The world's environmental grades have been posted by Yale University. So, which countries are really "walking the talk" with their national environmental policies and actions?
European nations are at the top of the world class, with a lone contender from the Americas – Costa Rica, placing 5th best in the world for its environmental performance, according to the recent Environmental Performance Index (EPI) released by the Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network. Costa Rica is the only country in the Americas that made it to the top 10, where Europeans dominate the list.
The 2012 study was created in collaboration with the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission in Italy, along with more than 50 expert contributors from other world universities, institutes, commissions and committees. The EPI evaluates aspects such as climate adaptation, recycling, quality of the Earth, and nuclear safety, as well as exposure to toxic chemicals, among others.
Worldwide, Switzerland heads the list, thanks to its environmental policies that have created one of the cleanest cities in the world, Zurich. Switzerland's top ranking on the 2012 EPI is in large part due to its high performance in air pollution control and natural resource management, the study reports. On the other hand, Iraq is the country with the lowest score of the evaluation, followed by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and South Africa. These countries are water scarce and face significant sustainability challenges; the first three also are known for weak governance, the EPI states.
In the Americas, the next ranking country after Costa Rica is Colombia at #27. Brazil is ranked #30, Canada is #37, and the USA is ranked #49.
2012 Global EPI rankings:
- Costa Rica
- United Kingdom
The 2012 Environmental Performance Index tracks performance and progress on two broad policy objectives: Environmental Health and Ecosystem Vitality. Results are tallied on a quantitative basis using the best data available from international, academic, and research institutions with subject-area expertise, the report states.
The 2012 EPI ranks 132 countries on 22 performance indicators in the following 10 policy categories:
- Environmental Health
- Water (effects on human health)
- Air Pollution (effects on human health)
- Air Pollution (ecosystem effects)
- Water Resources (ecosystem effects)
- Biodiversity and Habitat
- Climate Change
Though it is a country with a middle-income, Costa Rica earned its high EPI marks for its commendable policies on the environment. Costa Rica was distinguished in March this year for its environmental sustainability by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Portasol Rainforest and Ocean View Community
Portasol is a sustainable community in the Central Pacific coastal area of Costa Rica, near Manuel Antonio and Dominical, which is firmly committed to its environmental practices. The residential community and tourism vacation rental business offers impressive properties in the rainforest with ocean views, unique vacation rental options, property management and other services.
Set on 1,300 acres of pure rainforest and river along the Portalón River Valley, Portasol Rainforest and Ocean View Community maintains its own 200-acre private nature reserve. Three spectacular private homes, 2 modern bungalows by the river, and 1 duplex overlooking the forest provide comfortable vacation lodging to guests. Residential lots are large – starting at 5,000 m2 (1.5 acres) to 10,000 m2 (3 acres). Portasol's environmental policies mandate that only 15% of each lot may be used for construction; the remaining 85% must be preserved in "green space."
Portasol's development enjoys sweeping views up and down the Pacific Coast from Manuel Antonio to Dominical. The Quepos Airport is a 20-minute drive away, and it is only 30 minutes to Quepos/Manuel Antonio and also Dominical to the south. The long, uncrowded beach of Matapalo is only a 5-minute drive away.
Portasol is an excellent example of Costa Rica's exemplary environmental performance in the world's quest to preserve the planet.
By Shannon Farley