The latest Happy Planet Index – measuring the sustainable well-being of a country – shows that South Africa is far from developing a long, sustainable and happy life for its people.
With an index rand of 128th out of 140 countries measured by the index, South Africa is the 13th worst-off place on earth for long-term sustainable living – ranked even lower than neighbouring country, Zimbabwe.
The Happy Planet Index is a measure of sustainable well-being. It compares how efficiently residents of different countries are using natural resources to achieve long, fulfilling lives.
It determines its score and ranking order by looking at four key components – life expectancy, experienced well-being, inequality of outcomes and ecological footprint – with data collected from official sources as well as the Gallup World Poll.
The 2016 data has been adjusted for inequalities in life expectancy and experienced well-being, the group said.
Overall, countries where health and education are at the top of the agenda – as well as moves toward renewable energy and reducing their carbon footprint – tend to produce more long-term sustainability and well-being for its people.
On the other side of the coin, countries with high rates of inequality, low environmental focus and poor health tend to fall to the bottom of the index.
The top and bottom 10 Happy Planet countries
Costa Rica was ranked as the happiest country in the world, with a Happiness Score of 44.7. This is followed by Mexico, Colombia, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
“People living in Costa Rica have higher well-being than the residents of many rich nations, including the USA and the UK, and live longer than people in the USA,” the group said.
According to Happy Planet, Costa Rica is such a planet-happy place due to the abolition of its army, where funds were reallocated to education, health and pensions. “Costa Rica invested more in education and health as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product than the UK,” the group noted.
Additionally, the country is “a world leader” in environmental protection.
Chad was ranked as the unhappiest country in the world, below Mongolia, Benin, Togo and – surprisingly – Luxembourg. Luxembourg’s score is dragged down by an “enourmous ecological footprint”, which is the biggest in the world, according to the group, despite it being one of the smallest countries.
“Luxembourg’s carbon footprint accounts for the lion’s share of its Ecological Footprint, and is double the size of the USA’s. It has the highest car ownership rate and highest energy consumption per capita in Europe.,” Happy Planet said.
South Africa’s score of 15.9 was dragged down by high levels of inequality, a lower life expectancy, and poor levels of ecological progress.
Source: Business Tech