June 1, 2015
Measuring Morality: A New Index Ranks Countries by the “Good” They Create
By Simon Anholt
Founder, Good Country Index

In the age of globalization, everything’s connected, and that’s wonderful. But so far, we’ve been more effective at globalizing problems than solutions. Consider climate change, pandemics, poverty, economic turmoil, and corruption – every 21st-century global challenge you can name is created or complicated by globalization.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. As the Millennium Development Goals show, when we get our act together and start to behave like a single species on a single planet, we make progress. We really could be living sustainably and peacefully in a world where technology increases our knowledge, our culture, our connections, and our solutions.

So what’s stopping us from making the world work better? The heart of the problem is the way we’re organized: as a collection of nation states in constant competition. Competition has created great prosperity, but it’s time to ask whether it’s really the best or only road map for our future.

Our politicians have the power to marshal the only superpower left on the planet – the seven billion of us who live here – but we tell them we want to live in a rich and successful country, and that’s what they try to deliver. Growth and prosperity are usually achieved at somebody else’s expense and by depleting the planet’s resources – and that’s leading us towards disaster.

I believe that we really want, and need, to live in good countries. And by “good” I simply mean a country that respects the common good – good as opposed to selfish, not good as opposed to bad.

Last year, I created the Good Country Index, the first attempt to measure how much each country contributes to humanity and the planet. It gives each country a balance sheet so you can see whether it’s a net creditor or debtor to the rest of the world.

To the surprise of many, Ireland came out on top as the “goodest” country on the planet, relative to the size of its economy, with high scores for its contributions to global culture, world order, health and well-being, planet and climate, and prosperity and equality.

Kenya ranked a very high 26th place overall, showing that contributing to humanity and the planet is about far more than just how much money you contribute to aid or trade. Libya, perhaps understandably given its internal problems, ranked last in 125th place, with very minimal contributions and substantial negative impacts on the world outside its own borders.

This year, I launched the Good Country Party. The party won’t stand for election in any country, but represents the estimated 10 percent of the world’s population who cares about the whole of humanity. That’s 700 million people who believe that nations can’t make it on their own, that nationalism is a dangerous and outdated idea, that collaboration is a hundred times more powerful than competition, and that foreigners aren’t enemies to fight or competitors to outdo, but members of the same human family who happen to have been born on another part of the same blue speck of dust we all inhabit.

We need a change in the culture of governance. Just as people have started to learn, in a few decades, that racism and sexism are unacceptable, so, too, can we help them learn that narrow, selfish nationalism is equally unacceptable.

We need to give governments and corporations a new dual mandate that requires them to work for their own populations and the whole of humanity, for their territory and the whole planet.

This is why I say that I no longer want to live in a successful country. I want to live in a good country, and I hope that you do, too.

Simon AnholtSimon Anholt is a British policy adviser who has worked with more than 50 heads of state and government on their countries’ international engagements. He is the founder of the Good Country Index and the Good Country Party. Professor Anholt is director of the Anholt Institute in Copenhagen. You can follow him on Twitter at @simonanholt