Global risk profile

Global risk profile

ESG Index 2023: Major Concerns with Key Nations for Environmental Preservation

Geneva, May 14, 2024Each year, the ESG index measures risks related to the environment, human rights and the health & safety of people around the world. Serving as a benchmark, the ESG index helps evaluate countries’ sustainability initiatives and propelling progress towards a resilient and enduring future.

In a historic shift, Iceland secures the top spot in the ESG index, outpacing Finland, the former frontrunner. Following closely are Sweden in 3rd place, Norway in 4th, and Australia, which showcases an impressive surge from 9th to 5th place. This achievement solidifies Australia’s position alongside the Nordic countries as a global leader in ESG performance.

In close focus, the latest 2023 ESG Index (ESGI) paints a concerning picture of environmental conservation, particularly as two significant global players, Brazil and Russia, see declines in their scores. Brazil, hailed as the “lungs of the Earth,” and Russia, famed for its extensive boreal forests essential for climate balance, are both experiencing worrying drops this year in the environment sub-index, respectively ranked 153rd and 123rd.

Brazil’s role as a major emitter of Greenhouse Gases persisted in the latest report, with emissions totaling a significant 467 kilotons of CO2, which makes it the 14th largest CO2 emitter worldwide. Additionally, it faces heightened risks related to key biodiversity elements, including forest preservation and the protection of endangered bird species.

Meanwhile, Russia ranks as the 4th largest CO2 emitter globally, following China (1st largest emitter), the United States (2nd), and India (3rd). Its environmental impact extends to biodiversity, with the country ranking 2nd in terms of involvement in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, second only to China.

From a human rights perspective, countries to monitor closely for their marked declines are mainly located in Asia (Bangladesh 158th, Russia 139th, United Arab Emirates 92nd) and in Africa (Equatorial Guinea 170th, Algeria 160th. Angola 155th).

Bangladesh, Russia, and Algeria grapple with pronounced group grievances and factionalized elites. Bangladesh additionally contends with severe constraints on freedom of expression, a challenge echoed in the UAE.

In contrast, Equatorial Guinea and Angola, the two remaining African nations mentioned, confront pressing issues of poverty and disparities in essential services such as education, sanitation, and other social utilities.

At the regional level, Europe maintains a significant lead over other regions of the world, with a score of 28.15, well ahead of South America (38.58), North America (40.05), Oceania (41.63), Asia (46.22), and Africa (55.61). Europe exhibits minimal variance among its countries, particularly within the European Union’s 27 member states. Within the EU, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, and Denmark stand out as the frontrunners of the ESG index, while Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary lag behind. Only 18.6 points separate Finland, the highest scorer, from Hungary, the lowest.

The ESG Index ranking culminates with Somalia (183rd), persistently identified as the country facing the highest ESG risk for the third consecutive year. Preceding Somalia, Yemen, embroiled in one of the world’s most dire humanitarian crises, undergoes a significant decline in rank to 182nd, plummeting 7 ranks from its previous position, followed by Chad (181st), Haiti (180th), and the Central African Republic (179th).

The complete 2023 ESGI results, including interactive data visualization and technical documentation, are available on a dedicated website:

About the ESGI

The ESG Index (ESGI) measures issues related to three key areas: the environment (30%), Human Rights (50%) and Health & Safety (20%) and covers 183 countries and territories. Based on a set of 65 variables, the ESGI’s fifth edition offers a risk score on a 0-100 range, where 0 represents the lowest risk and 100 the highest risk. A rank and a risk evaluation are also provided for each jurisdiction.

About GRP

Global Risk Profile (GRP) is a leading Swiss company specializing in third-party risk management related services. Since its foundation in 2009, GRP has placed Due Diligence at the heart of its activities. Its services now range from compliance software solutions to Due Diligence checks & investigations with various coverage and scope, suitable for both multinationals and small businesses.


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