Do you know about the most sustainable countries in the world? Sustainability has become an important focus for countries around the world.
As climate change and environmental degradation threaten the planet, nations are increasingly prioritizing policies and practices that promote environmental health and social equity.
But which countries are leading the way when it comes to sustainability? Based on global rankings and indexes, here are the top 10 most sustainable countries in the world:
Finland ranks high across numerous sustainability indicators, including education, governance, and low levels of corruption and inequality. The country gets over 20% of its energy from renewable sources and has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2035
Sweden is a leader in sustainability, with nearly 60% of its energy coming from renewable sources in 2020. The country also recycles nearly all of its waste, and its ambitious climate policies aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
Denmark aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030, already gets 48% of its electricity from wind power, and is focused on sustainable city development. The country also ranks highly for social justice and progress.
7. United Kingdom
The UK has enshrined into law a net zero emissions target by 2050 and is a world leader in offshore wind capacity. It also ranks well for protections of civil liberties and transparency around sustainability efforts.
France currently gets over 70% of its electricity from nuclear energy, which produces no direct emissions. The country also bans fracking, invests billions in promoting public transportation, and has comparatively low CO2 emissions per capita.
Nearly 75% of Austria’s electricity comes from renewable hydropower and biofuels. The country ranks in the top 10 globally for its environmental health and ecosystem vitality, as well as its civil liberties protections.
4. New Zealand
New Zealand has earned praise for its early commitment to combating climate change and has introduced numerous ambitious environmental policies over the past decade. Almost 90% of its electricity comes from renewable sources.
Switzerland is a consistent leader across rankings dealing with environmental, societal, and institutional sustainability. The country scored first globally for its sustainability governance in the 2020 SDG Index and has vowed to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Norway is viewed as a role model for the decoupling of economic growth from fossil fuels. The country bans natural gas vehicles, invests billions from oil reserves into sustainable development abroad, and gets nearly all domestic energy needs from hydropower.
No country comes close to matching Iceland’s peerless marks across nearly all sustainability indicators. It already generates 100% of its electricity from hydropower and geothermal energy. Iceland hopes to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2040, a decade ahead of most developed nations.
Table of the Top 10 Most Sustainable Countries
|100% renewable electricity, net-zero emissions goal by 2040
|A global role model for decoupling growth from fossil fuels
|#1 sustainability and governance score globally
|90% renewable electricity, ambitious environmental policies
|75% renewable electricity, top 10 environmental health
|Heavy investment in emissions-free nuclear energy
|Global leader in offshore wind capacity
|Targets 70% emissions reduction by 2030
|Nearly 100% recycling rate; target for net zero by 2045
|High marks for governance and renewable energy
The most sustainable countries in the world are setting ambitious goals and implementing innovative policies to protect the planet while creating an equitable society for their citizens. Based on global metrics, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland lead the pack, but many nations are making rapid advances to prioritize sustainability. As climate change increases in urgency, all countries must continue raising their environmental standards and performance.
What are some common features of highly sustainable countries?
Some shared traits of the most sustainable countries include extensive use of renewable electricity sources like wind, solar hydropower and geothermal energy; net zero emissions targets for mid-century; high recycling rates; electric vehicle infrastructure investments; strong civil liberties protections; low corruption levels; commitments to UN Sustainable Development Goals; and comprehensive monitoring of sustainability metrics.
Which countries are the worst performers for sustainability?
Some low-ranking countries for environmental sustainability include Kuwait, Libya, Iraq, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahrain, Equatorial Guinea and Iran. Many of those depend heavily on fossil fuel exports and lack commitments to renewable energy and climate change mitigation.