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Mapped: The Greenest Countries in the World

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Mapped: The Greenest Countries in the World


From widening wealth disparity to the environmental ramifications of economic development—the growing focus on global sustainability is a clear sign of the times.

Research reveals that when a sustainable ethos is applied to policy and business, it typically bodes well for economies and people alike. By providing benchmarks for those decisions, indexes like Yale’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) can be critical to measuring national sustainability efforts.

The above map interprets the EPI ranking of 180 economies across 32 environmental health indicators by narrowing in on the top 40 greenest countries.

Who’s the Greenest of them All?

Despite the decades-long trend of globalization, national environmental policies have proved to be widely divergent. The EPI report confirms that those policies—and their positive results—are highly correlated with national wealth.

This is evidenced in the global EPI distributions, seen below:

OVERALL RANK COUNTRY SCORE REGIONAL RANK
1 Denmark 82.5 1
2 Luxembourg 82.3 2
3 Switzerland 81.5 3
4 United Kingdom 81.3 4
5 France 80 5
6 Austria 79.6 6
7 Finland 78.9 7
8 Sweden 78.7 8
9 Norway 77.7 9
10 Germany 77.2 10
11 Netherlands 75.3 11
12 Japan 75.1 1
13 Australia 74.9 12
14 Spain 74.3 13
15 Belgium 73.3 14
16 Ireland 72.8 15
17 Iceland 72.3 16
18 Slovenia 72 1
19 New Zealand 71.3 17
20 Canada 71 18
21 Czech Republic 71 2
22 Italy 71 18
23 Malta 70.7 20
24 United States of America 69.3 21
25 Greece 69.1 3
26 Slovakia 68.3 4
27 Portugal 67 22
28 South Korea 66.5 2
29 Israel 65.8 1
30 Estonia 65.3 5
31 Cyprus 64.8 6
32 Romania 64.7 7
33 Hungary 63.7 8
34 Croatia 63.1 9
35 Lithuania 62.9 10
36 Latvia 61.6 11
37 Poland 60.9 12
38 Seychelles 58.2 1
39 Singapore 58.1 3
40 Taiwan 57.2 4
41 Bulgaria 57 13
42 United Arab Emirates 55.6 2
43 North Macedonia 55.4 14
44 Chile 55.3 1
45 Serbia 55.2 15
46 Brunei Darussalam 54.8 5
47 Kuwait 53.6 3
48 Jordan 53.4 4
49 Belarus 53 1
50 Colombia 52.9 2
51 Mexico 52.6 3
52 Costa Rica 52.5 4
53 Armenia 52.3 2
54 Argentina 52.2 5
55 Brazil 51.2 6
56 Bahrain 51 5
57 Ecuador 51 7
58 Russia 50.5 3
59 Venezuela 50.3 8
60 Ukraine 49.5 4
61 Uruguay 49.1 9
62 Albania 49 16
63 Antigua and Barbuda 48.5 10
64 Cuba 48.4 11
65 St. Vincent and Grenadines 48.4 11
66 Jamaica 48.2 13
67 Iran 48 6
68 Malaysia 47.9 6
69 Trinidad and Tobago 47.5 14
70 Panama 47.3 15
71 Tunisia 46.7 7
72 Azerbaijan 46.5 5
73 Paraguay 46.4 16
74 Dominican Republic 46.3 17
75 Montenegro 46.3 17
76 Gabon 45.8 2
77 Barbados 45.6 18
78 Bosnia and Herzegovina 45.4 18
79 Lebanon 45.4 8
80 Thailand 45.4 7
81 Suriname 45.2 19
82 Mauritius 45.1 3
83 Tonga 45.1 8
84 Algeria 44.8 9
85 Kazakhstan 44.7 6
86 Dominica 44.6 20
87 Moldova 44.4 7
88 Bolivia 44.3 21
89 Uzbekistan 44.3 8
90 Peru 44 22
91 Saudi Arabia 44 10
92 Turkmenistan 43.9 9
93 Bahamas 43.5 23
94 Egypt 43.3 11
95 El Salvador 43.1 24
96 Grenada 43.1 24
97 Saint Lucia 43.1 24
98 South Africa 43.1 4
99 Turkey 42.6 19
100 Morocco 42.3 12
101 Belize 41.9 27
102 Georgia 41.3 10
103 Botswana 40.4 5
104 Namibia 40.2 6
105 Kyrgyzstan 39.8 11
106 Iraq 39.5 13
107 Bhutan 39.3 1
108 Nicaragua 39.2 28
109 Sri Lanka 39 2
110 Oman 38.5 14
111 Philippines 38.4 9
112 Burkina Faso 38.3 7
113 Malawi 38.3 7
114 Tajikistan 38.2 12
115 Equatorial Guinea 38.1 9
116 Honduras 37.8 29
117 Indonesia 37.8 10
118 Kiribati 37.7 11
119 São Tomé and Príncipe 37.6 10
120 China 37.3 12
121 Samoa 37.3 12
122 Qatar 37.1 15
123 Zimbabwe 37 11
124 Central African Republic 36.9 12
125 Dem. Rep. Congo 36.4 13
126 Guyana 35.9 30
127 Maldives 35.6 3
128 Uganda 35.6 14
129 Timor-Leste 35.3 14
130 Laos 34.8 15
131 Sudan 34.8 16
132 Kenya 34.7 15
133 Zambia 34.7 15
134 Ethiopia 34.4 17
135 Fiji 34.4 16
136 Mozambique 33.9 18
137 Eswatini 33.8 19
138 Rwanda 33.8 19
139 Cambodia 33.6 17
140 Cameroon 33.6 21
141 Viet Nam 33.4 18
142 Pakistan 33.1 4
143 Micronesia 33 19
144 Cabo Verde 32.8 22
145 Nepal 32.7 5
146 Papua New Guinea 32.4 20
147 Mongolia 32.2 21
148 Comoros 32.1 23
149 Guatemala 31.8 31
150 Tanzania 31.1 24
151 Nigeria 31 25
152 Marshall Islands 30.8 22
153 Niger 30.8 26
154 Republic of Congo 30.8 26
155 Senegal 30.7 28
156 Eritrea 30.4 29
157 Benin 30 30
158 Angola 29.7 31
159 Togo 29.5 32
160 Mali 29.4 33
161 Guinea-Bissau 29.1 34
162 Bangladesh 29 6
163 Vanuatu 28.9 23
164 Djibouti 28.1 35
165 Lesotho 28 36
166 Gambia 27.9 37
167 Mauritania 27.7 38
168 Ghana 27.6 39
169 India 27.6 7
170 Burundi 27 40
171 Haiti 27 32
172 Chad 26.7 41
173 Solomon Islands 26.7 24
174 Madagascar 26.5 42
175 Guinea 26.4 43
176 Côte d’Ivoire 25.8 44
177 Sierra Leone 25.7 45
178 Afghanistan 25.5 8
179 Myanmar 25.1 25
180 Liberia 22.6 46

