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Is international collaboration the key to addressing global challenges?

Copyrights: Peace and Sport

Is international collaboration the key to addressing global challenges?

“We started this new country. And it’s a country designed to make the world work better.”

Pop quiz: which country has 760 million potential citizens, is defined not by borders but by values, and encourages other countries to collaborate and become a force for good in the world?

The Good Country is a project that aims to promote collaboration in the international community, creating cultural change by modelling the behaviour it wants others to adopt. Its cofounder Madeline Hung took part in a panel discussion on the role of sport in creating peaceful communities, networks and regional cooperation at the Peace and Sport Regional Forum in Rhodes on 18 October. sportanddev caught up with her afterwards and she explained the story behind it.

The Good Country officially launched in September but has been in the making for several years. The other cofounder, Simon Anholt, and researcher Robert Govers wanted to rank countries based on the impact they have on the rest of the world:

Simon did something in 2014 called the Good Country Index which catalogues the ways in which all the countries in the world give something to the rest of the world and what they take away,” said Madeline. “The question of what it means to be good, not just for their domestic population and their slice of territory but for the whole world.

The idea was to start a conversation, to encourage people to rethink what it means for countries to be good in an age when we really need them to be working together. Simon gave a TED Talk on the index in 2014. He received 16,000 emails from people with whom the concept resonated – it matched their values and how they see the world.

Then Simon and Madeline started working together about two years ago and discussing how that momentum could be used. As Madeline said:

We were thinking, ‘OK, we have this philosophy, we need to work together and collaborate more to solve these problems, we have all these people around the world who think the same thing. What do we do with those? How do we create this kind of change on a day to day basis? And that’s when we decided to start a new country.’

Simon Anholt and Robert Govers then did some research into the number of potential citizens they might have and came up with an estimate of 760 million. As Madeline said:

They used the world values survey, one of biggest surveys of public perceptions and values. They pulled out questions from the survey that aligned with Good Country values. They identified people who said they identified as a world citizen, who said they’d be willing to pay a bit more in taxes to benefit somebody else, who said they’d be happy to live next to someone who is a different colour, creed, religion and so on.”

They found it was 10 percent, and one tenth of the world’s population is 760 million. That’s why they believe in the project’s potential – they need to have big numbers to have the influence they want. Like other countries, citizens who sign up on the website, pay tax (5 US dollars per year). Citizens decide on the policies that they would like the Good Country to implement through a voting system.

What does this all have to do with sport? As Madeline explained:

We’re so interested in finding other ways to influence and engage other actors besides traditional behind closed doors diplomacy or foreign policy. And we believe so strongly that most people don’t change or accept new ideas just by thinking about it, they also have to feel it. And I think that sport is such an amazing instrument for that. We love to think about ways to kind of capture the essence of sport and sportsmanship and apply it to things even outside of the game.”

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 13:56

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