Wildlife & Biodiversity

India must redouble sustainability efforts: Environment performance index

Ranked 168 out of 180 countries; all South Asian countries, except Afghanistan, were ahead of India in the ranking  

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Sunday 07 June 2020

This story has been corrected on June 8, 2020 to reflect that India’s score on environment performance index was 27.6 out of 100 in 2020, and not in 2018. It was originally published on June 7, 2020. 

India secured 168 rank in the 12th edition of the biennial Environment Performance Index (EPI Index 2020) — that measured the environmental performance of 180 countries — and was released by the Yale University on June 4, 2020. India’s rank was 177 (with a score of 30.57 out of 100) in 2018.

The country scored 27.6 out of 100 in the 2020 index.

The global index considered 32 indicators of environmental performance, giving a snapshot of the 10-year trends in environmental performance at the national and global levels.

Poor performance South Asian region

India needs to re-double national sustainability efforts on all fronts, according to the index. The country needs to focus on a wide spectrum of sustainability issues, with a high-priority to critical issues such as air and water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

The 11 countries lagging behind India were — Burundi, Haiti, Chad, Soloman Islands, Madagascar, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoir, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Liberia.

All South Asian countries, except Afghanistan, were ahead of India in the ranking.  

Country Global Score in the EPI Index Ranking in South Asia Global ranking
Bhutan 39.3 1 107
Sri Lanka 39.0 2 109
Maldives 35.6 3 127
Pakistan 33.1 4 142
Nepal 32.7 5 145
Bangladesh 29.0 6 162
India 27.6 7 169
Afghanistan 25.5 8 178


India’s rank on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among the South Asian countries was low, according to State of India’s Environment 2020: In figures, , the annual report released by Down to Earth.

The book was released by Sunita Narain, director-general, Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment.

Environmental health should be top agenda

India scored below the regional average score on all five key parameters on environmental health, including air quality, sanitation and drinking water, heavy metals and waste management.  

These findings resonated with the concerns raised by the State of India’s Environment 2020: In figures, the annual report of released by Down to Earth magazine of the Centre for Science and Environment.

It has also scored below the regional average on parameters related to biodiversity and ecosystem services too.

Among South Asian countries, India was at second position (rank 106) after Pakistan on ‘climate change’. Pakistan’s score (50.6) was the highest under the category. A ten-year comparison progress report in the index showed that India slipped on climate-related parameters.

The performance on climate change was assessed based on eight indicators — adjusted emission growth rates; composed of growth rates of four greenhouse gases and one pollutant; growth rate in carbon dioxide emissions from land cover; greenhouse gas intensity growth rate; and greenhouse gas emissions per capita.

The report indicated that black carbon, carbon dioxide emissions and green house emissions per capita increased in 10 years. Its overall score under climate change has dipped 2.9 points.  

Good governance important

Zach Wendling, project director who led the index said in an interview, “Good governance represents the most significant determinant of top-tier results. Real public participation in the policy process, a carefully structured regulatory strategy, open debate over goals and programs, the presence of a lively media and vibrant non-profits, and a commitment to the rule of law all correlate with out-performance over time.”

CSE’s annual book, too, stated the significance of good governance. According to Sunita Narain: “The book makes it clear that we will need new futures, new directions for growth. But this can’t happen if our natural resources are threatened and our governance systems and practices are failing. ‘Green’ growth requires protection and sustainable use of our natural resources. It cannot happen if our health is compromised."

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