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Singapore improves its Environmental Quality, Health and Wellness, according to Social Progress Index 2021

Singapore is ranked 30 out of 168 countries in this year’s Social Progress Index

Singapore, 7 December 2021 – Singapore’s score under the Environmental Quality category jumped to 82 points this year, from 76.98 points last year. The country ranked 28 out of 168 countries in the category, which comprises four indicators - deaths due to outdoor air pollution, deaths from lead exposure, particulate matter pollution and species protection.

Singapore has also improved in the Health and Wellness category, with a rise in score of 91.01 points, from last year’s 90.36 points. The country is ranked 4 in this category.

The 2021 Social Progress Index ("the Index"), compiled by the Social Progress Imperative - a United States-based non-profit - with the support of Deloitte, ranks 168 countries’ social performance since 2011 based on 53 social and environmental outcome indicators. For the first time, the Social Progress Index specifically examines the relationship between sustainability and social progress.

This year, Singapore is ranked 30 on the Index, out of 168 countries. It is the leading Southeast Asia country, ahead of its regional counterparts Malaysia (51), Thailand (71), Indonesia (94), Vietnam (78), the Philippines (97), Cambodia (128), Myanmar (117), and Laos (145). In comparison, Singapore was ranked 29 out of 163 countries in 2020.

Singapore has performed consistently well with high scores of 90 points and above for Water & Sanitation (95.83), Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (97.81), Shelter (96.48), Personal Safety (96.15), and Access to Basic Knowledge (91.05).

Singapore was also highlighted in the Index as one of the best places in terms of Personal Safety, Shelter, and Health and Wellness.

Singapore’s performance in its scorecard is relative to 15 countries of similar Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita: Qatar, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Norway, United States, Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Kuwait.

“Singapore’s high score in environmental quality is testament of the country’s efforts to tackle climate change and encourage sustainable living. For businesses, sustainability transformation is paramount, especially as climate change looks set to be the biggest driver of organisational change over the coming decade. Companies are facing increasing scrutiny from their stakeholders over their climate action plans, and many are taking steps to integrate climate concerns into their existing corporate strategies,” said Mr CHEUNG Pui Yuen, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte Singapore.

“Earlier this year, the government launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030. We, at Deloitte Singapore, support the government's green initiatives. By 2030, we aim to achieve net-zero emissions, and we have developed long-term plans to achieve this. Building on this momentum, we will empower our professionals and engage the broader ecosystem to design solutions that facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy, thus enabling Singapore to be a clean and green city for all,” added Pui Yuen.

Global findings

According to the 2021 Social Progress Index and a new report on greenhouse gas emissions and development, it is possible to advance social progress and tackle climate change. The report, published by the Social Progress Imperative, a US-based non-profit, highlights what it would take to get the world to a sustainable level of emissions in 2030.

The findings highlight that if every country achieved emissions levels comparable with the most sustainable country at a similar level of development, the world would reduce the amount of greenhouse gas per capita by 4.58 tonnes and achieve a sustainable level of emissions.

Achieving sustainability is tied to improving key areas of social progress

The results of the study reveal that sustainability and social progress are increasingly interrelated to achieve social and environmental impact for the benefit of our societies. The latest Index findings show that there are countries that have been highly effective at improving living standards and quality of life while emitting more modest levels of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to other countries that are developing at the expense of the environment.

Standout countries such as Costa Rica, Ghana, Jamaica and Sweden emit at relatively low levels compared to their peers even while out-performing them on many aspects of social progress. On the other hand, social progress in countries like Australia, the United States, Qatar and China comes at too high a cost to the planet. The Index data forecasts show that social progress could continue to improve at its current rate to at least 2030 without reaching unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions, should all countries achieve similar levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita as the best performers.

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

“The latest Index results show that we do not have to make a choice between tackling climate change or advancing social progress. Too many countries are choosing a model of development that is not sustainable, but they don’t have to. Other models exist that would allow us to balance the needs of people and the planet. The solutions are already out there. Inclusive and sustainable growth need to go hand in hand.”

The report also finds evidence that we are starting to turn the corner in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although countries with higher social progress tend to have higher greenhouse gas emissions, the analysis shows that the correlation between Social Progress performance and sustainability has been weakening over time. As the adoption of greener technologies continues, the historical link between emissions and economic and social development may continue to weaken, meaning that higher levels of social progress are less likely to demand higher levels of emissions in 2021 and in the future.

Commenting on the results of the 2021 index and sustainability report, Global Board Chair of Deloitte, Sharon Thorne noted:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequalities. From the growing education gap to health disparities, we have seen how the world’s most vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of many of the world’s crises, including the climate crisis. The 2021 Social Progress Index demonstrates that sustainability and social progress are interrelated. Although different countries are at different places on their sustainability journeys, we all must work together—both governments and business—so that we can face this global issue head-on while also focusing on social, health, and economic outcomes over time.”

Declining Personal Rights
The Index also shows that, despite positive but uneven steps being taken towards sustainable social progress, the world is declining in Personal Rights and Inclusiveness, and that this worrying trend is apparent across all regions and levels of social and economic development. Among the key findings:

● 116 out of 168 countries (69%) have seen individual rights rolled back since 2011.
● The world is declining significantly on Personal Rights (-5.90).

Only a few countries have improved in inclusiveness, such as Canada (+7.52), and in personal rights some European countries have extended rights such as Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, and Romania. The countries with the least favorable trends in personal rights are Turkey (-27.83), Nicaragua (-20.63), Poland (-13.85), and Brazil (-13.31).

While the specific causes vary from country to country, a loss of political rights, freedom of expression, and access to justice are common themes. The US decline in personal rights and inclusiveness reflect increasing social and political divisions seen over the last year, while Latin America’s decline points to a democratic recession in much of the region. Moreover, when comparing historical data, Europeans have fewer political rights and more limited freedom of religion and expression than they did in 2011.

The Social Progress Index is a new way to define the success of our societies. It is a comprehensive measure of real quality of life, independent of economic indicators. Other key findings worth highlighting from the 2021 Index include:

● Norway ranks first on the 2021 Social Progress Index with a score of 92.63, while South Sudan is ranked 168th, with a score of 32.50.
● Female-led countries top the 2021 Social Progress Index.
● Eight of the top ten countries are in Europe, along with Canada (5th, 91.41) and Japan (9th, 90.44).
● Much of the world's improvement, both on average and by country, is due to advancements in Access to Information and Communications (+26.53).
● While the Index results also show that Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, countries with higher social progress were more resilient to the non-health-related stresses caused by the pandemic.
● In 44 countries, access to quality healthcare has become more unequal during the last year. The 2021 Index is based on a variety of data, much of which was collected before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, some of our indicators do capture the effects of the pandemic.

Learn more about the Social Progress Index rankings in our full report at socialprogress.org.


About the Social Progress Imperative:

We use data to influence policies and investments to better serve all of humanity.

We partner with leaders in every sector ––government, business, and civil society––to meet the pressing needs of communities and equip them with the right information to tackle urgent global challenges like Covid-19 and climate change. Since 2012, we have developed data-driven tools that measure whether people have what they need to prosper, from basic needs like adequate shelter, being well-nourished, and feeling safe, to whether they are treated equally regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation in order to help improve the quality of life for all.
The Social Progress Index measures how well countries and communities convert their resources into social and environmental outcomes that impact people's lives every day. A global network of local partners is now delivering subnational Social Progress Indexes that have revealed the true state of society for more than 2.7 billion people across more than 45 countries.

Explore the reports and join the conversation at socialprogress.org.

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