Top 10 Most Sustainable Countries in the Middle East and Africa
Yale’s Environmental Performance Index ranks 180 countries on their environmental performance. We take a look at the top ten in the Middle East and Africa.
77th on the EPI rankings is the United Arab Emirates, with an environmental health score of 67.88 and an ecosystem vitality score of 52.92. Since it began to export its oil reserves in 1962, its economy has boomed. According to the UN, sustainability is at the core of what UAE visualises for its future. It established a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) committee in 2017.
The major industries of Lebanon are banking, jewellery, and food processing. Lebanon received an EPI ranking of 67th in the world, with an environmental health score of 83.25 and an ecosystem vitality score of 46.30. According to a Voluntary National Review of Lebanon by the UN, water and air pollution in conjunction with waste management are Lebanon’s greatest struggles when it comes to environmental sustainability. Its government created strategies to respond to said impediments with a mid-term infrastructure investment that seeks to increase usage of renewable energy sources.
As part of Egypt’s aims towards becoming more sustainable, it has rolled out a programme that intends to affirm local accountability for water supply and sanitation service, end plastic use and air pollution, and become more dependent on renewable energy by the year 2020. With an environmental health score of 68.61 and an ecosystem vitality of 56.28, it ranks 66th in the world in terms of EPI. Air pollution and water pollution in the Nile are some of Egypt’s primary environmental concerns.
One of Jordan’s greatest assets is the biodiversity available to it due to its unique geography. Starting in 2005, the Jordanian government developed a plan of action to ensure the survival of this biodiversity through sustainable development initiatives. Jordan ranks 62nd in the world through the EPI, with a score of 86.69 for environmental health and of 45.87 for ecosystem vitality. One of the greatest environmental threats in Jordan is water scarcity. The country recently put in place the “Red Sea-Dead Sea” project, with the ultimate goal of providing 99% of the population with safe potable water, according to EcoMENA.
Kuwait ranks 61st in the world’s EPI ranking, with an environmental health score of 70.55 and an ecosystem vitality score of 56.77. The primary industries in the country are the government sector and the oil industry, Kuwait being in possession of approximately 7% of the world’s oil reserves, according to export.gov. Due to being limited in resources such as land and water, Kuwait’s environmental focus relies on reducing the impact of global warming as well as air, land, and water pollution.
Tunisia comes 58th in the world EPI rankings, with a score of 81.12 for environmental health and 49.83 for ecosystem vitality. The Tunisian Association for the Protection of Nature and the Environment, a non-profit founded in 1971 and united to Friends of the Earth in 1995, has been an active force in the promotion of healthy environmental habits in Tunisia. It was key in setting the Water Code and Urban Planning code and helped develop the Forestry Code and maritime resource regulations.
With a world EPI ranking of 54th place, Morocco has an environmental health score of 67.43 and an ecosystem vitality score of 60.82. According to Social Watch, it is the second richest country in the Mediterranean in terms of biodiversity. Among the green policies of Morocco, there are efforts to conserve its underground aquifers, the treatment of the ocean as an important natural resource, and the lifting of all subsidies for diesel and petroleum fuel to encourage the development of alternative energies.
Seychelles ranks 39th in the EPI’s world rankings, with an environmental safety score of 77.72 and an ecosystem vitality score of 58.22. The oldest oceanic islands on Earth, Seychelles is home to several thousand endemic species of flora and fauna, according to Nature Seychelles. As a result, its efforts in the conservation of these, removing the Seychelles magpie-robin and the Seychelles Scops Owl from the highest extinction threat category, have been globally-renowned success stories. In 2018, the Seychelles government initiated a marine spatial plan, designating a 210,000 square kilometre area of ocean as their responsibility to protect and manage.
Despite Qatar’s heavy reliance on the oil industry, in terms of EPI ranking, it comes 32nd in the world in terms of sustainability, with an environmental health score of 74.18 and an ecosystem vitality score of 63.54. The country has established national targets to reduce flaring emissions. The Second National Development Strategy (2017-2022) to be implemented by the Qatar government has been confirmed by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics to assimilate the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN.
The most sustainable country in the Middle East and Africa, Israel places 19th in the EPI world rankings, with an environmental health score of 94.14 and an ecosystem vitality score of 62.25. One of the primary concerns for Israel was drinking water shortage, which was solved by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. The company’s desalination and water recycling practices are used as models world-wide, from India, Cyprus and Uganda, to Southern California. With strong economic growth, Israel’s investment in innovation, both on home soil and internationally, has been key to its sustainable development, according to the UN.
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