Scoring low on air quality and environmental health protection, environmental experts from Yale and Columbia University recently ranked the Philippines number 55 out of 133 countries in its pilot Environmental Performance Index report released last Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The report ranked New Zealand first followed by Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, and United Kingdom as the top performers in terms of six policy categories including environmental health, air quality, water resources, biodiversity and habitat, protective natural resources, and sustainable energy.
These top-ranked countries, the report said, “commit significant resources and effort to environmental protection, resulting in strong performance across most of the policy categories.”
Prepared by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network, the study aims to help countries worldwide to reduce environmental stresses on human health and protect the vitality of ecosystems.
“The Pilot 2006 EPI deploys a proximity-to-target methodology focused on a core set of environmental outcomes linked to policy goals for which government should be held accountable,” the Report said. “This approach provides a context for spotting trends and issues of concern, evaluating policy results, highlighting leaders and laggards, and identifying best practices.”
The study used 16 indicators to calculate each countries’ scores on each policy category, namely child mortality, indoor air pollution, drinking water, adequate sanitation, urban particulates, regional ozone, nitrogen loading, water consumption, wilderness protection, ecoregion protection, timber harvest rate, agricultural subsidies, overfishing, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and carbon dioxide per GDP.
The report showed the Philippines lagging seriously behind targets in areas of indoor air pollution, regional ozone, overfishing, renewable energy, wilderness protection, adequate sanitation, and drinking water. Nevertheless, based on the overall ranking, the Philippines ranked relatively well at number 55 following Malaysia (ranked number 9), Japan (number 14), and Taiwan (number 24).
Based on the Report’s peer group ranking, the Philippines ranked number seven (7) in the Asia-Pacific Region. The best performers are New Zealand (1), Malaysia (2), Japan (3), Australia (4), Taiwan (5), and South Korea (6). Trailing the Philippines are Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.
At the bottom of the global ranking are countries including Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, and Niger. “These are underdeveloped countries with little capacity to invest in environmental infrastructure (such as drinking water and sanitation systems) and weak regulatory systems,” said the report.
The EPI concludes that a country’s wealth emerges as a significant determinant of environmental outcomes. Nevertheless, the EPI has noted that some countries achieve environmental results that far exceed their peers in their respective regions, an indication—the report said—that policy regimes determines environmental performance.
“Policy choices matter,” said Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, in a press statement. “Good governance is a critical driver of environmental performance.”
The 2006 EPI ranked the United States at number 28, significantly below other highly developed countries like the United Kingdom (5) and Canada (8), owing to its supposed underperformance on “critical issues like renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and water resources.”
“The lagging performance of the United States on environmental issues—particularly on energy and climate change—signals trouble not only for the American people, but for the whole world,” said Gus Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, in a press statement. “Perhaps, this ranking will serve as a wake up call to the American public and particularly to leaders in Washington.”