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Simpol: Simultaneous Transnational Policy
Contribution to GTI Forum Experiments in Movement Unity

John Bunzl


Simpol is a global citizens’ initiative that develops the necessary policies to solve global problems, and its supporters use their votes to drive governments to act together to implement them.

The main barrier to solving global problems is that no government can move first or act alone because doing so would make its national economy uncompetitive, risking unemployment, capital flight, and economic decline. As former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “The blunt reality of the politics of climate change is that no country will be willing to sacrifice its economy in order to address this challenge.”1 This remains true for all global problems. In a globalized economy, it will always be so. Governments are therefore caught in a “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” It’s not that they don’t want to solve global problems, but that they can’t. That, indeed, is why the wider movement has achieved little: because it demands change from those—i.e., governments—who are incapable of delivering it.

That is why Simpol’s condition of simultaneous implementation is vital: it breaks this vicious cycle, eliminates the risk of uncompetitiveness, and resolves the dilemma. If sufficient nations act together simultaneously, no nation loses out—everyone wins.

Simpol operates in two stages:

A. Politicians and governments are invited to support Simpol only in principle by signing a Pledge to implement its policies simultaneously, subject to all or sufficient nations participating, and subject to the policies eventually being agreed.

B. Once sufficient nations have signed, an international negotiation to define and agree on detailed policies can proceed, followed by implementation.

Simpol also incorporates these key features:

1. Multi-issue policy packages

Simpol would consist of a series of multi-issue policy packages so that what a nation loses on one issue, it can gain on another. The losers on a climate agreement, for example, could be compensated by revenues from a currency transactions tax, thereby making immediate action in every nation’s self-interest. And if the agreement is in everyone’s interests, so will be the inclusion of verification and enforcement measures. Simpol does not necessarily mean all nations implementing precisely the same measures. Rather, policies could be tailored to suit the needs and abilities of each nation. National sovereignty remains protected, because only policies requiring simultaneous implementation are included.

2. Citizens and NGOs develop the policies AND citizens use their votes to drive governments to implement them

By joining the campaign, citizens declare that they will “give strong voting preference at national elections to politicians or parties that have signed the Pledge.” As the voting bloc of Simpol supporters grows, politicians who sign increase their chances of gaining those votes. Those who don’t, risk losing those votes, and potentially their seats, to politicians who signed instead. In that way, Simpol does not need a majority of voters to succeed—only the critical balance between the two main competing parties. This is the unique tool that Simpol uses, and it is vital because, as NGOs should by now realize, politicians can easily ignore petitions and protests, but they cannot ignore votes.

This political power also gives Simpol’s supporters strong influence over its policy content. To remain electorally attractive to our supporters, politicians and parties will have little choice but to adopt the global policies our supporters prefer. Global justice NGOs can also play their part by providing expert policy input to Simpol and by encouraging their supporters to join the campaign.

Should Simpol gain the support of democratic governments, non-democratic nations would be invited to participate. They need solutions to global problems too. If global support becomes sufficient and a global negotiation is successful, the first Simultaneous Policy can be implemented. Subsequent Simultaneous Policies can then follow.2

Progress So Far

Simpol is active in a number of countries, especially during elections. The campaign is most developed in the UK, where over 100 Members of Parliament have signed the Pledge. They come from all the main UK political parties. A considerable number of MPs have also signed in Germany, Ireland, and the European Parliament.3

Many politicians sign because of the strong electoral pressure Simpol exerts. In highly contested electoral districts, this often creates a “domino effect”: once one candidate signs, competitors are forced to follow so that, whoever wins the seat, Simpol is sure to gain another pledged MP. Others sign simply because they see Simpol as common sense.

Building Movement Coherence

Simpol is designed as a tool to network the wider movement for solving global problems. To achieve this, we suggest that each initiative in the wider movement make a list of all its policy demands. Then it should subject each demand to the following test:

Would the unilateral implementation of the demand by a single government, or by a restricted group of governments (e.g., the EU), be likely to cause it a significant competitive disadvantage?

If the answer is NO, then unilateral implementation is viable and the NGO can pursue that demand in the usual way. If the answer is YES, then that demand requires simultaneous implementation and should be pursued in cooperation with Simpol. By differentiating demands in this way, we would immediately create movement coherence because NGOs would then be using the right campaigning tool for the right job.

Fully understanding Simpol’s potential requires a deeper change in our thinking—a move from nation-centric to world-centric thinking. The psychological steps required to make that change are set out in the book The Simpol Solution, which I co-authored with psychotherapist Nick Duffel.4 As Noam Chomsky commented, “It’s ambitious and provocative. Can it work? Certainly worth a serious try.”


1. David Adam, “Blair Signals Shift over Climate Change,” The Guardian, November 2, 2005, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2005/nov/02/greenpolitics.frontpagenews.
2. For details on the campaign, its policy development, and implementation, please see https://simpol.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policies/Simpol_-_Information_Pack.pdf.
3. A list of all current pledged MPs is available at https://simpol.org/who-we-are/pledged-politicians.
4. John Bunzl and Nick Duffel, The Simpol Solution (London: Peter Owen Publishers, 2018), https://simpol.org/who-we-are/simpol-the-book.



John Bunzl
John Bunzl is a global political activist, businessman, and the founder of the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) campaign. He is the author of People-Centred Global Governance.


Cite as John Bunzl, "Simpol: Simultaneous Transnational Policy," contribution to GTI Forum "Experiments in Movement Unity," Great Transition Initiative (November 2023), https://greattransition.org/gti-forum/movement-experiments-bunzl.

As an initiative for collectively understanding and shaping the global future, GTI welcomes diverse ideas. Thus, the opinions expressed in our publications do not necessarily reflect the views of GTI or the Tellus Institute.


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