by Ingrid Vaileanu
Interview Francophone : How could be resumed the impressive personnality and experience of Simon Anholt ?
Simon Anholt: I would rather leave others to describe my personality! But as regards my experience, I’m lucky enough to have worked as a trusted advisor to the presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and governments of 56 countries over the last twenty years. It is this unusual experience that forms the background to my book, “The Good Country Equation”.
Interview Francophone : Why this amazing book just now Simon Anholt and how would you like to be used by your readers ? Your book offers this hope that each of us could still act, be useful to improve the situation in the world. Is not to late ?
Simon Anholt: I think this is a very exciting moment in human history, and the right moment to be presenting practical, concrete suggestions for how we can make the world work better. When it comes to making major adjustments to the way that human beings behave towards each other and towards their shared environment, historically I think we have failed more often by being too early than by being too late. I think the world is ready now to change direction. If it doesn’t sound too cynical, the pandemic has helped enormously by proving, in the most dramatic way possible, that whether we approve or disapprove of “globalisation”, we are nonetheless a single species inhabiting a single planet, in an advanced and probably irreversible state of extreme interdependence. Until people realised this simple fact, there was no possibility of real progress. My main concern is that in the case of atmospheric CO2, reducing emissions at the “last minute” is already too late to prevent significant climate change.
Interview Francophone : How would like your readers to act after having read your book that address to each one « desmayed by the rising tides of nationalism and prejudice, the decline of the multilateral system, the dysfunctional way countries are coping with COVID, and our collective failure to tackle the grand challenges of climate change, migration, conflict, poverty and corruption » ?
Simon Anholt: All I ask is that they teach their children to run towards the global challenges instead of running away from them; and that they encourage their governments to co-operate and collaborate more with other countries, and compete a tiny bit less. And that they teach their children never to generalise about people on the basis of what they look like, where they come from, or how they appear: it’s lazy and usually misleading: always make the effort to particularise, and always consider people as individuals.
Interview Francophone: From all the experiences tillnow what is your most amaizing one to be shared and inspire us all ?
Simon Anholt: It’s so hard to choose and I couldn’t possibly pick a single one: the twenty or more episodes I describe in the book (these include the time I bought a hippopotamus in the Afghan desert, turned my back on Queen Elizabeth, risked execution by hugging the President of Chile, had a surreal dinner with Vladimir Putin, was sent to a Polish salt mine after playing Chopin’s piano, and got locked in a palace lavatory in Bhutan) are the ones I just couldn’t bear to leave out!
Interview Francophone : What are your projects for the futur ?
Simon Anholt: Another book … starting to look at how corporations and religions fit into the picture; and working with ever larger numbers of people and organisations to start implementing some of the projects I describe in the book.
Interview Francophone : What is your message and advice for the generations of the 21st century ?
Simon Anholt: Have hope, and no matter how serious things become, never lose your sense of joy or forget the power of creativity. Just because these things are serious doesn’t mean they have to be boring.