Nov 162007

Every year FutureBrand works in conjunction with the Weber Shandwick travel practice in New York to produce and promote the Country Brand Index. This global study ranks countries as brands. It involves quantitative research, with over 2660 travel respondents (business and leisure) from seven countries. Additionally, 50 travel experts were polled on their perceptions of countries as brands. The survey covers all sorts of areas, including art and culture, shopping, nightlife, value for money, safety, and business friendliness.This year, a new category was introduced, and respondents were asked to identify those countries most oriented towards environmental protection.  The results are interesting, and there are some surprises. Sweden tops the poll (OK, that’s not a surprise). Scandinavia in general fares well, with Denmark and Iceland both in the top 10. Bizarrely, Singapore appears third. When I was there in September several people told me that the small nation’s green spaces were gradually being lost to large scale construction projects. Although green initiatives are infinitely more visible in Singapore than some of its larger Asian neighbours, I wouldn’t have picked it myself. Its high ranking suggests the country is doing a good job presenting itself as eco-conscious, for sure. Interestingly, the UK, for all the political and media hype on climate change, fails to make the top ten at all. Arguably a slap in the face to all three main political parties who have tried to out green each other for the past 2 years. And a sign that no matter how much you talk about these issues, if there’s no fundamental action you won’t change perceptions. Australia squeezes in at number 9, despite the country’s refusal to adopt the Kyoto protocol. And the number 10 spot goes to the stunning Costa Rica, where my friends at the Rainforest Alliance are doing so much to promote sustainable agriculture and help farmers build better livelihoods, in harmony with nature.  But it’s still a country where major challenges remain in preventing the catastrophic loss of forests and the biodiversity they sustain.

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