The Sustainable Society Foundation has published its update of the 2006 Sustainable Society Index, which covers 151 countries. The new publication, the SSI-2008 , has been launched December 2008 and integrates for the first time sustainability and quality of life in an understandable way. The SSI is based on public data from scientific research institutes and international organizations.
The world average score is a mere 5.7 on a scale of 0 to 10. The Nordic Region is on the top for sustainable development: Sweden scored 7.02, followed by Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Austria and Iceland. Portugal (6.16) was 25th on the list of 151 countries.
Top 15 - Sustainable Society Index 2008
9 NEW ZEALAND
11 COSTA RICA
Sustainable development is a concept very much discussed and considered important for most of the people. However, it is very difficult to measure in our society. Many indexes have been developed, but until recently there was no index, which comprises all the aspects of a sustainable society, which is simple, clear and transparent and which is adequate for comparison between countries.
The SSI has been built on the solid definition of the Brundtland Commission, with the addition of the third important aspect of freedom:A sustainable society is a society:
• that meets the needs of the present generation,
• that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,
• in which each individual has the opportunity to develop himself in freedom, within a well-balanced society and in harmony with its surroundings
(this third aspect is very important to get a clear view of the quality of life in a country, because "without quality of life sustainability makes no sense and quality of life without sustainability has no future").
The framework of the ISS consists of 5 categories (each one with several indicators- the lowest scores are for Consumption of Renewable Energy (3.2) and Waste Recycling (1.7). The highest score is for International Cooperation (9.2))::
I Personal Development
1. Healthy Life
2. Sufficient Food
3. Sufficient to Drink
4. Safe Sanitation
5. Education Opportunities
6. Gender Equality
II Healthy Environment
7. Air Quality
8. Surface Water Quality
9. Land Quality
III Well-balanced Society
10. Good Governance
12. Population Growth
13. Income Distribution
14. Public Debt
IV Sustainable Use of Resources
15. Waste Recycling
16. Use of Renewable Water Resources
17. Consumption of Renewable Energy
V Sustainable World
18. Forest Area
19. Preservation of Biodiversity
20. Emission of Greenhouse Gases
21. Ecological Footprint
22. International Cooperation
Second the report, in the past two years the world made a relatively little progress towards a sustainability society.
- The scores of all 6 indicators of the category Personal Development have modestly increased (the largest contribution to this progress comes from Employment and Public Debt, due to a worldwide economy growth during the analyzed period).
- Deterioration of decisive importance issues - regardless of all plans and targets, the increase in renewable energy production does not keep in step with the rapidly growing energy consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases has, also very contrary to all targets set, further increased.
On a global scale the direction of the declining indicators should be reversed urgently to avoid further deterioration - Emission of Greenhouse Gases, Consumption of Renewable Energy, Ecological Footprint and Income Distribution.
In many countries, the inequality in Income Distribution is still growing and may become a threat for a well-balanced society. Waste Recycling, the indicator with the lowest score needs special attention, but all indicators need attention at specific regional level.
The full publication, with the data of all 151 countries, can be downloaded for free from the website - www.sustainablesocietyindex.com
IMAGE: Scheme of sustainable development: at the confluence of three constituent parts, by Johann Dréo, en.wikipedia.org, Creative Commons "Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 France"