Regional grouping in the report include: Global West, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Former Soviet States, Greater Middle East, Latin America & Caribbean, Southern Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa

Scandinavian countries, which tend to have a high GDP per capita, show strong and consistent results across EPI parameters. Denmark for instance—which ranks first overall—leads the world in slowing its growth in CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, neighbor Sweden leads in landfill and recycling treatment, while wastewater treatment is led by a handful of countries within and beyond Scandinavia including Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Sweden.

In North America, Canada claims top spot in the biodiversity and habitat category, while the U.S. ranks sixth in agricultural diversity globally. In Asia, Singapore leads the world in fishery health and sustainability.

Ultimately, it appears the world’s greenest countries tend to focus on all areas of sustainability, while laggard countries show more uneven performance across categories.

What Does “Green” Mean?

Each high-level performance indicator with the EPI, like “environmental health”, is broken into subsections. Nations are scored on each subsector on a scale up to 100. As a result, multiple countries can rank first in any given category.

By evaluating national sustainability on a scale that is unrelated to other nations, we get a clearer idea of comparative national progress, beyond a basic ranking.

For instance, 30 countries tie for first in marine protection, all with scores of 100. This shows that many economies are prioritizing this area of sustainability.

The EPI categories and subsectors are shown in the diagram below:

Greenest Countries in the World Supplemental EPI Index

Each section is weighted differently, and is reflected as a percentage within the index. For example, Ecosystem Vitality accounts for 60% of the EPI, Climate Change makes up 24% of a country’s score, and CO2 emission reduction is weighted at 13.2%.

The Cost of Being Green

Infrastructure costs are one reason why wealthier nations tend to fare better across sustainability measures. Everything from air pollution reduction and water treatment, to hazardous waste control and mitigation of public health crises are especially expensive—but have a huge potential impact on citizens.

This trend can be seen the scatterplot, which demonstrates the distribution of economies evaluated by the EPI:

Greenest Countries in the World Main Image Supplemental Comparing GDP to EPI Score

For a more detailed look, the table below highlights the GDP per capita of each of the top 40 greenest countries, based on data from the World Bank and Statista:

COUNTRY EPI SCORE GDP Per Capita RANK
Denmark 82.5 60,170 1
Luxembourg 82.3 114,705 2
Switzerland 81.5 81,994 3
United Kingdom 81.3 42,330 4
France 80 40,494 5
Austria 79.6 50,138 6
Finland 78.9 48,783 7
Sweden 78.7 51,615 8
Norway 77.7 75,420 9
Germany 77.2 46,445 10
Netherlands 75.3 52,331 11
Japan 75.1 40,247 12
Australia 74.9 55,060 13
Spain 74.3 29,600 14
Belgium 73.3 46,421 15
Ireland 72.8 78,661 16
Iceland 72.3 66,945 17
Slovenia 72 25,946 18
New Zealand 71.3 42,084 19
Canada 71 46,195 20
Czech Republic 71 23,495 21
Italy 71 33,228 22
Malta 70.7 29,821 23
United States of America 69.3 65,298 24
Greece 69.1 19,583 25
Slovakia 68.3 19,266 26
Portugal 67 23,252 27
South Korea 66.5 31,846 28
Israel 65.8 43,592 29
Estonia 65.3 23,723 30
Cyprus 64.8 27,858 31
Romania 64.7 12,920 32
Hungary 63.7 16,732 33
Croatia 63.1 14,936 34
Lithuania 62.9 19,602 35
Latvia 61.6 17,829 36
Poland 60.9 15,693 37
Seychelles 58.2 17,448 38
Singapore 58.1 65,233 39
Taiwan 57.2 25,873 40

Despite the strong correlation between GDP per capita and EPI score, developing countries do not have to abandon sustainability efforts. China for instance leads the world in the adoption of electric vehicle technology.

Post-Pandemic Outlook

Although some rankings can seem prosaic, indexes like the EPI provide a helpful benchmark for economies to compare efforts. It also allows governments to iterate and build upon environmental strategies and investments by highlighting what is and isn’t working.

CO2 emissions, for instance, are a major driver of climate change. Although the global economic stall has led to a temporary dip of CO2 emissions in early 2020 (a slower growth rate than the 11% expected rise), global emissions still continue.

However, the EPI shows that investments have impact. High-level sustainability efforts—political commitment, media coverage, regulations—can deliver results, even at the grassroots level.

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