The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a biennial report that determines which countries around the world are leading the front in making—and enforcing—policies that safeguard the environment. Created in 2006, the global index determines a country’s ranking based on its efforts to address the environmental issues that have the most impact on health and sustainability worldwide, such as climate change and pollution.
The EPI’s most recent report (published in 2018) ranks 180 countries using performance metrics organized under the following categories: air quality; water and sanitation; heavy metals; biodiversity and habitat; forests; fisheries; climate and energy; air pollution; water resources; and agriculture.
In 2018, these were the five countries named the world’s most sustainable. The next EPI is slated for release in early 2020; whether these destinations will remain on top is yet to be seen.
Please note, the full report is embedded and downloadable at the bottom of this post:
Top 5 countries from the 2018 Environmental Performance Index:
Global metrics for the environment
Careful measurement of environmental trends and progress provides a foundation for effective policymaking. The 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across ten issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These metrics provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals. The EPI thus offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance, gives insight on best practices, and provides guidance for countries that aspire to be leaders in sustainability.
The Logic of Environmental Metrics
The world has entered a new era of data-driven environmental policymaking. With the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, governments are increasingly being asked to explain their performance on a range of pollution control and natural resource management challenges with reference to quantitative metrics. A more data-driven and empirical approach to environmental protection promises to make it easier to spot problems, track trends, highlight policy successes and failures, identify best practices, and optimize the gains from investments in environmental protection.
Two Dimensions Of Environmental Performance
With 20 years of experience, the EPI reveals a tension between two fundamental dimensions of sustainable development: (1) environmental health, which rises with economic growth and prosperity, and (2) ecosystem vitality, which comes under strain from industrialization and urbanization. Good governance emerges as the critical factor required to balance these distinct dimensions of sustainability.
2018 EPI Framework
The 2018 EPI Framework organizes 24 indicators into ten issue categories and two policy objectives.
You can read or download the report below: