In this blog, Fulbright alumna - Dr. Muna Hindiyeh contributes this piece reflecting on a recent ranking of Jordan in the Global Environmental Performance Index.
Researchers at Yale and Columbia universities produce the global Environmental Performance Index report 2020, which is released every two years. It ranks 180 of the world's nations, using 32 performance indicators across 12 issue categories, on environmental health and ecosystem vitality. The data-driven and empirical approach to environmental protection makes it easier to spot problems, track trends, highlight policy successes and failures, identify best practices, and optimize the benefits of investing in environmental protection.
An EPI metric that tracks the trend in each country’s environmental performance to establish which are improving and which are declining showed that Jordan’s 10-year trend was + 11.2 point improving, Jordan rankings reach to 48th position out of 180 countries. Comparing with the year 2018 report, Jordan climbed 14 places in a key index rating its performance on environmental issues.
Three sub-categories come under the environmental health profile — health impacts, air quality and water sanitation. Under the ecosystem vitality, the EPI listed nine measurement profiles: water resources; agriculture; forests; fisheries; biodiversity and habitat; biodiversity services; climate change; solid waste management and heavy metals pollution (exposure to lead).
The Kingdom globally scored 44 in health impacts, 36 in air quality, 47th in water and sanitation, 57th in water resources, 62 in climate change; and 76th in solid waste management. Unfortunately, Jordan slipped in a key index rating as 139 in agriculture, 95 in exposure to lead; and it was positioned way down the list on biodiversity and habitat where in 154 position. The EPI 2020 did not list Jordan’s score in forest and fisheries.
European countries dominated the top 10 countries on the list. Denmark ranked as number one followed by Luxembourg, Switzerland, UK, and France rounded out the top five. The top ranked country, Denmark, has made commitments to a carbon-free future, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. Many signatories to the “Paris agreement” have ramped up their commitments to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, especially in Europe.
None of the Arab states came in the top 20 countries on the index. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) came at the top of Arab states listed on the EPI by occupying the 42nd position; Kuwait came in the 47th position, followed by Jordan 48th. Tunisia ranked number 71 on the EPI list, Lebanon number 78 and Algeria number 84th. Saudi Arabia came in the 90th position, while Morocco ranked number 100, Iraq number 106 and Oman number 110.
USA ranking 24th in the 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). China, which suffers from poor air quality, has made significant investments in solar energy and reducing its dependence on coal, and climbed the rankings to 120th place. China is still a big polluter but has made "much more dramatic progress than other countries. India, which also sees its cities choking under polluted air quality, ranked 168th.