The measurement of environmental trends and performance provides a foundation upon which to establish effective policies. Over the past 20 years, Yale and Columbia Universities, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, have developed a series of 24 environmental performance indicators that allow 180 countries around the world to be ranked based on these indicators.

Given the need to better understand environmental issues and polices, the world has begun to focus on data-driven environmental policy development. A more data-driven approach to environmental management and policy development makes it much easier to identify problems, track trends, showcase successes and failures, establish best practices and fine tune the investments in protecting our environment.

Recently, The Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, also working with the World Economic Forum, published the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The 2018 report found that air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health. The EPI scorecard highlights the leaders and laggards in terms of environmental performance. The EPI reveals the tension between environmental health, which rises with economic growth and prosperity and ecosystem vitality, which is stressed from industrialization and urbanization.

The top five countries according to the EPI are Switzerland, France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden. The United Kingdom is ranked 6, Canada 25, the United States 27 and Mexico 72.

The overall United States Scorecard, on a scale of 0 (the worst) to 100 (the best), is 71.19. The breakdown for the United States by 10 issue categories for the 24 indicators is as follows:

Category World Rank US EPI
Environmental Health


16 93.91
   Air Quality 10 97.52
   Water and Sanitation 29 90.92
   Heavy Metals 54 64.99
Ecosystem Vitality 69 56.04
   Biodiversity and Habitat 103 70.93
   Forests 115 8.84
   Fisheries 67 57.58
   Climate & Energy 114 45.81
   Air Pollution 83 50.46
   Water Resources 39 92.57
   Agriculture 2 72.38

Of the total of 24 indicators the United States ranks number 1 in Household Solid Fuels, Marine Protected Areas, and Drinking Water with an EPI of 100 in each category and number 2 with an EPI of 72.3 in Agriculture.

With respect to the leading environment threat, air quality, the United States is doing well with a ranking of 10 and an EPI of 97.52. While the United States is certainly one of the leaders in the world based on the rankings and EPI’s, more work needs to be done and additional environmental policies must be developed and implemented. This is especially true with respect to forests and climate and energy where the United States ranks 114 and 115 respectively out of the 180 countries included in the 2018 EPI report.

Do you have questions regarding your organization’s environmental management or policy development?  Call us at 800.717.3472 to learn more about how we can help.