Photo: Duc Anh
Report notes Vietnam's impressive average life expectancy and other positive factors.
Vietnam has ranked fifth out of 140 countries and territories and second in the Asia Pacific region in the Happy Planet Index (HPI) 2016.
Conducted by the New Economics Foundation, the Happy Planet Index measures how well countries are doing in achieving long, happy and sustainable lives.
Vietnam’s HPI score was 40.3. Its life expectancy is 75.5 years, putting it in 46th place. In wellbeing it ranked 64th, in ecological footprint 43rd, and inequality 57th.
Costa Rica ranked first in the HPI 2016, followed by Mexico, Columbia, Vanuatu, and Vietnam. In Asia Pacific Vanuatu ranked first, followed by Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. At the bottom of the list are Mongolia, Benin, Togo, Luxembourg, and Chad.
“Vietnam is one of just three countries in the Top 10 HPI rankings with an ecological footprint small enough to be considered environmentally sustainable,” according to the assessment in the Index’s accompanying report. Ecological footprint is understood as the people’s impact on the environment, showing the land required to sustain their use of natural resources.
The index showed that Vietnam’s wellbeing score is modest compared to other countries in the Top 10 but its average wellbeing score is still higher than China Hong Kong despite Vietnam’s economy being significantly smaller, and its ecological footprint is less than one-fifth of China Hong Kong.
“Vietnam has an impressive average life expectancy,” HPI evaluated. “Both Vietnam and Gambia have similar-sized economies with similar levels of GDP per capita, yet on average people from Vietnam live more than 17 years longer.”
Moreover, Vietnam’s inequality of outcomes rating, which measures inequality in wellbeing and life expectancy scores within the country, is better than that of Costa Rica, which ranked first in the HPI 2016. “School enrolment is among the highest in the world, at 98 per cent in 2012, and the number of colleges and universities continues to grow rapidly,” the report noted.
Poverty reduction is also an achievement of Vietnam. “The country has been hailed as a global poster child for poverty reduction - the number of people living in poverty fell from 58 per cent in 1993 to 10.7 per cent in 2010,” it said.
“Although sustainable today, as Vietnam’s economy has grown its ecological footprint has also been rising steeply,” the report noted with concern. Vietnam is focusing on rapid economic growth from now to 2020 with industry-oriented development, which may have a negative affect on the environment.
Elsewhere, Vietnam ranked 59th out of 163 countries and territories with a score of 1,906 and 12th in Asia Pacific in the Global Peace Index 2016 from The Independent newspaper in the UK. Vietnam was one of only ten countries in the world to experience no conflict.
It has also received a number of other global acknowledgments recently, such as being placed 10th on the list of 2016 Culinary Hotspots for Solo Travelers by TourBar.com, a travel website and app, while Hanoi was named among the world’s greatest cities for food by The Telegraph in the UK.