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Commitment to Development of the 27 Richest Countries Ranked

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  • Denmark Most Committed
  • Germany Up 10 Slots Since Last Year’s Index
  • France the Top G7 Country In 4th, UK Ranks 7th
  • U.S. Ranks 23rd
  • South Korea In Last Place But Top on Technology Component

WASHINGTON – Today, the Center for Global Development announced that Denmark tops the Commitment to Development Index, which ranks the world’s 27 richest countries according to how well their policies help improve lives in the developing world.

Sweden scores second, followed by Finland, and France which is the top-ranking G7 country. Notably, Germany surged up 10 slots from 15th to 5th since last year’s assessment, while the U.S. ranks 23rd, and the UK ranks 7th. See the below chart for rankings and notes.

You can view the full 2017 rankings evaluating nations’ performance through December, 2016 at www.cgdev.org/cdi.

The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) is released annually by the Center for Global Development. It is a quantitative, broad based analytical tool that measures contributions in seven policy areas: aid (both quantity as a share of national income, and quality), finance, technology, environment, trade, security, and migration. Within each component, countries are measured on how their policies and actions support poor countries in their efforts to build prosperity, good governance, and security. The scoring adjusts for size of country (GDP), leveling the playing field for large and small nations.

“When we evaluate which countries are most committed to global development, usually foreign assistance is the first thing that comes to mind, but global development means so much more than that – especially today,” said Masood Ahmed, president of the Center for Global Development. “We take a broad look at migration, at trade, and at other policies that define the challenges the world is facing right now, and we assess how countries are working to address them.”

The 2017 rankings show almost all countries improved their performance in the environmental component with reductions in Green House Gas Emissions, new climate commitments in the Paris Agreement and reductions in tropical wood imports. Most countries improved their technology score mainly through improvements in intellectual property rights which will enable quicker technology transfer. Within the trade component update, two-thirds of countries reduced their levels of agricultural subsidy, improving their rankings in this area.

“For over a decade, this index has been a tool for rich nations seeking to increase their commitment to global development,” said Ian Mitchell, senior fellow at Center for Global Development and the report’s author. “This year’s results highlight the current global landscape on international development with Denmark leading its peers and Germany improving the most through better aid and migration policy. Notably, the central European Visegrád group of Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, and Poland have all moved ahead of the U.S. in the rankings. If the U.S. does withdraw from the Paris climate pact, it would put downward pressure on the U.S.’s environment component in future years”.

Commitment to Development Index 2017

Full scores, methodology and underlying calculations are available online here. The CDI methodology is updated annually, and rankings are not always directly comparable to previous years’ published index. Where this release cites changes in rankings, these reflect actual changes in performance rather than method.

Denmark Tops Rankings
Denmark leads this year’s Commitment to Development Index. Denmark is the lead country on the security and aid components, the latter underpinned by both the quality and quantity (0.75%) of its development aid. Denmark also features in the top three for trade and finance. On the former, Denmark has the least red tape on imports and low barriers to services trade. Even Denmark has room for improvement though: in migration it scores in the bottom half. Even though it takes a large share of international refugees, Denmark accepts the lowest proportion of students from developing countries of all countries assessed.

Germany is Up 10 Slots from Last Ranking
Germany moved up to 5th on the Commitment to Development Index 2017. Germany has improved its score significantly to top the migration component – not only reflecting the large influx of refugees in recent years but also a strong performance on all indicators in the component. On aid, it has also improved, meeting the international commitment of 0.7% of national income on overseas development assistance. On trade, Germany is a joint leader on trade in services, imposing the fewest restrictions on overseas suppliers. Germany has also increased scores above average in aid, technology, trade, and environment. Germany is held back from the top positions by its performance on finance and security where it ranks in the bottom third.

U.S. Ranks 23rd
The United States ranks 23rd on the Commitment to Development Index, dropping three places, and is now outscored by each of the Central European Visegrád countries (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, and Poland). The U.S.’s best performance is in the trade and security components. However, it scores poorly on aid, finance, and the environment. On aid, the U.S. gives just 0.18% of is national income on overseas development aid, well short of the international agreement of 0.7%. On environment, the U.S. has relatively high greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel production compared to other CDI countries, and gasoline taxes are the lowest of the 27 nations. In this year’s index the U.S. is still rewarded for accepting the Paris agreement so formal withdrawal would damage the U.S.’s score further.

France Ranks 4th, Tops G7 country list
France has maintained its position as the top-ranked G7 nation despite Germany’s surge. France performs above average in security, technology, trade, finance, and environment. On security, only Denmark scores better, with France party to all nine international security agreements considered in the CDI. France also contributes significantly to international peacekeeping efforts, both financially and with personnel. On technology, its government’s support for R&D is strong with 0.5% of GDP being spent, alongside incentives for companies to invest. France could improve by reducing barriers to service trade, improving the integration of migrants, and building on its progress to increase the 0.38% of national income it spends on overseas aid.

UK Ranks 7th
The United Kingdom ranks 7th on this year’s Commitment to Development Index. The UK performs strongest in aid and trade but below average on technology and migration. On aid, the UK is one of the few countries to meet the international commitment on aid of 0.7% of national income. On trade, the UK places few restrictions on overseas services providers and on goods imposes little red tape. On environment, the UK scores above average, with higher fuel taxes, low fishing subsidies, and commitments to biodiversity treaty obligations. The UK scored in the bottom third on technology with relatively low government support for R&D and was also in the bottom half for migration. The UK has a relatively high proportion of students from developing countries but could improve its development contribution by taking a fuller share of asylum seekers and increasing its refugee acceptance rate.

Once Brexit takes effect after March 2019, the UK will set more of its migration, trade, and agriculture policy. On migration, the UK is already in control of the policies most relevant to the CDI and development. There is a risk to the UK’s good score on trade if it cannot quickly replicate the EU’s relatively strong trade for development regime. On agriculture, it could certainly reduce subsidies compared with the EU and level the playing field for developing world producers.

South Korea Last But Tops in Technology
South Korea ranks 27th on the Commitment to Development Index. Its environment and security scores are the lowest in the CDI, although it is the leading country on technology where the government spends over 1% of national income on R&D, alongside incentives for business. On the environment, South Korea has relatively high greenhouse gas emissions per capita, high tropical timber imports, and consumes a lot of ozone depleting substances. On security, South Korea could improve its score by publishing arms exports data and by signing the Convention on Cluster Munition and the Mine Ban Treaty.

Country Rankings

Each country receives a score in each of the seven policy areas. The scores are scaled so that the average is exactly 5 in 2017. A score of 7 is an extremely good performance relative to peers, and 3 would be relatively very weak. Each nation is given a score in each component, and then the seven components are weighted together to reach a final score.

Full country reports for all 27 countries are available at www.cgdev.org/cdi. The rankings by component appear in the following chart.