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Report: Swiss are officially ‘good' for the planet

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Report: Swiss are officially ‘good' for the planet
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
08:33 CEST+02:00
Switzerland has an extremely good ecological footprint but contributes far less than other countries its size to global culture.

That's the conclusion of the Good Country Index, a ranking that attempts to measure how much countries contribute to the planet and humanity as a whole.

Published on Wednesday, the index ranks how ‘good' 163 countries are by examining their global impact across seven categories, based on data sourced from international institutions.

Switzerland ranks 12th overall, behind Sweden in first place followed by Denmark and The Netherlands in second and third.

The alpine country ranked particularly highly for its contribution to the Planet & Climate (third), Prosperity & Equality (second) and Health & Well-being (fifth).

But it fell down severely in the Culture category, ranking 71st, due to the relatively few creative goods and services it exports.

Speaking to The Local, Simon Anholt, who created the rankings, said: “Any country in the top 50 has reason to be proud of itself, it means it's a net contributor to humanity, no question about it”.

Anholt praised Switzerland's high Planet & Climate ranking, which covered indicators including CO2 emissions, ecological footprint and reforestation.

“To be number three in the world for your contribution to the planet and climate is really something,” he said.

Culture shock

However Switzerland's poor ranking for culture stuck out in the report, particularly when compared with similar-sized neighbour Austria, which placed fifth.  

Data for that category was sourced from a creative economy report by the UN's Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), among other sources.

“Austria is a huge exporter of recorded music, printed music... Switzerland obviously is a relatively important player in modern music but not so much in classical music. That may be part of it but I'm speculating,” said Anholt.

It also scored badly in the category of International Peace & Security (61st place) for “the same reason as for most western countries, that it sells a lot of weapons. That always drags down your score,” he told The Local.

An independent advisor to governments in 50 countries, Anholt created the rankings, now in their second edition, “to find ways of encouraging countries to collaborate and cooperate a lot more, and compete a bit less”, he said in a statement.

“A Good Country is one that successfully contributes to the good of humanity. Of course it must serve the interests of its own people, but never at the expense of other populations or their natural resources.... Working together makes for better policy than working alone.”

Speaking to The Local's sister site in Sweden, which topped the rankings overall and achieved first place in two categories, Anholt said: “Sweden is in a bit of an elite when it comes to thinking about the rest of the world.”

“The European model is one that trained countries to be much more outward looking, and Sweden is that more than the others.”

He stressed that the rankings are as objective as possible and were not designed to produce any particular outcome.

“There's no opinion or perception involved at all. The numbers are all collected by UN agencies and other major international bodies.

“It's as objective as the United Nations could be, which is fairly objective. Most of these countries are UN member states so if they don't like the data they should complain to the UN, not to us.”

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