The “Brazil Build Back Better” policy paper is the collective effort of a small group of Brazilians, called the Legal Impact Lab, an action tank that aims to produce thoughtful reflections to inspire tangible change.
The authors said: “The auspicious encounter with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) and its intellectual breakthroughs provided a major disruption and possibility for the group to set its eyes on the “narratives” that our home country needs to pivot in order to start producing real regeneration wide across the national territory.
“The paper recognizes that national policies are an amalgamated construction of centuries of unconscious bias, piled up through endless struggles of politics, racial segregation, ecocide and oppression.
“Inspired by delicate activism and systems-thinking, the paper’s intention is to understand the narrative the Brazilian people wishes to shift to, for a Wellbeing Economy will only be possible once we address directly the structural issues that maintain inequality and hinder the development of the country.”
The paper outlines 7 principles and with policy examples of the kind of economy the authors hope to inspire in Brazil.
Regenerative Development: Recognize the historic debts to the land and its people, redefine our purpose as a nation, and commit to caring for all aspects of Brazil’s identity.
2. Climate Emergency: Recognize the social consequences of climate change and understand social inequality in Brazil, especially in peripheral communities such as in north-eastern Brazil.
3. Racial Equality: Create an economy that builds affirmative actions to correct behavior and social barriers, anti-racism policies to repress racist manifestations, and policies that celebrate the contribution of the Afro-descendent nad indigenous communities in Brazil.
4. Regenerative Approach to Drug-Related Issues: Ensure the state supports public security, the prison system, social assistance in the payment of pensions, sick leave and retirement to assist victims of violence.
5. Diversity and Empowerment: Empowerment of marginalized groups to ensure institutional behaviors are anti-raicst and anti-sexist.
6. Triple Positive Impact Investments in Businesses: Strengthen change in corporate culture and use market mechanisms to resolve complex social and environmental issues in order to create inclusive, regenerative and equitable economy for people and planet.
7. Participatory and Peaceful Societies: Build real and thoughtful dialogue to bring forth a new era of extrajudicial mediations, facilitations, reconciliations, conflict management and even, the figure of restorative justice, composing a more humanized paradigm for the judicial system.
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/1.png10801080WEAllhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngWEAll2021-08-17 16:00:582021-10-19 11:49:35Brazil Build Back Better Paper Launch
As we begin the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, a collective global awakening to ecological breakdown and social injustices, and with the inflection point of COP26 and looming on the horizon this November, we face an unprecedented moment to choose how we move forward, #buildbackbetter, and what kind of story we want to be able to tell about what’s going on in Scotland on the global stage.
Scotland is home to both the first Wellbeing Economy Alliance hub and the first national business-for-good programme of its kind, Scotland CAN B (a groundbreaking partnership between the Scottish Government and B Lab). Founded around a similar time in 2018, these pioneering initiatives have been established with a backdrop of Scotland’s long-term heritage of a strong social business ethics, and progressive and courageous national political and entrepreneurial ambitions.
The initiative was launched to explore what happens when you combine the entrepreneurial, innovative and business-for-good ambitions of one country, with the aim of catalysing a fundamental shift in the nation’s approach to business. The initiative draws on B Lab’s experience, standards, and the power of business accountability provided by impact assessment tools, and examples of best practice from certified B Corps, to ask:
“How might an entire nation learn to think, be and behave like a B Corp?”
or as the question has evolved over time:
“What might it take to build a nationwide culture of business as a force for good?”
In true Scottish “can do” attitude, we wholeheartedly embraced this challenge, and Scotland CAN B’s work since can be broadly divided into two strands, which we believe to be equally essential, interdependent elements towards leveraging the role of business towards catalying place-based economic systems change in Scotland.
These dual strands of work are:
Fostering a national Impact Culture – cultivating coherence and alignment in the mindsets, language, tools and frameworks used about impact in Scotland’s business ecosystem
Developing and delivering Impact Trainings – supporting businesses to learn to measure and manage their social, environmental, and governance performance with as much rigor as their profits
Scotland CAN B’s dual approach Theory of Change mirrors and supports the Wellbeing Economy Alliance’s own broader strategic approach of creating a new economic power base through building coherent knowledge and providing new narratives. We see Scotland CAN B’s work as equipping, enabling, and galvanising Scottish businesses and Scotland’s exceptional business support ecosystem to play their vital role as key agents in this process of economic systems change towards a wellbeing economy.
In short, the work of Scotland CAN B is to provide the mechanisms which realise WEAll’s vision, within the business sector.
It’s increasingly clear that business for good is simply better business; no matter how big or small, and whether you are people-, planet-, or profit- motivated; we’re all headed in the same direction. The question has changed from “why should we care?” to “what could we be doing better?” and “how do we not get left behind?”
