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Cushman & Wakefield Releases First Inclusive Cities Barometer for Asia Pacific

Hena Park • 11/06/2024

Report quantifies the social impact of 35 cities in the region, outlining their various stages of progress and identifying actions that can boost their urban inclusivity status

Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK), a leading global real estate services firm, today released The Inclusive Cities Barometer for Asia Pacific that looks at the performance of 35 cities in the region across four inclusivity dimensions – economic, social, spatial and environmental. This report aims to foster a data-driven dialogue on the influence of real estate activities on urban inclusion and the social fabric of cities.

Dr. Dominic Brown, Head of International Research at Cushman & Wakefield said,

“We analysed almost 4,000 data points covering 110 variables to compile what we believe is the industry’s most comprehensive dataset on inclusive cities. The 35 cities included in this first report are at varying stages of their journey towards more inclusive and vibrant urban environments and by analysing their progress, we can highlight exemplary successes and outline actionable pathways for improvement.”

The Approach and Methodology

The 35 Asia Pacific cities in the report were selected based on their representation of approximately 80% of the region’s Grade A office space tracked by Cushman & Wakefield, covering most corporate occupier portfolio locations. These cities are grouped into four personas that reflect the maturity of their progression with social value creation and inclusivity.

City Persona  Definition 
 Mature Urban Centres   Cities with a longstanding commitment to social inclusion that prioritise the needs of all citizens, focussing on equal distribution of wealth alongside strong but balanced economic growth
 Social Drivers Cities demonstrating strong rates of social inclusion across many of the dimensions, although not as mature in their journey to reduce wealth and lifestyle inequality
 Rapid Risers Cities previously constrained by historical limitations on equitable economic and social development that are now rapidly advancing social inclusion initiatives
 Emergers Cities at the beginning of their journey to increase rates of inclusivity throughout but with strong ambitions

To develop the barometer, Cushman & Wakefield collected data from leading global third-party sources such as the World Bank and United Nations and leveraged insights and findings from both peer-reviewed scientific sources as well as internal experts. Four main dimensions and 11 subdimensions were identified:

Main Dimensions   Subdimensions
 Economic Inclusivity Economic vitality, growth and innovation
 Social Inclusivity

Population density and growth
Health and wellbeing
Tolerance and personal freedom
Social inclusivity

 Spatial Inclusivity Housing and property
Security, safety and social infrastructure
Accessibility and urban attractiveness
 Environmental Inclusivity Pollution, climate, resilience and adaptability

Key Findings

The following cities were identified as strong performers across the four dimensions:

  • Melbourne, Australia, is the strongest overall performer in the barometer. Praised for its liveability, safety, and friendliness, Melbourne is a hub for international students due to its esteemed tertiary education institutions. As one of Australia's fastest growing cities, it embodies multicultural vibrancy and inclusivity, reflected in its strong social and spatial metrics. The City of Melbourne council's recent release of the Inclusive Melbourne Strategy 2022-32 reaffirms its commitment to further inclusivity. This strategy prioritizes creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, fostering community-driven post-pandemic recovery, and empowering local communities to lead change and participate fully in community life. 
  • Recognised as a key financial hub in the region, Singapore attracts top talent and through its robust investments in technology, has built a leading position in innovation and R&D. With a strong labour force participation, low vulnerable employment, and almost universal financial inclusion, Singapore excels in economic inclusiveness. The city also offers a safe and well-connected living environment, with an attractive urban landscape that contribute to its spatial inclusiveness. Singapore continues to drive itself forward by strengthening its inclusivity credentials through technology, sustainability, and liveability efforts. These include a US$2 billion green investment programme for net zero emissions and fostering community bonds through inclusive housing and green spaces.
  • Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, renowned for its picturesque green environment, boasts excellent air quality, reflecting its commitment to environmental stewardship outlined in the Sustainability Strategy 2020-24. Its temperate climate further enhances the overall health of its population. Notably, Wellington also excels in maintaining low pollution levels, emphasizing its dedication to environmental preservation. Beyond environmental achievements, New Zealand has made significant strides in social development, with over half of its Sustainable Development Goals targets achieved or on track. These include advancements in population health, gender equality, access to clean fuels and technology, and the preservation of green spaces.
  • Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea, invests heavily in research and development (R&D) across various sectors, including technology, healthcare, and sustainable infrastructure. This commitment drives innovation, creates jobs, and fosters an environment where diverse talents can thrive. Additionally, Seoul places great emphasis on education, resulting in impressive literacy rates among its residents. Equipped with essential skills, they actively participate in economic and social activities. However, the city faces challenges related to urban inclusivity due to high residential real estate costs and grocery expenses. The city also grapples with high per capita CO2 emissions as a densely populated metropolis.

