In the 21st century we face huge global challenges: from climate change to poverty, from migration to terrorism, from pandemics to economic instability and war. Any sustainable solutions to these challenges will need countries to compete a little less and collaborate a lot more.
Many countries have already acknowledged the need for this behaviour change through their commitments to projects like the UN’s Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals. But these kinds of behaviours are too often framed as occasional, one-off ‘contributions’ rather than an overall approach to policy-making. The culture of governance urgently needs to change, worldwide, from fundamentally competitive to fundamentally collaborative.
This doesn’t mean we think nations should become self-sacrificing, altruistic, or more charitable. But they do need to learn a new approach to policy-making: an approach that harmonizes their domestic needs with those of the international community. Our experience shows that making policy in this way, far from being a compromise, can actually make better, more innovative policies. The problem is that it simply hasn’t been practised consistently enough by any nation for it to become a recognised standard; it hasn’t “caught on.” It must.
We need a new country to demonstrate the viability of this kind of policy-making. No other international actor – charity, think-tank, NGO, corporation, or international organisation – is capable of driving this cultural change. Only nations have the sovereign autonomy, the credibility, and the clout to offer this kind of leadership. But traditional territory-based nations are caught in a tangle of history, geography, and domestic politics that makes it hard for them to take on this leadership role. The Good Country starts with a clean slate: its only motive is to inspire collaborative action and to address global challenges; to introduce a new kind of constructive international thinking, based on rational, innovative, enlightened national self-interest; and to lead the way towards a fairer, more sustainable future for us all.