Norway climbs three places this year to 12 in the Soft Power 30 rankings. Following our recommendations in 2016 that Norway should invest more in its cultural institutions, the country has jumped seven places in the Culture sub-index. Thanks to the financial security of the public sector, Norway is home to a thriving spirit of ‘intrapreneurship’ which encourages and harvests experimentation in the creative industries. Earlier this year, the World Happiness Index ranked Norway the world’s happiest country thanks to a reduced inequality gap, increased homogeneity, and access to equal opportunities. These assets are perhaps how Norway managed to rise four places in our international polling data. However, Norway experienced poorer results in the Digital, Enterprise and Engagement sub-indices this year, falling down in all three categories. It could be argued by some that the Nordic values of social welfare and equal wealth distribution are incompatible with the dynamism required to climb further up the Digital and Enterprise ranks. But Norway should be proud of its reputation for putting the well-being of its people first.
Norway tops the Government sub-index once again, setting a high bar for promoting democracy and accountability worldwide. This is an impressive achievement and one that should give other political leaders the conviction to make bolder decisions in the future.
Despite a strong and equal opportunity education system, the government could do more to attract international students to its universities. At present, this is not seen as a priority by policy-makers but should be prioritised if the country hopes to develop a knowledge-based economy. Going forward, attracting international students should be a core aspect of promoting Norway’s global image.
As the world’s happiest country, Norway scores consistently high across the board. But while the country’s society and governance structure are exemplary, this does not always translate into international prominence. Norway has an opportunity to take a confident step onto the global stage by forging a progressive foreign policy. Norway has demonstrated a commitment to soft power – it’s time to leverage these assets further.