Corona Risk Exposure By Country

Corona shock exposure: Covid 19, sustainability, and competitiveness, country by country

What does basic data tell us about country’s public health and economic risk exposure to the corona pandemic? Download the full analysis (health impacts, economic impacts, combined corona impacts) here: Corona Risk Exposure by Country

Basic health care and economic performance data – quantitative measurable data – can tell us about the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on different countries – both in terms of the toll on health and the economic consequences following the global shutdown.

(Note: This is meant to be neither perfect nor absolute.  Basic data cannot tell us about the quality and speed of crisis management, which obviously has a very high influence on final outcomes.)

Covid-19 risks

This analysis describes a country’s combined risks to health toll and the downward economic risks before the pandemic. Key observations include:

  • The US is 3rd on that list, with the risk factors 20% higher than the global average
  • Some African countries seem to be lesser exposed – mostly due to the small size of the risk group (the Elderly), and high employment in the agricultural sector (employment in the basic needs sectors is low-payed, but comparably safe in times of economic downturns)
  • Europe is a mixed picture with below average risk exposure (e.g. Germany) to higher-risk exposure (Spain, Portugal)
  • China’s risk exposure is 8% above the global average
  • Some highly populated developing nations (e.g. South Africa, Indonesia) are significantly above the global average

Corona RIsk World Map

Crisis management: Korea!

An equal – or even bigger – influence on the final toll of this distressing pandemic has the crisis management. The different responses in different countries unfortunately cannot be measured quantitatively. However, we already have certain data from different countries available that indicates what works (and works not so well). The accuracy of this data is questioned by many; however – even considering the unreported/not tested cases -the data shows a very clear picture: forward step South Korea.


Corona cases per capita (source:

The data is very, very clear: Korea is on a far flatter trajectory than all of the Western nations. The actions that have set Korea apart are:

  • Very early risk awareness
  • Rapid development of huge testing capabilities
  • The rapid deployment of contact tracing technology
  • Societal discipline 1: people didn’t go out and party. The lockdown did not have to be enforced because – for whatever reasons – Koreans stay at home voluntarily
  • Societal discipline 2: everybody is wearing a face mask. While probably not 100% protective, the chance that an asymptotic carrier of the virus infects others is most likely lower (to what degree is not yet known). And as we came to know, every step counts in this fight.

Our systems are neither sustainable nor competitive

Unfortunately, government responses are often managed in a political environment rather than on a scientific basis. What this pandemic also shows – our systems are not sustainable (if not to say broken). They are not up to the task of protecting societies from disruption – neither in terms of health, nor economically. From a management stand-point of view, they are simply inefficient. Not competitive. And therefore, not sustainable.

Which raises the question: what are the alternatives?

Download the full analysis here, including risk exposue to public health, risk exposure to economic fallout, and the combined risk of both (PDF, 10 pages): Corona Risk Exposure by Country

Download the data here (excel file) Country Covid Risk Exposure Data


Country-reports on sustainability performance are now available

Country-level sustainability performance and competitiveness reports for 192 countries are now available for downlaod. The individual country reports on allow for a closer look at the sustainable competitiveness performance of individual countries.

Selected country reports for download:

US – USA GSCI Report
Germany – Germany GSCI Report 2019
France – France GSCI Report 2019
UK – UK GSCI Report 2019
Sweden – Sweden GSCI Report 2019
Switzerland – Switzerland GSCI Report 2019
China – China GSCI Report 2019
South Korea – South Korea GSCI Report 2019
Japan – Japan GSCI Report 2019
India – India GSCI Report 2019
Brazil – Brazil GSCI Report 2019
Russia – Russia GSCI Report 2019

A zip-file with all country reports can be downloaded here.

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2019

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index measures country performance based on an integrated competitiveness model. It is calculated through 116 quantitative indicators across all aspects that form the foundation for success: Natural Capital, Resource Intensity, Intellectual Capital, Social Cohesion, and Governance.