“It’s increasingly clear that business for good is simply better business…”
In Scotland, WEAll Scotland and Scotland CAN B are both committed to ground these market demands, global imperatives, and this political rhetoric in reality. We’ve been working hard to develop and provide the inspiration, support and mechanisms to equip businesses to embody a wellbeing economy through their actions and accountability.
At Scotland CAN B, we’ve developed the Impact Journey – a cyclical, six module learning journey designed to support businesses in fostering impact awareness and accountability comprehensively across all areas of their business; from their core governance arrangements, through to how they interact with their employees, customers, the environment, and their local community.
But to catalyse the change we want to see at scale and pace across the nation, commensurate with the converging global challenges at hand, we soon realised we’d need to mobilise some extra support, and turned our attention to leveraging Scotland’s extensive business support ecosystem to join us on this mission.
Cue our flagship programme – the Impact Economy Advisors training, designed to train business support professionals in the latest frameworks, tools and perspectives to be able to help the businesses they support to better understand, measure and manage their impact. This year we will be ramping up delivery of the training, with participants joining us from across the spectrum of entrepreneurial support organisations in Scotland.
As more and more businesses and business-support organisations engage with the task of embracing their vital role in contributing towards the global Sustainable Development Goals, Scotland’s National Performance Framework, and embodying a wellbeing economy, we increasingly have proof of concept, and a sense that the change we seek is picking up steam – a nationwide operating system upgrade is underway, shifting the culture of business from a sole focus on profit, towards prioritising purpose and accountability for people and planet.
This is the moment, the intersection point, where humanity has more understanding than ever before of the complex and interdependent nature of the challenges we all face, yet also, crucially, a small window of opportunity and agency to take the rapid, proportionate action required to do something about it.
At this transformative moment in history, as the tide turns globally towards an emphasis on ESG accountability, the race to Net Zero, and with COP26 hosted in Glasgow on the horizon, it’s an exciting moment for Scotland to be poised to provide global leadership and a tangible example of what a nation of businesses embracing their vital role in the transition towards a wellbeing economy looks like in practice at a national level.
With the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, Scotland CAN B, and many others working together, we have an inspiring and galvanising story here to tell.
https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1540670965439-d55f323cc7ad?ixid=MnwxNTM4NDN8MHwxfGFsbHx8fHx8fHx8fDE2MjE0MTM1NTI&ixlib=rb-1.2.1&fm=jpg&q=85&fit=crop&w=2560&h=144014402560Joey Gartinhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngJoey Gartin2021-05-20 07:25:162021-05-20 07:25:20Scotland CAN B: Building a nationwide culture of business as a force for good in Scotland
A multi-diverse country, made up of over 200 million citizens, and about 250 ethnic groups, where more than 500 languages are spoken. This is Nigeria.
And so, we have coined many ways of describing ‘wellbeing’. To mention just a few:
The Yorubas call it Alafia, Omakpupo is what the Urhobos say, Tivssay Mlu u dedoo, it is Odimma in Igbo, and Lafiya describes wellbeing in Hausa.
Still, even with the differing beautiful translations of wellbeing, the message remains the same and we all want the same thing – a Wellbeing Economy. An economy where the health and Alafia of people and the planet come first. So, what will a Wellbeing Economy look like in Nigeria?
A Wellbeing Economy can be described as ‘yôu-yôu u uma’ in Tiv
My vision of a Wellbeing Economy in Nigeria cannot be attained while Nigeria’s two main problems of health and insecurity exist.
“The groundwork for all happiness is good health”
Good health is paramount to accomplish the wellness of people. When good health institutions are not put in place, healthcare is going to suffer greatly. This is the situation in Nigeria today. The two foremost health problems are inadequate health institutions and hospital negligence. In recent years, there have been thousands of deaths in Nigerian hospitals, for reasons such as a nonexistent healthcare database to verify health insurance, which leads to treatment refusal; no wrenches to turn on oxygen cylinders; and unqualified personnel who are handling care.All being forms of negligence.
Thousands of health institutions litter Nigeria, but they are mostly unequipped, either in manpower or equipment. Industrial strike actions by medical personnel are a norm. These healthcare practitioners constantly demand better working conditions and better pay. How can the people be cared for, when the healthcare professionals lack the facilities to handle care? How can the health of the people be achieved when healthcare workers themselves are not well cared for?
Rather than invest in Nigeria’s health sector, most government officers are ‘medical tourists’, globetrotting in search of good healthcare for themselves, which the people back in Nigeria are deprived of. It is sad that government officials have experienced the true definition of working health systems, yet refuse to work towards it in Nigeria.
Thankfully, progress has been made in recent years.
