Earlier this month the Scottish Government unveiled its new 10-year National Strategy for Economic Transformation. The much anticipated plan included the welcome aspiration to become a Wellbeing Economy. But it failed to set out how we will genuinely transform our economy to one that ensures good lives for all of Scotand’s people and protects the health of our planet. In this blog, WEAll Scotland’s, Dr Lukas Hardt, explores the substance of the Strategy and makes the case for a inclusive national debate on how we move beyond business as usual.

The day before the Strategy was published, the global scientific community issued its starkest warning yet about the disastrous consequences ahead if we fail to urgently act to avoid climate breakdown. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautioned that further delay in action will miss a “brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”

At the same time, the cost of living crisis threatens to deepen already eye-watering levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland. One in four children in Scotland is growing up in poverty. Without new approaches that reflect the realities of today, rather than the recipes of the last century, the Scottish Government looks set to miss its child poverty targets. The need to reprogramme our economy has never been more apparent.

Scotland has positioned itself at the forefront of the movement to build a new type of economy which is designed to deliver good lives for all on a healthy planet. Scotland was a founding member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership – a collection of nations who are united in their ambition to redesign their economies. Nicola Sturgeon’s Ted Talk on the subject received 2.4 million views. But this rhetorical commitment to a different sort of economy has yet to be met with sufficient action.

Ahead of the publication of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation, 40 leading economists and climate change academics urged the Scottish Government to set out how it will put environmental and social concerns at the heart of financial and economic decision making. The final Strategy includes some positive commitments such as a Wellbeing Economy Monitor to measure the things that really matter to people and to review ‘how to increase the number of social enterprises, employee-owned businesses and cooperatives in Scotland’. But overall it marks a continuation of the same flawed logic that has delivered decades of inequality and environmental degradation.

The economy we have today is driven by a widely debunked logic – that continually growing the economy will automatically ‘trickle down’ to more wealth for the whole population. Yet in practice this necessitated that governments have to set aside some of this money in taxes to pay for the social and environmental casualties of our economic system. This economic paradigm has driven a cycle of paying to fix what we continue to break.

For example, the Scottish and UK Governments spend billions of pounds in Scotland topping up poverty wages, housing people who are homeless and building flood defences. Our recent report on Failure Demand has quantified the financial cost of this way of operating.

By privileging GDP growth and indiscriminate productivity, the National Strategy for Economic Transformation continues to follow this flawed logic. The most important challenge for Scottish and other economies in the 21st century is not a lack of productivity, innovation, inward investment (as important as they are). It is that they are often construed as goals in their own right. What we need to do is ask: What sort of innovation? Productivity of what and who gets the benefits? And how to ensure investment flows to those activities most aligned with a Wellbeing Economy? The key responsibility of governments in our time is to embed a new purpose into all economic and financial decision making. It is to ensure that  power is shared across workers and communities so that our economy uses our resources and creativity to provide the things that really matter. Governments have to make sure that care work is valued, that we all have the basics, like safe warm homes, that we expand the economic activities we need more of, such as decarbonisation, not just those that offer the biggest profits. There is very little in this strategy to suggest that the Scottish Government is living up to this responsibility.

Businesses have a vital role to play in a Wellbeing Economy, but the Strategy fails to offer a clear mechanism to ensure the enterprises Scotland will nurture will help build thriving local communities. Fostering social enterprise, employee-owned businesses and cooperatives has to be a key part and the Strategy promises a review of how their number can be increased. But more concrete support is needed urgently.

The Government needs to set the right rules and incentives to make sure that the right thing to do for people and planet becomes the right thing to do for businesses. The many enterprises in Scotland that are pioneering fair, green and transformative ways of working would welcome moves to rectify the unfair competition they face from those businesses who are shirking their responsibilities to the environment and society.

The Strategy talks about “Team Scotland” and rightly notes that economic transformation has to be supported by all citizens, and implemented through collaboration of the public, private and third sector. But the process of developing this Strategy has not lived up to this ambition. There is little evidence that this Strategy has had input from citizens and communities across Scotland.

