Tuesday, February 02, 2010


In 2008, New Zealand was ranked as the 7th most sustainable country in the world according to the World Economic Forum's Environmental Performance Index. They've just released the latest version, and we have fallen to 15th. We’re still ahead of Australia (50th) and the United States (61st), but we're now behind the UK and France.

As before, there have been significant methodological changes, meaning the 2008 and 2010 rankings aren't really comparable. The key change is to give more weight to climate change - the key environmental problem of the age, and something we perform dismally at. But that's no excuse for dismissing the results. Countries which did better than us in 2008, such as Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, still did better than us this year, reflecting their generally better environmental performance. And as a country which prides itself on being "clean and green", we should be aiming to be up there with them, not falling behind. We can do that by improving our environmental performance. Unfortunately, with our government's relaxed attitude to climate change, that looks unlikely.