What are the most important factors that make a nation thrive? What is more important: the welfare of a people or corporate interest? Will Donald Trump’s fossil-fueled America First policies plunge the world’s leading economy into mediocrity? Which nations are best poised to lead the world into a more sustainable future? These are a few of the questions that Sol Ability’s 2017 guide to the upside-down world of Sustainable Competitiveness deals with.
Europe once again leads the planet when it comes to the fundamentals that foster the growth of national economies. Only three of the top twenty nations are non-European: New Zealand (13), South Korea (16), and Japan (20). The world’s real pace setters are five Scandinavian nations led by Sweden. They all have high marks for intellectual capital, as well as “social stability and the well-being (perceived or real) of the entire population.”
“Asian nations ( South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and China ) lead the Intellectual Capital ranking. However, achieving sustained prosperity in these countries might be compromised by Natural Capital constraints and current high resource intensity/low resource efficiency.”
The Sustainable Competitiveness Index uses 106 data indicators, grouped in 5 categories:
- “Natural Capital: the given natural environment, (availability of resources, depletion of resources).”
- “Social Capital: health, security, freedom, equality and life satisfaction.”
- “Resource Management: resource efficiency and intensity.”
- “Intellectual Capital: education, innovation, value-adding industry.”
- “Governance Efficiency: infrastructure, market and employment structure, financial industry.”
This system is used to rank 180 nations, from #1 to #180.
The World’s Leading Economies
Most of the world’s leading economies fare poorly in The Global Competitiveness Report 2017
Despite their rivalry, both China and the United States currently embrace “nationalism as unifier, a certain military strength, and focus on persons, not parties (or countries). However, on the economic and social development aspects, the policies are differing significantly.”
Under Donald Trump’s fossil-fueled free market approach, the United States is “expected to drop from a current sustainable competitiveness score of 49.2 to just above 40, falling down [from 29] to a rank somewhere in the 90s.”
China will replace America, but is hindered by its ideology:
“The number of graduating engineers in China is currently tenfold the equivalent US number. With further investments in education , the catching up of Chinese universities and the advancement of R&D facilities, both general education and ultimately innovation capabilities are expected to improve over the next decade. However, the rigidity of the system under XI (who in contrast to his predecessors appears to be targeting a personal long – term reign) is likely to undermine the innovation capabilities thereafter.”
Germany Rates Higher
Germany led the G7 Nations and is ahead of both the United States and China in all but one category.
- Overall: Germany ranks 14; United States (29) & China (32).
- For intellectual capital: China (4); Germany (6); United States (19).
- In terms of government policies, Germany (4), China (11) & United States (50).
- The spread becomes even more marked in social capital, where Germany is 5, China 37 and the United States “due to comparable high crime rates and low availability of health services, is ranked 129, just below Liberia and before El Salvador.”
Photo Credits: screenshot from the cover of the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2017