The reports of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland and the Scottish Climate Assembly clearly show that people want the Government to step up to the plate and set a new direction for our economy.  Four in five Climate Assembly delegates supported the recommendation to reframe the national focus for Scotland’s future away from economic growth towards the prioritisation of a more person and community centred vision of thriving people, thriving communities and thriving climate. While the Strategy references an aim to respect environmental limits there is very little evidence of how this will be achieved nor how this squares with the thrust of the Strategy which focuses on growth.

This Strategy has failed to present solutions that are adequate for the challenges of the 21st century. Scotland now needs an urgent and inclusive national debate on how to transform our economy into one that truly delivers good lives and protects the health of the planet we depend on.



Commenting on Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, Jimmy Paul, Director of Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, said:

We welcome the Scottish Government’s aspiration to become a Wellbeing Economy and the aim to respect environmental limits. The Strategy includes some positive commitments such as a wellbeing economy monitor to measure the things that really matter to people.

“But this does not amount to a plan to transform our economy to one that truly puts our collective wellbeing first. The last decades have shown us that economic models that focus too narrowly on growth and productivity for their own sake fail to translate into more secure jobs, higher wages, decent housing for all, or a healthier natural environment. Assuming growth and productivity will trickle down to all has been debunked – Scotland needs to be bolder in its approach to economic change.

“Businesses have a vital role to play in a Wellbeing Economy, but the Strategy fails to offer a clear mechanism to ensure the enterprises Scotland will nurture will help build thriving local communities.

“The Strategy refers to economic transformation as a “collective national endeavour”, but there is no evidence that this Strategy has had input from citizens and communities across Scotland. This must be the start of conversation across Scotland about how we choose a new economic path that serves the health and wellbeing of our communities and protects the planet we depend on.  

“Scotland has positioned itself at the forefront of the movement to build a new type of economy, and the world is watching. Last week, 40 leading economists and climate change academics urged the Scottish Government to set out how it will put environmental and social concerns at the heart of financial and economic decision making. This Strategy stops short of achieving that. 

ENDS

For enquiries call 07855 069 952 or email frances@scotland.weall.org

Notes to editors

  • Dr Lukas Hardt, ecological economist and Policy Lead at Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland is available for interview.
  • Scotland’s National Strategy for Economy Transformation is here 
  • Nicola Sturgeon has previously championed the Wellbeing Economy agenda with her Ted Talk on the subject receiving 2.4 million views. Scotland is a founder member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments Partnership together with New Zealand, Wales, Finland and Iceland.
  • Last week, 40 leading economists and academics called on the Scottish Government to use the strategy to set out how it will put environmental and social concerns at the heart of financial and economic decision making. Their asks, supported by Poverty Alliance, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Scottish Environment Link and others here.
  • The strategy comes as yesterday’s IPPC report showed we only have a brief window to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. 



Calls for radical, transformative changes to Scotland’s economy in order to ensure wellbeing for all within our environmental limits have been backed by almost 40 leading economists and climate change academics.

In advance of the publication by the Scottish Government of its new economic strategy on Tuesday 1 March, these experts have endorsed Ten Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy produced by the ‘Transform Our Economy’ alliance.

These ideas outline a new purpose at the heart of our economy: providing wellbeing for all within environmental limits. They will require the government to set the trajectory for the economy and present a credible plan for delivery using all the powers at their disposal.

The alliance, comprising Scottish Environment LINK, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, is also calling for much more extensive public debate about the direction of our economy and believes that participation from workers, affected communities and those who are in greatest need of economic transformation has been lacking.

Matthew Crighton, Sustainable Economy Adviser at Friends of the Earth Scotland said,

“In the midst of climate and nature emergencies, with too many people trapped in poverty and businesses still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, there is no question that economic transformation is needed.

“In the face of these challenges, the Scottish Government must plot a new direction in building a truly sustainable and just economy that can meet people’s needs.

“Recent history has shown us there is a persistent gap between high-level aspirations and the actual performance of the government in effectively intervening the economy in Scotland. The fear is that the new economic strategy won’t redesign the economy, but will instead continue to deliver inequality and environmental destruction.

“New ideas are sorely needed for a transformative economic agenda which can provide sufficient investment to deliver a just transition to zero carbon, integrate the protection of nature into economic decision making and ensure social equity and participation by currently marginalised groups.”

Professor Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey and acclaimed author of Prosperity Without Growth backing the plan said,

“With the forthcoming 10-year Strategy for Economic Transformation the Scottish Government has a unique opportunity to make Scotland a global example of an economy that is fit to address the challenges of the 21st century, delivering wellbeing for all within environmental limits.

To do that, the Strategy needs to put at its heart care for people and planet, it needs to build on meaningful participation of those at the sharp end of our economy, and it needs to put in place measures which will give priority to ensuring people’s wellbeing rather than the pursuit of GDP growth for its own sake.”

The ten points proposed by the ‘Transform our Economy’ group offer a robust framework for building such a strategy. The Scottish Government would be well advised to take note.”

Professor Jan Webb, Professor of Sociology of Organisations, University of Edinburgh, and one of the 38 signatories, said,

“Orthodox economic strategy aims to maximise GDP, and then to make some adjustments for fairness and environmental harms. A transformative strategy, fit for addressing climate emergency and major inequalities, has to direct all economic action to achieving a fair, and sustainable, society. This means all investment prioritises decent work, zero waste, biodiversity and climate protection. I hope the Scottish Government will respond promptly and constructively to the Transform Our Economy alliance.”

The headings of the Ten Key Points are:
1. The goal: wellbeing for all within environmental limits
2. Setting specific economic objectives to care for people and the planet
3. Using all the tools available to government to meet those objectives
4. Policies must show how the objectives can be achieved
5. Combat economic pressures which are helping cause the problems
6. Public priorities must lead the direction of development of the economy
7. Clear tests for all investment programmes
8. Measure performance through metrics which matter
9. An economic strategy for all sectors – economic transformation as a national mission
10. An inclusive and participatory process

The full text of the Key Points can be read here

The Ten Key Points have been endorsed by the following 38 leading academics:

Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey
Jan Webb, Professor of Sociology of Organisations, University of Edinburgh
Dave Reay, Professor in Carbon Management and Education, University of Edinburgh
Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation
Gerry McCartney, Professor of Wellbeing, Glasgow University
Kate Raworth, Senior Teaching Associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Mike Danson, Professor Emeritus of Enterprise Policy, Heriot-Watt University
James Curran, Visiting Professor, Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Strathclyde
Victoria Chick, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London
Dan O’Neill, Associate Professor in Ecological Economics, University of Leeds
Julia Steinberger, Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change, University of Lausanne
Malcolm Sawyer, Emeritus Professor, Leeds University Business School
Molly Scott-Cato, Professor of Green Economics, Roehampton University
Prof Christine Cooper, Professor of Accounting, Edinburgh University
Laurie Macfarlane, Head of Patient Finance, Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, UCL
Camilla Toulmin, Professor in Practice at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University
Beth Stratford, Fellow New Economics Foundation and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance
Gregor Gall, Affiliate Research Associate at the University of Glasgow
Grace Blakeley, Author and journalist
Nancy Folbre, Professor Emerita of Economics, University of Massachusetts

Eurig Scandrett, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen Margaret University
Andrew Mearman, Associate Professor of Economics, Leeds University
John Barry, Professor, Queen’s University Belfast
Gary Dymski, Professor of Applied Economics, Leeds University
Yannis Dafermos, Senior Lecturer in Economics, SOAS
Mark Huxham, Professor, School of Applied Sciences, Napier University
Elizabeth Bomberg, Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Edinburgh
Dennis Mollison, Emeritus Professor of Applied Probability, Heriot-Watt University
Karen Bell, Senior Lecturer in Urban Sustainable Development, Glasgow University
Elena Hofferberth, PhD student, Leeds University Business School

Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh
Miriam Brett, Director of Research and Advocacy, Common Wealth
Andy Watterson, Professor, Public Health Researcher, Stirling University
Danny Wight, Professor, Institute of health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow
Claire Duncanson, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Edinburgh
Donald McKenzie, Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh
Josh Ryan-Collins, Senior Research Fellow in Economics and Finance
Maria Nikolaidi, Associate Professor in Economics, Greenwich University



Denisha Killoh and Jimmy Paul represent Scotland on the Future Generations Commission.  In this blog they explore how the Future Generations Bill could help steer us to a safer future where everyone can flourish.

In 2015, the Welsh Government introduced its groundbreaking Wellbeing of Future Generations Act which requires public bodies to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Calls quickly followed for the UK to follow suit.

In 2019 Big Issue founder, Lord John Bird, introduced a Private Member’s Bill on the Wellbeing of Future Generations into the House of Lords. The Bill incorporates lessons learned during the implementation of the Welsh Act as well as insights from a growing body of international experience of similar initiatives. Simon Fell MP joined forces with Lord Bird to urge the UK Government to back the Bill which last week completed its passage through the House of Lords.

Lord Bird said:

“We could just call it the “Hindsight Bill”. Why do we not have a Minister for Hindsight? Very clever—somebody who can read the future or who can say, “Hang on, why are we always doing things that come back to bite us in the rear at some later stage?””

The Bill would require the UK Government to:

  • Act to protect future generations from existential and environmental threats;
  • Work preventatively, and with foresight, to solve societal problems;
  • Account for, and seek to increase, its preventative spending.

This concept of working with ‘hindsight’ in mind drives both our work at WEAll Scotland and the Future Generations Commission. The Future Generations Commission was set up to promote the principles of the Bill to the general public and to governments.

At WEAll Scotland, we work to future-proof Scotland by redesigning our economy to work in service of human and ecological wellbeing. At the Commission, we combine our knowledge and experiences with the voices of Scottish communities to plan long-term solutions to tackling the root causes of our most challenging and cyclical problems. We also hold key decision-makers and politicians to account to ensure they are working in a way that is regenerative, collaborative and purposeful, while striving to meet the needs of the present, without negatively effecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

As the Bill makes it way to the House of Commons, we are delighted to see such early, broad support for a new approach to policy making.

Why we need the Bill

Every child deserves to grow up in a secure environment with the foundation they need for a future full of possibilities. But right now, one in four children are living in poverty in a country blighted by unaffordable housing, subsistence pay, exploitative working conditions and the degradation of our natural environment. On our current trajectory, extreme weather events like Storms Malik and Corrie will only get worse and their impacts will be most felt by those who already struggle to make ends meet. A recent global study revealed that three quarters of young people are frightened about the future with almost half of all respondents sharing that feelings about the climate affected their daily lives. Yet, young people’s voices are often ignored by a policy making culture that struggles to think beyond election cycles.

The Future Generations Bill would be an important step towards an alternative path. By embedding analysis of the long-term impacts of our actions in policy making the Bill would force us to tackle the root causes of the challenges we face. Every year the Scottish and UK Governments spend billions of pounds in Scotland topping up poverty wages, housing the homeless and building flood defences.

Our current economic paradigm has us trapped in a cycle of paying to fix what we continue to break. The Bill could help us transition to a new type of economy that prioritises our collective wellbeing.

The Future Generations Commission asks us to lift our gaze, to design an economy and society where firefighting the problems caused by the endless pursuit of economic growth becomes a thing of the past. It means making our economy more equal from the outset, so that it recognises and rewards everyone’s contributions. It means investing in warm homes, renewable energy and public transport to create an economy that is healthier for people and planet. And it means investing in our preparedness for future pandemics, so that we are not left as helpless as we were in March 2020. By designing policies differently, we can lay a fire-proof foundation for our children and grandchildren to thrive.

The transition to a Wellbeing Economy is already underway in pockets of activity around Scotland – from businesses redefining what it means to succeed, to local authorities investing in Community Wealth Building. But the full redesign of our economies will require commitment from the UK and Scottish Governments. 

The progress of the Future Generations Bill to the House of Commons is a huge cause for celebration. But we will need to be vigilant to ensure that it retains its transformative potential.  

We all want to hand down a better world to our children and grandchildren. A Bill that embeds long-termism and preventative thinking could help make this dream a reality.

Denisha Killoh is a Trustee of WEAll Scotland and Jimmy Paul is Director of WEAll Scotland
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The Norwegian Government has announced that it will develop a new national strategy for wellbeing.

Referencing the approach taken by WEGo member New Zealand, the announcement by the Government of Norway states that:

  • A good life is about much more than financial and material goods
  • GDP is an insufficient metric for good lives, as it does not say enough about how people feel
  • There is a need for wellbeing to become a supplementary measure of societal development.

Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie said: “Good quality of life is an important value in itself, but we also know that it strengthens our resilience in the face of stress. Therefore, we need more knowledge about the development of quality of life in different groups so that we even out social differences and create a more health-promoting and fair society.”

Statistics Norway carried out the first national wellbeing survey in 2020, and the results are being used to inform the new wellbeing strategy. Further surveys will be carried out, with the next starting in November 2021.

The Norwegian Government hopes that its new strategy will be “an inspiration for other countries and organisations”.

See the official announcement here.

Please note: this summary is based on a Google translation of the original Norwegian text. Please let us know of any inaccuracies as a result of this translation by commenting below.

By Hannah Ormston, Ben Thurman and Jen Wallace from the Carnegie UK Trust

In 2019, New Zealand made headlines around the world when their government signalled a genuine commitment to improving New Zealanders collective wellbeing through their annual budget. Applauded for being “transformational” and a “world first”, the NZ Treasury outlined their ambitions to measure progress beyond economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product. These indicators failed to capture the complexity of individual lives and, as NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “do not guarantee improvement to living standards” or “take into account who benefits and who is left out”.

Yet, as New Zealand announces its spending priorities for the next year, some have expressed disappointment, criticising the government’s lack of progress as well as a diminishing focus on wellbeing for which the NZ budget has become so well known.  But are these claims missing the point: that in New Zealand the concept of wellbeing has shifted from something novel, to an approach that’s now embedded within the day- to-day decision making of government?

What makes a ‘wellbeing’ budget?

In his pre-budget speech, Finance Minister Grant Robertson outlined the three main goals for this term of government: continuing to keep New Zealand safe from Covid-19, accelerating recovery, and taking on the generational challenges with the economy and society: in particular focusing on housing affordability, climate change, and children’s wellbeing. These are undoubtedly wellbeing goals. 

Sitting within a wider financial strategy, the ‘wellbeing’ specific component of the NZ budget consists of an allocated sum of money set aside to focus on prevention and improving collective wellbeing outcomes; policies and projects that better meet the needs of generations today, whilst also considering the long-term impact on generations to come. Spending from this ‘wellbeing pot’ is informed by a range of data that’s collected in a purpose built framework: the Living Standards Framework. It includes 12 areas of life that the government believe are critical for wellbeing, such as health; housing; social connections; and cultural identity.

Each year, the NZ Treasury uses the data in the Living Standards Framework to understand the issues that pose the biggest threat to wellbeing and inform decisions about where they should spend these funds. A wellbeing government understands that social, environmental, economic and democratic wellbeing have equal importance, and responds flexibly, by directing spending to the most urgent issues. In 2019, they chose to focus on improving mental health, child poverty, and family violence, while in 2020, their focus pivoted to the rapidly changing impact of COVID-19, and its immediate impact on people and communities. 

This year, the NZ government’s continued commitment to a wellbeing approach can be seen through the recent amendment to their Public Finance Act.  The Act now makes provision for the Minister of Finance to set wellbeing objectives to guide budget decisions. For the 2021 budget, the NZ Treasury has decided to focus its attention on the following objectives:

1. Securing a Just Transition to shift to a lower emission economy;

2. Enhancing productivity and enabling New Zealanders to benefit from the future of work;

3. Improving social and economic outcomes within Maori and pacific incomes, skills and opportunities;

4.  Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing; and

5.  Supporting physical and mental wellbeing for all, including keeping COVID-19 out of communities.

When assessing new policy and project proposals, their contribution to each of the above priorities is considered alongside their value for money, which is based on an assessment of their contribution to the wellbeing domains in the Living Standards Framework.

The priorities outlined in the 2021 recovery and wellbeing budget far from suggest a ‘move away’ from wellbeing. Rather, they show that their approach is holistic, and balances the health, wealth, and wellbeing of current and future generations in equal measure. It demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the complexity of individual and collective lives, and that recovery from COVID-19 and collective wellbeing are not mutually exclusive.

What are the lessons from the NZ approach?

But what can other countries learn from New Zealand’s approach, and what are the opportunities to build on, wherever you are? New Zealand is one of several Wellbeing Economy Governments who have a shared understanding – and ambition – to build sustainable wellbeing economies which include Scotland and Wales. The National Performance Framework in Scotland, and the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 each place a strong emphasis on prevention, intervention, integration and localism, similar to the NZ model. 

And while 20 May marks the next wellbeing budget announcement in New Zealand, in the UK, exciting new legislation, which shares the ambition to embed wellbeing in policymaking for current and future generations, will receive its first reading in the new parliamentary session in the House of Lords. At the Carnegie UK Trust, we work to improve the wellbeing of people in the UK and Ireland, recently publishing ‘Gross Domestic Wellbeing’ as an alternative measure of social progress in England: so we’re clear that ensuring we all have what we need to live well now, and in the future, should be the ambition of any government. This could be an important moment as the UK takes its first steps towards doing just that. 

References: 

Wallace, Ormston, Thurman et. al 2020. Gross Domestic Wellbeing: an alternative measure of social progress. 

Photo by Gigin Krishnan on Unsplash

Kia ora!  I’m Suzy Morrissey, one of the founders of the Aoteraroa New Zealand WEAll hub, and I recently gave ‘evidence’ to a special meeting of the UK All Party Parliamentary Committee (APPG) on the Green New Deal and the APPG on Limits to Growth.

The Green New Deal APPG was established to provide a cross-party platform for the development of a transformative Green New Deal for the UK and the Limits to Growth APPG is a platform for cross-party collaboration on shared and lasting prosperity in a world of environmental, social and economic limits.  The APPG members are MPs and Peers and the session was chaired by Caroline Lucas MP and Clive Lewis MP. 

I was invited to present ‘evidence’ for the consideration of the members of the APPGs ahead of the UK budget announcement, along with Lord Adair Turner (Institute for New Economic Thinking), Miatta Fahnbulleh (New Economics Foundation), and Robert Palmer (Tax Justice UK).  The virtual session was also open to the public and over 100 people participated in the session.

In my evidence, I explained the limitations of using GDP to measure wellbeing, outlining how it ignores important elements and rewards negative behaviors.  For example, unpaid work is not included in the calculation of GDP, but the sales of weapons are.  Further, no adjustment is made for activities that negatively impact the planet, such as pollution or non-recyclable waste.

I also shared an example of an alternative approach from Aoteraroa New Zealand.  The ‘Living Standards Framework’ measures wellbeing, using a stocks and flows based economic model, and a dashboard of elements.  It draws on the OECD’s Better Life Index, with domains of current wellbeing (such as income, health, housing), and four capitals (natural, social, human, and financial and physical).  The Living Standards Framework was devised by the NZ Treasury, to improve the quality of its advice, and provide a focus on inter-generational equity. 

Shortly after the Labour-led coalition Government came into power at the end of 2017, they announced their intention to use the Living Standards Framework as a base for the world’s first ‘Wellbeing Budget’ in 2019, as well as to inform the 2018 Budget.

I worked at the NZ Treasury as Principal Advisor in the Office of the Chief Economic Advisor and was the policy and engagement lead for the Living Standards Framework.  I shared my experience of determining the current wellbeing domains and capitals and finding suitable indicators to measure them .  For example, although much of the Living Standards Framework draws from the OECD Better Life Model, we decided to include a new domain of current wellbeing called ‘cultural identity’ to measure features unique to Aotearoa (such as use of Te Reo Māori, the language of our first people).  We also included ‘time use’ because it is so important, especially for gender analysis, even though it had been ten years since a national time use survey had been conducted by Stats NZ.  Data gaps need to be highlighted so that they can be addressed.

I also discussed how the Living Standards Framework was applied by government to identify priority areas for the budget and to assess potential policies for funding.  An initial assessment of wellbeing was undertaken using the measures and then ‘bids’ for funding from the national budget were assessed against the domains and capitals they were intended to improve. 

I was delighted to be able to share Aoteraroa New Zealand’s world-leading work in bringing wellbeing economics to public policy.

Now my focus is back on building the Aoteraroa New Zealand WEAll hub and sharing the wonderful WEAll resources for policy makers and businesses on how to create a wellbeing economy.  Contact myself, Paul, or Justin (emails on the Hub page here) if you would like to get involved.

You can watch the full APPG session below or on YouTube here:


A petition campaign is underway in the UK, demanding that the government at Westminster prioritises a shift to a Wellbeing Economy.

Launched by Brighton campaigner Laura Sharples, the petition seeks to garner 100,000 signatures by September so that the need for a Wellbeing Economy will be debated in Parliament.

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck was part of the campaign launch event on 1 April, hosted by Caroline Lucas MP and featuring Beth Stratford (Leeds University), Clive Lewis MP, and Laura Sharples. You can watch the event below or here. The event was co-hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to GrowthCUSP, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, and Wellbeing Economics Brighton.

Laura Sharples said that she launched this petition campaign because “the economy is really about stories, but the mainstream narratives at the moment work to disempower us by disconnecting us from our communities and nature.

“The economy has been designed – and it can and must be redesigned.”

Caroline Lucas urged people to support the petition, saying: “The window of opportunity is open. That’s the exciting thing – we have a real chance for a fundamental economic reset.”

Katherine Trebeck affirmed this, saying: “This petition is so incredibly important. If we can get it to 10,000, or 100,000 signatures, it demonstrates to Government that there’s demand there, that this is what people want and they can be on the right side of history.”

The petition states:

“We urgently need the Government to prioritise the health and wellbeing of people and planet, by pursuing a Wellbeing Economy approach. To deliver a sustainable and equitable recovery, the Treasury should target social and environmental goals, rather than fixating on short-term profit and growth.More details

A narrow focus on GDP growth has led us to environmental, health and financial crises. The UK is the 6th largest economy in the world, yet roughly a third of our children live in poverty. Two thirds of the public want the Treasury to put wellbeing above growth. Scotland and Wales are already part of the Wellbeing Economy Governments alliance. As host of the COP26 climate summit, the UK Government should build and champion a Wellbeing Economy – at home and globally.”

If you agree, and you’re a UK resident, please sign and share the petition. Use the #WellbeingEconomyPetition hashtag to share.

Can you help amplify this petition to UK audiences? Comment below or contact us here.

Dr Girol Karacaoglu BA MBA Bogazici, PhD Hawaii 
Professor of Policy Practice, Victoria University of Wellington

The former Chief Economist of The Treasury in New Zealand has written a book examining the processes by which wellbeing-focused public policy objectives can be established, prioritised, funded, implemented, managed, and evaluated.

Professor Girol Karacaoglu is Head of the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington and was previously New Zealand’s Chief Economist of The Treasury. Before then, he was the Chief Executive of PSIS (then Co-operative Bank of New Zealand) for nine years. His new book asks:

HOW WOULD WE DESIGN, IMPLEMENT AND EVALUATE PUBLIC POLICY IF IT WERE BASED ON OUR LOVE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS?

For the philosopher Water Kaufman, ‘I love you’ means:

I want you to live the life that you want to live.
I will be as happy as you if you do; and as unhappy as you if you don’t.

Professor Karacaoglu said that ‘wellbeing is about the ability of individuals and communities to live the lives they value – now and in the future. This is their human right. It would be extremely unjust to prevent the enjoyment of lives centred on chosen values. Preventing such injustice across generations should be the focus of a public policy that has intergenerational wellbeing as its objective.’

‘Half of the net revenue from sales of this book will be donated to The Nest Collective, which gives baby and children’s essentials to families in need’, he said.

Tuwhiri publisher Ramsey Margolis said that ‘while humanity may well come to grips with the current pandemic in the foreseeable future, ballooning inequalities and injustice threaten to shred the fabric of our societies, and the climate emergency menaces all life forms on the planet.

