American scientists find Brunei top in terrestrial biomes

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam ranked top globally (in first place) in terrestrial biomes, 22nd in sanitation, 27th in PM2.5 and Ozone, and 28th place in the supply of drinking water in the biennial Environmental Performance Index (EPI) compiled by scientists at American universities Yale and Columbia, published on June 4.

The global environmental performance ranking places Brunei Darussalam in 46th place out of 180 economies, with a score of 54.8 points out of 100. The report ranked 180 countries and territories around the world on 32 performance indicators across 11 categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality.

Denmark topped the ranking with the world’s cleanest air, followed by Luxembourg and Switzerland. The 10 most environmentally friendly countries in the world were European. The United States (US) placed 24th, while China, which is plagued by worsening air pollution, was in 120th place.

The categories are air quality, sanitation and drinking water, heavy metal, waste management, biodiversity, ecosystem services, fisheries, climate change, pollution emissions, agriculture, and water resources.

PM2.5, super fine particles, measures a fraction of the width of a human hair, and is emitted by vehicles and industry. The World Health Organization Air Quality Guideline recommends an annual PM2.5 mean exposure threshold of 10 g/m3 to minimise health risks.

Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar in his message on World Environment Day on June 5, said, “Alhamdulillah, Brunei Darussalam is blessed with an abundance of intact natural habitats allowing various wildlife to thrive and evolve both on land and in the aquatic environments.

“We are also proud to harbour numerous species that are endemic to Brunei Darussalam and Borneo and have contributed to new species discoveries.”

“As we develop a sustainable Brunei, we recognise that we need to have a stable healthy biosphere that supports a healthy human society to drive economic progress,” the minister said.

Project Director Zach Wendling said, “The expanded issue coverage promises to deepen the global capacity for data-driven environmental policy-making, clarifying sustainability leaders and laggards, and helping to identify best policy practices.”

Alex de Sherbinin of Columbia’s Earth Institute, one of the lead authors of the 2020 EPI, said, “Good governance more than any other factor separates nations that are moving toward a sustainable future from those which are not.”

High-scoring countries generally exhibit long-standing commitments and carefully constructed programmes to protect public health, conserve natural resources, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.