Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Finland tops environmental scorecard at World Economic Forum in Davos

07.02.2005


Finland ranks first in the world in environmental sustainability out of 146 countries according to the latest Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) produced by a team of environmental experts at Yale and Columbia Universities.



The 2005 ESI, to be released at the World Economic Forum January 27 in Davos, Switzerland, ranks Norway, Uruguay, Sweden and Iceland two to five respectively. Their high ESI scores are attributed to substantial natural resource endowments, low population density, and successful management of environment and development issues.

The ESI ranks countries on 21 elements of environmental sustainability covering natural resource endowments, past and present pollution levels, environmental management efforts, contributions to protection of the global commons, and a society’s capacity to improve its environmental performance over time.


The United States places 45th in the rankings. This high-middle ranking, just behind the Netherlands (44) and ahead of the United Kingdom (46), reflects top-tier performance on issues such as water quality and environmental protection capacity. Bottom-rung results on other issues, such as waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions, bring down the overall U.S. standing. "The ESI provides a valuable policy tool, allowing benchmarking of environmental performance country-by-country and issue-by-issue," said Daniel C. Esty, professor at Yale University and the creator of the ESI. "By highlighting the leaders and laggards, which governments are wary of doing, the ESI creates pressure for improved results."

The lowest ranked countries are North Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Esty said these countries face many challenges, both natural and manmade, and have poorly managed their policy choices.

The 2005 ESI generates a number of policy conclusions. Income emerges as a critical driver of environmental results. At every level of economic development, however, there are countries managing their environmental challenges well and others less so. For instance, Belgium is as wealthy as Sweden, but it lags badly with regard to pollution control and natural resource management. In this regard, the variables that gauge a country’s commitment to good governance -- including robust political debate, a free press, lack of corruption, rule of law are highly correlated with overall environmental success.

The ESI demonstrates that environmental protection need not come at the cost of competitiveness. Finland is the equal of the United States in competitiveness but scores much higher on environmental sustainability and outperforms the U.S. across a spectrum of issues, from air pollution to contributions to global-scale environmental efforts.

Analysis of the ESI data also makes it clear that developed countries face environmental challenges, particularly pollution stresses and consumption-related issues, distinct from those facing developing countries, where resource depletion and a lack of capacity for pollution control are dominant concerns.

"Fundamentally, we see the ESI helping to make environmental decision-making more empirical and analytically rigorous. Such a shift toward data-driven policy-making represents a potential revolution in the environmental realm," said Esty, who directs the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

"While the ESI makes comparative policy analysis possible, it is shocking how many critical environmental issues are still not measured in any usable way," noted Marc Levy, associate director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network in the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one of the lead contributors to the ESI. "The international community must make a renewed commitment to developing metrics to track policy progress, particularly in the context of the environmental elements of the Millennium Development Goals -- the worldwide effort to lift developing countries above the burdens of poverty by 2015."

The 2005 ESI rankings reflect refinements in methodology and advanced statistical techniques used to identify clusters of countries with similar environmental circumstances.

"Identifying a relevant peer group against whom to benchmark results turns out to be a critical element of good environmental policymaking," said Tanja Srebotnjak, Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy’s Environmental Performance Measurement Project and the ESI chief statistician.

"No country is on a sustainable trajectory -- and the ESI demonstrates this," said Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. "We’ve all got something to learn from those at the leading edge. And the ESI offers a mechanism for identifying best practices across the spectrum of environmental issues."

According to Jeffrey D. Sachs, director, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, the ESI is a pioneering attempt to bring systemic cross-country information to bear on the critical challenge of sustainable development. "This is not an easy task, since as the authors indicate, sustainability is multi-dimensional and not easily summarized in a single figure," said Sachs. "The ESI enriches our understanding by honing in on a range of important issues, including human vulnerability to environmental stress, the functioning of ecosystems, and global stewardship. The report amasses, analyzes and presents an impressive range of fascinating data in the process. This enormous effort will promote a deeper international understanding of, and attention to, the key challenges of environmental management."

Karen N. Peart | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu/esi

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>