IRELAND is the best country in the world according to a new survey that ranks nations according to their contribution to humanity and the planet.
The Irish topped the poll of 125 countries and their contributions to seven categories, including prosperity and equality.
The UK was seventh overall, but was awarded the top contribution to science and technology.
War-torn Iraq, Libya and Vietnam came in the bottom three of the survey, which has compiled its results for the first time this year.
The Good Country Index is the brainchild of respected independent policy adviser Simon Anholt, and combines 35 separate indicators from the United Nations, the World Bank and other international institutions, and ranks countries accordingly.
Mr Anholt works with various heads of state and governments, and has developed innovative strategies, policies and projects for more than 50 countries, enabling them to engage more positively and productively with other nations.
He said: “The idea of the Good Country Index is pretty simple; to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away.
“Using a wide range of data from the UN and other international organisations, we’ve given each country a balance sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.”
Mr Anholt insisted the survey was not designed to name and shame nor to make moral judgments about countries, but to recognise the importance of contributing to the greater good in a globalised society.
He hopes it will spark debate about what the purpose of a country is. He said: “Do they (countries) exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet? The debate is a critical one, because if the first answer is the correct one, we’re all in deep trouble.”
Mr Anholt called for countries to stop behaving “as if they are islands”. He added: “The whole world is connected as never before, yet we still treat countries as if each one was located on its own private planet.
“It’s time countries started thinking about the international consequences of their actions; if they don’t, the global challenges like climate change, poverty, economic crises, terrorism, drugs and pandemics will only get worse.”
The list looks at the size of a country’s economy, and then assesses its global contributions to science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, the planet and climate, prosperity and equality, and the health and well-being of humanity.
While Ireland topped the poll, the Nordic region makes a collective contribution to humanity and the planet which far outstrips any other part of the world. The United States came 21st in a ranking that was dragged down by poor scores on international peace and security.
Outside of western Europe and the English-speaking world, the highest ranked country is Costa Rica, which comes in at 22nd place, while Chile was ranked in 24th place.
The African nation which contributes most to the planet is Kenya, which, at 26th place, is the only country on the continent to break into the top 30.
Researchers said Kenya was an “inspiring example” which showed that making a meaningful contribution to society is “by no means the exclusive province of rich ‘first-world’ nations”.