 

Where there is more for us to do 

  • 6th most unaffordable city for housing, across all metrics 
  • 9 out of 10 for long-run growth prospects  
  • 6 out of 10 for the number of strategic sectors where Sydney’s economy is competitive globally  
  • Second highest increase in water stress from 2020 to 2040 among peers  
  • 5 out of 9 for per person carbon emissions  
  • 7 out of 10 for share of trips by public transport, walking and cycling  
  • 10 for affordability of monthly public transport pass  
  • 7 out of 7 for safe night-time environment for women  
  • 7 out of 9 for attractiveness of dining and shopping in the city  
  • 8 out of 10 for how densely populated the average neighbourhood is  
  • 10 for how conducive the layout of the average neighbourhood is for walking.