Australia has ranked well compared to other Western nations in its efforts to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals when it comes to trade with developing nations and settling immigrants but less so in terms of CO2 emissions, foreign aid and aiding refugees, according to the findings of a new index.

Global Neighbour Index cover

The Global Neighbour Index 2018, released by Baptist World Aid Australia and A Just Cause this week, ranks the 20 richest nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in relation to how well they are responding to the SDGs' five "pillars" - People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. The five 'pillars' relate to 17 specific goals which it is hoped will be achieved by 2030.

The index found that Australia ranked 6th out of the 20 nations in terms of its trade volume with developing nations (The Netherlands topped this category followed by Belgium) and 5th for its share of immigrants as a proportion of total population (behind Sweden, Norway, the UK and Canada). It also ranked equal 3rd - with The Netherlands - for its contribution to 'peace', thanks to its low level of arms exports, adherence to UN peacekeeping funding commitments and harmonious relationships with neighbouring countries.

But the index also showed Australia ranked 18th out of the 20 nations in terms of CO2 emissions per capita (only the US and Luxembourg were below it) and, given recent cuts to its foreign aid budget, 19th in terms of foreign aid as a proportion of gross national income (Australia's aid program represents just 0.22 per cent of GNI) with only the US ranked worse.

In terms of refugees as a proportion of the population, Australia was ranked at 14th with just 0.15 per cent of the population classified as refugees (Sweden was ranked at number one, followed by Austria, Germany and Norway).

The index, which was released at the Converge conference in Canberra, gave Australia an overall ranking of 11 out of the 20 nations. Sweden came in at number one, followed by Norway, Denmark, France and the UK. The US came last overall.

John Hickey, CEO of BWAA, said the index report has been designed for "leaders, influencers, and advocates" in Australia.

"We hope it will guide discussion, constructive debate, and action..." he said. "At Baptist World Aid, our passion is to see justice and sustained development for the most vulnerable people across the globe. And we believe that with Australia’s wealth and significant capacity, our nation can and should do more to act as a leading role model in this endeavour.”

It is the third year the Converge conference - attended by 40 leaders from across Australia's Baptist movement - has been held.