This year marks the seventh iteration of efforts by the two Ivy League universities to "provide science-based quantitative metrics as an aid to achieving long-term sustainable development goals." The EPI "ranks 132 countries on 22 performance indicators spanning ten policy categories, which track performance and progress on two broad objectives: environmental health and ecosystem vitality. The index is heavily weighted towards indicators of ecosystem vitality (70 percent), with the rest of a country's performance determined by numbers from environmental health indicators."
Switzerland came out on top of this year's index due to its leadership in "addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges." The big surprise in the top ten, which is filled with "European countries with high per-capita income levels" is the ranking of 5th place Costa Rica, "a middle-income country that has made significant investments in sustainable development, preserving its natural resources, and reducing pollution."
"The U.S., which ranked a sad 61st place in 2010, is now 49th, which is still much lower than it should be."
The inaugural trend report indicated that most countries have trended upwards between 2000 to 2010. Of those headed in the opposite direction, "Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Russia were countries with the worst negative trends. Russia, at the very bottom of the Trend EPI ranking, has suffered a severe breakdown in environmental health as well as performance declines related to over-fishing and forest loss. It shows declines in every category except for slight improvements in sulfur dioxide emissions, though levels are still far below target."