Key takeaways in 2019 include:

  • The top 5 spots are occupied by Scandinavia: Sweden is leading the Sustainable Competitiveness Index, followed by the other 4 Scandinavian nations and Switzerland.
  • Of the top twenty nations only two are not European – New Zealand on 12, and Canada on 19.
  • Germany ranks 15, the UK 17, Japan 25, South Korea 27
  • The World’s largest economy, the US, is ranked 34. The US ranks particularly low in resource efficiency and social capital – potentially undermining the global status of the US in the future
  • Of the large emerging economies (BRICs), China is ranked 37, Brazil 49, Russia 51, and India 130.
  • Some of the least developed nations have a considerable higher GSCI ranking than their GDP would suggest (e.g. Laos, Timor, Burma, Bhutan, Suriname…)
  • Asian nations (South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and China) lead the Intellectual Capital ranking. However, achieving sustained prosperity in these countries might be compromised by Natural Capital constraints and current high resource intensity/low resource efficiency

Download the report (PDF) Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2019

Download the press release Press Release GSCI 2019

The sustainable competitiveness map 2019:

Sustainable Competitiveness World Map

US, resource-dependent countries’ sovereign ratings should be downgraded, others up

Sovereign bond ratings are overly based on financial indicators and perceived political intentions. They do not reflect investor risks at this point in time.

Sustainable bond ratings

Sustainable bond ratings

Sustainable bond ratings

Sustainable bond ratings

The US, for example, should be downgraded by 2 levels, Saudi Arabia by 4, while Kenya and Bolivia should be rated higher in line with their sustainable competitiveness performance. A complete list of comparisons of sustainable vs. conventional bond ratings is available here.

In Support of a Climate Tax

There are tens of thousands scientist who have come to the same conclusion, versus a handful of weirdo skepticals. Every single human being, around the globe, can now feel it: bush-, forest- and rainforest fires, droughts, freak storms, flooding, land-slides, heat waves, water scarcity, temperature record this, climate record that… There’s no need to talk about science. Climate Change is here.

While we know what we need – a rapid transition to a fossil-free infrastructure, the inaction in the face of the threats is deafening. It is too expensive; it is technologically not possible. The technologies are already on the market, and they are competitive, and developing further. Sooner or later, renewables will take over, simply because of the lower cost of renewables (you don’t have to buy fuel). and higher efficiency of electric motors over combustion engines. However, if we let the politically distorted markets decide, the transformation will not happen fast enough. So how to accelerate the transformation? Regulation or banning fossils? Randomly supporting renewable projects and efficiency measurements? Emission reduction targets, every country on its own? Unfortunately, none of these approaches will lead to a fast transformation.

We have come to the conclusion that only one way to achieve a fast transition to a non-fossil society with a renewable infrastructure is a global climate tax:

  • A climate tax on all fuels and GHG-active fuels and substances
  • The climate tax is levied on the price at the point of sale to the end consumer, administrated like a VAT: Climate Added Tax, CAT.
  • The tax is levied at the same rate, everywhere around the globe.
  • The climate tax shall be increased every year to allow the economy to adapt, step by step. The suggested starting tax is U$50 per ton of CO2 equivalent, increasing by U$50 every year
  • The tax revenues are 50% re-distributed to the people in cash (ideally, the low-income groups will receive a higher cash-back than high-incomers),
  • 40% of the CAT revenues are invested in renewable energy infrastructure,
  • 5% of the CAT revenues are invested in R&D,
  • and 5% as compensation for damages incurred and climate mitigation.


We already have the key technologies in place, highly competitive at the market. While a CAT will initially increase energy bills, the cash-back will compensate for the lower-income groups, and not affect their purchasing power. The tax will make fossil energy more expensive while renewables become cheaper, accelerating the transformation. And where technology has currently short-coming, the R&D investment will accelerate technological break-throughs.

According to our calculations, such a system of a global climate tax will lead to

  • Sufficient renewable energy available to replace all fossil fuels by 2035 at the latest
  • Thanks to higher efficiency and lower fuel cost, the global energy bill will be 30-50% lower than now

For more information, see Global Climate Tax

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2017 is out!

The Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2017

Northern Europe is leading the GSCI; US competitiveness set to decline if proposed new policies are all implemented; conventional sovereign bond ratings do not reflect full risks and potential of countries competitiveness

Contrarily to common measurements (GDP) and ratings which are mainly based on financial (economic output, the GSI measures the root causes that define national wealth and competitiveness.

The GSCI is  based on the sustainable competitiveness model calculated through 111 measurable, quantitative indicators to exclude all objectivity. Performance data is also analysed against the trends over time to reflect not only the present, but also the outlook into the future. A comprehensive measurement for competitiveness. Sustainable competitiveness.

