World's Most Sustainable nations

The World's Most Sustainable Nations

If one accepts the findings of the  2019 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index,  the age of colonial states and super powers is over. The World’s two largest economies, the United States and China, are ranked 34 and 37, respectively. Germany leads the G7 nations, but only places 15 overall. Only two non-European nations, New Zealand (12) and Canada (19) are in the top ten. The World’s most sustainable nations are Scandinavian.

Global Sustainable Competitiveness

How the World’s most sustainable nations are measured
How the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index is measured

Natural Capital: the given natural environment, including the availability of resources, and the level of the depletion of those resources.
Social Capital: health, security, freedom, equality and life satisfaction within a country.
“Resource Management: the efficiency of using available resources as a measurement of operational competitiveness in a resource-constraint World.
“Intellectual Capital: the capability to generate wealth and jobs through innovation and value-added industries in the globalised markets
“Governance Efficiency: Results of core state areas and investments – infrastructure, market and employment structure, the provision of a framework for sustained and sustainable wealth generation” – The Global Index

Scandinavia’s Sustainable Competitiveness. 

Scandinavia leads the world in terms of Social Capital, which translates into free expression, low crime rates and a good health care system. The top five nations in this category are Finland (58.8), Norway (58.6), Iceland (58.4), Sweden (58.3), and Switzerland (57.8). Denmark trails in 11th place (55.3).

the World’s most sustainable nations
Adapted from the  2019 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index and 2017 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index – by Roy L Hales

This is the fourth year in a row that Sweden ranks first overall in the index, with an overall score of 60.6.  It’s highest marks are:

  • Intellectual Capital: – The Swedes are ranked second (66.1), behind South Korea (72.9).
  • Resource Intensity: #5
  • Natural Capital:  #5

Sweden’s poorest mark was in Government Efficiency, where it ranked 70 (just ahead of the USA).

Europe’s Sustainable Competitiveness

All but two of the world’s top ranked 20 nations are in Europe,. The leaders are all small nations like the five Scandinavian nations listed above, Switzerland, Estonia (54.9), Luxembourg (54.5), Latvia (54.4) and Croatia (54.2).   

G7’s Sustainable Competitiveness

For most Canadians and Americans, “democracy” is a one day event, with limited choices, that occurs every four years. Photo above taken on Inauguration Day in the USA, 20 January 2017– by Spenser Means via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

The G7 Nations, who supposedly lead the Western World, trail behind. 

After dominating the World economy for decades after the Second World War, the United States looks like an aging super-power in decline.

  • Intellectual capital  – 15
  • Natural Capital: – 46
  • Government Efficiency – 71
  • Resource Intensity – 102
  • Social Capital: – “The USA, due to comparable high crime rates, low availability of health services, and rising inequality, is ranked 142, just below Guinea-Bissau and above South Sudan.” 

Canada made the top 20, largely because it placed 9th in terms of Natural Capital. Other marks: 

  • Intellectual Capital – 29
  • Social Capital – 41
  • Government Efficiency – 73, right after Egypt and the USA.
  • Resource Intensity – 80

Three other G7 nations are in the top 20: Germany (15), the UK (17) and France (20). 

Germany leads the G7 nations with scores of:

  • Government Efficiency – 5
  • Social Capital – 9
  • Intellectual Capital – 11
  • Resource Intensity – 77
  • Natural Capital – 131

Other Nations

“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.”

“Of the large emerging economies (BRICs), China is ranked 37, Brazil 49, Russia 51, and India 130. “

Top photo credit: Malmö, Sweden – by Maria Eklind via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

3 thoughts on “The World's Most Sustainable Nations”

  1. When I spent almost a year in Sweden, I was impressed with the level of detail and attention given to small things like, timers on light switches in hostel kitchens, so that the light would automatically shut off to save energy. This goes all the way to district heating systems, using waste wood, the heat piped to homes all over the city I lived in. But there were ghettos of immigrants too; it doesn’t score perfectly on social justice.

    How do nations score on electoral reform? It’s the Scandinavian countries like Switzerland and Finland who score high, who use proportional representation rather than first-past-the-post as in Canada.

    Fair Vote Canada reports that, for example:
    Finland is governed by a five party coalition government – representing 55.7% of voters. A government led by five women, four of whom are under the age of 35. Cooperation in Finland is not a buzzword, an illusion, or a temporary inconvenience on someone’s path back to power – it’s how their democracy works.

    Please sign this parliamentary petition calling for a Citizens’s Assembly on Proportional Representation in Canada: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2315

    Three examples of first-past-the-post in action:

    1) The UK “Brexit election”.

    2) Donald Trump’s “win” despite receiving less of the popular vote than Hilary Clinton.

    3) The past year of strikes, protests, and rapid dismantling of environmental legislation in Ontario – after Doug Ford won a majority with 40.5% of the vote.

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