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]