The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) rankings were released recently. Each all-purpose HDI score is intended to represent a country’s success at providing quality of life to its citizens. The index takes into account traditional factors of life including life expectancy, adult literacy and per-capita purchasing power.
However, some feel that these HDI rankings continually miss out a critical component: sustainability. This year, Chuluun Togtokh of the National University of Mongolia points out that by not factoring in per-capita carbon emissions, HDI rankings might reasonably deter smaller, less developed countries from continuing their focus on growing sustainably.
Interestingly, when carbon footprints are included to find the proposed Human Sustainable Development Index, many of the world’s top countries drop considerably in the rankings. Australia, the United States and Canada all fall out of the top 10, while Hong Kong, Sweden and Switzerland take over those top spots, and Norway remains at number one.
While both the current indexing system and Togtokh’s proposed system are each an oversimplification of a complex problem, sustainability is certainly an important aspect for our strained environment that should definitely be considered when analyzing quality of life.