Go Green & Visit The 9 Most Sustainable Countries In The World

The Greenest Countries Ranked For Putting People & Planet First For A Sustainable Future.

Every country in the world will be impacted by climate change and yet some care about it more than others.

The most sustainable countries are those that put people and planet at the heart of their policies and encourage other nations to do the same. 

They know that the secret to healthier and happier people is a healthier and happier environment. 

Read on to learn about the Earth’s greenest countries and scroll down to the bottom to find out how we chose them. 

Some obvious candidates are missing from this list like Sweden, Finland, and Norway but we wanted to take this opportunity to shine a light on more surprising countries working towards a sustainable future. 

Our Curated List Of The World’s Most Sustainable Countries

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Costa Rica
New Zealand

1. Iceland

Sustainable Countries by dvoevnore

Iceland’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

With its small size and isolation, Iceland is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world. 

The ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ harnesses the power of its natural resources which helps it turn away from fossil fuels. 

It has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and its goal is to become carbon neutral by 2040 and fossil fuel-free by 2050. 

The country sits on two tectonic plates which makes it a hotspot for volcanic and geothermal activity. 

It uses it to its advantage, producing 100% of electricity from renewable sources. Homes are heated using electricity from 30% geothermal energy and 70% hydropower. 

Fresh food is grown all year round using greenhouses heated by—yep, you guessed it—geothermal electricity and its pioneering geothermal training program helps other developing nations do the same. 

As for waste, Iceland was one of the first countries in the world to implement a nationwide recycling fee for disposable drink cans and bottles. 

Called the Icelandic Recycling Fund, locals can collect deposits for all returned containers. In 2021, it became illegal to give customers single-use plastics without charging. 

If you’re visiting Iceland, you’re encouraged to sign the Icelandic Pledge to be a responsible tourist and take care of people and the land.

You can also look out for the Vakinn certification, an official accreditation by the tourism board which identifies ethical and sustainable businesses.

2. Switzerland

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Switzerland’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

Switzerland made history when it became the first country to vote for implementing a green economy in 2016, placing it as one of the most sustainable countries in Europe.

New initiatives included a goal to reach OneEarth sustainability by 2050.

The OneEarth Initiative is based on achieving ‘100% renewable energy, protection and restoration of 50% of the world’s lands and oceans, and a transition to regenerative, carbon-negative agriculture‘.

Another factor that makes Switzerland such an eco-friendly country is its exemplary waste recycling system. It boasts one of the highest waste recycling rates in the world—over 50%. 

Part of this improvement came by improving separated waste collection, pushing retailers to reduce unnecessary packing, selling produce straight from the shelf, and implementing reusable shopping bags. 

They introduced a levy on bags for household waste, encouraging homeowners to think twice before throwing out items that could be reused or recycled.

As for transport, the Swiss are enthusiasts for travel by train. Most cities are pedestrian and cycling-friendly, with car traffic cut by apps like Mobility. Mobility operates a car rental system similar to city bike rentals. Just pick up a car, drive to your destination, and hand it back for someone else to use. 

On the power front, Switzerland uses the full gamut of solar and geothermal energy along with heat pumps and wind turbines. 

56% of its renewable energy comes from hydroelectric power, so all those picturesque mountains, lakes, and rivers are put to good use.

3. Costa Rica

Sustainable Countries by Fabio Fistarol

Costa Rica’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

Which countries are the most environmentally friendly outside Eurasia?

Costa Rica is up there—even if they’re geographically closer to the equator.

Sustainability is not just a practice; it’s a way of life for Costa Rica. The country only covers 0.03% of the world and yet it’s home to about 6% of the world’s biodiversity. 

After losing 40% of its forests to deforestation from the 1940s to 1980s, the country implemented environmental policies in the 1990s which have made it 98% deforestation-free. 

Now, forest covers around 60% of the country and over 25% of the land is protected parks and reserves. Wildlife is protected and there is a ban on hunting, allowing population numbers to flourish. 

Costa Rica’s forests help it sequester carbon emissions but the country is already leading the charge on clean energy sources. 98% of its electricity is produced by renewable energy with 70% of it coming from hydroelectric power. 

One of the country’s biggest sustainability challenges is waste management. As part of an ongoing goal to phase out single-use plastic, Costa Rica has banned the sale or distribution of plastic bags and straws. 

Single-use plastics are also forbidden in its protected parks and reserves. 

Costa Rica incentivizes its people to recycle rather than throw away through a rewards-based system called ECOLONES which gives them discounts on goods or services for all reusable waste they drop off.

4. Mauritius

Sustainable Countries by Teodor Kuduschiev

Mauritius’ Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

Mauritius started implementing its sustainable development in 2008. While relatively late to the party, the island nation has already made impressive strides to rival other green countries. 

It appointed a Youth Environment Council which has increased recycling. As of 2020, the sale, import, supply and manufacture of single-use plastic bags are banned. It plans to target a zero-plastic policy by 2030. 

