What are the most sustainable countries in the world?
Country Sustainability Ranking

What are the most sustainable countries in the world?

The RobecoSAM Country Sustainability Ranking is a comprehensive framework for analyzing countries’ performance on a wide range of ESG metrics.

By focusing on ESG factors such as aging, corruption, institutions, and environmental risks – which are long-term in nature – our country sustainability assessment offers a comprehensive view into a country’s strengths and weaknesses that are not typically covered by a traditional sovereign risk rating. Used in combination with standard sovereign bond ratings, the RobecoSAM country ESG ranking can be a powerful tool to enhance risk analysis for government bonds, enabling investors to make better informed investment decisions.

The Country Sustainability Ranking analyzes 150 countries spanning emerging and developed economies and is updated semi-annually. Insights from assessments and rankings are incorporated into the investment process for Robeco’s Government Bond Strategies and are also used to determine country weights in the S&P ESG Sovereign Bond Index Family. More information can be found below the results.




Last updated: April, 2021


How we calculate the ranking

The country ESG score is based on 40 indicators, summarized in 15 criteria. Three of which environmental with a weight of 20%, 5 social with a weight of 30% and 7 governance with a weight of 50%. The score ranges from 1 to 10 with 10 representing the highest score and 1 the lowest. 

Purpose of the country ESG score is to compare countries on basis of various ESG features that we consider to be material and financially relevant for investors. The country ESG score is calculated for a universe of 150 countries, 23 of which are classified as advanced economies and 127 as emerging market and developing countries.

Environmental Risk

All countries are exposed to and impacted by climate change, weather-related loss events and natural disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes, floods, forest fires, heat waves, hurricanes, storms, typhoons, volcanic eruptions etc., albeit to a varying degree. This criterion provides an assessment of the impact of such events both in terms of fatalities and economic losses. These events can lead to severe disruptions in the availability and production of goods and services, and thus result in adverse macroeconomic effects such as inflation, growth downturn, export losses or debt servicing problems.

Environmental Status

A high-quality and diverse natural environment enhances human wellbeing and health. Rich natural resources can be exploited to support economic development, generate fiscal and export revenues, and thus support economic growth. On the other hand, over-exploitation can lead to environmental damage, a shrinking biodiversity, a reduction of natural habitats and thus threaten an important pillar of a sustainable economic development.


A rapidly aging population poses significant challenges for an economy. It will cause a shrinking workforce, could lead to a shortage of labor, a reduction of capital investments, and therefore reduce a country's economic growth potential. In addition, it is likely to result in lower income tax revenues, lead to increased government spending on health care and pensions, and thus cause a growing fiscal burden.

Social Unrest

Research shows that the risk of violent protests, riots, and social unrest is higher in countries that are lagging in terms of economic development. Under-development is more likely to cause social unrest which tends to decline with ongoing economic growth and a growing level of happiness. Social conflict, in turn, can impose considerable economic and social costs, weaken state institutions, lead to greater uncertainty, cause political instability and thus impair economic growth.


Corruption has many different shapes and can have various effects, on the economy, the political environment as well as on society in general, as it lowers trust in the government and the rule of law. In the economy, corruption can have negative implications on growth as it affects the business climate, causes higher costs, reduces investment and tax revenues, tilts public spending toward projects that are more susceptible to bribes, and leads to lower quality of public goods and services.


Research shows that institutional organizations matter a great deal in determining a country's economic development and growth. Protection of property rights, effective law enforcement, efficient public administration, civil liberties and a wide range of similar norms appear strongly correlated to a superior economic performance. This results from the positive impact of robust institutions, which tend to reduce transaction costs, as well as risk and uncertainty, while spurring investment and investment return, and hence are likely to increase incomes.

Political Risk

Political risk is broad, multi-faceted and includes features such as government politics, the political and electoral system, and the existence of checks and balances. It is obvious that there is a strong relationship between the political environment and economic development, as businesses, financial markets and the economy as a whole are impacted by a variety of political decisions, such as taxes, government spending, regulations, fiscal and monetary policy, exchange rate and investment controls, labor laws, trade policies and tariffs, or environmental laws.