simon aholt

Simon Anholt on what makes countries good

04 Mar 2021

Our own Anders Ankarlid interviews Simon Anholt – the brilliant mind behind the Good Country Index – on what governments can do to be better rulers.

If you asked Simon Anholt what he does for a living he'd describe it as a "strange job travelling around the world talking to world leaders."

What he actually does is advise governments and businesses on how to develop and implement policies. He's met the who's who of presidents, prime ministers and monarchs and has seen first what works and what doesn't.

Off the back of this experience, he put together a pioneering project call The Good Country Index that ranks countries based on how much they contribute to global issues outside of their own borders.

Naturally, it got a lot of attention and he was invited to hold a popular Ted Talk based on the findings.

good country index

Apart from creating the Good Country Index, Simon's also written six books about countries, their images and their role in the world.

His latest, The Good Country Equation: How We Can Repair the World in One Generation, is aimed at showing people that it's not by being competitive that countries and businesses succeed, it's by being collaborative, and that better international policy helps domestically too.

“The reason that people admire Country A more than Country B not because they think Country A is more beautiful or more wealthy, prosperous or powerful, it’s because they think it does more good in the world. The countries that are more open-hearted, collaborate and contribute more visibly, get more business.” - Simon Anholt

(Click here for a special discount on the book.)

We were delighted that Simon took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to #agoodcommunity about his experiences and what he's discovered from twenty years of observing how the world really works.

Here's a snapshot of the interview

What is the 'dual mandate'?

Today humanity is facing an unprecedented number of existential challenges, all much too big for any nation to fix on its own.

The only way that we’re going to be able to meet the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals is if we change the culture of governance from fundamentally competitive to fundamentally collaborative.

Leaders are responsible for their own people and, to some extent, for every single man woman and child on the planet.

Why don't leaders understand the fact that it's better to think about others?

As soon as you become a leader of a country you fall into a false assumption that anything you do to help your own people will harm someone somewhere else on the planet, and it’s too complicated to think about.

If you do do something it will harm economic growth or anger your people in some way and that there are no votes in foreign policy. But actually they’re wrong.

One of the things I’ve discovered as a policy advisor over the last twenty years inventing real policies is that the more you succeed in harmonising domestic and international responsibilities, the better you become as a policy maker and the better your policies become.

They become more imaginative, more unusual and more effective.


We hope you found this fun and informative. If you have anything you'd like to share, maybe you have a similar story to tell, we'd love to hear from you. Send us an email at

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