Biodiversity loss is one of the biggest threats to Mauritius’ environment. Only 4.4% of the island’s natural habitats remain and an alarming 57% of its tree species are threatened with extinction. 

To prevent Mauritius’ flora and fauna from suffering the sad fate of the dodo (the island’s now extinct national animal), the island has 41 protected areas and has planted three new forests of endemic trees each covering 200-300 hectares. 

Non-governmental organizations like the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation work to restore ecosystems across the island and its offshore islands to prevent biodiversity loss. 

Mauritius’ sustainable achievements are let down by its reliance on fossil fuels. The bulk of its energy comes from imported coal and oil with just under 10% coming from renewable sources. 

With the threat of devastating cyclones and rising sea levels increasing every year, the island knows more than most about the impact of climate change. We hope it meets its target of 35% renewable energy by 2025, but that year is quickly approaching.

5. New Zealand

Sustainable Countries by Ali Saadat

New Zealand’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements 

Aotearoa New Zealand is one of the most environmentally sustainable countries in the world. Research has shown that Kiwis are more concerned about the environment than any other nation. 

Its economy is heavily reliant on natural resources so they’re carefully managed to ensure sustainable economic growth, such as keeping landscapes pollution-free and instigating an Animal Welfare Act to protect ethical wool production. 

On an international scale, it uses bilateral free trade agreements with other nations to push environmental policies forward. One key free-trade deal with Europe requires all participants to adhere to the Paris Agreement. 

In 2019, New Zealand created the Zero Carbon Act which enshrines its commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 in law. 

It harnesses the power of its natural energy sources with over 80% of electricity coming from renewables like hydropower and geothermal. 

It still has some way to go to clean up its carbon and chemical footprint, though. Most of its energy is still supplied by fossil fuels (the transport sector the most heavily reliant at 99%) and its agriculture industry heavily depends on the use of the carcinogenic weedkiller glyphosate.

As for tourism, visitors are encouraged to sign the Tiaki Promise which is a commitment to care for New Zealand. Core principles include keeping the country clean, driving carefully and showing respect to local and Indigenous cultures. 

Sustainable businesses can also be identified by the Qualmark certification

6. Denmark

Sustainable Countries by AntonyMoran

Denmark’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

Denmark is a world leader in sustainability commitments.

The country ranks first in Yale’s Environmental Performance Index, a global sustainability ranking measured by Yale and Columbia University. 

Its achievement is largely due to its long history in agriculture and fishing, embedding respect for the land into Danish culture. No wonder Denmark is one of the happiest countries on earth. 

They take a more holistic approach to sustainability, which permeates its way of life from green transportation systems to green energy, making it one of the greenest countries in Europe. 

Denmark generates almost half of its energy from wind to produce electricity and it’s set to increase. 

A plan to build the world’s single-largest offshore wind farm in the world is in the works in collaboration with the UK, Netherlands, Taiwan, Germany, and the USA. 

Energy-efficient infrastructure is just as important as green energy. Denmark has one of the strictest building codes in the world to save energy consumption in heating as part of the Danish Energy Agreement. 

Emissions are reduced in transport systems, thanks to its well-developed cycling infrastructure. Bicycles outnumber cars in Copenhagen and nine out of ten Danes over the age of six own a bike in the capital. 

In 1978, Denmark was the first country in the world to introduce a law on recycling, stating that at least 50% of all paper and drink packaging should be recycled. 

Its recycling deposit scheme encourages locals to recycle bottles and cans by earning discounts when returning empties. 

7. Slovenia

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Slovenia’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

Located in the heart of Europe, Slovenia is a small country with big beautiful mountains and big environmental commitments to match—so it ranks among the top countries with the greenest lifestyle. 

This is perhaps owing to its rich biodiversity. It covers just 0.04% of the world’s surface yet is home to 1% of global biodiversity, the highest concentration of animal and plant species in the world. 

Slovenia’s high level of biodiversity comes from its varied climates and landscapes. It has three main climate types through a combination of mountains, highlands, and forests. 

So, how is it preserving its natural beauty?

The country has a total of 2,259 protected areas with 1,904 sites protected under national law and 355 protected by Natura 2000, a network of protected areas by the European Union. 

Slovenia has also cracked down on plastic pollution with strict waste management. In 2021, it banned almost all single-use plastic and implemented a new labelling system to encourage the proper disposal of plastics like tampons and wet wipes. 

Its capital Ljubljana has set out to become Europe’s first zero-waste city and so far, it has managed to reduce waste going to landfills by an incredible 95%. 

The city has also implemented car-free zones and improved public transport networks to make it more pedestrian-friendly and encourage other low-impact transport like cycling. 

8. Spain

Sustainable Countries by Leonid Andronov

Spain’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

Spain has only recently started to take its sustainability commitments seriously with the introduction of the country’s first climate law in 2021.

The Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition sets binding goals to hit renewable targets by 2030 and to become climate-neutral by 2050. 

Spain is slowly breaking up with fossil fuels with plans to phase out coal by 2025 and focus on renewable energy sources. 

It’s already producing over half of its electricity from renewables.