Key takeaways from the 6th edition of the Sustainable Competiveness Ranking 2017:

  • Of the top twenty nations only three are not European – New Zealand on 13, South Korea on 16, and Japan on 20.
  • Scandinavia covers the top 5 ranks. Sweden is leading the Sustainable Competitiveness for a second consecutive year – followed by the other 4 the Scandinavian nations.
  • The top 20 are dominated by Northern European countries, including the Baltic states and Slovenia
  • Germany ranks 14, the UK 22, and the World’s largest economy, the US, is ranked 29. The US ranks particularly low in resource efficiency, but also social capital - undermining the global status of the US in the future
  • Of the large emerging economies (BRICs), China is ranked 32, Brazil 42, Russia 43, and India 121.
  • Some of the least developed nations have a considerable higher GSCI ranking than their GDP would suggest (e.g. Laos, Timor, Burma, Bhutan, Suriname…)
  • Asian nations (South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and China) lead the Intellectual Capital ranking. However, achieving sustained prosperity in these countries might be compromised by Natural Capital constraints and current high resource intensity/low resource efficiency
  • The Social Cohesion ranking is headed by Northern European (Scandinavian) countries, indicating that Social Cohesion is the result of economic growth combined with social consensus
  • The US is set for decline, in particular vs. China, if policies proposed under the new administration are to be fully implemented
  • Conventional sovereign bond ratings do not reflect the full risk and potential associated with nation economies. They need to integrate sustainability, now.

The Sustainable Competitiveness World Map:

Dark areas indicate high, light areas low Sustainable Competitveness

Download the Report:
The Global Competitiveness Report 2017

Read the press release:
Press Release - GSCI 2017

Trump-US and China: outlook of competitiveness

The aging super-power set for decline

The USA and China are the World's largest economies. The new US administration is prioritising a set of new policies. China has announced changes to its power and party governance structure on the recent party congress. Both are based on a outspoken rhetoric of national strength and pride, and both continue their respective economic policies of the past 2 or 3 decades. 

The US – in particular under the new administration – is advocating a free a market approach, where as much as possible should be left to self-regulation by the market. China, on the other hand, continues to advocate a state-directed free market approach, where the state directs the economic development through investments and policies. With China pushing more and more on the World stage, it is possible that we have a new competition between two different state systems on our hands. Whether we like that or not.

In this light, SolAbility has evaluated the future impacts of US policies as proposed by the new administration on the ground – based on the 111 indicators used for the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index.  The results show that the US is set to forfeit competitiveness and drop from its current ranking of 20 in the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2017 to somewhere in the 80s until 2025. China, on the other hand, is set to gain competitiveness until the mid-2020s, before the new authoritarian   style is stifling further developments.

Download the Report:
Trump-US, China: Sustainable Competitiveness Outlook

Credit Ratings vs. Sustainable Competitiveness

Why sovereign bond and credit ratings need to integrate sustainablility

Credit rating define the interest a country has to pay on loans, credits, state bonds, in short – on debt.  Considering the level of state debts, the credit rating has a significant impact on the capital cost of nations.

The most important rating agencies are based on the “3 sisters” – Standard & Poor's (S&P), Moody's, and Fitch Group that together dominate the global market. Unfortunately, these ratings are based almost exclusively on economic, financial and political indicators, many of which are qualitative (i.e. cannot exclude subjectiveness). They are not fully reflecting the opportunities and risks associated with the fundamentals of the country; quality of education, infrastructure, social cohesion, and the environment. In addition, there have been accusation of political bias after ratings, in some cases, were adjusted following election and referenda outcomes

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index on the other hand is based on quantitative (i.e. subjective) indicators. It based on the fundamentals that define the outcome, including economic success.

Current credit ratings and sustainable adjusted credit ratings for selected countries

The comparison between conventional sovereign bond ratings shows distinctive differences. Current sovereign ratings do not reflect real risks/opportunities. Credit ratings need to integrate sustainability.

Read more in the Sustainable vs Conventional Competitiveness Report:
Sovereign bonds and sustainability

Korea: Status & Outlook

Korea & Sustainable Competitiveness

Top in Innovation, bottom in resource management

Korea is ranked on the 41st position of the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2016. The breakdown of results shows a very mixed picture: Korea is the global Number One in terms of Intellectual Capital (the basis for Innovation) – but at the same time, the last of 180 nations in terms of resource efficiency. A very mixed bag.

This report is divided in two parts. Part one analysis Korea’s current status of competitiveness, while part two develops potential policies to ensure Korea’s sustainable competitiveness going forward.

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index (GSCI) is based on 109 quantitative performance indicators, analysed for current performance and recent trends to anticipate the future performance. Korea currently ranks #40 of 180 nations in the GSCI, scoring only 5% above average, but more than 25% below the best. Korea’s performance in this index is mixed: while Korea achieved the highest score globally in intellectual capital, it also scores lowest globally in resource intensity.

