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  • Ryan Wittler

In the Past 30 Years, No Country Has Met Its Welfare Goals Without Hurting the Environment

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According to a new study from researchers at the University of Leeds, no country has managed to meet the basic social needs of its population in the past 30 years at a “globally sustainable level of [natural] resource use.”

Some highlights:

The new study builds on one from 2018 that found no country meets the social needs of its population without overusing its fair share of natural resources. This time, the authors decided to go back even further, gathering data on 148 countries stretching back as far as 1990, and performing the first nation-by-nation assessment of progress on environmental and social goals.

Assessing six environmental and 11 social indicators, the authors found that no country in the past 30 years has met the basic social needs of its population without overusing its share of natural resources.

The team found that while there have indeed been social improvements across the world -- mainly in larger, developed nations -- even wealthy countries that appear to have solid sustainability records (e.g., Germany and Norway) are using more than their fair share of the world’s natural resources.

Why it matters:

Save for the obvious “dooming the planet” thing, the researchers found that, at current trends, the next 30 years will look exactly the same.

The study calls on wealthier nations to work with smaller ones -- that typically don’t overuse resources but do fail to meet their population’s basic needs -- to bring their use within a globally sustainable level.

The team put their work into an interactive website you can view here.

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