Spain is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe and it is leveraging sustainable tourism to increase sustainable development. 

Sitting among countries with the greenest transportation systems, Spain’s new and improved rail system rivals budget airlines in cost and speed and it tested out a free train travel scheme to encourage commuters to ditch their cars in 2023.

Sustainability also extends to the country’s natural environment. Spain has over 70 million acres of protected land with 3,705 protected areas including 15 UNESCO geoparks and 53 biosphere reserves. 

That comes to just over a quarter of its territory dedicated to the preservation of nature.

9. Japan

Sustainable Countries by David Emrich

Japan’s Sustainability Initiatives & Achievements

Japan is the first country outside of Europe to rank on the 2022 Yale Environmental Policy Index, sitting at number 25 between Ireland and New Zealand. 

Regard for nature is ingrained in Japanese culture. ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ (forest bathing) originates there. It’s a therapeutic practice that helps people connect with nature, improving their mental and physical well-being. 

The idea of ‘waste not, want not’ is another core value of Japanese society. EVen broken items are reused or repurposed as much as possible rather than thrown out. ‘Kintsugi’ is the art of repairing broken pottery with glue-like tree sap and gold paint. 

Still, it’s worth noting that recycling rates are low and remain at about 20% whereas waste incineration is around 75%. 

Japan aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. Currently, 22.7% of its electricity generation comes from renewable sources so it’s clear it has some way to go. 

While it’s not the most green country—and how could it be with the single most populated metropolitan area in the world—Japan excels at sustainable innovation despite its massive population for the island’s size.

In 2021, the Japanese government developed a new national strategy to improve the sustainability, resilience and productivity of the country’s food systems

It set a goal to have zero carbon emissions in agriculture by 2050, limit chemical pesticides by 50%, reduce fertilizers by 30% and increase organic farming by 25%. 

This approach is set to be a model for other Asian countries that are vulnerable to monsoons. 

Our Considerations For Choosing The Greenest Countries In The World

Which countries are most sustainable? And how do we know what is the most eco-friendly country in the world? 

There’s no definitive answer. The barometer for sustainability is constantly changing as countries develop their own sustainability goals. 

Many official indexes have different criteria to score each country. 

Just look at Earth.Org’s Global Sustainability Index which ranks Sweden as the most sustainable whereas Yale’s Environmental Performance Index gives Denmark the top spot. 

We’ve also created our own set of criteria to help us narrow down the countries that are putting in the effort for a cleaner and greener world. 

Not every country has a perfect score as we know implementing nationwide sustainable strategies is a long-term process. 


Independently audited sustainable certifications like New Zealand’s Qualmark and Iceland’s Vakinn label are a useful way to identify ethical and eco-friendly businesses. 

A robust and trustworthy sustainable certification helps visitors and locals alike support businesses that give back to people and planet. 


The IPCC has advised that to avoid a climate catastrophe, global warming should stay below the 1.5C threshold. All countries that have signed up to the Paris Agreement have agreed to stay below it. 

Many countries hope to achieve this by adopting renewable energy sources and setting climate neutrality targets by 2050. 

However, they have a long way to go in decarbonizing sectors and reducing their reliance on fossil fuels. 

It remains to be seen whether or not they will renegade on their 2050 targets but overall, we’re impressed by increased use of renewable energy sources. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: 

Sustainability is about people too. 

We like to see inclusive policies in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals that help end poverty and hunger, support clean water and sanitization and improve gender equality. 

Sustainable policies should not be made to the detriment of communities such as Indigenous displacements or using high-tech solutions that are unattainable for low-income countries. 

Waste Management & Pollution: 

Around 2.12 billion tons of waste is dumped on the planet every year, with 13 million tons of plastic entering oceans and 280 billion tons of groundwater polluted. 

Where waste doesn’t get dumped in landfills or incinerated (affecting our air quality), some of the most and least environmentally friendly countries still pass on the problem by exporting their trash to poorer countries. 

According to the Guardian, waste mismanagement causes hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths each year in the developing world. 

Sustainable countries should be implementing localized waste management systems. We’re pleased to see some countries take steps to ban single-use plastics but more still needs to be done. 

Environmental Protection: 

We like to see countries protect their natural resources by designating their territories as nature reserves, cutting down on deforestation and developing sustainable land management. 

Closing Thoughts On The Most Environmentally Friendly Countries 

What is the most sustainable country? 

There isn’t one definitive answer. Some countries have been sustainable for decades, and while others on this list may still lag behind in quantitative terms, their steadfast dedication and quick progress in light of the looming climate crisis more than earns them a mention.

Are they to mitigate the impact caused by the least sustainable countries? 

Climate scientists estimate that we will reach the 1.5C threshold at some point in the 2030s and humans are using 73% of natural resources than the earth can produce in a year. 

While sustainable infrastructure is out of our control, we don’t have to rely on the greenest countries to help save the planet. We can all have an impact at home, no matter how small. 

Be sure to pass on this list to your favorite travel lovers so they can add these green countries to their bucket list.