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Published on December 13th, 2016 | by Roy L Hales


2016 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index Ranks Europe First

December 13th, 2016 by  

Originally published on The ECOreport.

Though China and the United States lead the world when it comes to gross domestic output (GDP), the sustainable competitiveness model uses another standard. SolAbility defines this on its website as, “Sustainable competitiveness is the ability of a country to meet the needs and basic requirements of current generations while sustaining or growing the national and individual wealth into the future without depleting its natural, intellectual and social capital.” The focus is not corporate wealth or political clout, but “dignifying standard of life for all citizens.” Thus the 2016 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index ranks Europe first.


2016 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index Ranks Europe First

Top five nations The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index

Eighteen of the top 20 nations were European, the only exceptions being New Zealand (12) and Japan (15).

Scandinavia leads the world, with Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland ranked #1-#5, respectively.

The rest of the top ten were all small European nations.

The United States was #34 overall,  scoring “particularly low in resource efficiency, but also social cohesion. If not tackled, the combination of the two is likely to undermine the global status of the US in the future.” One of America’s worst scores was 114 for social capital, “just below Liberia and before Afghanistan,” because of “comparable high crime rates and low availability of health services.”

China received high marks for “intellectual capital” (#4), but has limited natural resources and did poorly in terms of “social stability and the well-being.” Thus it was ranked #37.

As regards the world’s other leading economies: Germany is ranked 14th, the UK 21st, Canada 22nd, Russia 45th, and India 152nd.


Some other highlights:

  • One of the biggest surprises comes from the “ability to manage available resource (natural capital, human capital, financial capital) efficiently.” The leaders in this category were African nations like the Congo (#1), Mozambique (#2)and Ethiopia (#3). Resource rich nations like Australia (108), Canada (143), Russia (152)  and the United States (161) all did poorly.
  • “The top-ten in the Social Capital sub-index is dominated by European countries from the North — all 5 Nordic countries, plus Germany, Slovenia Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Belgium. Interestingly (and despite gender deficits), Kuwait (14) Qatar (16) and Oman (17) make the top 20 thanks to health services available to all, low crime rates, and good public services.”
  • The Governance Sub-Index evaluates how well a country’s regulatory framework and infrastructure enables its natural, social and intellectual capital to flourish. This was another area where European led, with Estonia 1st, though Indonesia was 2nd and China 6th. (The United States was #41 and Canada #81).
  • “The innovation and competitiveness ranking is topped by South Korea — by a very large margin.” The other leaders were Scandinavian nations (Sweden 2nd, Finland 5th, Denmark 8th, Norway 9th & Iceland 17th), Germany (6th)  and North-Eastern Asian nations (Japan 4,  China 7, & Singapore 10). The United States was 19th and Canada 34th.
Norwegian Styrret Scene by Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Norwegian Street Scene by Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Rationale Behind The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index utilizes recognized data sources (the World Bank, various UN databases) and 109 quantitative performance indicators to measure performance. On page 8 of the report,  SolAbility explains its rationale:

“Conventional country comparisons, rankings and ratings are based on economic and/or financial indicators. However, economic and financial indicators — at best — reflect current economic success; without looking at or explaining what makes this economic success possible. They also fail to account for current developments — financial and non-financial — that shape future potential or decline.

“In addition, economic activities have adverse side-effects on the environment and societies: pollution and depletion of natural resources, climate change, health impacts, inequality and impacts on the socio-cultural fabric of a country. Neglect of these factors can diminish the very basis of current economic output and success measured in conventional ratings.

” … The Sustainable Competitiveness Index is based on a model that integrates economic and financial indicators with the pillars that make the business success possible in the first place. It is based purely on comparable and measurable performance data collected by recognised international agencies, therefore excluding all subjectivity.”

Photo Credits: Stockholm by Tobias Franz via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Top Ten nations The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index; Norwegian Street Scene by Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)




About the Author

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 1,600 since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

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