Sydney and Melbourne in Kearney's top 25 global cities

03 December 2020 3 min. read
More news on

Two of Australia’s largest cities have been listed among the world’s best places to live and work. Combining a range of different metrics, Kearney has produced the latest iteration of its Global Cities Index, naming Sydney and Melbourne within the top 25 cities.

Kearney has been ranking global cities every year for a decade now, judging their status as major global urban centres. Seven dimensions form the basis of Kearney’s analysis: business activity; human capital; information exchange; cultural experience; political engagement; number of unicorn companies; and number of medical universities.

New York has been at the helm of the so-called Global Cities Index almost consistently over the years, interchanging occasionally with second-placed London, while more broadly European and North American population centres have traditionally dominated the top 25 members of the list. In the latest edition, Australian powerhouses Sydney and Melbourne have managed to retain their position in the list.

Top 25 on the Global Cities index

Sydney is the capital of New South Wales, and with a population of 5.2 million it is one of Australia's largest cities. Having hosted the 2000 Olympic Games, it is arguably best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. Sydney was ranked the 11th best city to live and work by Kearney’s list.

Melbourne is the coastal capital of the south-eastern Australian state of Victoria. It has a population of around 4.9 million, and Melbourne is home to many of Australia's best-known landmarks, such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Gallery of Victoria and the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building. It ranks at 18th in the Global Cities Index.

Looking ahead

In this year’s index, Kearney predicts that change is afoot for global urban centres, driven by a host of new disruptive factors emerging worldwide. Key factors include the economic devastation wrought by the health crisis, as well as a broader trend towards nationalism and localisation that was unfolding even before this year.

Combined, the trends of 2020 might still topple the traditional big cities off their perch; however Kearney suggests that targeted action can help stay relevant. Finding new ways to create value for residents and businesses, for instance, or securing new international trade and investment channels are all means to this end. Also imperative is a shift in urban planning and infrastructure, to facilitate new mobility and a more sustainable life.

For cities that rely on healthy economic activity and a global workforce, these trends threaten to tear apart their foundations. Then there are the fundamental challenges that have been lingering for years now – growing socio-economic inequality and climate change. One of the keys to success in this year’s ranking was resilience in the face of these threats, as well as agility in responding to crises.

Anticipating further difficulties ahead, Mike Hales, a Partner in Kearney’s Operations practice, said, “If we can be certain of anything, it’s that cities will adapt and evolve, and that they have the potential to come back stronger… As Covid-19 has shown, the well-being of residents, and access to cutting-edge medical knowledge and technologies, can make or break a city.”