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Global metrics for the environment

Careful measurement of environmental trends and progress provides a foundation for effective policymaking. The 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across ten issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These metrics provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals. The EPI thus offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance, gives insight on best practices, and provides guidance for countries that aspire to be leaders in sustainability.

The Logic of Environmental Metrics

The world has entered a new era of data-driven environmental policymaking. With the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, governments are increasingly being asked to explain their performance on a range of pollution control and natural resource management challenges with reference to quantitative metrics. A more data-driven and empirical approach to environmental protection promises to make it easier to spot problems, track trends, highlight policy successes and failures, identify best practices, and optimize the gains from investments in environmental protection.

Two Dimensions Of Environmental Performance

With 20 years of experience, the EPI reveals a tension between two fundamental dimensions of sustainable development: (1) environmental health, which rises with economic growth and prosperity, and (2) ecosystem vitality, which comes under strain from industrialization and urbanization. Good governance emerges as the critical factor required to balance these distinct dimensions of sustainability.


Two Dimensions of Environmental Performance
Tracking two fundamental dimensions of sustainable development: (1) environmental health, which rises with economic growth and prosperity, and (2) ecosystem vitality, which comes under strain from industrialization and urbanization.

2018 EPI Framework

The 2018 EPI Framework organizes 24 indicators into ten issue categories and two policy objectives.


Weights used in each level of aggregation shown in parentheses