Sunday, July 17, 2011

Who is the fairest of them all? Switzerland

"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. otherwise what is there to defend."Robert Reford

Following yesterday's US environmental chart I decided to do some more research on where Switzerland stands on the matter? We all know the Swiss must be hovering among the top 10 but how clean are the Swiss exactly? Well, according to the Environmental Performance Index (a ranking released by experts at Yale and Columbia universities) Switzerland was at No. 1 followed by the Scandinavian bloc (Sweden, Norway, Finland) and then Costa Rica in 2008! Unfortunately Iceland beat us to it in 2010. I am wondering if that was before or after the vulcano outbreak that stranded so many travellers (including myself!) last spring? To see details on Switzerland click here.

The United States, for its part, came in 61st (39th in 2008) among the 149 countries tracked in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. That's well behind other industrialized nations like the United Kingdom (14) and Japan (20, before the earthquake!), the researchers noted. Most members of the European Union outranked the United States! Click here to see ranking per country.

EPI indicators are:

Released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the index tracks 25 indicators in ten policy categories: environmental health, air pollution, water resources (effects on humans and on ecosystem), biodiversity and habitat, productive natural resources, climate change, agriculture, fishery and forestry.

"At a time when so much scientific evidence is telling us that the Earth's ecosystems are in crisis, it is inexcusable that our collective investment in environmental monitoring is so low. For some critical issues such as water it is actually decreasing," said Marc Levy, deputy director of Columbia’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network.

"When a hospital patient's health worsens," he added, "doctors increase their monitoring, and we need to do the same for the planet."

My personal bet would be that Switzerland will regain it's well deserved first place in the ranking of Environmental Performance next time around.

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