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Finland leads in UN global sustainable development comparison

Finnish PM Sanna Marin said the country still had "a lot to do" to fully achieve its sustainable development goals by the end of this decade.

retkeilijä katsoo järvimaisemaa korkealta kalliolta
The annual ranking was carried out by the United Nations in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Foundation. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Finland ranked first in this year's league table of sustainable development in more than 160 countries, according to a fresh report from the UN.

This year's ranking found that Finland had achieved — or had nearly achieved — the UN's goals on alleviating poverty, improving health, education, water, energy, peace, the rule of law and reducing inequality.

The report also noted that the biggest challenges still facing Finland include the fight against climate change, increasing sustainable consumption levels as well as its patterns of production and fighting the loss of biodiversity.

The annual ranking was carried out by the United Nation in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Foundation.

PM Marin: Still more to do

In a statement, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) — who is also the chair of Finland's sustainable development commission — said that the top ranking was a result of extensive work and collaboration from the country as a whole.

"We are proud of our ranking, but we still have a lot to do in order to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The most crucial thing now is figuring out how we can safeguard our wellbeing within the limits of our planet’s carrying capacity in the future," Marin said in the statement.

Finland has found itself among the top three countries in the rankings in previous years, but this was the first time it topped the list.

Just behind Finland in the rankings was Sweden in second place, with Denmark in third. Meanwhile, the countries of Liberia, Somalia, Chad, South Sudan and the Central African Republic were at the bottom of this year's rankings.

An executive summary of the report said that the Covid-19 pandemic had been a setback for sustainable development around the world, noting that the ranking's sustainability goals had declined from the previous year for the first time since the goals were adopted in 2015.

"The decline in SDG performance globally is likely underestimated in this year's report, with many indicators for 2020 not yet available due to time lags in international statistics. The pandemic has impacted all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental," the summary stated.

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