Belgium has second-worst environmental quality in Europe

Summary

Because of a dense population and heavy industry, Belgium did not fare well on the biennial Environmental Performance Index

Still better than decade ago

According to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) produced by Yale and Columbia universities in the US, Belgium is the second-worst environmental performer in Europe, behind only Montenegro. The EPI evaluates countries’ efforts to protect public health and ecosystems from toxins.

On the global list, Belgium ranks 41 of 180 countries, but in Europe it comes in 46 out of a list of 47. In the previous EPI (2014), Belgium took 36th place of 178 countries, ahead of several European countries, including Latvia and Bulgaria. Belgium’s total score of 80.15, however, is some 10% better than a decade ago, showing that, while Belgium is improving, other countries are improving faster.

Belgium’s score is due mainly to air pollution – a result of a dense population and industrial activity. The EPI’s top score went to Finland, and the top four was filled by Scandinavian countries. All the countries in the top 10 are European. The African country Somalia ranked last.

“The index gives policymakers a clear signal about the state of the environment and provides them with data to consider for targeted solutions to these challenges,” said Kim Samuel, professor at the Canada's McGill University, who assisted in compiling the report. “We hope that it will encourage leaders to take action, especially in urban areas.”

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