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Which Are The World's Cleanest Cities? Robert Malone, 04.16.07, 12:10 PM ET In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities There is clean and then there is clean. In the world, as a rule of thumb, the North is clean and the South is dirty. Indeed only two of the top-25 cleanest cities in the world are below the Equator--Auckland, New Zealand, and Wellington, New Zealand. The cleanest cities are largely located in countries noted for their democracy and their industrialization. The only Asian cities represented are in Japan. There are no top-25 clean cities in South or Central America, Africa and Australia. The U.S. has five of the top 25; Canada, a strong five, with the top spot its city of Calgary; Europe has 11 of the top 25; and Japan has three. The 25 cleanest cities are located in 13 countries. It may not be accidental that these countries are among the highest in purchasing power parity according to the World Development Indicator database of the World Bank. Twelve are in the top 20, and only New Zealand lags in wealth, at No. 37 on the list of world's wealthiest. So clean may also mean well-off. In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities To be clean a city has to face and solve many problems that otherwise lead to unsanitary conditions and poor health as well as possible economic stagnation. Producing energy for industry, homes and transportation has to be planned and executed reasonably, and this means some form of regulation and control. To be clean means organizing what is done with waste. Landfills are being closed or filled up. Recycling is the only long-range answer, but this takes civic discipline, a system and preferably a system that turns a profit. Green only works well when it results in greenbacks. In addition a city has to look closely at its transportation infrastructure (roads, rail, air, subways) and their impact upon being clean or going dirty or staying dirty. The logistics infrastructure is also critical in terms of efficiency that can translate into money and fuel savings that in turn affect cleanliness (air quality, water quality and ground quality). Taken all together as with clean energy generation, waste control, recycling and various levels of infrastructure reorganization, the challenge is formidable. Some will recommend taking on one challenge at a time, and this may be what President Bush has in mind with ethanol. Bush's advocacy of ethanol is a step towards cleaner fuel and in turn cleaner cities. The idea is also controversial as the resources available for ethanol are directly related to the food supply chain. There can be great friction over sharing such resources. Some are advocating inputs beyond corn grain. "One of the most abundant potential resources we have is the nonfood parts of the corn plant, including the stalks, leaves and husks,” says Dr. Michael Pacheco, director of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The figures for the cleanest cities are derived from studies by the Mercer Human Resources Consulting that cull from 300 cities, identifying overall quality of living as well as special reports on regions. It is interesting to note that size does not appear to be a factor either in terms of size of population or physical size of the city. The most common trait in common to each is a focus on high tech, education and headquartering of national and international companies along with an extensive public transit system.