Being environmentally friendly, also called eco-friendly, nature-friendly, or green, means that you are engaging in processes and practices that are sustainable and reduce or minimize harm upon ecosystems and the environment. The term also applies to goods and services, laws, guidelines, and policies that claim reduced, minimal or no damage upon the environment and ecosystems.
Environmentally friendly product, processes, and practices impose no harm to the natural environment, help conserve resources like water and energy, and prevent contributions to air, water, and land pollution.
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a method of quantifying the environmental performance of a country’s policies. The 2020 Environmental Performance Index ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across ten issue categories. These categories cover environmental health and ecosystem vitality.
The EPI measures each country's environmental trends and progress, which provides a foundation for governments to implement effective environmental policies. These measurements also allow countries to see how close they are to their established environmental policy goals. Below are the most environmentally friendly countries in the world based on their EPI score.
Denmark has an EPI score of 82.5, making it the most environmentally friendly country in the world. It stands out for high scores in the biodiversity and habitat category and air quality. Denmark has some of the most efficient policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent climate change. Denmark has long put sustainability on its agenda with eco-friendly hotels, solar-powered boats, and organic food.
Luxembourg has an EPI of 82.3. The small European country is known for its high scores in biodiversity and habitat and water resources. Luxembourg has made significant progress in protecting its environmental health despite its rapidly growing population and GDP.
Switzerland is the third-most eco-friendly nation in the world. With an EPI of 81.5, Switzerland has high rankings for environmental health, sustainability, water sanitation, and water resources. Switzerland’s public sector is increasingly requiring eco-friendly and resource-friendly products. The country is also one of the top recyclers in the world.
The U.K. has an EPI score of 81.3. The U.K. has a perfect score of 100 for sanitation and drinking water, and management of solid household fuels. The country also ranks second for climate change and first for pollution emissions. These rankings are quite impressive, considering the U.K.’s population of 66.52 million.
France’s EPI score is 80, ranking it fifth in the world for eco-friendliness. France has a perfect 100 for water sanitation and pollution emissions. The country also ranks fourth for climate change and fifth for biodiversity. France has several environmental initiatives in place, such as using hydro turbines along its rivers and banning its supermarkets from throwing or destroying good quality unsold food.
Austria is the world’s sixth-most eco-friendly country and has an EPI of 79.6. Austria has some of the strictest standards in Europe for waste management, chemicals, and air pollution. Agricultural regulations are also stringent, specifically for pesticides and fertilizers. These regulations allow Austria to have a 100 for drinking water and pollution emissions.
Finland’s EPI score is 78.9. The country ranks first in the world for air quality with a score of 99.3 and first for sanitation and drinking water and heavy metals with scores of 100. About 35% of Finland’s power comes from renewable energy resources, and forest and wildlife conservation are high priorities.
Finland’s neighbor Sweden ranks just one place below it for environmental friendliness with a score of 78.7. Sweden also ranks one place below Finland for air quality with a score of 98.2 and ranks high for both solid waste and lead. Sweden is one of the most sustainable countries, known for its use of renewable energy sources and low carbon dioxide emissions.
Finland and Sweden’s neighbor Norway is the ninth-most eco-friendly country in the world. Norway has an EPI score of 77.7. Its overall environmental health score is 98.5, with a perfect score of 100 for sanitation and drinking water and ranking fifth for air quality with a score of 97.9. The country’s current electricity production is 97% renewable, and by the end of 2020, the government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.
Germany finishes the list of the top ten most environmentally friendly countries in the world. Germany’s EPI is 77.2. Germany has a score of 100 for sanitation and ranks fourth overall for biodiversity. Germany is on its journey to increasing its eco-friendliness with 10 policies bringing it closer to “a renewable energy revolution.”