‘Earth is the only planet where we have chocolate, so take care of it!’. You must have read this line a billion times now. It’s funny, it’s trending and if it gives you some motivation, it’s actually good! But deforestation, throwing junk in water bodies and the effects of global warming aren’t basically funny. Mother Earth sustains us, it is beautiful and irreplaceable. We solely are the reason of its degradation and only we can save it. While economy and capitalisation has become prime agendas of governments today, environmental budget is easily cut off the picture. To keep check on environmental performance, Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with some committees made an Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and ranked countries on the basis of pollution, water quality, sanitation, forests, industrial carbon intensity etc. Here is a list of top 12 cleanest countries in the world according to their EPI score of 2016.
United Kingdom has strict cleanliness rules and heavy fine is imposed on violations. A company named ‘Thames Water’ was fined a whooping £380,000 for polluting a local stream by one of their sites for sewage treatment works. Taking a look at forestry, thanks to UK’s mild winters and ample rain, it is ideal for tree growth. More than 13% of its area is covered in woodland and is increasing rapidly. With an EPI score of 87.38 the Queen’s land is ranked twelfth.
New Zealand is known for its lush green forests and freshwaters. It is also ranked as one of the safest countries in the world with a very low crime rate. Nearly 30% of land mass is in public ownership and is reserved. New Zealand has 13 National Parks and 19 marine reserves and an impressive EPI score of 88!
Eventhough water pollution is a major problem in France, it manages to score EPI 88.2. In 1994, when 20% of its forests were damaged by acid rain, France took major steps and later protected 14% of its total land. As many as 14 biosphere reserves, 4 national parks and two world heritage sites were opened. Today, some of the water bodies like Calanque de Sormiou are crystal clear and one can almost see the bottom of the calanque.
Malta is a southeast European island in the Mediterranean Sea. The Maltese government strongly believes that human health and diseases are directly affected by environment. Even after being one of the smallest and densely populated countries in the world, it has an EPI score of 88.48. There are many reserves and national parks in the island making it a healthy, green and clean place to live in.
Estonia is beautiful county with a lot of tourist and picnic places. With more than 1,500 islands, it has 5 National parks, a whopping 130 landscape protection areas and more than a 100 nature reserves. The largest reserve covers an area of 342 km2. Estonia is all set to provide 20% of its energy use from renewable sources by 2020, topping the European Union’s list. Its EPI score is 88.59 in the 2016 list of clean countries.
Portugal is a very clean, welcoming and beautiful nation. In 1996, the country was having major environmental issues because of industrial carbon dioxide emissions. But over the last couple of years, Portugal has made remarkable developments in environmental protection and quality of life improvement. According to recent findings, 98.2% of the drinking water complies with health standards and almost 100% of bathing water is safe. With an EPI score of 88.63, Portugal is ranked 7th in the list.
Spain is a beautiful country located in south-western Europe on the coast of Mediterranean Sea. The country takes its cleanliness and environmental protection very seriously. In 2014, 42.8% of its electricity was generated by renewable sources. It is one of the world leaders in wind power generation. In recent years, environmental taxes have increased and major laws have been enacted like, packaging waste, environmental impact assessment, integrated pollution prevention etc. It has an impressive EPI of 88.91.
If you’re planning on going somewhere for the vacations, Slovenia can be a perfect spot as it has a wonderful natural environment. You will be amazed by the cleanliness, diversity and the kind of people. Slovenia has a number of protected areas which include bird sanctuaries, national parks, several landscape parks and other ‘Special Protected Areas’. It ranks fifth with an EPI score of 88.98.
With around 14% area marked under protected area, Denmark has a long tradition of nature protection with its first Natural Conservation Act came into force in 1917. It is due to the strong commitments of the country on reducing emissions through increasing efficiency and renewable energy production, Denmark is ranked number four with an EPI score of 89.21.
Sweden has a sound environmental government system. It is based on the principle of putting a high price on any environmental harmful activity. For most Swedes today, sustainability has become a way of life. The country’s environmental technology sector employs 40,000 people. A lot of institutes are funded for research on sustainability and complex global environmental issues.
You know a country is very serious about its environmental issues when it has over a 100 protected areas which is 21% of its total land! Iceland is a sparsely populated island country with a number of lava fields, mountains and glaciers. It is basically a land of ‘hot and cold’. Iceland is a great tourist attraction because if its massive amount of geological activities.
With a score of 90.68, Finland tops the list. Finland sets a great example for the rest of the world on protecting natural environment. It is one of the wealthiest industrialised country and invests large sums on its environmental policies. Many polluted lakes and rivers have been cleaned up, forests are managed more sensitively and emissions from industries, transport and homes have been curved to a large extent. Water quality is rated excellent across 80% of the Finland’s lakes. Finland has strict cleanliness laws and they sure are working great, making it the cleanest country in the world according to latest reports.
It is much harder and expensive to repair any damage than is to prevent it from happening. Statistics shocked everyone as 2.52 million km2 of tree covered area were lost in 2014, an area roughly twice the size of Peru. Mother Earth needs your attention! It is our little steps that contribute to a bigger change. So, just make sure however and in whatever way you can, take care of her and of yourself.