The recently released Environmental Performance Index-2022, an international classification system that measures environmental health and sustainability of countries, ranked India last among 180 countries ranked.
With a meager score of 18.9, India’s 180th ranking comes after Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar – the bottom five collectively make up the worst performing countries in terms of environmental health.
According to EPI, India also scores low on the rule of law, corruption control and government effectiveness.
India was ranked 168th in EPI-2020, with a score of 27.6. In EPI-2020, Denmark ranks first in terms of environment, health and sustainability.
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The EPI, a biennial index, was launched in 2002 as the Environmental Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum in conjunction with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network.
“Using 40 performance indicators across 11 problem categories, EPI ranks 180 countries in terms of climate change performance, environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a national indication of how close countries are to set environmental policy goals.” , the EPI report said.
Overall EPI rankings indicate which countries can best address environmental challenges, it says.
The report finds that “good policy outcomes are associated with wealth (GDP per capita)”, meaning that economic wealth allows countries to invest in policies and programs that deliver desired outcomes. “This trend is especially true for problem categories under the umbrella of environmental health, as building the necessary infrastructure to provide clean drinking water and sanitation, reduce air pollution, manage hazardous waste and respond to public health crises has a major return on investment for the human well-being – being”, the report states.
The pursuit of economic prosperity — reflected in industrialization and urbanization — often means more pollution and other pressures on ecosystem vitality, especially in the developing world, where air and water emissions remain significant, it says. The report states that best-performing countries have addressed all aspects of sustainability, while their lagging countries often show uneven performance.
“In general, top scorers exhibit long-standing policies and programs to protect public health, conserve natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The data further suggests that countries making concerted efforts to decarbonise their electricity sectors have made the greatest gains in combating climate change, with associated benefits to ecosystems and human health,” the report said.
The report states: “A number of key countries in the South, including India and Nigeria, are at the bottom of the ranking. Their low EPI scores indicate the need for greater focus on the spectrum of sustainability requirements, with high priority on critical issues such as air and water quality, biodiversity and climate change. Some of the other stragglers, including Nepal and Afghanistan, face broader challenges such as civil unrest, and their low scores can almost all be attributed to weak governance.