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Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy Releases 2008 Environmental Performance Index

The 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), produced by environmental experts at Yale and Columbia University, was released January 23 at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The index measures the environmental performance of various countries based on established targets. Its goal is to improve policymaking and environmental decision-making.

In this latest EPI, Switzerland scored highest, with Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Costa Rica placing two through five, respectively. Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Angola, and Niger scored lowest in the index. The United States placed 39th, significantly behind other industrialized nations like the United Kingdom (14th) and Japan (21st). 

A total of 149 countries were ranked on 25 indicators tracked across six established policy categories: Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources, and Climate Change.

“The ability to benchmark performance provides an important spur to lagging performers and valuable guidance on where to look for best practices,” said Daniel C. Esty ’86, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy.  “Every country has something to learn from the 2008 EPI.”

The Environmental Performance Index was developed by the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, a joint initiative of Yale Law School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra, Italy.  The first EPI was released in 2006. 

The full text of the 2008 EPI and Summary for Policymakers is available at