‘In the face of these enduring humanity-induced catastrophes, we owe a special duty of care to future generations to overcome them, and to leave our successors with a safer, fairer world in which they may thrive. We need to express our care for coming generations in many ways, from changing own personal lifestyles, to choosing political representatives who advance cogent, long-sighted policies in aid of a better world.”

Find out more and order the book via the publisher Tuwhiri

Dr. Katherine Trebeck

A major report published this week calls for the Scottish Government to introduce wellbeing budgeting to improve lives for children as part of a radical systems change in the wake of the coronavirus.

The new report, Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing, by WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Dr Katherine Trebeck, with Amy Baker, was commissioned by national charity Children in Scotland, early years funder Cattanach and the Carnegie UK Trust.

Click here to download and read the report

It makes a series of bold calls focused on redirecting finances to tackling root causes of inequality and poverty as Scotland emerges from Covid. Key recommendations include:

  • A post-Covid spending review, with all spend proposals assessed against evidence of impact on children’s wellbeing
  • Training of the civil service to ensure effective budget development and analysis, and moving to multi-year budgeting aligned with wellbeing goals
  • Establishing an independent agency, modeled on the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, to support activity and scrutinise effectiveness of delivery of wellbeing budgeting by the government
  • An overarching change to the ways of working in the Scottish Government budget process to ingrain greater transparency; cross-departmental working; and a participatory approach involving the public and the diversity of children’s voices.

The report argues that the Scottish Government’s stated aims of improving wellbeing across society and addressing the fact that one quarter of children live in relative poverty cannot be met unless we create conditions for our youngest children to be healthy and supported from the outset.

To do this, it makes the case for directing funds at root causes that diminish child wellbeing, rather than targeting symptoms ‘downstream’, which is inefficient, stifles implementation of policy and legislation, and slows ambitions for societal change.

First steps towards wellbeing budgets would involve holding a conversation with the public about budget-setting to absorb lived experience; interrogating data to ‘map’ the distribution of wellbeing in Scotland; and ensuring policy development was properly connected to evidence on what would actually change outcomes for children and addressing the root causes of what undermines their wellbeing.

The report’s lead author, Dr Katherine Trebeck, said:

“If the Scottish budget is to be a mechanism that brings about change, we need to create a context where children can flourish in Scotland. Then we need to think about a few fundamentals. The budget needs to be holistic, human, outcomes-oriented, and rights-based. It needs to be long-term, upstream, preventative and precautionary. Finally, a bold budget for children’s wellbeing needs to be participatory – children’s voices in all their diversity need to be at the heart of setting the budget agenda.”

Katherine speaks about the report in more detail in this short video:

Sophie Flemig, Chief Executive of Cattanach, said:

“This report shows why it is necessary to set out a high-level vision for wellbeing outcomes and hardwire it into government processes. Countries need to acknowledge that the economy is in service of wellbeing goals, not a goal in and of itself. Meaningful public involvement is key. Ministerial responsibility for wellbeing outcomes drives progress. And cross-departmental work is essential for success.”

Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy at Carnegie UK Trust, said:

“This project has focused on one important lever of change – the finance system, the way that we think about money and spend in Scotland, asking: what is value for money when we’re talking about our children’s lives? We know it’s not a silver bullet, but we do think it’s important that we consider how we spend that money if we’re going to begin improving outcomes for children and putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to children’s wellbeing.”

As the election campaign approaches, and following Tuesday’s vote to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, the report’s calls and the case for wellbeing budgeting informs Children in Scotland’s manifesto for 2021-26, backed by organisations across the children’s sector.

The report is published as Scotland takes stock of the damage the pandemic has done to individuals, families, communities, and the macroeconomy, and an increasing number of people recognise that we must not revert to pre-Covid ways of working.

Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, said:

“Now is the time for us to reset our economy and the way in which we prioritise our budgets. Katherine’s work gives us a real manifesto for how we will secure children’s rights and wellbeing. We call on you to read the report, particularly the section which identifies what the crucial next steps are. We don’t need any more research or evidence – we need to work together to put a budget for Scotland’s children into place, this year, and we look forward to working with you to make that happen.”

This content is reposted from Children in Scotland