Good Country Project Founder Simon Anholt in conversation with Dilmah Tea CEO Dilhan C. Fernando
As we adapt to a new norm, the world as we know it is more fragmented than ever before and demands systemic change to overcome its challenges. Simon Anholt, founder of the Good Country Project, breaks down how we can make that change by being “good”. Good people, good business, good countries make up a good world, and in his podcast conversation with tea grower and Dilmah Tea CEO Dilhan C. Fernando, Simon shares how to reassess and refocus at the onset of paradigm shift; an opportunity for businesses and communities to make the necessary adjustments now for a more sustainable future
Simon Anholt, author of ‘The Good Country Question’ and the founder of the ‘Good Country Index,’ must know the meaning of the word “Good”. However, he doesn’t define it traditionally. It is a word beyond a single definition, a word which actually defines a holistic vision.
“Good” is the opposite of selfish, not good, the opposite of bad. The world is in turmoil today because of the introspective nature and the microscopic vision of people which affects the way we think, the way we lead and the way we are governed.
The root cause of our challenges from climate change to pandemics, small arms proliferation to the abuse of human rights links to our humanness or lack thereof. It isn’t simply to do the right thing by your own people. The responsibility must be wider to contribute to our collective wellbeing, including the global commons, the environment, the planet and the rest of the world. It’s simple. How people behave, individually and collectively defines “Good”.
Education is always the answer to every social and economic problem...
When the problem exists amongst the people the solution too lies within and must be unravelled. Human behaviour is woven into every individual based on an individualised experience of education, culture and upbringing. It can exacerbate the challenges we face or contribute towards solving it.
In ‘The Good Country Project,’ Simon calls for a new global compact on educational values, virtues and principles, a universal upheaval of education systems around the world to teach values that will build a new generation that will run towards the global challenges instead of running away from them.
This will enable young citizens to be suitably armed to face the challenges of the age they live in and tackle the present day challenges. It could create a generation of Good citizens that are able to start fixing things in just one generation. ‘Social Engineering’ can singularly save humanity from its own destructive instinct.
Our world is truly globalised, and its citizens are interconnected and interdependent. What goes on in Sri Lanka has an impact on every other country on Earth. The next generation must learn to think differently and behave differently.
Collaboration: focusing on the system
While addressing the challenges ahead are self-evidently greater than any one individual and or even individual country, to make sensible progress it is inevitable that people, communities, businesses, governments and countries work together, consistently and continuously to change the culture from fundamentally competitive to fundamentally collaborative according to Simon, who has advised the presidents, prime ministers, and government officials of 56 countries, helping them to engage more imaginatively and effectively with the international community and is accredited with being the founder of the concepts of nation brands and place brands, seeing them as being “simply another manifestation of how obsessed countries have become with their competitive edge, instead of focusing their energies on the system of which they are a part, and on which we all utterly depend”.
Coopetition: cooperative competition
In the 1970s, businesses began to demonstrate that it's perfectly possible to compete and to collaborate at the same time. Coopetition was a buzzword that originated in the Japanese auto industry which proved that the best way to drive a market towards growth is to have companies both competing against each other in an honourable way and collaborating to build a more efficient and effective marketplace.
It demonstrates that human beings are still allowed to compete, which is a very valuable and very fundamental part of their nature, but also collaborate on the essentials in such a way that they don't destroy each other or the marketplace as a result.
Businesses and corporate bodies must advocate for coopetition within sectors, amongst sectors and on the lands on which they operate. “So that experiment of coopetition, I would argue, is about 30 years overdue between governments. And that's one of the things we need to see now,” urges Simon.
A good corporate/business
A business has a direct influence over the lives of nearly as many people as governments do. It is the simple idea that it's not enough to make good products and sell them at a good price for a company to earn its right to inhabit the space it inhabits on the planet. Every business must understand its role and responsibility within the shared system, in a society, to the land on which it operates and as a stakeholder it is a common obligation.
We have to see the mandate of people in power, whether that's within corporations or within government or within society.
“You’re responsible for your own people. Yes. And for every single man, woman, child and animal on the planet, whether you like it or not, you're responsible for your own premises in your own territory. Yes. And for every inch of the earth’s surface and the atmosphere above it and the soil beneath it, whether you like it or not, and if you don’t like it, you shouldn't be in a position of power or authority because that is the rule of life on Earth today, whether we like it or not. And the sooner people begin to understand that, the sooner we'll get the right people aspiring to positions of power and responsibility because they accept that their sphere of influence as leaders, their sphere of responsibility, rather, is greater than their sphere of influence” – Simon Anholt.
(The Over a Cuppa podcast is a series of conversation amongst Dilhan C. Fernando and guests from around the world – from chefs and cricketers to economists and scientists – on topics designed to inspire and educate. Listen in at https://bit.ly/3cyOSqL.]