The world is facing increasing environmental issues, now more than ever before. As such, it has become essential for action to be taken both at an international level and within local communities – Gandhi’s quote “be the change you wish to see in the world”, comes to mind.
In the UK, we are encouraged to recycle, buy locally, use green energy and in general, we have the freedom to take the suggested actions to reduce our carbon footprint. However, in other countries in the world, this can be very different…and in some cases even better.
As such, for environmentally conscious individuals and families, a move abroad will come with some specific considerations as to how environmentally aware and proactive a country is. After all, countries range from those which are considered global leaders, instrumental in preserving our fragile planet – investing vast resources in green technologies and initiatives, to ones which are less dynamic.
How seriously a country takes its role in positively impacting the world will clearly be of importance, making it difficult to decide where would best support a green lifestyle.
Thanks to the EPI (Environmental Performance Index), it is possible to identify those countries which stand out as significant contributors to positive environmental change, sustainability and reversal of issues facing the natural world.
This index ranks 180 countries against criteria relating to the environment. To help guide your decisions – based on this index and some other factors – we’ve listed what are considered to be some of the ‘greenest’ nations in the world.
At the top of the list is Iceland with an Environmental Performance Index of 93.5. As a country that depends on its natural resources, the country is at the forefront of the fight against ocean pollution and is a global leader in renewable energy.
Iceland’s renewable energy programme – which utilises the surrounding geothermal landscapes, supplies almost all of its resistant’s with green electricity and water. This is certainly something expats looking to live an eco-friendly life would struggle to find anywhere else on the planet.
As a country that depends on its natural resources, Iceland strives to protect its fragile landscapes. Its home to some of the last remaining expanses of wilderness in Europe and boasts some the world’s cleanest waters, making it a perfect place for eco-expats.
Despite not quite making the top spot, Switzerland is still one of the most sustainable countries to call home. Ranking 89.1 on the EPI, they are renowned for their forward thinking and green policies. Switzerland’s citizens are environmentally aware and encouraged to live eco-friendly lives.
Whilst recycling is free, residents are required to pay a fee for general waste disposal and considering the country is classed as one of the world’s top recyclers, the system clearly achieves its objective.
Swiss business are incredibly eco-conscious, investing in sustainable resources to reduce their carbon output and rewarding customers who also play their part – for example, one hotel chain provides discounts for customers using hybrid vehicles.
With an EPI of 86.4, Cost Rica goal is to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world. Its strict environmental policies help to protect ecosystems and help in reducing air and water pollution.
The country boasts a vast number of wildlife species and biodiverse habitats, making animal conservation a high priority.
Famous for their substantial use of renewable energies and efforts to promote ecotourism, Costa Rica could make the perfect home for expats looking for a destination both rich in wildlife and committed to its future protection.
Not far behind is Sweden, as one of the world’s most green destinations. The country ranks number one in the EU for organic food consumption, recycling and using renewal energies and has an Environmental Performance Index of 86.0.
For most Swedes, sustainability is a way of life. Would this be the case without the underpinning policies and government initiatives? Potentially not, so it would seem Sweden sets its citizens up for success in this area.
The country’s efforts to invest in green technology and renewable energy greatly contributes to reducing the world’s carbon emissions.
In Sweden, you can rest safe in the knowledge that you can live a life geared towards sustainable economic growth and supporting residents to lifestyles which create the least negative impact to our precious eco-systems.
The country’s sustainable development strategies aim to achieve carbon neutral status by 2030. Ranking 81.1 on Environmental Performance Index, Norway is still a good contender for soon to be expats.
Through effective education programmes, Norway’s youngest citizens learn how to protect the environment and live in harmony with nature.
A sustainable approach is woven into every aspect of the culture, from reuse and recycling schemes to plogging (litter picking whilst exercising), Norwegians love to do their bit for the greater good.