Good Country Co-founder Simon Anholt calls on all diplomatic missions to share their nation’s policies that have brought measurable benefits both inside and outside the country’s borders
To tackle grandchallenges such as climate change, migration, economic instability, terrorism and pandemics, nations need to focus a lot more on co-operation and collaboration, and a tiny bit less on competition. This is simply because no single nation possesses sufficient resources to achieve a lasting impact in any of these areas: the problems are too big, too complex, too globalised, for any state to combat on its own.
Nobody seriously doubts that a more collaborative international community would be a good thing: but despite the best efforts of the UN and other multilateral agencies, not to mention the fast-growing ‘third sector’, most nations still see other nations as competitors first, and as partners only when they have no other choice.
Why is this? Undoubtedly, it’s a cultural problem: in some respects, the nation-state hasn’t changed much since the seventeenth century. Many national governments still see life on earth as a race for limited resources and for economic and political primacy; and, to be fair, many voters in many countries seem ready to reward that worldview at the ballot box. There are relatively few penalties for favouring competition above collaboration, at least in the short term: and, inevitably, the short term is what primarily concerns many elected politicians.
A second problem is the widespread assumption that ‘world-friendly’ policies inevitably carry domestic costs. The belief is that climate-friendly policies slow economic growth; that open trading puts domestic business at risk; that helping other populations or welcoming migrants means sacrificing one’s own; that sharing knowledge and information reduces competitive advantage; that joining regional alliances limits one’s strategic options.
Undoubtedly, this is sometimes true. But not always: there are examples which prove that it’s entirely possible to square this circle; that good domestic policies can not only do no harm internationally, but bring measurable benefits outside the country’s borders – indeed, that thinking more internationally can actually produce better, more imaginative policy-making than one would ever achieve by thinking in purely domestic terms.
One of the rare working examples of such policies is Chile’s talent attraction programme, Startup Chile: a fairly standard public startup accelerator that just happens to welcome entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world. This tiny, world-friendly twist has helped Startup Chile become the leading accelerator in Latin America and one of the top ten worldwide; and – imitation being the sincerest form of flattery – it has inspired more than 50 other countries to create their own similar programmes. The international benefits of the scheme are obvious: it provides opportunities for entrepreneurs everywhere to get access to funding, partnerships and markets. The domestic benefits are equally clear: it stimulates the Chilean economy by creating new businesses in important growth sectors. But this is more than a simple win-win: the international dimension of the project means that Chile enjoys a more vibrant, more stimulating, more productive
start-up scene than it would have done if operating a purely domestic accelerator; and, perhaps most valuable of all, it raises the profile of Chile around the world, giving continued impetus to the programme and demonstrating the vibrancy of Chile’s economy to potential investors around the world.
Startup Chile is an excellent example of what we call a Dual Mandate Policy. The Dual Mandate is the concept that lies at the heart of the Good Country philosophy: the idea that in today’s hyperconnected world, leaders are responsible not only for their own citizens, but also – to some extent – for every man, woman, child and animal on the planet; not just for their own slice of territory, but – to some extent – for every inch of the earth’s surface and the atmosphere above it. That sounds challenging, and it is: but the essential interconnectedness of the modern world provides as many opportunities as challenges for those who are prepared to look for them, and adapt to the new rules.
Dual Mandate policies are most commonly found in environmental policies: since the environment respects no national boundaries, it’s hard to find good domestic policies in this area that don’tbring benefits to the whole planet. Limit overfishing in your own territorial waters and you benefit the whole ocean; reduce pollution in your cities and you help the whole atmosphere. Investing in the ‘Green Economy’ brings strong economic returns and slows climate change.
The same is true for migration: almost any good, enlightened migration policy will create shared benefits for host and source country alike. The benefits of good trade policies are also intrinsically international.
Despite this, true Dual Mandate policies remain the exception rather than the rule, and are sporadic at best. It goes without saying that no country has yet come anywhere near making this the default basis for all its policy-making: yet this is what must happen if we are to make real progress against the challenges now threatening the future of human civilisation.
For this reason, the Good Country is working on a Policy Playbook. This is a simple compendium of all the best Dual Mandate policies conducted around the world during the last century (or even before): policies that have brought measurable benefits both inside and outside a country’s borders.
*COMPETITION * Together with Diplomat magazine, the Good Country is launching a competition. Please share your nation’s policies that have brought measurable benefits both inside and outside your country’s borders. Email a document no more than 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org Countries can submit as many entries as they’d like. Winning entries will be published in Diplomat magazine & Simon’s Policy Playbook. We look forward to hearing from you!