For the current edition, researchers assessed progress in 90 important environmental issues.
They concluded that meaningful progress had been made on just four - making petrol lead-free, tackling ozone layer depletion, increasing access to clean water and boosting research on marine pollution.
A further 40 showed some progress, including the establishment of protected habitat for plants and animals on land and slowing the rate of deforestation.
Little or no progress was noted for 24, including tackling climate change, while clear deterioration was found in eight, including the parlous state of coral reefs around the world.
For the remainder, there was too little data to draw firm conclusions.
This is despite more than 700 international agreements designed to tackle specific aspects of environmental decline, and agreements on alleviating poverty and malnutrition such as the Millennium Development Goals.
Among the report's "low-lights" are:
- air pollution indoors and outdoors is probably causing more than six million premature deaths each year
- greenhouse gas emissions are on track to warm the world by at least 3C on average by 2100
- most river basins contain places where drinking water standards are below World Health Organization standards
- only 1.6% of the world's oceans are protected.