Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland came in second, fourth and sixth respectively in the 2010 Commitment to Development Index (CDI), an annual ranking compiled by the Washington, DC-based Center for Global Development (CGD) think tank released last week ahead of the ongoing G20 summit in Seoul.
The CDI measures national efforts in seven policy areas that are important to developing countries: aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security and technology.
Sweden earned a 7, an improvement from last year. Its score has risen by 0.9 points from 2003 to 2010. The country scored particularly highly in the aid, migration, trade and environment categories.
However, the organisation emphasised that the world’s richest countries still have a long way to go despite making modest progress in improving policies that support development.
“At the Seoul Summit, development will be a key part of the agenda for the first time since the steering group for the global economy was expanded from the G8 to the G20 during the 2008 financial crisis,” CGD President Nancy Birdsall said in a statement.
“There are many connections between industrialised countries and developing ones, not just aid but also trade, investment, environmental policy and other linkages. The failure to use these channels to their full potential is a blow to the goal of shared global prosperity,” she added.
The CDI shows most wealthy nations have altered their policies since 2005 to be more supportive of sustained growth and poverty reduction in the developing world. However, the CDI found overall improvement has been slight and the seven major industrialised countries in particular can do much more.
Only three of them, Canada, the US and Germany, made the CDI’s top 15. The United Kingdom, which recently announced plans to boost development aid amid a government austerity campaign, ranked 16th, pulled down by a poor showing on the index security component due to arms sales to undemocratic regimes.
At their Toronto summit in June, leaders of the G20 established a working group to propose a development agenda and multi-year action plan for approval in Seoul.
In Toronto, the G20 said narrowing the gap in development between rich and poor countries and reducing poverty was integral to achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth and ensuring a robust and resilient global economy for all.
G20 leaders are expected to adopt a development action plan at the summit in South Korea.
The CDI ranks 22 of the world’s richest nations based on their dedication to development policies that benefit poor nations. In 2010, the average score for all nations on the index was 5.3, up from 5.1 in 2005, and 18 countries improved their scores over that period.