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Do Sustainable Countries Already Exist?
Blog...Do Sustainable Countries Already Exist?

Do Sustainable Countries Already Exist?

Net zero trajectory
person biking overlooking mountain and green lush
In this article, we’ll explain what sustainable countries are, examples of sustainable countries, and if sustainable countries already exist.
person biking overlooking mountain and green lush

Many nations around the world are trying their best to accommodate to the global threat of climate change: such as by building more energy efficient infrastructure or setting up renewable energy sources wherever possible – but do fully sustainable countries already exist?

Sustainable countries must make an extensive effort to ensure not only their internal operations remain eco-friendly, but integrate sustainable valuables into their culture as well to ensure citizens on their part to keep the country on track towards their environmental goals.

In this article, we’ll explain what sustainable countries are, examples of sustainable countries, and if sustainable countries already exist.

What is a sustainable country? 

Sustainable countries refer to countries that work to integrate sustainable values into their culture to ensure that the country still works towards its climate goals.

A truly sustainable country is one that works towards ambitious climate goals without reducing their citizen’s quality of life – such as by attending to economic and social factors.
the most sustainbale countries

Sustainable countries often work towards the following:

  • Protecting the Environment – Sustainable countries work to prioritize the preservation of their natural resources and surrounding biodiversity. This can be done by working to reduce air pollution, reduce waste, or implementing renewable energy sources – such as windy countries in Northern Europe making use of wind turbines. 
  • Economic & Eco-Friendly Stability – All countries want to do well economically, but sustainable countries will seek to get their finances in order while also benefiting the planet and their countries internal operations – with Iceland making use of its geothermal energy to reduce its citizens’ utility bills as a primary example. In addition to this, sustainable countries will work to promote the importance of sustainability to their citizens to ensure long-term success in sustainability. 
  • Equal Benefits – Sustainability isn’t always affordable, as mechanisms such as installing solar panels or purchasing an electric vehicle can prove expensive. Therefore, sustainable countries will seek to fund more eco-friendly efforts in a way that will not only prevent citizens from being financially affected, but in a way that will benefit them – such as by investing in a new and improved public transportation system. 
  • International Collaboration – Wise sustainable countries know that they can’t do it all alone. That’s why many sustainable countries will look to partner with other or nearby countries to work towards a more challenging climate goal together. 
  • Effective Policies & Communication – Sustainable countries must be clear to their citizens regarding their plans, which means working to produce clear climate policies and holding themselves accountable to the results. 
  • Build Resilience Against Natural Disasters – Many sustainable countries, especially those prone to coastal inundation or other natural disasters, will often work to implement proactive solutions in the event a natural disaster strikes. This can include precautionary measures such as updating the infrastructure or  educating citizens on environmental preparedness.

👉 Ultimately, the main goal of sustainable countries is to ensure the environment is protected without sacrificing social equity or economic development – as this directly correlates to the quality of life satisfaction amongst its citizens.

house on a beach

What are some examples of sustainable countries?

There are several examples of sustainable countries, such as Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, and Norway – but it is important to note that sustainable countries are still a work in progress and have yet to become entirely carbon neutral.

Sustainable countries often seek to provide clean forms of transportation and implement renewable energy sources wherever possible.

Here are some examples of sustainable countries:

  • Denmark – Known for its extensive effort to use wind turbines, Denmark may be considered as one of the world’s most sustainable countries given its effort to utilize renewable energy. Copenhagen, the country’s capital, is known as Europe’s greenest city – with the country working towards carbon neutrality by 2025. 
  • New Zealand – Isolated from much of the world and surrounded by valuable natural resources, New Zealand is working towards net-zero by 2050 while also promoting the value of local and sustainable food consumption amongst its citizens. 
  • Finland – This sustainable country is determined to cut their fossil fuel usage in half over the next decade.  In addition to this, Finland is passionate about restoring bodies of water that have been impacted by pollution, and has also banned the use of coal in generators. 
  • Sweden – Through the use of urban farming, smart roads, and electric public transport – Sweden has secured its place on the list of sustainable countries. In fact, the country is set to reduce their emissions by 85% from 1990 by 2045.
  • Norway – Known as one of the most sustainable countries in the world, Norway has made a pledge to work towards carbon neutrality by 2030. The country is also known for its effective recycling, composting, and use of hydroelectricity.

👉 It is important to remember that sustainable countries do not currently demonstrate the end-goal all countries should strive to achieve, but rather a model for other nations to follow and start and continue working towards reduced carbon emissions and overall environmental impact.


What are some of the challenges sustainable countries face?

Sustainable countries are bound to face several challenges in the journey towards reducing their environmental impact, such as by facing criticism from other countries, falling subject to greenwashing, or facing inequality issues.

Even the most financially and culturally equipped countries will struggle to implement sustainable efforts nationwide, as these efforts may require support or acknowledgment from neighboring countries.

