Bangladesh climbed up 17 notches from its position two years ago on the 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), ranking 162nd out of 180 countries.
Two years ago, the country was in 179th position – second worst performer in the world.
The EPI ranking is a bi-annual report of national results on a range of sustainability indicators produced by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities.
In the latest ranking, Bangladesh scored only 29 out of 100.
The countries were ranked on two broad policy objectives – environmental health and ecosystem vitality– across 11 issue categories, four under environmental health and seven under ecosystem vitality. Bangladesh ranked 143rd in environmental health and 159th in ecosystem vitality.
The issue categories are air quality, sanitation and drinking water, heavy metals and waste management, biodiversity and habitat, ecosystem services, fisheries, climate change, pollution emissions, and agriculture and water resources. There are 32 performance indicators under these 11 categories.
Bangladesh performed poorly in the top-weighted categories, such as air quality (166th), climate change (140th), and biodiversity and habitat (124th).
But it performed better than global average in fisheries (22nd) and agriculture (54th), which are less weighted in deciding the EPI score as well as ranking.
The report highlighted that Bangladesh has seen three largest increases in grassland loss, marine-protected areas and black carbon growth rate as well as three largest decreases in sulphurdioxide growth rate, nitrogen oxide growth rate and tree cover loss over the past decade.
The country scored only 4.8 in sulphur dioxidegrowth rate. In overall pollution emission, it scored 15.3.
The latest EPI ranking introduced waste management category for the first time, in which Bangladesh scored only 5 out of 100.
Bhutan,with relatively high scores in biodiversity and habitat protection, ranked 1st in the SouthAsia region and 107th in the world.
Sri Lanka (109th) and the Maldives (127th) are among the top three countries in SouthAsia, followed by Pakistan (142nd) and Nepal (145th).
Despite improvement in the EPI ranking, Bangladesh stood 6th in the region. Only India (168th) and Afghanistan (178th) ranked below it.
The report said that China's recent pollution control and other environmental investments have helped it climb to 120th place.
Greenest air countries are in Europe
Denmark has emerged at the top of the index with a score of 82.5, reflecting strong performance across nearly all indicators tracked by the EPI.
Luxembourg and Switzerland stood at 2nd and 3rd position respectively, followed by the United Kingdomand France.
The lowest scores were earned by a series of countries that are struggling broadly with weak governance, including Liberia (180th), Myanmar (179th), and Afghanistan (178th).
Global progress in climate change going wrong
The metrics – carbon dioxide emissions from land cover change and black carbon emission growth rates – show that critical aspects of the battle to address climate change are trending in the wrong direction over the past decade.
The index found that no country is decarbonising quickly enough. Some countries do excel in individual greenhouse gas reductions, most notably Denmark in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the UK in methane, and Norway in fluorinated gases.
To spread best practices around the world, policymakers must pay greater attention to how climate leaders achieve success, the report noted.