the global sustainable competitiveness index

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2013

Key findings of the 2013 Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index include:

  • The Scandinavian nations have tightened their grip on the top four positions, followed by Central and Northern European Nations. Canada (7) is the only non-European country in the top 10
  • The large economies keep their position within the rankings: Japan (12), UK (25), US (27). Brazil (28) is highest ranked amongst the BRICS countries
  • Asian nations (Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and China) remain leading in terms of sustaining innovation capabilities
  • Natural Capital and Resource Efficiency rankings are topped by countries with high availability of water resources, favourable climate conditions, and rich biodiversity. Clear distinctions are visible between countries within the same development stages. Large parts of the human population are living in countries with high natural capital depletion combined with low resource efficiency (China, India), raising concerns regarding the capabilities to achieve sustainable wealth.
  • The Social Cohesion ranking is headed by Scandinavian and Northern European countries, indicating that a strong social fabric is a result of the combination of economic development and equality initiatives.

For full details, data and tables, please download the Global Sustainable Competititiveness Report 2013 here (PDF, 5 MB)

Natural Capital Index
The natural capital sustainability map  indicates a certain correlation with the level of human activities and population density. Large countries with a comparably small population density and rich biodiversity are on top of the Natural Capital ranking (North America, Scandinavia, Brazil).  A large number of countries located in tropical areas (at the intersection of Central and South America, West Africa, South-East Asia) also seem to have the potential to achieve sustainable development based on their respective natural capital. Both of these observations underline the overarching importance of the availability of water for humanity.

The top ten according to natural capital indicators contains some surprising and not well known countries like Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Guyana, and Laos - whereas the OECD’s representation in the top twenty is limited to Canada, Ne Zealand, Denmark and Norway. The ranking of China (149) and India (126) are affected by a combination of arid climate, high population density, and depletion levels, raising some concerns to these countries ability to sustain their large populations.

Resource Intensity Index

The resource intensity ranking is topped by less developed countries, with no OECD nation in the top 20 – Switzerland, the highest ranking of the developed economies, coming in on rank 31. The World’s economic powerhouses score comparable low  - Germany in rank 86, Japan at 107, and the USA at 133. Brazil (rank 43) is positioned the highest among the large emerging economies, while India at 120, China (141) and Russia (151) have a distinctive potential for improving their resource intensity.

The resource intensity map shows that the resource intensity of less developed countries seems to be lower than that of higher developed countries - despite the weighting (as calculated by relevance) for scores measured against economic output (GDP) being significantly higher than for absolute intensity scores (measured against capita).

The main implication of the rankings are related to stability of economic growth:  should global prices for raw materials and energy rise significantly in the future (as the majority of available research suggests), the countries in the lower ranks will face substantial higher challenges to maintain their growth compared to countries with higher efficiency and intensity scores.

Sustainable Innovation Capability Index

The innovation and competitiveness ranking is dominated by Asian nations and OECD countries from the Northern hemisphere, topped by Asian countries (Singapore, South Korea, Japan, China), with all other top-ten places (Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, in order of ranking) and top twenty spots going to European countries expect for Israel (12) and Canada (19). The USA is ranked 22th, the UK 31st, followed by Brazil (35th) as the highest ranked country of the Southern hemisphere. The only other nations from outside Europe or North-East Asia in the top 50 are New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Costa Rica, Oman, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Bahrain. Other than Oman, Uzbekistan and Thailand, there is no representation from Africa, Central Asia or South-East Asia within the leading 50 nations in terms of innovation capability and sustainable competitiveness.

Social Cohesion Index

The four Scandinavian countries occupy the top 4 spots of the Social Cohesion ranking, with other Central and Northern European countries (Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Germany,) filling the top ten.  The first non-European countries in the Social Cohesion ranking are Canada (13), followed by new Zealand (32). The highest ranked non-OECD country is Qatar (24th), Japan (35) in Asia, Uruguay (67) in South America, while the first African Nation is Tunisia (72).  Of the emerging economies, China is ranked 65, India 77, and Russia 114, and Brazil 125. The USA , due to comparable high crime rates and low availability of health services, is  ranked 59th.

Most African nations, particular below in and South of the Sahel zone, are at the bottom of this list, due to a combination of low availability of health care services and child mortality, limited freedom of expression and unstable human rights situation.

Sustainable Competitiveness rankings (click to enlarge)

Natural Capital rankings (click to enlarge)

Resource Intensity rankings (click to enlarge)

Sustainable Innovation capability rankings (click to enlarge)

Social Cohesion rankings (click to enlarge)

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