The United States ranked 35th globally on sustainable development

Paris/New York, Friday, June 28, 2019 – A new report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) ranks the United States 35th out of 162 countries in terms of sustainable development. The United States ranks well below the Nordic countries that top this year’s index – Denmark, Sweden and Finland – and among the worst across OECD countries with a total score of 74.5%.

The Index and ranking were designed based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which were unanimously adopted in 2015 by the 193 member states of the United Nations. These goals aim to reconcile economic prosperity with reduced inequalities and to address issues related to biodiversity loss and the climate crisis.

The report finds that no country in the world has achieved the 17 SDGs. Based on trend data available, no country is on track for achieving the SDGs by 2030, including the United States.

The United States obtains its best results on SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). Poverty, income inequalities, and universal access to healthcare and other public services remain important challenges which affect the U.S.’ performance of on SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities). As in other high-income countries, high levels of CO2 emissions and pollution and threats to biodiversity will require major transformations to achieve the SDGs by 2030, the target year set by the United Nations. The United States also generates important negative environmental and security externalities (or spillovers) that undermine other countries’ ability to achieve the SDGs.

The report includes contributions by Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs (Columbia University), the Prime Minister’s Office of Finland, and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). For the first time, the results were audited statistically by the European Commission.

The report is based on data produced by international organizations, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the OECD. It also uses data produced by civil society and research centres.

As always, the analysis is limited by the availability, quality, and comparability of data. A table summarizing the major gaps of this study is included inside the report.


Guillaume Lafortune
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