LONDON, Sept 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United States ranks among the world’s nations least likely to achieve the set of global goals aimed at ending poverty and combating climate change that are due to be adopted this month by the United Nations, a study said on Tuesday.
The Scandinavian nations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland have the best chance of meeting the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 15-year objectives that range from ending hunger to promoting education, said the study by Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German foundation that researches and promotes social responsibility.
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.
The United States does, however, have a high gross national income, relatively clean air and ample housing, all of which would contribute to achieving some of the global goals, the study said.
Many industrialized nations could fail to meet the 17 goals, to be adopted by 193 countries at a Sept. 25-27 U.N. summit, due to inequality, energy and environmental issues, the study said.
The goals aim to end poverty, combat inequality, protect human rights, promote gender equality, protect the planet and create conditions for sustainable growth and shared prosperity.
Using indicators that could predict a nation’s success, Bertelsmann Stiftung ranked the 34 primarily wealthy member nations of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“We in the rich nations, with our growing social inequality and wasteful use of resources, can no longer present ourselves as the world’s teachers,” said Aart de Geus, Bertelsmann Stiftung chairman, in a statement. “Rather, the analysis shows us where we, too, have to do our homework.”
The nations with the lowest rankings were the United States, followed by Greece, Chile, Hungary, Turkey and Mexico in last place.
In first place was Sweden, with its low greenhouse gas emissions and high employment rate, followed by Norway which also has low greenhouse gas emissions and makes generous financial contributions to developing countries, it said.
Britain ranked in the middle, strong in its financial contributions to poor countries, air quality, ecological wastewater treatment and low material consumption, the study said.
Its weaknesses in potentially meeting the global goals include a low level of sustainable energy production, its fertilizer use in agriculture and its income gap, it said. (Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)