The 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), released today here, has ranked 178 countries in total. Among them, India is placed at the 155th position, with an index score of 31.23 points. Its rank is also much lower than BRICS peers.
Among the BRICS, South Africa was placed at the 72nd rank with an index score of 53.51, followed by Russia (73rd rank, 53.45 points), Brazil (77th rank, 52.97 points) and China (118th rank, 43 points).
Besides, India has fared poorly compared to neighbouring countries like Nepal and Pakistan -- which are ranked 139th and 148th, respectively.
The overall list is topped by Switzerland followed by Luxembourg, Australia, Singapore, and Czech Republic.
"Emerging economies, including China, India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa, have had modest improvement over the past decade, but they have also paid an environmental price for their rapid growth," the report said.
The emerging economies represent 55 per cent of global growth from the end of 2009 to 2012.
Urbanisation without sufficient investment in environmental safeguards is a key reason for emerging economies' poor showing when it comes to air quality, biodiversity and habitat protection.
The 178 nations in the index represent 99 per cent of the global population, 98 per cent of the world's total land area, and 97 per cent of the global GDP, the report said.
"The EPI reveals that improved environmental results are possible when measurement and management practices align. When data and measurement are poor or not in concert with policy priorities, natural and human systems suffer," Yale University Professor Daniel Esty said.
The index also demonstrates what happens when countries are unable to prioritise environmental management, EPI said.
As per the report, the bottom five performers Somalia, Mali, Haiti, Lesotho, and Afghanistan all are grappling with civil unrest, significant economic development pressures, and political turmoil.
EPI ranks how well countries perform on high-priority environmental issues mainly in the areas of protection of human health from environmental harm and protection of ecosystems.
The index is prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF) as well as with support from the Samuel Family Foundation and the McCall MacBain Foundation.