We normally judge which countries are "doing best" by looking at economic growth--a realm in which places like China and India thrive, despite other problems. A more grounded approach might look at a range of factors, from a country's energy mix to its democracy.

The results are quite different from the standard narrative. A new report ultimately finds that Sweden is the country best equipped for the future. And the least? That would be Nigeria, in 59th place, despite all that oil.

Switzerland is No. 3.

Denmark is No. 4.

Norway is No. 5.

The U.K. is No. 6.

Canada is No. 7.

Finland is No. 8.

The U.S. is No. 9.

The Netherlands are No. 10.

2013-08-29

Co.Exist

The 59 Countries That Are Most Prepared To Handle An Uncertain Future

A new report ranks the world's countries not on their economic indicators, but on their ability to "safeguard the needs of its future generations." The results might surprise you.

We normally judge which countries are "doing best" by looking at economic growth—a realm in which places like China and India thrive, despite their environmental and other problems. A more grounded approach might look at a range of factors, from a country's energy mix to its democracy.

That's what a new report from investment advisors RobecoSAM does, and the results are quite different from the standard narrative. The report takes into account 17 factors, ultimately finding that Sweden is the most sustainable country on Earth—meaning it's best equipped for the future. And the least? That would be Nigeria, in 59th place, despite all that oil.

The factors include environmental (which accounts for 15% of scores, and includes things like renewable energy and emissions), social (25%; e.g. life expectancy, and level of worker unrest), and governance (60%; e.g. corruption and inequality). The aim: to provide a comprehensive picture of a "country’s ability to safeguard the needs of its future generations."

Australia (which does better for governance than environmental factors), Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, and the U.K. come next. The U.S. is in ninth place, scoring solidly in most categories, though lower relatively on the environment.

Sweden scores well across most of the criteria, including "use of renewable energy sources and CO2 emissions," on factors like "labor participation, education, and income inequality," and governance. Above, you can see how it lines up against Russia, which comes in 55th, just above Indonesia, Venezuela, Egypt, and Nigeria. As you might expect, the biggest differences between those countries are in things like the quality of institutions and "political risk."

[Slideshow images: Flags via Shutterstock]

[Image: Flags via Shutterstock]

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11 Comments

  • Alexergy

    How can that be? Most of these developed nations as the USA has been deferring immense
    debt burden to the next generation who will not be capable of paying off. Is that good governance?
     

  • Mark Mercer

    Not too many Global South countries on it, but surprisingly indeed much more than just the Global North. 

    I am personally a bit disappointed that my adopted country, Uruguay, is not on this list, while some other South American countries are: Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. Despite Argentina currently being in a mess of a "dollar clamp", soaring crime, and deep corruption, due to recent year's actions by Presidenta Cristina Fernandez, it is a great nation, a huge economy, and one of the two dominant players in Mercosur. The other being Brasil, with its own recent set of problems, but an even bigger economic force, widely respected in international circles, and the B in BRICS. Uruguay, though more secular and progressive in many ways, is more insular when it comes to trade, and far less energy-independent (as in "not at all") than either of its two Mercosur big sisters. 

    Venezuela, now also a Mercosur partner, has all that oil. And Caribbean port access. Colombia makes sense from its USA-centric politics and economy, and that northern South America geographic advantage. Not sure why Perú would be on there but not Uruguay, except its greater trade openings via the Pacific Alliance. Which Uruguay is looking to join. I guess if eastern European countries nowhere near the Atlantic can be in the "North Atlantic Treaty Organization", South Atlantic-bordering Uruguay can be in the Pacific Alliance, jejeje!

  • Renato Oli Carri

    I believe in indicators that show beyond the economic matters but this one have a weak construction and should improve the interrelations to show-off a best big picture.... In the way.....

  • Ömer Sadık Aytaç

    mexico provided some crack and the saudis probably provided some oil for the authors..  or I'm just too skeptical in not thinking that these countries are the beacons of democracy, environmentalism, little corruption and equal rights for their citizens!

  • Attilio

    Italy is 22nd?? I think it should be place around the same spot as Spain and Portugal. It's way too corrupted, it failed to agree on a plan to stay competitive and its leaders are...let me quote this: "unfit to lead".

  • Ettore Fieramosca

    I think that the parameters used to classify the countries prepared to handle the future are wrong.
    Is not  environmental or life expectancy, and level of worker unrest to determine the future. But the medium avergae age of citizens (lower is better), education level, differentiation of jobs and economy.
    A country with a perfect enviromental management and governance that have an high score of suiicide like Sweden is loser.

  • Ettore Fieramosca

    I think that the parameters used to classify the  countries most prepared to handle the Future

  • Francesco

    You should really digg deeper.. it doesn't make sense. Contries like Italy have such an unfair tax system that they make impossible small or individual companies to survive, this also reflects in job opportunities...

  • Anders Trewe

    Interesting that Saudi has the same environmental inpact as Sweden (sustainabllity, renewable energy, etc) and has better governance than Spain and Portugal (equality, corruption, etc) ...