Johannesburg, an inspirational city? Really? Well, according to the 2014 GOOD City Index, it certainly is. So much so that the city of gold has been listed as the second most influential city (out of 50 around the world) beating out Cape Town by far.

The GOOD City Index, compiled by GOOD Magazine, ranks the 50 most inspiring places around the world according to the following criteria:

  • Civic engagement: It backs policies that encourages an engaged active citizenry
  • Street life: It supports street life that abounds with vibrancy
  • Defining moment: It flourishes during a crisis
  • Connectivity: It facilitates connections between neighbours
  • Diversity: It welcomes people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions.
  • Work/life balance: It fosters wellness and good work/life
  • Green life: It operates in sync with the natural world and not in opposition to it
  • Hub for progress: It values tiny, unsexy improvements to civic life and has an energetic meeting place where citizens can share ideas about how to fix things that are broken.

“The heartbeat of a city is a difficult thing to measure,” said GOOD. “At GOOD, we believe that a city’s heartbeat is best measured in “possibility”—the pervading sense that though a place may be far from perfect, its citizens are taking a bold stake in its future through a mixture of creativity, hustle, and civic engagement.”

Hong Kong was ranked the number one most inspiring city. Other African cities featured on the GOOD City Index are Nairobi, ranked fifth, Dakar ranked nineth, Cape Town at 25, Accra follows closely behind at 29th, Addis Ababa at 35th and Maputo at 43rd.

“Indeed, this is a humbling accolade. Particularly because it comes in less than a month after the 2014 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index announced us, the City of Johannesburg, as the most popular destination city in Africa for a second consecutive year,” Joburg mayor Parks Tau said in a statement.

“It’s to Joburg’s advantage that, distracted by Cape Town, people don’t seem to pay as much attention to it as they should,” the GOOD City Index said. “The city gives those who give it the time of day a chance to step in and own a small pocket of something—an idea, a space, a view, or a solution.”

“Not that there aren’t many systemic problems in Joburg: crime, poverty, dubious political spending, and a lack of infrastructure and proper sanitation, just to name a few. But the city is good at finding new, sometimes unorthodox, ways to fix itself, like freeing owls to hunt rats in the townships and starting a youth photography skills development program,” McKeown adds.

Still not convinced? You can read more about the factors and popular areas that helped to Joburg secure the number two spot on the city’s GOOD City Index profile page.

[Sources – GOOD City Index, City of Joburg, Image – Shutterstock]