Environmental Performance Measurement Project

Research project

The Environmental Performance Measurement (EPM) Project aims to provide policymakers with data on environmental sustainability and performance. The project produces two composite indices: the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) and the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The project is an initiative of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of Columbia University, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.


Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI)
Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

Environmental Sustainability Index


Environmental Performance Measurement Project




2001, 2002, 2005


146 countries

Last reviewed


Data types and sources

Composite index based on various indicators, e.g. data from national accounts, administrative records and official registers, expert surveys, and data on pollution. The data source is usually international organisations such as the OECD and specialised agencies of the United Nations, but some data are also collected from non-governmental organisations and government institutions.

Data downloads

Environmental Sustainability Index, Yale

Environmental Sustainability Index, Columbia


The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) ranks countries on elements of environmental sustainability covering natural resource endowments, past and present pollution levels, environmental management efforts, contributions to protection of the global commons, and a society’s capacity to improve its environmental performance over time. The 2005 edition of the dataset contains 103 variables: one composite index (the ESI), five component indicators (environmental systems, reducing environmental stress, reducing human vulnerability, social and institutional capacity, and global stewardship), 21 indicators (used to calculate the component indicators), and 76 raw-data variables (used to calculate the 21 indicators).

Geographical coverage

The 2005 edition covers 146 countries and territories.

Time coverage and updates

Years covered: 2001, 2002, 2005.
The next ESI update is planned for 2008.


On the website there is extensive documentation of how the ESI was constructed, including detailed descriptions of the statistical techniques and methods used to calculate the index, variable profiles, comparison with other sustainability indicators, and criticisms and responses.

Access conditions and cost

Available free of charge.

Access procedures

Predefined table.

Data formats


Comparability and data quality

Not examined, but see Jha and Bhanu Murthy (2003) for an assessment of the 2002 edition of the index.See also The Economist: “Green and growing”, 27 January 2001, for a discussion of the 2001 edition of the index.


Jha, Raghbendra, and K.V. Bhanu Murthy. 2003. “A critique of the environmental sustainability index”. Departmental Working Papers 2003-08, Australian National University, Economics RSPAS.

Parris, Thomas M., and Robert W. Kates. 2003. “Characterizing and measuring sustainable development”. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 28: 559-586.

Esty, Daniel C., Christine Kim, Tanja Srebotnjak, Marc A. Levy, Alex de Sherbinin and Valentina Mara. 2008. “2008 Environmental Performance Index”. Yale University. Columbia University.