Read the full story in Fast Company.
When United Nations member states agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) two years ago, they were setting down a consensus view on the future of nations. The SDGs represent humanity’s best aspirations for national improvement, from curbing hunger and disease to reducing inequality and responding to climate change. And, in their completeness and breadth, the SDGs suggest that countries find a more harmonious balance between industry and economy on one side of the ledger, and environment and social factors on the other.
By that difficult-to-reach yardstick, nowhere is perfect (including the U.S.). Even the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark)–so often at the top of quality-of-life ranking exercises–fall down in some areas of the SDGs, according to a new report. By traditional development measures–including poverty and life expectancy–they do very well. But, judged by their impacts on the environment and other countries, their negatives are significant as well: These societies consume high amounts of resources and produce high amounts of harmful waste, like electronic by-products.