The Good City Index highlights the “shifting spirit” fostered by Joburg’s innovative urban regeneration projects.

Johannesburg is ranked as the second most inspiring city in the world, according to the 2014 Good City Index, launched in Los Angeles on 16 November by Good Magazine, the quarterly publication of US-based organisation Good Worldwide.

Now in its second year, the Good City Index ranks the 50 cities around the world “that best capture the elusive quality of 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”.

According to Good Magazine, the ranking is drawn up by the magazine’s editors based on information provided by a network of global correspondents.

Johannesburg ranks second after Hong Kong, with Mexico City, Delhi, Nairobi, Istanbul, New Orleans, Budapest, Dakar and Beirut completing the top 10.

In its profile on Joburg, the magazine describes Johannesburg as a city “that is good at finding new, sometimes unorthodox, ways to fix itself”, and highlighted the “shifting spirit” fostered by the city’s innovative urban regeneration projects.

Among the factors that swayed Good Magazine’s editors in Joburg’s favour were a number of recent developments that have been spearheaded by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA).

These include the City’s R110-billion inner city infrastructure development programme, the ongoing roll-out of 120 kilometres of safe cycling lanes in areas such as Orange Farm, Ivory Park and Soweto, and projects forming part of the City’s drive for a greener, and better connected, life for its residents.

According to Good Magazine, developments in Braamfontein have turned this part of the inner city into a “hub for progress … a breeding ground of creativity and innovation packed full of galleries, artists’ spaces, bars and startups focused on making meaningful connections with the man on the street”.

Developments in the adjoining inner city area of Newtown, meanwhile, boosted Joburg’s score on the index’s “street life” measure, with the magazine highlighting the R1.3-billion Newtown Junction, one of biggest multi-use developments to open in Johannesburg’s CBD since the Carlton Centre in the 1970s.

Joburg also scored well for connectivity, civic engagement and green life, according to Good Magazine – helped by the JDA’s greenways programme, which is busy creating people- and environment-friendly public transport routes across Johannesburg.

Johannesburg is one of three African cities – the others being Nairobi in 5th position and Dakar in 9th – to feature in the index’s top 20. “Honourable Mentions”, or rankings between 21 and 50, also went to Cape Town (25th place), Accra (29th), Addis Ababa (35th), Maputo (43rd), and Kampala (49th).