The Environmental Performance Index (EPI), based at Yale University has launched its 2016 report at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, highlighting new data and indicators on high-priority environmental issues. The EPI’s authors argue that aligning the EPI’s indicators with the SDGs can provide a baseline for evaluating national performance and help show how far countries are from reaching global targets.
The EPI brings extensive new data and analysis to bear in ranking countries’ performance on high-priority environmental issues in two areas: protection of human health and protection of ecosystems. Within these two policy objectives the EPI scores national performance in nine issue areas comprised of more than 20 indicators. EPI indicators measure country proximity to meeting internationally established targets or, in the absence of agreed targets, how nations compare to one another.
The 2016 country ranking puts Finland in first place, with other Nordic countries scoring highly and New Zealand the best non-European country in 11th position.
Key thematic findings from the report include:
- ~5 times more people die globally from poor air quality than unsafe water.
- The number of people lacking access to drinking water has been nearly cut in half from 960 million in 2000 to 550 million today, around 8% of the world’s population.
- 34% of global fish stocks are overexploited or collapsed.
- 2.52 million square km of tree cover was lost in 2014 – an area roughly twice the size of Peru.
- 23% of countries have no wastewater treatment.
- Only 20% of countries meet targets for Nitrogen Use Efficiency.
- More than 3.5 billion people – half of the world’s population – are exposed to unsafe air quality.
- 15.4% of terrestrial habitats and 8.4% of marine habitats are protected.
- 1/3 of countries scored on Climate and Energy are reducing their carbon intensity.