Where Does the U.S. Rank on Environmental Sustainability?
Philadelphia, PA - Wondering how the United States fits into the global picture on environmental sustainability? It's 45th in the world's rankings, according to the 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), produced by a team of environmental experts at Yale and Columbia Universities.
This ranking, while certainly not among the top tier among sustainability efforts, is still a "high-middle ranking, just behind Armenia (44) and ahead of the United Kingdom (46)," and "reflects top-tier performance on issues such as water quality and environmental protection capacity. Bottom-rung results on other issues, such as waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions, bring down the overall U.S. standing," according to Yale University.
The 2005 ESI was released at the World Economic Forum early this year in Davos, Switzerland, and ranks countries on 21 elements of environmental sustainability covering natural resource endowments, past and present pollution levels, environmental management efforts, contributions to protection of the global commons, and a society's capacity to improve its environmental performance over time.
"The ESI provides a valuable policy tool, allowing benchmarking of environmental performance country-by-country and issue-by-issue," says Daniel C. Esty, professor at Yale University and the creator of the ESI. "By highlighting the leaders and laggards, which governments are wary of doing, the ESI creates pressure for improved results."
Who ranked first?
So who's first? Finland ranks at the very top of the list in environmental sustainability out of 146 countries, per the ESI. Norway, Uruguay, Sweden and Iceland are ranked two to five respectively. "Their high ESI scores are attributed to substantial natural resource endowments, low population density, and successful management of environment and development issues," Yale University reports.
The lowest ranked countries are North Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Esty says these countries face many challenges, both natural and manmade, and have poorly managed their policy choices.