The Good Country Index is a new way of looking at the world. It measures, as objectively as possible, what each country contributes to the common good of our world as a whole, and conversely what each country takes away. Within the index there are seven overarching categories and therefore seven possible gold medalists.
Many will be surprised to learn that Egypt has reason to be proud because Egypt is one of the Gold Medalists, ranking #1 for the category of International Peace and Security.
Why Egypt? On the whole, countries like Egypt that score well in this category International Peace and Security, do not export arms; they do not get directly involved in international violent conflicts (except in some cases as peacekeepers); they tend to have tight cyber-security, and they often contribute significantly to UN peacekeeping missions with troops and/or funds. Generally speaking such countries do very little harm overseas, rather than doing good. Still, the net effect is positive and this is what has earned Egypt the #1 spot in this particular category.
A composite overall score of all seven categories ranks the top 20 countries as Western developed countries. However, on the whole many of these Western countries rank very low in the category of International Peace and Security; France (92nd), United Kingdom (94th), the Netherlands (97th), Belgium (100th), Luxemburg (101st), Italy (102nd), Austria (104th), Canada (106th), Germany (109th), Sweden (111th), USA (114th) and Spain (120th). On the contrary, many lower income developing countries rank highest in this category; Egypt (1st), Jordan (2nd), Tanzania (3rd), Lesotho (4th) and Uruguay (5th) as net creditors towards international peace and security.
The other six categories and the countries that rank number one are: 2.) United Kingdom in Science and Technology, 3) Belgium in Culture, 4) Germany for World Order, 5) Iceland for Planet and Climate, 6) Spain for Health and Wellbeing and 7) Ireland for Prosperity and Equality. See http://www.goodcountry.org
In the overall composite score Ireland ranks #1 making it the “Most Good Country” in the world according to the Index, a great acknowledgement for Ireland. Developing countries that rank high in overall composite scores include; Costa Rica (22nd), Malta (23rd) and Chile (24th). Kenya (26th) scores the highest overall composite in Africa/ME.
The Good Country Index isn’t interested in how well countries are doing internally nor is making any judgment. The index is looking at countries through a new and different lens than previous indices. It is interested in how much each country is doing for the world as a whole. The concept of the “Good Country” is all about encouraging populations and their governments to be more outward looking and to consider the international consequences of their national behavior, both positive and negative.
While there are numerous indices that measure country performance in isolation (WB, UNDP, IMF): whether it’s economic growth, stability, justice, transparency, good governance, productivity, democracy, freedom, or even happiness, it’s always measured per country. The Good Country Index tries to measure the global impacts of policies and behaviors that contribute to the “global commons”, and what they take away. Try thinking of “good” as a measure of how much a country contributes to the common good. So in this context “good” means the opposite of “selfish”, not the opposite of “bad”.
Author/researcher Simon Anholt and his team have used 35 reliable datasets, which track the way that most countries on earth behave. There are five datasets in each of seven large categories that cover the big issues. Using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organizations each country has a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between. The ‘Good Country’ concept and the Good Country Index were developed and funded by Simon Anholt. The Index was built by Dr Robert Govers with support from several organizations.
The author-researcher (Simon Anholt) of Good Country Index is posing important questions. Do countries exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet? The debate is a critical one.
Anholt argues that this index forms a truer and more realistic global balance sheet than those that look at each country in isolation as if each sits on its own private planet.
Anholt holds that the aim is to start a global discussion about how countries can balance their duty to their own citizens with their responsibility to the wider world, because this is essential for the future of humanity and the health of our planet.
He asserts that today as never before, we desperately need a world made of good countries. We will only get them by demanding them: from our leaders, our companies, our societies, and of course from ourselves.
“The biggest challenges facing humanity today are global and borderless: climate change, economic crisis, terrorism, drug trafficking, slavery, pandemics, poverty and inequality, population growth, food and water shortages, energy, species loss, human rights, migration and more. All of these problems stretch across national borders, so the only way they can be properly tackled is through international efforts” asserts Anholt.
“The trouble is most countries carry on behaving as if they were islands, focusing on developing domestic solutions to domestic problems. We’ll never get anywhere unless we start to change this habit.”
Anholt hopes that people the world over will use this information to urge their governments to look at the total impact of their policies. Anholt is somber “It is no longer enough to provide prosperity, growth, justice and peace to one population alone. The international consequences of every action must be considered. Economic growth is a good thing, but not if it’s at the cost of the environment or the wellbeing of another country or species. Competition between nations is increasingly looking like a dangerous idea. It’s up to us to tell these things to our politicians, and the Good Country Index can help get the message across.”
Nile El Wardani, PhD is a professor at the American University in Cairo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org