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Denmark most "development-friendly" donor country; Japan lags.

When people think about how rich countries help or hurt poor ones, usually foreign aid comes to mind first. But rich and poor nations are connected in many other ways--through trade, investment, migration, the environment, military affairs, and ideas and innovations such as the Internet. That's why the Commitment to Development Index, a joint project of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Global Development (CGD) and Foreign Policy magazine, rates and ranks 21 rich countries on the "development-friendliness" of the full range of their policies. The Index considers not just how much aid donors give, but also quality factors such as whether the aid goes to countries that are particularly poor but uncorrupt. Then it factors in performance in six other policy areas.


In the 2005 edition, Denmark ranks first, thanks to its generous foreign aid program (for its size), substantial contributions to international peacekeeping, and relatively strong environmental performance. Japan comes in last because of minimal foreign aid (for its size), tight borders to products and people from developing countries, an historical lack of participation in peacekeeping, and a poor international environmental record. The United States scores 5.0 (average), earning it 12th place. It too gives little aid for its size, but its tariffs on crop imports from developing countries are not as high as Europe's and it is relatively progressive in supporting healthy investment in developing countries. But even the top-ranked Danes are no better than average in four of seven policy areas, showing that every rich country could do much more.


CGD revised the environment component of the Index in 2005 in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. It now incorporates indicators of how rich countries damage shared resources like the atmosphere and fisheries, and measures rich-country imports of commodities such as tropical timber and coffee, whose production does environmental harm in developing countries. Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K. all score high on the environment largely because they actually reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) over the last decade even as their economies grew. Behind those successes lie high gas taxes and strong support for wind power and other renewable energy sources. The United States scores low because of its high GHG emissions and refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Somewhat surprisingly, high fishing subsidies and tropical timber imports pull Japan into last place on the environment. To learn more, visit
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Author:Roodman, David
Publication:World Watch
Geographic Code:0DEVE
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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