Which Country is the Goodest? The answer… Isn’t that surprising.
The Good Country Index measures a nation’s positive impacts on the world. People in many countries like to claim that their country is the best but In 2016, according to data on the website GoodCountry.org, Sweden (1) and Denmark (2) can argue for the honorific of goodest country, countries that provide the most to all of humanity relative to size. The Index ranks countries for their contributions in science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, planet and climate, prosperity and equality, and health and wellbeing. The ranks are produced using internationally accepted metrics. Standards of press freedom based on data from Reporters Without Borders and the Freedom House Index contribute to the culture score. CO2 emissions relative to the size of the economy for the climate score are calculated with data from the World Bank. The first country on the list that is outside of Europe is Canada (10), followed by New Zealand (12), Japan (19), and the USA (20).
Sweden’s pole position comes from sitting on top of the scores for health and wellness, and prosperity and equality. They also have the third highest ranking for culture. The USA’s highest positions are at 12th in health and wellness and 20th in science and technology. In the attached TED Talk the founder of the Good Country Index, Simon Anholt, pushes the idea as a paradigm shift for international relations reminiscent of the Gross National Happiness measure championed by Bhutan. Anholt refers to his experience consulting with governments around the world and learning that how a country is viewed by the world is an indicator of that country’s economic and social performance. Countries which are perceived as ‘good’ actors receive more support and interest in collaboration from the international community, which translates into tourism and investment.
When the presentation was made in 2014, Anholt mentions that he hoped not to find that all of the top nations were highly developed. Although the top countries are all rich but he proudly points out that Kenya was in the top-30 countries. In 2016 it sits in 92nd place. Currently, Hungary (24) is the highest rated developing nation on the list with a 9th place position in science and technology. The index was created with the intention of realigning the world’s governments perspectives of what causes their major problems and how to address and solve them. He uses the allegory of how the behavior of a few banks crashed the world economy in 2008 to illustrate how globalization has amplified the effects that unethical behavior can have on the world. The index works as a tool to encourage this amplification-effect to be directed toward good behavior. It shows actors in economies all over the world that not only can they do good and receive benefits for it, but that doing good can lead to profit.
“Anholt started the Good Country to change how our leaders run our countries. To help them understand they’re not just responsible for their own citizens, but for every man, woman, child and animal on the planet. To tell them they’re not just responsible for their own little slice of territory, but for the whole of the earth’s surface and the atmosphere above it. And to help them act like they mean it.” – excerpt from GoodCountry.org.
It’s a revolutionary concept in the struggle to move humans past economic calculations to humanistic governance and it’s a tool that every country, community, and individual with the intention of bringing justice and joy to the world can take to their peers and push as a new norm.