Launched in 2010, the GGEI measures the green performance of nations and their commitment to environmental issues. Horyou blog interviewed its developer and founder, Jeremy Tamanini, who talked about the importance of measuring sustainable development performance and about the countries that are setting an example.

Jeremy Tamanini

What does GGEI stand for?

The GGEI stands for the Global Green Economy Index, the largest integrated measure of national green performance and how experts assess it. The word “integrated” is important as the GGEI takes a multi-dimensional view of these economies, showing how climate change performance, sector decarbonization, green markets and the environment interact. This approach is critical today because we can no longer look at growth through traditional metrics like GDP. Rather, we need to develop new approaches that begin to explain how growth is tied to carbon emissions, how clean (or dirty) sectors are, capital flows and limited and fragile environmental resources.

How did the GGEI evolve since its launching in 2010? Also looking at this 9-year series of data, what is the level of improvement among countries when it comes to sustainable development?

A lot has changed in 8 years in terms of data availability and the sophistication through which frameworks like the GGEI can be calculated. This includes the GGEI framework and methodology, which have also evolved during this period. That said, some trends exist: the Nordics have the best overall green performance; most African countries have relatively low carbon footprints but poor environmental performance; few countries exhibiting unusually high GDP growth do so with parallel improvements in their green economy; and “developed” countries are generally reducing emissions, but not fast enough to reach targets set through international agreements.

Which one of the dimensions of the GGEI is the most challenging? Why?

In terms of calculation, the Leadership & Climate Change dimension is the most challenging, mostly due to the qualitative indicators within in. These qualitative indicators include heads of state, media and international forums and the extent to which countries show commitments to green economic growth. Measuring these topics depends on “unstructured” datasets derived from text analysis of reporting or other information that we believe best gives a proxy measure of the topic at hand. In terms of performance improvement, I believe that the Environment dimension is the most challenging for countries, particularly in the “developing world” where large segments of the population depend directly on these environmental resources for their economic livelihoods.

What countries are best-positioned at the GGEI? Why?

Sweden (consistent green leadership, relatively carbon-efficient economy, strong green innovation and environmental stewardship); Costa Rica (consistent green leadership, high level of renewable energy integration to the economy, strong environmental stewardship); Taiwan (strength around renewable energy, clean transport and green innovation) and Colombia (strength around renewable energy and corporate sustainability).

How can AI help countries develop a greener economy?

This is a question we are beginning to explore. In the realm of the GGEI, it is possible that AI could sharpen the insights from unstructured datasets like the ones described as part of the Leadership & Climate Change dimension. Or, it may be able to process real-time data linked to topics like air quality more rapidly. Out in the green economy overall, there are already many fascinating applications in new companies and initiatives, ranging from analyzing and interpreting unstructured ESG datasets (TruValue Labs); mapping global biodiversity through networks of citizen scientists (iNaturalist); electrical grid optimization (Agder Energi); and automatic weed removal in agriculture (Blue River).

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