Environmental sustainability of countries using the UN MDG indicators by multivariate statistical methods


  • Published 2014. This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain of the United States of America.


The objective of the article is to show that indicator aggregation coupled with the use of a multivariate statistical analysis applied to the environmental sustainability indicator data of the UN Millennium Goals (MDG) can allow important inferences to be made. Goal 7 of the UN MDG aims to assess environmental sustainability by ten indicators, the dominant among them being emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent. The data is available over a period of 20 years. We used an aggregate index method to combine the various indicator values into a single index, and studied the trends of countries over the years. We have also compared among two arbitrarily chosen groups of OECD and non-OECD countries, and shown how these countries have performed among themselves and as a combined group over the time period. Using the multivariate statistical method of Partial Least Squares Variable Importance in Projection (PLS-VIP), we showed how to find the key indicators from the larger set and their relative importance over the years. Important results from our research include ranking of countries according to their overall environmental performance in a particular group. The PLS-VIP method showed that certain indicators have shifted in their importance in influencing their overall environmental performance, while others have remained relatively insignificant over the 20-year period. 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 2014 © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 34: 198–206, 2015