Simon Anholt: a dual mandate for cities


Following his keynote speech at EUROCITIES 2014 Munich, Simon Anholt agreed to answer a few questions for us. Simon is best known as the world's leading authority on national and city image.

Q: Why is it important that cities come together to share ideas and knowledge?

SA: Because we live in a world in which the key challenges faced by humanity are all now so completely globalised that they are beyond the reach of any single city or nation to resolve. Whether it’s climate change, terrorism, inequality, poverty, drug trafficking, slavery, pandemics, water and food shortages or economic instability, their scale is now global, and so only global collaboration can remedy them.

Q: Can you give some examples of how action at city level can make an impact at global level?

SA: It would be harder to find examples of city level actions that have no international impact! From choosing the right light bulbs for street lighting to major infrastructure projects, everything we do in our cities today has an international impact, whether that impact is economic, social, political or climactic.

Q: What are your top tips for cities wanting to become ‘good’?

SA: Simply to adopt what I call the ‘dual mandate’: this means that all leaders must regard themselves as having responsibility not only for their own citizens but also for every human being in the world; not only for their own slice of national territory but also for the entire planet. Obviously the priorities will vary depending on circumstances, and in the majority of cases the priority will be local rather than global: but the dual mandate implies a new culture in which failing to consider the international implications of everything one says and does becomes as unacceptable as racism or sexism.

Q: What inspired you to come up with the ‘Good Country Index’?

SA: Years of advising nations on how to compete more effectively against each other, while the planet and humanity were left to fend for themselves. I realised that this couldn’t go on, and the old notion of nation states as competitors needed urgently to be updated.

Q: What will your next project be?

SA: At the moment I’m focused on welcoming as many new members as possible to the Good Country Party. The initial target is 700 million people – that’s the approximately 10% of the world’s population which, according to research from the World Values Survey, regards itself as fundamentally cosmopolitan. After that, we’ll see. 

Q: What is your favourite European city, and why?

SA: Venice. No need to explain, surely?

Find out more about Simon Anholt at: