By Ruth A. Pagell*
- What country has the highest Academic Freedom Index score? (AFi)
- What country in the Asia Pacific Region has the highest score for Marine protected areas? (EPI)
- What country has shown the most overall progress in Carbon emissions? (GFI)
- What country has the most gold star companies in S&P Global Yearbook?
- Is there a relationship between a country’s economic metrics and its environmental ranking?
(31 Dec 2021) In my hunt for new metrics, I venture into unfamiliar territories. Ruth’s Rankings 48 Part 1 introduced green metrics and their relationship to sustainability for rankings of higher education institutions. Part 2 broadens the scope to look at the involvement of universities in international organizations and their countries’ and companies’ involvement in green and sustainable initiatives. It introduces new sets of metrics that go beyond SDGs. Appendix A RR 48 Part 1 covers university green metrics and rankings, Appendix B includes details on a new Academic Freedom ranking, Appendix C covers environmental country rankings, and Appendix D introduces evaluations of companies. All the rankings are in Article 48-2-Table 1.
ORGANIZATION MEMBERSHIP OR PARTICIPATION
Universities not only provide data to GreenMetrics or THE Impact rankings to showcase their involvement in green initiatives. They are also members of international organizations such as those listed below:
IAU, International Association of Universities, with over 500 university members, is under the auspices of UNESCO and headquartered in Paris. New members continue to join. India has the most members and Iran is second.
AASHE Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education has over 1,000 member institutions. About 500 have current STARS ratings, and most are from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
ULSF, the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, presently maintains the list of signatory institutions of the 1990 Talloires Declaration. There are 520 as of Sept 2021. The US is first followed by Brazil and Taiwan.
COUNTRY METRICS – SOCIAL RANKINGS (See Appendix B)
Ruth’s Rankings 21 used bibliometrics, econometrics, and social indicators to rank countries. Econometric data were sourced from international bodies such as the UN and UNESCO. Social Indicators came from Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index and Human Freedom Index from the Cato and Fraser Institutes, libertarian think tanks.
A newcomer to social indicators is the Academic Freedom Index, AFi, a joint project of the Global Public Policy Institute and Scholars at Risk. The 2020 edition rates 175 countries, divided into five categories, from A being most free to E being least free. Uruguay ranks first in AFi, and New Zealand and Taiwan are top five in Asia -Pac in all three indexes. Appendix B includes a list of all Asian and Oceania countries with A or B ratings and the indicators used in AFi. Find the rankings on page 24 of the following: https://www.gppi.net/media/KinzelbachEtAl_2021_Free_Universities_AFi-2020.pdf
“GREEN” COUNTRY RANKINGS (see Appendix C for more background and metrics)
There are two primary sets of “green” country metrics created by US universities. One is Environmental Performance Index (EPI) from Yale and Columbia. The second is MIT’s Green Future Index. U.S. News has a ranking of green countries.
Environmental Performance Index EPI:
EPI is a joint venture of Yale and Columbia universities. It provides a model for those of us who are looking not only at the results, but how the results are presented. A report for each country on each metric along with GDP data and peer institutions is available to download. 2021 ranks 180 countries on two policies, 11 categories, and 32 indicators. Click here for news on the 2020 release and here for data back to 2000.
Using the interface, search by a category, Marine protected areas for example, and then by region. See the sources for the data. Download a full country report. Kiribati, a Pacific Island with a population about 120,000, is ranked 118 overall and first in this category.
Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature, https://www.iucn.org/theme/protected-areas/our-work/world-database-protected-areas
Readers who prefer visual presentations of data, check out Mapped, the greenest countries in the world. It takes EPI’s data and presents it in user-friendly fashion. It does this for other freely available datasets as well. See an example in Appendix C. Denmark is number one in the world and Japan, at 12 in the world, is tops in Asia-Pac.
Wendling, Z. A., Emerson, J. W., de Sherbinin, A., Esty, D. C., et al. (2020). 2020 Environmental Performance Index. New Haven CT. Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy
Wolf, M. (15 Dec 2021), email.
Green Future Index
Green Future Index ranks 76 countries or territories on their progress and commitment toward building a low carbon future. It measures the degree to which their economies are pivoting toward clean energy, industry, agriculture, and society through investment in renewables, innovation, and green finance. Number one in a category is not the best but the country that has shown the most progress. Ukraine is number one in Carbon emissions in this index and 27 in EPIs and Denmark is number one in EPIs and 23rd in Green Future Index. See Appendix C for indicators and weightings, the flexible interface, and rating. Iceland is number one in the world and New Zealand at eight is tops in Asia-Pac.
Green Future Report
The Green Future Index in MIT Technology Review – interface
Best Countries for Green Living from U.S. News
U.S. News differentiates its rankings from EPI. EPI evaluates the impact government policies have on environmental health while Green Living uses a global perceptions survey, ranking countries on caring about the environment and being health conscious and innovative. It ranks 78 countries, using 76 attributes, combined into 10 subgroups that are part of three categories. Sweden is number one and Japan at four is tops in Asia-Pac.
COMPANIES (Appendix D)
A recent report in Knowledge@Wharton begins with “Milton Freidman was Wrong”. In 1970, this Nobel prize winning economist wrote that “companies have no social responsibility beyond making money for shareholders” (Friedman).
The report focuses on the expanding role of corporations and the need to look at ESGs, metrics for Environment, Society, and Governance. An example of Society is the ratio of CEO pay to average pay and Governance is non-males in executive management positions. ESG global rankings are limited to large corporations traded on major stock exchanges. Weightings also differ based on industry. Three rankings are featured. Details for each product are in Appendix D along with a table that compares the top 10 in the world and Asia-Pac.
This ranking is the ESG equivalent to EPIs in that its dataset is complete and accessible. Corporations’ revenue must be more than that $1 billion. 46 are from Europe, 38 North America, 16 Asia, two from Oceania and Latin America and one from Africa. There are 21 indicators. The top company is France’s Schneider Electric and Eisai, a Japanese Pharmaceutical company is tops in Asia-Pac.
Wall Street Journal Report on Sustainably Managed Companies
First issued in October 2020, the WSJ list also includes 100 companies. The list was created using a blend of artificial intelligence and human validation. It was updated in February 2021. Access to WSJ results is limited. There is one free link to the 2020 list and no free link currently to the 2021 update. Readers with subscriptions to Wall Street Journal, Proquest Recent Newspapers, or Factiva can find more information. In addition to an overall ranking, WSJ has four categories, Environmental rank, Human capital rank, Social capital rank, and Business model and innovation rank. In October 2020 Japan’s Sony Corporation was number one in the world.
S&P assess thousands of companies. The 2021 yearbook includes 633 companies from 40 countries in 61 industries. Fewer than 300 receive ratings. 70 are gold, 74 are silver, 98 are bronze and 52 receive a rating as Industry movers, showing the strongest improvement in their industries. Thailand has the most gold ranked companies, followed by the US and Japan. There is a report for each industry. Subscribers to S&P Global reports can retrieve company scores.
Only six companies appeared in the top 100 lists and as gold or silver in S&P.
Friedman, Milton. (13 Sept 1970). A Friedman Doctrine – The social responsibility of a company is to increase its profits. NY Times, Section SM, Page 17
The metrics introduced in Article 48 Parts 1 and 2 expand the scope of evaluating universities, companies, and their countries, beyond the confines of specific goals to a more holistic picture of how the entire landscape is gradually changing priorities, for whatever motives, toward a more environmentally, green environment.
I was looking for two things, factors that contributed to good environmental performance and country performance.
EPI answered the first question for me. Chapter 3 of the 2020 EPI report presents the results of researchers’ statistical analyses that explore the drivers of good environmental performance. Using datasets from the World Bank, they found that several socioeconomic factors, including GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) were correlated with high EPI scores (Wolf). 13 countries were top 20 in all three country rankings. 12 were from Europe plus New Zealand. In addition to high income, they all have top Academic Freedom ratings, and most are of moderate size with a median rank for the 13 of 97. EPIs were compared to the bibliometric indicator, scholarly output. 14 of the EPI’s top 25 were top 25 in bibliometrics. Asian countries ranked higher in scholarly output than in EPIs.
See Table 1. The results are comparable for general conclusions only, since the data were collected at different times using different definitions.
Extract from Table 1 of top 13 countries
A list of Ruth’s Rankings and News Updates is here.
*Ruth A. Pagell is emeritus faculty librarian at Emory University. After working at Emory, she was the founding librarian of the Li Ka Shing Library at Singapore Management University and then adjunct faculty [teaching] in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii. She has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of librarianship, including contributing articles to ACCESS – https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674