Firstly, in some states like, Delta state, free medical care for pregnant women and children aged 0 to 5 has been introduced.Additionally, healthcare used to be very difficult to access, because it was unaffordable. In recent times, the government, as well as private firms, have implemented insurance schemes, making healthcare more accessible. The current health insurance scheme implemented by the Nigerian government covers employees at government parastatals, their spouses, and their dependents between the ages of0 to 18 years. Today, most private employers give their employees comprehensive health insurance. Most private educational institutions also provide insurance for students. During my secondary school education, I was actually a recipient of the Salus Trust health insurance scheme, paid for alongside my school fees.
Though many in Nigeria own health insurance today, there are more without this privilege.
Those in the rural areas, the average Nigerian working at a small establishment, the jobless, the students. Health insurance remains a luxury. It is no wonder that pharmacies, rather than hospitals, are the first stop whenever most Nigerians are sick.
Still, more has to be done. A yôu-yôu u uma cannot be achieved if the people are unhealthy. I envision a Nigeria where access to good healthcare will not be a luxury, a Nigeria where people are not reluctant to get care for their health, because it would rip a hole in their pockets. I dream of a Nigeria where hospitals will not be considered death traps. To achieve this, there has to be:
Greater investment in health.
Employment of more healthcare professionals.
Higher pay and benefits for healthcare workers.
A facelift of existing healthcare infrastructure, with facilities made suitable for patients, and medical technologies provided.
Health campaigns, to educate the public on health issues and subsequently, aid prevention.
“The safety and security of the citizens of a country is so important. If the citizens are unsafe, the nation cannot move forward”
A yôu-yôu u uma in Nigeria is kept at bay by the insecurity that persists. Insurgency, banditry, terrorism, cattle rustling, police brutality, these are the insecurity issues that plague our everyday lives in Nigeria. In October 2020, police brutality by a particular unit of the Nigerian Police Force, Special Anti-robbery Response Squad (SARS) birthed the EndSARSmovement. Nigerian youths were exhausted by the wanton killings by SARS and with one voice, rose to say, “Enough is Enough!” Peaceful protests took place in states across Nigeria, as we called for not just the removal of SARS, but also the overhaul of the Nigerian Police system and justice for the lives lost. Unfortunately, even during these peaceful protests, the protesters were still victims of police brutality. Our security, our safety, our peace of mind, this is part of our alafia, our wellbeing, and when they are lacking, we are miles away from being a yôu-yôu u uma.
Some efforts are being made by state governments to curb insecurity. Currently, there exists local policing in states across Nigeria, such as Amotekun in western Nigeria. Local vigilante groups also work in conjunction with police. This has helped beef up security a bit, although we are still lacking in many areas.
My vision is that Nigerian youths will be able to walk the streets without being profiled as criminals, just because of their appearance or their gadgets. I hope we can walk the streets without fear of a stray bullet. I hope to not be greeted with images of deaths and attacks whenever I watch the local news. This can be accomplished by:
A total overhaul of the police system.
Routine mental health assessments of cadets and those in the police force.
Investigation of police brutality cases and punishment of the guilty.
Development of a criminal database, to make policing easier.
Increased pay and provision of benefits for security officers.
The image of a Wellbeing Economy that I have every morning when I wake, is of a Nigeria with healthy and safe people. We need to improve our health systems and uproot insecurity. Healthy people equate to happy people and this is the only way we can achieve a yôu-yôu u uma.
Avwerosuo is a blogger at Swedish Organization for Global Health (SOGH). She is currently using her voice to speak against, discuss and enlighten about gender-based violence, health inequalities, women’s health and planetary health. She hopes to contribute to creating a safer and better Nigeria for youths like her.
You can connect with Avwerosuo on LinkedIn and read more of her work at the SOGH blog.
There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/Image-3111.jpg499716Rabia Abrarhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngRabia Abrar2020-11-24 22:38:052021-01-26 17:03:33Visions of a Wellbeing Economy: Nigeria
(sounds like /oy-kon-o-me-ah/ /tis/ / ef-tee-hee-ahs/)
Greece is a country with several linguistic terms to define the concept of ‘wellbeing’: ευημερία (e-vee-me-ree-ah), ευ ζην (ev zeen), andευδαιμονία (ev-de-mo-nee-ah).
The latter, especially, appears extensively in Greek ethics and political philosophy from ancient times, through the work of the philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Yet, thousands of years later, it seems that the idea of collective wellbeing has lost its centrality in determining politics and social norms in Greece, at least until recently.
After the 2008 Financial Crisis, economic terms such as growth, national debt, and interest rates, began to appear daily in our national media and everyday conversations. We were suddenly bombarded with questions around,
‘What is driving the economy? What is good for our GDP? How can we accelerate economic growth?’
