MUMBAI, INDIA: India is all set to be the next economic superpower, but it is still bottom of the class in conserving natural resources and providing clean drinking water. A new environment sustainability index ranks India as one of the worst polluters, rating it 101 of 146 countries when assessed on parameters like air pollution, biodiversity and water quality.
The 'How green is your country' index, which was produced by a team of environmental experts at Yale and Columbia Universities and released at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, finds mostly Nordic countries topping the list, with Finland at number one again, followed by Norway, Uruguay, Sweden and Iceland. Their high scores are attributed to substantial natural resources, low population density, and successful management of environment and development issues, said researchers.
India, which beat China, ranked 133, scored better in 'global stewardship' parameters like international collaboration, as well as in efforts to reduce population pressures and private sector responsiveness to environment issues. But it did below average of its 'peer' group in environmental quality parameters -- air pollution and efforts to reduce it, biodiversity, land degradation, water quality and adequate supply and greenhouse gas emissions.
However, India's performance has improved from 2002 when it ranked 116 in the environment sustainability index. Countries were ranked on 21 elements of environmental sustainability, a holistic list which factored in not only environmental pollution and health but also government management efforts, contribution to protection of global natural resources, and a country's capacity to meet environmental challenges over time.
The United States places 45th in the rankings, just behind the Netherlands (44) and ahead of the United Kingdom (46), reflecting top-tier performance on issues such as water quality and environmental protection capacity, said the study. Bottom-rung results on other issues, such as waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions (not to mention playing spoilsport with the Kyoto protocol), bring down the overall standing of the US.
The lowest-ranked countries are North Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, countries which researchers faced huge challenges, both natural and manmade, and have poorly managed their policy choices.
Latin American countries have done much better, many of them among the top 20. Argentina is number nine and Brazil number 11.