The environment is a higher priority in some countries than it is in others. This is often reflected in a country’s policymaking and effectiveness of its current environmental protection measures. Being “green” is a way of describing how environmentally friendly a country, community, organization, etc. is.
The greenest countries in the world have practices, measures, and policies in place to help preserve and even restore the natural environment and its resources as well as improve the health of its citizens.
Environmental Performance Index
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) quantifies the environmental performance of a country’s policies and measures its environmental trends and performance. The EPI allows countries to see how close they are to their established environmental policy goals and meeting the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The 2018 Environmental Performance Index ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across ten issue categories. These indicators determine which countries are the leaders in environmental performance and provides guidance for countries that are looking to move towards a more sustainable and greener future.
Who are the greenest countries in the world? According to the EPI, the greenest countries in the world are the ones who are best addressing the environmental changes that every nation faces. Below are the ten greenest countries in the world.
With an overall score of 87.42, Switzerland is the greenest country in the world. Switzerland received almost perfect scores for water sanitation and water resources, scoring 99.99 and 99.67 respectively. Additionally, Switzerland scored notably high for sustainability, with a boom in many clean energies such as solar power, wind turbines, hydroelectric power, geothermal energy, and heat pumps.
France is known for its environmental initiatives such as hydro turbines along its rivers and prohibiting its supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food (that is still of good quality). France’s overall score was 83.95 and scored particularly high for air pollution with a score of 96.82.
Denmark is considered to be the third-greenest country in the world with an overall score of 81.60. Denmark is known for its efficient greenhouse gas emission policies and its efforts to prevent climate change. The country stands out for its scores in the biodiversity and habitat category and air quality.
Malta’s EPI score is 80.9, ranking at the top for the biodiversity and habitat category and water sanitation and water resources. Malta is known for its efficient and environmentally-friendly train system as well as its agritourism. Malta’s rank as the fourth-greenest country in the world comes with its challenges, such as the country’s lack of space and local resources, energy dependency, water scarcity, and waste management.
Sweden is the fifth-greenest country in the world with an EPI score of 80.51. Sweden is known for being one of the most sustainable countries in the world, notably for its use of renewable energy sources and low carbon dioxide emissions. Sweden’s government set an ambitious goal for 2045, pledging to be fossil fuel-free and running 100% on renewable energy. Sweden scored a perfect score for addressing the lif-threatening impact of lead exposure in the heavy metals category.
The U.K. has an overall EPI score of 79.89. The United Kingdom is considered to be the sixth-greenest country in the world. The United Kingdom scored 100 for water and sanitation, including drinking water and sanitation. There are about 8,879 win turbines currently in the U.K., supplying the country with sustainable, clean power.
Despite its growing population and GDP, Luxembourg is the seventh-greenest country thanks to its progress in decoupling environmental pressures from its growth. Luxembourg’s overall EPI score is 79.12, scoring fifth in the biodiversity and habitat category and fifth for water resources with a score of 99.76.
Austria’s EPI score is 78.97. The country is known for having strict standards for waste management, chemicals, air pollution, and agriculture. Austria ranked notably high for agriculture, receiving a score of 71.34, and ecosystem vitality with a score of 74.03.
Ireland is the ninth-greenest country with an EPI score of 78.77. Ireland scored perfect 100s for both the water and sanitation category and for PM2.5 exposure under the air quality category.
Finishing the top ten list of the greenest countries is Finland, which scored 78.64 on the EPI. Finland ranks first for environmental health with a score of 99.35 in that category. Additionally, Finland scored notably high in the heavy metals exposure, water and sanitation, and air quality categories. Finland prioritizes forest and wildlife conservation and is currently 35% powered by renewable energy sources.