Main results 2016


  1. Human Wellbeing (HW) has the highest score (6.4) of the three wellbeing dimensions, which means the world is about two-third on the way to full sustainability for HW. Environmental (EW) and Economic Wellbeing (EcW) with scores of 4.8 and 4.6 respectively are nearly halfway.
  2. In spite of world-wide high scores for Sufficient Food and Sufficient to Drink of 9.1 and 9.0 respectively, 10 % of the world population – some 750 million people – still have to stay alive without the daily minimum amount of calories and access to safe drinking water. And even some 35%, which is over 2.5 billion people, is lacking Safe Sanitation.
  3. Renewable Energy and Energy Savings, together with Organic Farming bring up the rear for indicator scores.
  4. In spite of all plans and agreements the scores for Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gases are in decline over the years 2006-2016.
  5. Human Wellbeing (HW) and Economic Wellbeing (EcW) showed world-wide a slight increase over the period 2006-2016, against a small decline for Environmental Wellbeing (EW) over the same period.
  6. High income countries are performing best for HW and worst for EW. For low income countries the picture is opposite.
  7. Of the 19 UN regions of the world, South and Southeast Asia show the largest progress in HW, together with East and Middle Africa and North America. The strongest progress in EW is for Europe and Southern Africa, while Western Africa and the four Asian regions are topping the list of progress on EcW.
  8. Overall it can be said the world has become a little more sustainable over the past 10 years. Nevertheless it is worrisome that this progress is not balanced between the three wellbeing dimensions and that there remain differences in development between high and low income countries.Particularly disappointing are the still low scores for a number of indicators, notably Organic Farming (as a proxy for transition to a sustainable economy), Renewable Energy and Energy Savings.

All countries

Indicator scores

The spiderweb shows at a glance that the world is still far from sustainable, in spite of Climate plans, Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals and many more,valuable initiatives.

spiderweb ssi2016
The spider web presents the value of indicator scores on a scale of 1 to 10. All total scores are calculated as the average scores per person. So the number of inhabitants of a country has been taken into account.

Below we present the same data in a bar chart in order of declining value for the various indicators.


The best scores are – like in the previous years – for two of the basic needs: Sufficient Food and Sufficient to Drink. Notwithstanding the slightly improved scores of 9.1 and 9.0 respectively, 10 % of the world population – some 750 million people – still have to stay alive without the daily minimum amount of calories and access to safe drinking water. And many more – 35%, which is over 2,5 billion people – are lacking Safe Sanitation.
The minimum scores for the world as a whole are for Organic Farming, Renewable Energy and Energy Savings.


Over the last two years 2014-2016 Energy Savings shows the highest increase. However, over the past 10 year Energy Savings performs just average, as one may see in the graph for 2006-2016.
Over the 10-year period the highest increase is realised for GDP, Education and Safe Sanitation. Emission of Greenhouse Gases, Energy Use and Renewable Energy bring up the rear, together with Public Debt.


Wellbeing scores


The level of Human Wellbeing is notably the highest one of the three wellbeing dimensions. Moreover, it shows a relatively large progress across the years 2006-2016.
In spite of a comparatively good score for Natural Resources (Biodiversity, Renewable Water and Consumption), Environmental Wellbeing scores low, due to low scores for the indicators of the category Climate & Energy. Even more serious, not to say dramatic, is that Environmental Wellbeing faced a decrease over the last ten years, mainly caused by substantially lower scores for Greenhouse Gases, Energy Use and Renewable Energy.
Economic Wellbeing has the lowest score. Nevertheless it has the largest increase of the three dimensions, thanks to an increase of GDP – in spite of financial and economic crises – and Organic Farming, the latter being one of the indicators intended to express the level of transition to a sustainable economy.

Country scores

The table below presents the Top 5 countries for the three wellbeing dimensions for the SSI-2016, as well as their rankings for the previous years.

Rankings 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016
Human Wellbeing
Finland 1 1 1 1 1 1
Germany 9 10 2 5 4 2
Netherlands 7 5 5 6 3 3
Iceland 4 15 14 2 2 4
Norway 5 4 4 4 5 5
Environmental Wellbeing
Burundi 30 24 12 3 1 1
Togo 15 5 2 44 23 2
Lesotho 1 4 4 2 3 3
Central AfricanRepublic 8 7 9 4 6 4
Uganda 12 13 14 7 7 5
Economic Wellbeing
Norway 6 4 2 1 1 1
Switzerland 1 1 1 2 2 2
Estonia 10 3 5 13 5 3
Sweden 3 6 3 4 3 4
CzechRepublic 11 9 6 8 7 5

For all underlying data go to Data 2006-2016.

Countries per income class


Another way of looking at the results is the correlation with the income of countries.


Not unexpectedly, the picture clearly shows higher Human Wellbeing and lower Environmental Wellbeing scores for higher income countries. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a causal correlation between the two, but it is at least suggestive. It suggests, we may even say it underlines the completely different ways of development for countries in different stages of development and income. One should give these differences much more attention when negotiating about worldwide agreements.

These differences in development are also expressed in the graph showing the gap between scores for high and low income countries. To the right of the centre line the high income countries score better; to the left the low income countries score better.


Progress per income class


The good news is that Human Wellbeing has increased for all income classes. The high income class presents the smallest progress, maybe because of the already comparatively high level of Human Wellbeing.


The bad news is that Environmental Wellbeing is in decline for all income classes except high income. The progress of the latter is caused by improved scores for the four indicators of category Climate & Energy, most of all Energy Savings. The score for Renewable Energy is increased by a meagre 0.1.

The sharp decline of Environmental Wellbeing of the countries of the two middle income classes is mainly due to decreased scores for Energy Use and Greenhouse Gases..


The comparatively large progress for Economic Wellbeing of Lower middle income countries is the result of an increase of the scores of all 5 indicators of Economic Wellbeing, above all GDP.
For all underlying data go to Data income classes 2006-2016


Top 5 regions SSI-2016
EurWest AfrEast Oceania
EurNorth AfrWest AmerCentr
EurSouth AfrMiddle EurWest
AmerNorth AmerCar EurNorth
EurEast AsiaSE EurEast

The table shows the Top 5 of the 19 UN regions for Human, Environmental and Economic Wellbeing in the SSI-2016. Europe is performing best for HW, three African regions are the best for EW and Oceania (mainly Australia and New Zealand) are topping the list for EcW.

With respect to progress during the last 10 years the picture is completely different.

Top 5 regions progress 2006-2016
AsiaSouth EurSouth AfrWest
AsiaSE EurNorth AsiaSE
AfrEast EurWest AsiaCentr
AfrMiddle AfrSouth AsiaSouth
AmerSouth EurEast AsiaWest

Two regions in Asia, two in Africa and America South realised the largest increase in HW. Europe is topping the list for EW and Africa West and above all Asia made the largest progress in EcW.
For all underlying data go to Data regions 2006-2016

And you?

What are you going to do? Have a look at the underlying data yourself. And decide what you can do to contribute to a sustainable society.