by Marsha Rakestraw

In a globalized world, our choices matter even more.

Everything, from our food and transportation, to the political choices we make, to the systems and businesses we support, affects people, animals, and ecosystems around the world.

As humane educators, it’s important that we help students understand those connections and to provide them with the skills, knowledge, and motivation to make choices that benefit all.

There are a growing number of indices and other tools that rank countries on a variety of criteria, from environmental and human health, to animal welfare, to societal well-being.

Using tools like these helps students increase their knowledge about global issues, hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and expand their influence in meaningful ways.

Here is a list of eight indices to add to your humane educator’s toolbox:

1.  The Animal Protection Index from World Animal Protection (WAP), ranks 50 countries “on their commitment to protect animals in their legislation, improve animal welfare and recognise animal sentience.”

2. The Environmental Performance Index from Yale ranks 178 countries on how well they “perform on high-priority environmental issues in two broad policy areas: protection of human health from environmental harm and protection of ecosystems.” Categories include air and water quality, biodiversity, forests, and climate and energy.

3.  The Global Peace Index ranks the world’s nations by their levels of “peacefulness.” To determine rankings, the GPI tracks 23 indicators, including the level of safety and security, the degree of militarization, and the extent of domestic or international conflict.

4.  The Global Slavery Index from Walk Free surveys 167 countries to determine the incidence of human slavery. The report also catalogs what countries are doing to help eradicate slavery, and notes the factors that are most indicative of vulnerable populations, such as civil unrest in a country, levels of discrimination, or lack of human rights.

5. The Good Country Index ranks 163 countries on “how much each country on earth contributes to the planet and to the human race.” The GCI uses seven categories to measure 35 pieces of data, related to issues like peace, health, arms trade, CO2 emissions, humanitarian aid, population, freedom of the press, and Nobel prizes.

6. The Happy Planet Index shows “the extent to which 140 countries across the globe produce long, happy and sustainable lives for the people who live in them. The overall index scores rank countries based on their efficiency, how many long and happy lives each produces per unit of environmental output.”

7. The Social Progress Index “is an aggregate index of social and environmental indicators that capture three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.”

8. World Mapper is a collection of world maps, for which territories are resized on each map according to the topic. More than 30 categories offer more than 700 maps on issues such as population, wealth and poverty, education and health, violence, and environmental impacts.


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