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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 human & labor rights, climate & energy, 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.

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Last updated: April, 2022

Governance
Environmental

How we calculate the ranking

The country ESG score is based on 50 indicators, summarized in 15 criteria. Four of which environmental with a weight of 30%, 5 social with a weight of 30% and 6 governance with a weight of 40%. 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.

Climate & Energy

The climate & energy score provides an assessment of a country's performance in combating climate change and promoting renewable energies. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the environment, to people and to the global economy. Warmer weather, rising sea level and more frequent and extreme weather events are negatively affecting human health, livelihood, productivity, basic infrastructure, as well as various economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, or tourism. In this way, climate change can contribute to falling incomes, spreading poverty, increasing involuntary migration, and possibly even triggering socio-political conflicts, illustrating the need for decisive climate action.

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.

Human & Labor Rights

Human rights affect basically every area of human activity. They include civil and political rights, which refer to an individual’s rights to participate in the political life. Freedom and participation rights also extend to the cultural, economic, and social spheres, including rights such as access to education, health, and labor. While the exact of effect of basic human rights on economic growth is still a subject of dispute, freedom, participation, property rights as well as equal access to education and health appear to have a positive impact on growth. As an individual’s opportunities grow, they enjoy greater freedom and make better use of their capabilities and resources creating a positive, aggregate effect for the overall economy.

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

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.

Institutions

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.