Canada has inched up to second place, behind only Finland, in a world ranking of nations’ social progress, but continues to be pulled down by shockingly poor showings on environmental care—and cell phone ownership.
Canada led on 14 of the 53 indicators the Harvard/MIT 2016 Social Progress Index used to determine how well countries are delivering “in the categories of ‘basic human needs,’ ‘foundations of well-being’ and ‘opportunity’,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Head to head, the researchers found Canada beats the United States on 10 of 12 components.”
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Canada scored well on meeting basic human needs–-access to food, electricity, and education—and on political rights such as freedom of speech, the right of assembly, and freedom from political terror and violent crime. “It’s striking how well Canada does on tolerance and inclusion,” Michael Green, executive director of the group that compiled the index, told the Globe. “For a big and diverse country, to be doing so well, that’s actually quite a significant achievement.”
The same cannot be said for Canada’s performance on environmental stewardship. “Researchers docked [Canada] for a lack of substantive biodiversity and habitat protection, pushing Canada to 90th place, behind Indonesia and Ethiopia,” the paper reports. As well, “high greenhouse gas emissions weren’t up to standard, resulting in a 77th-place ranking.”
The government elected last October has energized Canada’s policy-making around climate change, and undertaken a review of environmental and habitat impact assessment.
Canadians were also scolded for their relatively “tepid” adoption of mobile technology, with only about 81% owning a cell phone, a result apparently worse than 101 other countries including Iraq and the Republic of Congo.
The United States came 19th overall in the social progress rankings, an outcome Green described as “another disappointing result for Americans who are getting a pretty raw deal when it comes to translating the country’s wealth into social progress.” The most socially disadvantaged nation on the planet is the civil war-torn Central African Republic.
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