Korea’s performance and key deficits in each sustainable competitiveness dimension are:

  • Natural capital, rank 154: Korea is a comparable small country considering the size of the population, with a limited area of arable land – and no significant mineral resources to speak off. The high water withdrawal rate is a source of concern – potential water scarcity and efficiency are issues that need to be looked at urgently.
  • Resource intensity, rank 180 of 180: Korea has a higher share of manufacturing and energy-intensive industries than most other countries. However – Korea uses significantly more energy, water, and raw materials than other economies to generate economic output. High resource intensity is equal to higher cost for the economy, and urgently needs to be addressed – especially given Korea’s dependence on import of virtually all commodities and fossil energy.
  • Intellectual capital, rank 1: Korea is doing well in the key area of innovation-driven competitiveness: education and R&D. However – maybe the country could benefit from a shift in focus from higher education to a more skills-based education system.
  • Governance, rank 19: investments are at a high level and the infrastructure is modern. However, weak governance, and falling press freedom (from rank 31 to 70 in the last 10 years) are of concern
  • Social capital, rank 65: while health care availability is guaranteed, the highest suicide rate in the World indicates some systemic social problems.

Download the Press Release -
Korea GSCI Press Release

Download the full report -
Korea & Sustainable Competitiveness: Status & Outlook

US Competitiveness

What The Donald !!!

...maybe should be worried about.

Or: why the US is only ranked 32 in the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index.
An analyis of the sustainable competitiveness of the USA, derived from the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index

The US is currently only ranked 32 of 180 nations in the GSCI, scoring only 10% above average, but nearly 25% below the best. While the US scores above average in natural capital, intellectual capital and governance, the country is considerably below the global average in both resource intensity and social cohesion.

US competitiveness vs. global best and average

USA Competitiveness vs. Global best and average

Why the US is not in the top league:

  • Natural capital, rank 31: The US is a big and beautiful country with abundant natural resources. However – water scarcity and efficiency are issues that need to be looked at urgently, especially in the dry plains and on the West Coast.
  • Resource intensity, rank 161: the US uses significantly more energy, water, and raw materials than other economies to achieve economic output. High resource intensity is equal to higher cost for the economy, and urgently needs to be addressed in order to MAGA.
  • Intellectual capital, rank 19: compared to global peers the performance of US student is simply dismal, and R&D investments are scarily low, raising serious doubts over US’ ability to compete in an innovation-driven global economy.
  • Governance, rank 41: No real news here – the lack of investment in infrastructure, and a high structural deficit remain the main concerns.
  • Social capital, rank 114: high crime rates, and social inequality are not only dividing the nation – they are also costly.

Download the full analysis, The State of Competitiveness of the USA:
What The Donald

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness 2016

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness 2016 is topped by Sweden

Scandinavia tops the GSCI (again); Germany ranked 14, Japan 15, UK 21, US only 32, China 37

SolAbility releases the rankings of the 5th edition of the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index (GSCI). The GSCI is based on an inclusive competitiveness model, analysing 109 indicators. In order to exclude any subjectivity, all indicators are measurable, quantitative indictors derived from the World Bank and UN databases. The GSCI 2016 is topped by Sweden, followed by the other 4 Scandinavia nations. Countries from Northern Europe, the Baltic States and Eastern Europe dominate the top 20. The only non-European economies in the top 20 are New Zealand (12) and Japan (15).

The World’s largest economies show a mixed picture: Germany is ranked 14, Japan 15, the UK 21, and the US 32. The US is scoring particularly low in social issues, and resource intensity – indicating not only development potential, but also cost reduction opportunities.

Of the BRIC countries, China scores highest on rank 37, Brazil 41, Russia 45, and India 153. Social cohesion is the basis for any working economy. China is amongst the leading Nations when it comes to Intellectual capital and investments; however, the combination of limited natural resources, arid areas, and low resource efficiency could possibly jeopardise the future development of the country.

While there seems to be a certain correlation between the rankings of this index to current wealth levels as expressed in the GDP, these correlations are superficial. Some of the World’s richest countries, particularly the oil-rich countries of the Middle East, score significantly lower on the index than their GDP output would suggest. Some of the nominally poorest countries, on the other hand (e.g. Bhutan, Bolivia, Laos) are ranked considerably higher than their current GDP would indicate.

For more information, read the Press Release GSCI 2016 or browse the site.