ASHEVILLE, North Carolina — Simon Anholt is a policy advisor for governments on the national, regional and city level. What advice does he give them?
“In order to do well, do good,” Anholt said.
In 2005, Anholt created the Nations Brands Index, which measures how countries are perceived. By using studies that poll 70 percent of the world’s population, Anholt and his team compiled data for countries to know how they are viewed by the international community.
This knowledge is valuable for countries because it betters their ability to attract more tourists, draws in more investors and overall allows them to more easily succeed.
However, after he completed the Index, Anholt was curious about why certain countries are better perceived than others
“We don’t admire countries primarily because they’re rich, because they’re powerful, or because they’re successful,” Anholt said. “We primarily admire countries that are good… We mean countries that seem to contribute something to the world in which we live; countries that actually make the world safer or better, or richer, or fairer.”
In response to his findings, Anholt and his partner, Dr. Robert Govers, created the Good Country Index to measure what countries do for humanity.
By using data from the United Nations and various international organizations, the Good Country Index measures 125 countries in 7 categories, including Science and Technology, Culture, International Peace and Security, World Order, Planet and Climate, Prosperity and Equality and Health and Wellbeing. Each category has five subgroups, with countries scored fractionally from zero to one in relation to the other countries.
Ultimately, the Index measures their “world friendly or world unfriendly behavior.”
Rather than making moral judgments, the Good Country Index measures how much countries help or hurt humanity.
Anholt said the Index measures ‘good’ as the opposite of selfish, rather than the opposite of bad.
The top ranked countries include Ireland, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands and New Zealand, respectively.
To create a fair playing field for both developed and developing countries, the scores are divided by gross domestic product. Kenya was ranked 26th, with the United States slightly ahead at 21st.
“The concept of the [index]is all about encouraging populations and their governments to be more outward looking, and to consider the international consequences of their national behavior,” according to the Good Country website.
Many of the serious issues that the world faces include international issues rather than domestic issues. Problems such as terrorism, climate change and pandemics are fluid and borderless.
Anholt said that the world is still organized as it was 200 years ago, with each country acting as if they were an island. However, the problems that the world confronts today must be dealt with internationally. This requires countries to contribute more to humanity rather than focusing solely on themselves.
Instead of competing with national interests, addressing international issues is actually beneficial to countries.
“If you want to sell more products, if you want to get more investment, if you want to become more competitive, then you need to start behaving,” Anholt said. “Because that’s why people will respect you and do business with you.“
Both individual countries and the collective international community will benefit from governments that focus on how they can contribute to humanity. In this globalized world, the Index serves as a reminder for nations that international issues will not be solved by looking inward. It is only by being unselfish and considering the greater good that the world will become a better place to live.
– Kim Tierney
Sources: TED, Good Country Index 1, Good Country Index 2, Simon Anholt 1, Simon Anholt 2
Photo: Simon Anholt