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10 Most Sustainable Countries in the World 

May 4, 2023 | Blog

Sustainability has become a crucial issue today due to climate change and environmental degradation. Sustainable practices satisfy present needs while preserving the resources for future generations. Consequently, sustainability has become a significant factor in ranking countries based on their economic, social, and environmental policies.  

This blog post will examine the top 10 most sustainable countries worldwide, analyzing the reasons for their high rankings. Furthermore, we will take a closer look at some of the sustainable practices that have contributed to their success and discuss the importance of sustainability for our planet’s future. 

Criteria for Sustainability Ranking

Sustainability is a multifaceted concept that involves environmental, social, and economic factors. Various criteria must be considered to determine which countries are leading in sustainability.  

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is widely used for ranking sustainability. It is a comprehensive index that ranks countries based on their environmental performance across different indicators. The EPI includes factors such as air and water quality, biodiversity, and habitat protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the sustainability of a country’s energy and transportation systems.   

Other criteria may include a country’s social welfare policies and economic sustainability. By considering a range of different factors, it is possible to get a more comprehensive picture of a country’s sustainability performance. 

Top 10 Most Sustainable Countries in the World

most sustainable countries in the world

1. Denmark

Denmark’s Environmental Performance Index score in 2022 was 77.9, much lower than its score in 2020 of 82.5, as is the case in most other nations. Nonetheless, Denmark retains its position as the world’s most sustainable country. In addition to receiving special recognition for its efforts in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, Denmark stands out for having excellent ratings in “nearly all topics covered by the EPI.”  

Moreover, Denmark is among the select few nations with “net zero” CO2 emissions by 2050. Denmark has long prioritized sustainability, advocating clean products like eco-friendly hotels, solar-powered boats, and organic food and enacting some of the most effective legislation in the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions and stop climate change. Denmark is a global pioneer in sustainable transportation with well-established bike lanes and public transportation networks. The nation is likewise dedicated to lowering carbon emissions and has set ambitious targets for renewable energy. 

2. United Kingdom

The UK is the second most sustainable country in the world. With a 2022 EPI score of 77.7, the United Kingdom ranked second globally, and its 23-point increase from 2012 to 2022 was the third-highest improvement of any nation. The UK is one of the few countries on pace to cut its net CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, along with Denmark, which especially singled out the UK’s efforts to manage greenhouse gas emissions.  

The UK was one of just six nations to receive a perfect score of 100 for sanitation and drinking water. It also receives excellent marks for controlling soil acidification and solid domestic fuel consumption.  

3. Finland

Finland comes third in this list of top 10 sustainable countries. Finland shares the top spot in several performance measures with many other high-scoring countries, including grassland loss (protection), marine protected areas, wastewater treatment, soil acidification, sanitation, drinking water, solid household fuels, PM2.5 (air quality), “black carbon” emission and heavy metals.  

 Finland had the third-highest EPI rating (76.5) in 2022. Finland gets over 35% of its energy from renewable sources, and protecting its forests and animals is a top priority. Finland is also home to one of the world’s most sustainable cities, Helsinki, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2035. 

4. Malta

Malta, rated 23rd on the 2020 EPI but improved by 25.4 points from 2012 and 2022, the most increase of any nation worldwide during that time, soars into fourth position. Malta tied for a top place in many areas, including N2O emissions, marine trophic index (which gauges the caliber of fish in its fisheries), and conservation of forest cover.  

Together with Ireland and Botswana, Malta is one of only three nations to share the top spot in the GHG intensity growth rate, which gauges a nation’s capacity to expand economically without raising its GHG emissions. 

5. Sweden

The fifth position goes to Sweden, which ranks highly in several air and water quality areas, such as soil acidification and PM2.5. Sweden also ranks fourth globally for lead management and is second for sustainable pesticide use, only one spot behind Australia. Sweden had the fifth-highest EPI rating (72.7) in 2022. 

Sweden is renowned for its utilization of renewable energy sources and minimal carbon dioxide emissions, making it one of the world’s most green countries in the world. Sweden is renowned for its cutting-edge approaches to sustainability, including recycling and waste management initiatives that have reduced landfill waste to a minimum. The nation has implemented laws to lower greenhouse gas emissions and aims to become carbon neutral by 2045. 


6. Luxembourg

Luxembourg, a small European country, ranks sixth in the world in environmentally-friendly countries with an EPI of 72.3. It is second to Botswana worldwide for conserving its varied plant and animal species. In the areas of sanitation, waste management, household solid fuel consumption, and soil acidification, Luxembourg likewise achieves top rankings. The fact that Luxembourg has protected its environmental health while having the world’s highest gross domestic income per capita and a fast-expanding population is perhaps most noteworthy. 

7. Slovenia

Slovenia, the seventh-ranked nation in Eastern Europe according to the 2023 EPI, is only ranked 35th in total air quality due to its disappointing greenhouse gas emissions. While it has the best Terrestrial Biomes, the least amount of Wetland Loss and Soil Acidification, and the best Species Protections in the world, it is placed second in the world in terms of overall Ecosystem Vitality. According to the EPI, Slovenia has the greatest amount of protected land in all of Europe—more than 30%. 


8. Austria

Austria, which ranks first globally in Ecosystem Vitality and is the only nation to score higher than Slovenia, is the eighth-most environmentally friendly country globally with an EPI of 66.5. Austria has some of Europe’s strictest regulations in sectors such as waste management, chemicals, and air pollution.

Austria is a pioneer in eco-friendly tourism, promoting sustainable accommodations and transportation. Also, the nation has put measures in place to guard its natural resources and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is subject to strict laws, particularly concerning pesticides and fertilizers. 

9. Switzerland

Switzerland, ranked ninth, has excellent environmental health, sustainability, water resources, and water sanitation. Environmentally and resource-friendly solutions are becoming increasingly necessary in Switzerland’s public sector. The nation heavily supports renewable energy and is among the top recyclers in the world. For instance, SBB (Swiss Federal Railways), Switzerland’s major transportation provider, relies on electric trains, and as of 2023, 90% of the electricity used by the trains was produced by hydropower facilities. 

10. Iceland

Iceland, the tenth-placed country in 2023, tops the global Environmental Health rankings, which include factors like Air Quality, PM2.5 (a measure of particle air pollution), Drinking Water, Ozone, Sanitation, Waste Management, Lead, Recycling, and more. Although there aren’t many areas of concern with Iceland’s environmental performance, the EPI research suggests that better grazing management in the agriculture sector might raise Iceland’s ranking even higher. 

Apart from ESG Impact Ratings for companies, Inrate also offers ESG Impact Ratings for sovereigns

In Conclusion,

the issue of sustainability has become increasingly important for countries worldwide, and many have taken significant steps to address environmental, social, and economic challenges. The top 10 most sustainable countries highlighted in this article have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability through various policies and practices. 

Moreover, rating agencies such as Inrate provide valuable assessments of corporate sustainability performance and evaluations of a country’s overall economic and financial stability, which can be essential for determining sustainability. By considering both sovereign ratings and corporate ratings, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of a country’s sustainability performance. 

Achieving sustainability requires a global effort, and all countries, organizations, and individuals must work together to create a more sustainable future. By looking at the examples set by the top sustainable countries, we can learn from their innovative practices and take inspiration to impact sustainability positively. 

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