State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Latest Environmental Performance Index Introduces New Indicators

Measurement aligned with management practices can support significant progress in achieving environmental performance goals.

This is one of the core messages to emerge from the sixth iteration of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), released at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 25 by CIESIN deputy director, Marc Levy, a co-author of the report with Angel Hsu, lead author, and Kim Samuel, co-creator of the project.

The 2014 EPI Report also highlights how lack of monitoring and proper management can cause natural and human systems to suffer—as seen in the negative state of fish stocks around the world—and  how  some elements of sustainability are better supported by the high density of urban areas.

Produced every two years by a research team from the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and CIESIN, Columbia University, the EPI this year evaluates 178 countries, with new additions in large part from Small-Island Developing States and sub-Saharan Africa. Innovations in this year’s release include: a new wastewater treatment indicator, which is a major driver of ecosystem water quality; a new approach to climate change indicators, which evaluates emissions relative to a country’s economic development; and two new satellite-derived indicators for air quality and forests, which more accurately depict environmental policy performance than did previous models and national reports.

The EPI ranks country performance on high-priority environmental issues in two broad policy areas, protection of human health from environmental harm and protection of ecosystems. The 2014 EPI innovations help inform, among other things, ongoing discussion surrounding the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The full report and redesigned Web site is available at




Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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