The U.S. + Greece, Hungary and Turkey

What does the U.S. have in common with Greece, Hungary and Turkey?

It seems least likely among the OECD nations to achieve the United Nations' new sustainable development goals set for 2030.

That's the judgement of the Germany's largest private NGO study group, the Bertelsmann Stiftung, after the first study of its kind.

"The countries best positioned to achieve the new UN goals are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland," it concludes. "The nations with the lowest ranking are the USA, Greece, Chile, Hungary, Turkey and Mexico."

Nowhere near goals

In fact, the study using 30 indicators for the 17 sustainable development goals in the 'club of rich nations' finds: "Most industrialized countries in the OECD are not yet ready for the international community's new sustainability pledge. Many are nowhere near achieving the global policy objectives that are to be adopted by the heads of state or government at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit this month. Indeed, there is the danger that the targets for many indicators will be missed entirely."


The rich industrialized nations are particularly behind target because of social inequality and environmental pollution, reports the study headed by Dr. Christian Kroll.

"Social inequality has now reached record levels in industrialized nations and continues to rise. In 23 OECD states the wealthiest 10 percent of the population now earn at least as much as the poorest 40 percent," the Stiftung notes.

"Great differences are also apparent in, for example, environmental pollution. Countries like Australia or Mexico discharge over six times as much carbon dioxide per unit of economic output as do Sweden or Norway."

"The share of renewable energy also varies considerably between countries. South Korea, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands use less than 4 percent of renewable energies. By contrast, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have already achieved a share of over 47 percent, which they are steadily expanding without hindering economic growth."

First comparative study

The report is available for free download on the Stiftung site.

The Stiftung notes that it is "the world's first comparative study of the new global Sustainable Development Goals, which, unlike the Millennium Development Goals, set standards not only for emerging and developing countries, but also for the industrialized nations".

Minuses and pluses

A Thomson Reuters Foundation report by Ellen Wulfhorst, featured on Huffington Post, said the study found the United States behind on its income gap between rich and poor, consumption behaviour and environmental protection. "The nation generates more than twice the municipal waste per capita than do the highest ranked nations."

Holding the United States back are such issues as its income gap between rich and poor, consumption behavior and environmental protection, the study said. The nation generates more than twice the municipal waste per capita than do the highest ranked nations, the study said.

On the plus side, the U.S. has "a high gross national income, relatively clean air and ample housing".


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