“It is worth noting that there is no such thing as a perfect city. All the 35 cities have their respective strengths and diverse backgrounds and challenges, and this barometer serves to provide learning points and actions that they can adopt and adapt as they pursue their urban inclusivity agenda,” added Dr. Brown. 

The Real Estate Contribution to Inclusive Cities

As stewards of the built environment, real estate owners, developers, investors, occupiers and advisors play a critical role alongside governments in shaping urban spaces and influencing the lives of communities and citizens. The Inclusive Cities Barometer acts as a prompt for the commercial real estate industry to challenge the social status quo, offering guidelines on integrating and enhancing social value at every decision-making stage – from individual assets to city-wide portfolios.

Matthew Clifford, Head of Sustainability & ESG, Asia Pacific, Cushman & Wakefield noted that there is still a myriad of opportunities open to developers and investors to enhance social inclusivity across Asia Pacific’s urban landscape.

“If we look at the core office employment hubs, developers can accommodate more nuanced and inclusive needs of, not only the end users of their office spaces but also the communities and people who live close to or walk past their buildings every day. For example, building green field developments that can preserve outdoor green space as a public park or develop placemaking and experience within the immediate vicinity of their buildings. From an investment perspective, developing the social and economic values of assets also influence total returns.”

Corporate occupiers of real estate can also contribute to the social fabric of inclusive cities. By supporting local businesses within their supply chain or recruiting local citizens, corporations can promote social value and economic growth within the communities. They can also select locations that are well-connected and accessible, within close proximity to amenities such as healthcare and educational facilities; as well as adopt an inclusivity mindset in their office design and fit-out. These will help improve the workplace experience and quality of life of their employees, leading to increased engagement and organisational performance. 

“In summary, a city’s attractiveness and long-term viability are profoundly shaped by its inclusive and social values. Inclusive cities naturally draw in greater talent and foster innovation, resulting in increased investment and growth. Moreover, these cities provide opportunities for social mobility and entrepreneurship across diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Their resilience and adaptability also enable them to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their residents and stakeholders. Therefore, it is crucial for the real estate sector to wholeheartedly embrace and integrate inclusive values into all its activities, thereby advancing the journey toward creating urban environments that prioritize inclusivity,” said Mr. Clifford.

Richard Hwang, Country Manager, Cushman & Wakefield South Korea highlights

“Although Seoul has a relatively high cost of living compared to other major Asian cities, it is a very safe city with well-developed social infrastructure. With the government committed to continually improving economic and spatial inclusion, Seoul is expected to remain one of the most inclusive cities in Asia.”

Click here for the Inclusive Cities Barometer, with detailed insight into the grouping of the 35 cities across the four personas and their respective strengths and areas of improvement.

About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global commercial real estate services firm for property owners and occupiers with approximately 52,000 employees in nearly 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2023, the firm reported revenue of $9.5 billion across its core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, and valuation and other services. It also receives numerous industry and business accolades for its award-winning culture and commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), sustainability and more. For additional information, visit


Cushman & Wakefield Releases First Inclusive Cities Barometer for Asia Pacific

Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK), a leading global real estate services firm, today released The Inclusive Cities Barometer for Asia Pacific that looks at the performance of 35 cities in the region across four inclusivity dimensions – economic, social, spatial and environmental.

Hena Park • 11/06/2024

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