At the judging of a schools Native Bee Hive Competition hosted by Permaculture Northern Beaches at Kimbriki Eco House yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow judge and Warringah Councillor Vanessa Moskal. What an inspiring young lady, testament to the upcoming generation of young people and Warringah Council culture headed up by Mayor Michael Regan, a man I personally have a lot of regard for because when I met him almost 13 years ago, he was a humble Duty Planner at Manly Council. He was so generous with his time and supported the successful submission of DA for EcoPresschools, my first business enterprise which introduced sustainability to formal education and care environments on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. These centres provided the platform for the development of sustainability education programs and the resultant resources published by Backyard in a Box continue to be utilised in early eduction and care services across Australia today.
Being a University student, part time nanny, councillor and avid volunteer, Cr Moskal needed a ride back to council chambers. During this 15 minute trip in my hybrid we talked across many shared interests and passions centred in and around sustainability and the leadership coming out of various initiatives both here and abroad. One of our conversations uncovered a common interest in what Simon Anholt developed in his concept of “The Good Country Index”, which tries to measure how much each country on earth contributes to the planet and to the human race.
I had planned a relaxing session at my local Kawii Hair Salon today but I was so intrigued by this concept, that someone had developed a new rule of thumb by which to measure global success and achievement that I bought my laptop to what should have been an hour or so of R & R but instead is a search for Simon’s recent Ted Talk transcript and my latest blog post.
“Almost all [countries] measure performance in isolation: whether it’s economic growth, stability, justice, transparency, good governance, productivity, democracy, freedom, or even happiness, it’s always measured per country. The Good Country Index tries to measure the global impacts of policies and behaviours: what they contribute to the “global commons”, and what they take away. This forms a truer and more realistic global balance-sheet than one which carries on pretending that each country sits on its own private planet. The concept of the “Good Country” is all about encouraging populations and their governments to be more outward looking, and to consider the international consequences of their national behaviour.”
“Twenty or 30 years ago, if a chicken caught a cold and sneezed and died in a remote village in East Asia, it would have been a tragedy for the chicken and its closest relatives, but I don’t think there was much possibility of us fearing a global pandemic and the deaths of millions.”
“Because the biggest challenges facing humanity today are global and borderless: climate change, economic crisis, terrorism, drug trafficking, slavery, pandemics, poverty and inequality, population growth, food and water shortages, energy, species loss, human rights, migration … the list goes on. All of these problems stretch across national borders, so the only way they can be properly tackled is through international efforts. The trouble is, most countries carry on behaving as if they were islands, focusing on developing domestic solutions to domestic problems. We’ll never get anywhere unless we start to change this habit.”
“To urge governments to look at the total impact of their policies it’s no longer enough to provide prosperity, growth, justice and peace to one population alone: the international consequences of every action must be considered. Economic growth is a good thing, but not if it’s at the cost of the environment or the wellbeing of another country or species. Competition between nations is increasingly looking like a dangerous idea. It’s up to us to tell these things to our politicians, and the Good Country Index can help get the message across.”
To those in power who believe that only strength counts, and that people are always self-interested, I say “We tried it your way, and it didn’t work. Let’s try something new.” – Simon Anholt
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