First off, many countries will face some sort of bad backlash in their attempt to go green – such as what happened with Deutsche Bank in Germany in 2022. Also known as one of Europe’s more sustainable countries, this German bank was accused of greenwashing as a result of a fraud investigation and failure to take ESG criteria into account. 

💡 This reveals how many sustainable countries must remain mindful of the possibility of being accused of taking superficial measures to appear more sustainable than they are in reality. 

Countries may also face challenges to meet their sustainability goals if nearby countries or partnerships fail to come to fruition. For instance, a developing country will often need the help of a wealthier nation or government funding to finance their sustainable initiatives – but if two partners looking to fund that country disagree on the priorities, it makes it more difficult to work together and effectively achieve sustainable development goals.

Lastly, some countries may struggle to implement sustainability as a result of their locale. For instance, southeast asian countries could find themselves more prone to extensive heatwaves, flooding and coastal inundation, or even tsunamis – meaning that more effort is required to protect buildings and citizens, such as the need for increased funding for green infrastructure.

👉 Both countries looking to become sustainable, and countries already considered sustainable countries are likely to meet obstacles in the journey towards greater sustainability.

stockholm view

What do sustainable countries have in common?

Sustainable countries don’t all have to be the same to one another, but there are striking similarities amongst some of the world’s existing sustainable countries – such as ease of mobility, value in local cuisine, and government assistance to move forward with achieving climate goals. 

Some regions of the world which couldn’t be more different from one another culturally, such as Sweden to Japan, still possess similarities in their approach to implementing greater sustainability – of which any country in the world could also use regardless of their own culture or values.

Here are some of the similarities found in sustainable countries around the world:

  • Biking is Encouraged – Several nordic countries in Europe which are known for being sustainable countries, such as the Netherlands and Denmark, encourage biking to an extent that it has become a well-known part of their culture. This has also been seen in cities such as London and Paris, which have made an effort to improve their bike lanes as a way to encourage citizens to refrain from driving and emitting excess greenhouse gasses.
  • Cities & Walkability – Many of the known sustainable countries in the world have pioneered their sustainable programs in their most populated cities – many of which are small in size and densely populated, making mobility all around more accessible. In addition to this, many cities in sustainable countries are more walkable than others that have struggled to implement sustainable efforts – such as Copenhagen versus Mumbai in India.
  • Financial or Governmental Support – Bike lanes, attractive and accessible public transportation, and cities with more than one park are all bound to have one thing in common – help from the government. Sustainable countries often make it a priority to fund projects that will help to incorporate sustainability into everyday life.

👉 Even though sustainable countries may have these similarities in common, it is important to note that sustainability can be integrated in more than one way – meaning that a country does not need to precisely follow the model of other sustainable countries to be successful in reducing emissions or promoting the value of green living.

person biking underneath a bridge

How can sustainable countries improve moving forward?

Many of the world’s existing sustainable countries have made use of technology to help them be as eco-friendly as they are today, but luckily – new technologies and valuable partnerships may help them to take their environmental efforts one step further.

New technologies, such as AI, in addition to teaming up with other sustainable countries can help sustainable countries to pioneer even more sustainable programs that may not have been possible before.

A prime example of this is with new car models, which often start and stop automatically when you’re at a long traffic light in order to preserve either gasoline or power. As a new form of technology previously unused 30 years ago, this kind of AI technology can be integrated into public transportation systems, such as electric buses, in countries looking to join the list of sustainable countries.

A few other ways sustainable countries could take their sustainability game up-a-notch moving forward include:

  • Share Resources – Example of Denmark providing RECs or sharing wind energy with other sustainable countries in exchange for a valuable renewable resource they may not be able to harvest by themselves
  • Utilize Technology – New technologies can be used to provide new data and analytics, often passive data that most sustainable countries would not have had access to prior to new technologies, which can help these sustainable countries devise new plans to improve their existing strategies.
  • Be Bold – Sustainable countries which aim to come up with ambitious climate policies will often make headlines in this day and age, as climate change becomes more of a global priority – which in turn can help to promote sustainable development on a global scale.

💡All in all, there are sustainable countries in the world – as countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Finland are currently exceeding the UN’s expectations in terms of sustainable development goals.

However, none of them are 100% perfect or entirely carbon-emission free. We have a while to go before we can truly deem any of these sustainable countries guilt-free of greenhouse gas emissions, but it is still important to recognize them for their existing and continuous efforts to improve their sustainability.

What About Greenly?

If reading this article on if sustainable countries already exist has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

At Greenly we can help you to assess your company’s carbon footprint, and then give you the tools you need to cut down on emissions. We offer a free demo for you to better understand our platform and all that it has to offer – including assistance with boosting supplier engagement, personalized assistance, and new ways to involve your employees.

Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

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