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Switzerland scores first place in global green rankings

Date
27 January 2014
Switzerland scores first place in global green rankings

DAVOS: Switzerland tops a new index that was released at Davos this weekend, which ranks countries in order of their sustainability efforts.

The annual Environmental Performance Index (EPI), which was co-published by the Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network, was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Index tracks the performance of 178 countries representing 95% of global GDP, under two broad policy areas: 'protection of human health from environmental harm' and 'protection of ecosystems', that include indicators such as climate change, air quality and water management. The results are used to measure how close countries are to meeting international targets, see what is working best, compare the leaders, and improve performance across the world.

Switzerland came out on top, followed by Luxembourg, Australia, Singapore and the Czech Republic.

While Europe and Asia dominated the top spots, generally emerging ‘BRIC’ countries didn't perform as well. South Africa came 72nd, followed by Russia at 73rd, Brazil with 77th place and China at 118th. India fared the lowest of the BRICs ranking at 155th place.

“Although India is an ‘emerging market’ alongside China, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa, its environment severely lags behind these others,” said Angel Hsu, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and lead author of the report. “Very low GDP per capita coupled with the second highest population in the world means India’s environmental challenge is more formidable than that faced by other emerging economies.”

But while welcomed for its work towards accelerating global green efforts and helping achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the EPI has its own faults; it is difficult to identify reliable metrics for certain issues. An architect of the Index, Columbia University's Marc Levy, said: “The EPI has clear implications for the international effort on the SDGs. The good news about the SDGs is the commitment to treating the environment as an integral part of the next generation of development goals. The bad news is that this political breakthrough rests on a dreadfully weak measurement infrastructure."

The researchers of the Index agree that better collaboration is a solution to delivering stronger data. Kim Samuel, the EPI’s co-creator said: “It is going to require more than just the work of national governments and NGOs. The private sector is realizing the parallel benefits of business and environmental sustainability. The hope is that the EPI will guide increased cooperation among all sectors of society.”

This year there has been great innovations in the way the EPI data is displayed. Readers can now explore scores, rankings and data in-depth on a new website, where they can also download their unique comparison data. 

Explore the EPI 2014 ranking

Related news:

World's most powerful leaders to discuss climate change at Davos

China and the EU forge ahead with 'green growth' collaboration, agree new low-carbon city pilot in Tianjin

Index of top companies aims to redirect investments to a greener economy

By Clare Saxon

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