Press releases

Singapore can do more to improve the country’s environmental quality, according to the Social Progress Index 2019

Singapore ranked 27 out of 149 countries in this year’s Social Progress Index.

SINGAPORE, 1 October 2019 — In a time where Singapore is pulling up its bootstraps and tackling climate change, the recently released Social Progress Index 2019 shows that the country can do more to improve its environmental quality.

The 2019 Social Progress Index ("SPI"), compiled by the Social Progress Imperative - a US-based non-profit - with the support of Deloitte, ranks 149 countries’ social performance over six years (2014-2019). It uses 51 indicators including: nutrition, shelter, safety, education, health, personal rights and inclusiveness.

The index captures outcomes related to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and is a comprehensive snapshot of a country’s overall progress towards the achievement of the goals.

This year, Singapore is ranked 27 on the SPI, out of 149 countries. It is the leading Southeast Asia country, ahead of its ASEAN counterparts Malaysia (46), Thailand (72), Indonesia (85), the Philippines (94), Myanmar (113), Cambodia (119) and Laos (120). For comparison, Singapore was ranked 23 out of 146 countries in 2018, its first year on the index.

Singapore has once again obtained a perfect 100 score for Water & Sanitation and performed consistently well with high scores of 90 points and above for Shelter (99.41), Access to Basic Knowledge (97.96), Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (97.51) and Personal Safety (96.64).

Singapore has also be highlighted in the SPI report as one of the best places to be born in terms of Water & Sanitation (tied with Isreal, Andorra and New Zealand) and Personal Safety.

Environment Quality (68.35) stands out as the least improved, and has, in fact, a dip in score from last year’s 84.36 points.

Other areas of improvement include Inclusiveness (52.32) and Access to Advanced Education (53.23).

Singapore’s performance in its scorecard is relative to 15 countries of similar GDP per capita: Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Norway, Qatar, Switzerland, United States, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Australia.

“The strength of Singapore’s social progress amidst today’s economic volatility is testament of the stability of the local government and the vibrancy of the marketplace. Social progress is fluid and there will always be room for improvement as challenges change, and the results from this year’s Social Progress Index reaffirms Singapore’s priority towards climate change efforts.

As the Singapore government moves towards greener infrastructure and solutions to combat climate change, and seeks the cooperation of other countries in this endeavor, we, as businesses operating in Singapore, should be ready to support the country in its sustainability goals. Every business and individual has a role to play to make Singapore a sustainable living and business environment for all,” said Mr Cheung Pui Yuen, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte Singapore.

Global results

Social Progress Index shows SDG targets unlikely to be reached before 2073. Sharp falls in personal rights, also revealed

Newly published data reveals that progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is too slow, threatening the chances of fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The new data from the 2019 Social Progress Index (“SPI”) reveals the world is underperforming on eight out of 12 major sections of the SPI. Based on this new data, the SPI forecasts the world will not meet the SDGs 2030 target until 2073 on current trends.

The data shows the biggest areas of underperformance are on measures related to water and sanitation, nutrition and basic medical care, shelter, and personal rights.

Personal rights have particularly declined; 91 of the 149 ranked countries recorded a fall in rights, with freedoms of religion and expression deteriorating the most. The global average score dropped from 65.61/100 in 2014 to 61.44/100 in 2019.

The biggest falls [in personal rights] were in: Nicaragua, Thailand, Turkey, Columbia, Serbia, Poland and Mali. The US has dropped from 96.02/100 in 2014 to 91.58/100 in 2019 in personal rights, meaning its global ranking on this issue has fallen from 15th in 2014 to 32nd in the world, below Spain, Italy and Argentina. In the same period The Gambia, Sri Lanka, the Central African Republic, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, and Fiji have seen the biggest overall gains.

The data also shows that:

  • The population-weighted world score on the SPI rose from 62.16/100 in 2014 to 64.47/100 in 2019 - a 2.31-point increase. Globally, the biggest improvements were in shelter, water & sanitation, access to information and communications, and access to advanced education. If the world were a country, it would rank between China and Saudi Arabia on social progress.
  • Norway tops the 2019 SPI ranking scoring with 90.95/100, showing a strong performance across almost all index components. Norway has improved by 2.38 points since 2014, more than any of its Nordic neighbours. South Sudan is at the bottom of the 2019 Social Progress Index (24.44/100, rank 149), a decrease of -0.66 points since 2014. The best performing G7 country is Germany (88.84/100, rank 8) followed by Canada (88.81/100, rank 9), Japan, the United Kingdom and France, who are all in the top tier of performance. Italy and the US follow in the second tier.
  • The US is one of just four countries in the world to have regressed overall in its score since 2014. The US has dropped from 84.74/100 in 2014 to 83.62/100 in 2019. The US now ranks 26th in the world on social progress, below Estonia and just ahead of Cyprus. Overall decline is driven by falls in health, education, personal safety, personal rights and inclusiveness. Despite spending more on healthcare than any other country, US health & wellness (75.27, rank 34) is comparable to Croatia’s (75.33, rank 33). And the US school system (score of 92.35, ranked 45th on access to basic knowledge) is producing results on par with Uzbekistan (91.99, rank 48).

Commenting on the results, CEO of Social Progress Imperative, Michael Green said:

"The results of the 2019 Social Progress Index shows that social progress is not advancing quickly or widely enough. Our current projection is that the world will not successfully fulfil the UN SDGs until 2073.

"Even the most prosperous countries have areas of weakness that they need to address and it should be of great concern to all, that rights are declining - including in the United States.

“The best opportunities for improvement are where GDP is not the binding constraint. Governments must urgently improve access to basic water and sanitation and access to clean fuels and technology for cooking. They should also prioritise efforts improving nutrition and basic medical care.

“The index measures actual progress towards SDGs not the effort expended to achieve them. The Social Progress Index will help the United Nations and its member states to measure of performance and accelerate progress towards the SDGs.”

Commenting on the results, Deloitte Global Board Chair and Social Progress Imperative Board member, Sharon Thorne said:

“The Social Progress Index confirms that urgent action is needed now if the targets set by the UN SDGs are ever going to be reached. I believe this is a call to action to double down on a commitment to people, purpose, and planet.

“By using the Index, the business community and civil society can help change the current trajectory of the SDGs by working together to find solutions to halt and reverse the impact of climate change and resource scarcity, address diversity and inclusion inequalities, open up access to education, and positively impact society in the process.”

Notes to editor

  1. About the Social Progress Index: The Social Progress Index is the first holistic measure of a country's social performance that is independent of economic factors. The index is based on a range of social and environmental indicators that capture three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The 2019 Social Progress Index includes data from 149 countries on 51 indicators. It includes 95% of the world population. It is designed as a complement to GDP and other economic indicators to provide a more holistic understanding of countries’ overall performance. The Social Progress Index also provides a practical way to track progress against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2019 Social Progress Index is generously supported by Deloitte, Ford Foundation, along with other donors. Other contributors, including chief advisors Professors Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School, and Scott Stern of MIT, are listed on our website
  2. About Social Progress Imperative: The Social Progress Imperative’s mission is to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly the least well off, by advancing global social progress by: providing a robust, holistic and innovative measurement tool—the Social Progress Index; fostering research and knowledge-sharing on social progress; and equipping leaders and change-makers in business, government and civil society with new tools to guide policies and programs. From the EU to India to Brazil and beyond, the Social Progress Imperative has catalyzed the formation of local action networks that bring together government, businesses, academia, and civil society organizations committed to using the Social Progress Index as a tool to transform societies and improve people’s lives
  3. Learn more about the 2019 Social Progress Index and make a gift to support this movement’s mission at
  4. Top 10 Overall, Bottom 10 Overall. Top: Norway (1), Denmark (2), Switzerland (3), Finland (4), Sweden (5), Iceland (6), New Zealand (7), Germany (8), Canada (9), Japan (10) Bottom: South Sudan (149), Central African Republic (148), Chad (147), Eritrea (146), Democratic Republic of Congo (145), Papa New Guinea (144), Afghanistan (143), Burundi (142), Guinea (141), Sudan (140)
  5. Top 10 Personal Rights, Bottom 10 Personal Rights. Top: Norway (1), Portugal (2), Finland (3), Sweden (4), Germany (5), Australia (6),Netherlands (7), Switzerland (8), Belgium (9), Estonia (10) Bottom: North Korea (149), Eritrea (148), South Sudan (147), Saudi Arabia (146), Turkmenistan (145), Tajikistan (144), China (143), Sudan (142), Laos (141), Cuba (140)
  6. 12 nations not improved. Declined: Nicaragua, United States, Brazil, South Sudan. Stagnated: Hungary, Montenegro, Colombia, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay, Netherlands, El Salvador.

Press contact:

Carie-Anne Bak
Deloitte Singapore
Marketing & Communications
+65 6531 5203

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