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Malaysia Ranks Within Top 60 Countries in This Year’s Social Progress Index

The country has improved in its Nutrition and Basic Medical Care and Health and Wellness

by Shah Farouq

Malaysia is ranked 51 out of 168 countries in the recently released Social Progress Index 2021. In comparison, Malaysia was ranked 48 out of 163 countries in 2020.

The 2021 Social Progress Index (“the Index”), compiled by the Social Progress Imperative – a United States-based non-profit – with the support of Deloitte, ranks 168 countries’ social performance since 2011 based on 53 social and environmental outcome indicators.

For the first time, the Social Progress Index specifically examines the relationship between sustainability and social progress.

This year, Malaysia is the second highest ranking Southeast Asia country, behind Singapore (30). The country is ahead of its regional counterparts Thailand (71), Indonesia (94), Vietnam (78), the Philippines (97), Cambodia (128), Myanmar (117), and Laos (145).

In its 2021 findings, Malaysia scored 90 points and above for Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (91.33), Water and Sanitation (90.29), and Shelter (91.84).

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Malaysia’s performance in 2021

Health and Wellness (67.64) showed the most improvement, with a rise in score from last year’s 66.69.  Another area that Malaysia has improved on is Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (91.33), with a rise of (+0.22).

Some areas that Malaysia can work on include Personal Rights (66.22) and Access to Advanced Education (61.26), which dipped from last year’s 69.46 and 65.97 points respectively.

Malaysia’s performance in its scorecard is relative to 15 countries of similar GDP per capita: Croatia, Turkey, Russia, Oman, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago, Kazakhstan, Greece, Latvia, Chile, Panama, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Uruguay.

According to the 2021 Social Progress Index and a new report on greenhouse gas emissions and development, it is possible to advance social progress and tackle climate change. The report, published by the Social Progress Imperative, a US-based non-profit, highlights what it would take to get the world to a sustainable level of emissions in 2030.

The findings highlight that if every country achieved emissions levels comparable with the most sustainable country at a similar level of development, the world would reduce the amount of greenhouse gas per capita by 4.58 tonnes and achieve a sustainable level of emissions.

Achieving sustainability is tied to improving key areas of social progress

The results of the study reveal that sustainability and social progress are increasingly interrelated to achieve social and environmental impact for the benefit of our societies.

The latest Index findings show that there are countries that have been highly effective at improving living standards and quality of life while emitting more modest levels of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to other countries that are developing at the expense of the environment.

Standout countries such as Costa Rica, Ghana, Jamaica and Sweden emit at relatively low levels compared to their peers even while out-performing them on many aspects of social progress. On the other hand, social progress in countries like Australia, the United States, Qatar and China comes at too high a cost to the planet.

The Index data forecasts show that social progress could continue to improve at its current rate to at least 2030 without reaching unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions, should all countries achieve similar levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita as the best performers.

“The latest Index results show that we do not have to make a choice between tackling climate change or advancing social progress. Too many countries are choosing a model of development that is not sustainable, but they don’t have to. Other models exist that would allow us to balance the needs of people and the planet. The solutions are already out there. Inclusive and sustainable growth need to go hand in hand.” said CEO of the Social Progress Imperative, Michael Green based on the global result.

“The report also finds evidence that we are starting to turn the corner in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he shared.

Although countries with higher social progress tend to have higher greenhouse gas emissions, the analysis shows that the correlation between Social Progress performance and sustainability has been weakening over time.

As the adoption of greener technologies continues, the historical link between emissions and economic and social development may continue to weaken, meaning that higher levels of social progress are less likely to demand higher levels of emissions in 2021 and in the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequalities. From the growing education gap to health disparities, we have seen how the world’s most vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of many of the world’s crises, including the climate crisis. The 2021 Social Progress Index demonstrates that sustainability and social progress are interrelated.” explained by Global Board Chair of Deloitte, Sharon Thorne based on the results of the 2021 index and sustainability report.

“Although different countries are at different places on their sustainability journeys, we all must work together—both governments and business—so that we can face this global issue head-on while also focusing on social, health, and economic outcomes over time,” he added.

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