12 Jul 2006

Vanuatu tops Happy Planet Index

3:15 pm on 12 July 2006

Vanuatu has topped a new index that measures quality of life against environmental impact, with industrial countries faring badly.

The British-based New Economics Foundation aims at mesuring the environmental efficiency of global progress with its "Happy Planet Index" report, which it says paints a different order of world wealth but showed all countries could do better.

The New Economics Foundation, or NEF, says the Happy Planet Index strips the view of the economy back to its absolute basics.

It measures what is put in in terms of resources and what is generated in terms of human lifespans and happiness.

The NEF, which did the index jointly with British-based green campaign group, Friends of the Earth, says the report shows high levels of resource consumption do not reliably produce high levels of well-being.

It says Central America was the region with the highest average score, combining good life expectancy of 70 years with an ecological footprint below its globally fair share, while island nations scored above average and Switzerland came top in Europe.

Russia came in at 172nd place in the 178-nation survey, with the United States at number 150 and Britain at number 108.