Only 10 Countries Meeting Basic Needs of Citizens in a Sustainable Way
Just 10 countries are meeting the basic needs of their citizens in a sustainable way, according to a new study that looks at the water use and carbon emissions of 178 nations.
For the study, researchers first determined which countries are supplying needed water without drawing down reserves faster than they can be replenished. They found that 119 nations are providing water in a sustainable manner. The exceptions lie in sub-Saharan Africa, where countries are largely failing to supply enough water, and in the Middle East, where they are meeting water needs, but not in a sustainable way.
Researchers also determined which countries are generating carbon dioxide faster than trees and other plants within their own borders can draw it down. Just 16 nations are producing carbon dioxide at a sustainable rate. These include Canada and Sweden, two sparsely populated countries that are dense with trees, and several poorer nations in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Gabon, where rainforests are able to take up their modest emissions.
“There are rich countries that are doing well and there are also some poor countries that are doing well, but the reasons for their successes are very different,” Bhavik Bakshi, a professor of engineering at Ohio State University and coauthor of the study, said in a statement.
Only 10 of 178 nations are both using water and producing carbon emissions at a sustainable rate while also meeting the basic needs of their citizens, according to the study. These include Canada, Sweden, Gabon, and Papua New Guinea. The findings were published in the journal One Earth.
“It’s imperative that experts look for ways to develop society in an ecologically sustainable manner,” Bakshi said. “At the same time, in order to be socially just, countries need to secure resources to meet the basic needs of all of its citizens.”