In the meantime, income inequalities were growing, with the middle- and low-income households being massively affected by tax increases and deep wage cuts. At the same time, an increasing number of people were living under the poverty line, and environmental degradation was being justified as an unavoidable way to bring investments back into the country.
However, during these years of austerity and instability, examples of communities and initiatives have served as inspiration when envisioning a Wellbeing Economy in Greece.
There are myriad ways of describing what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in my country, but here are some first thoughts on where we could start.
1. Put wellbeing back into the heart of politics
We use the term Wellbeing Economy to describe an economy that serves people and communities, first and foremost. Since the Financial Crisis, the narrative around what the economy means for Greece has changed significantly (and deliberately, if I dare say). We started focusing on economic growth as being the ultimate goal that we ought to achieve, if we want to improve our living standards. It was all about growth per se. The idea of the economy became utterly disconnected from what really matters: the people. Instead of bringing back economic growth, why don’t we make the shift, and bring collective wellbeing back in our daily conversations, our society, and our politics?
2. Embrace togetherness
Greece is a country that has suffered from division throughout our history. Yet, we have recently experienced an encouraging rise of community groups, collectives, and movements focusing on helping those in need and, most importantly, caring about others. From local communities in the islands supporting refugees (with the limited means they had) to food collectives* helping the homeless and people who were affected by the Financial Crisis, there has been a change in getting together to look after each other. If we want to transition towards a Wellbeing Economy, we need to start by recognising that we can have different perspectives, and still respect and care about others in our communities.
* A food collective is an initiative in which groups of people gather in public spaces (even on the street) to cook and offer food (and always company!) to those in need: usually the homeless, the unemployed, refugees etc. In some cases, they even deliver cooked meals. It is always a hot cooked meal, so this is not the same as food banks. It is an act of solidarity with those that often cannot afford food. Find out more about the work of grassroots groups, such as the Mano Aperta, here.
3. Protect our natural spaces
It is certainly not the first time that you will have read about the country’s natural beauty, with its crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches. Our seas and natural environment have attracted attention and resulted in the tourism sector growing over the last decades. It is time, however, to change our perception of our natural resources. In a Wellbeing Economy, we will respect and protect our nature by divesting from fossil fuels, not allowing oil drilling in areas with vulnerable species, and taking preventative measures against forest fires, to mention a few.
4. Take action against racism
Greece is a country where, in 2012, a neo-fascist group, Golden Dawn, was democratically elected and won 18 parliamentary seats. Thankfully, Greece is also the country that last month, sentenced the group’s lawmakers for operating a criminal organisation under the guise of a political party, with thousands on the streets celebrating this decision. Being non-racist is not enough in a Wellbeing Economy. We need to ensure that we will not allow these ideas and actions to find fertile ground again. If we want to move towards a Wellbeing Economy, we need to reflect on how we must be actively anti-racist.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”
We might still be quite far away from having a Wellbeing Economy in Greece. However, the vision – and the hope – for one is being built in communities and small groups who dare to challenge the way things are currently, and who work towards an economy that is all about social justice on a healthy planet.
Anna is the Advocacy Coordinator in the WEAll global amplification team, and also coordinates operations and projects for WEAll Scotland. She is passionate about political ecology and practices that place people and the environment ahead of profit.
There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/jason-blackeye-ap3LXI0fPJY-unsplash1-scaled.jpg25602560Rabia Abrarhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngRabia Abrar2020-11-24 21:45:292021-01-26 17:02:55Visions of a Wellbeing Economy: Greece
There is a lot of talk today about bouncing ‘back’ or returning to what passed for normal before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world and everyone’s lives. But there is a huge problem with that idea.
Despite many calls to ‘bring back’ the system as it was, and efforts by governments and business leaders to do so, many economic, work, educational, and social systems have already changed in unpredictable ways that make a complete return to pre-pandemic conditions unlikely.
Something else important is happening, too. The pandemic has raised awareness that the economic drivers that shaped the prior ‘normal’ have created many problems—including existential crises like climate change, species extinction, and inequality. Some observers have even laid the COVID-19 pandemic at the feet of overly aggressive exploitation of nature.
So the real question is, what will our economic and social systems look like after the pandemic if we can indeed do what WEAll suggests and ‘build back better’ or ‘bounce beyond’ today’s economics?
Today’s dominant economic drivers include beliefs, or what the late systems theorist Donella Meadows called mindsets, that form an economic paradigm. That paradigm— neoliberalism —has been used to justify growing inequality, ignorance of environmental impacts, and a drive towards ‘efficiency’ that justifies layoffs, abusive conditions in many companies’ global supply chains, and cutthroat competition. The most vocal proponent of this flawed set of beliefs was the late Milton Friedman.
Neoliberalism claims that markets are and need to be ‘free’, that people are self-interested profit maximisers—and so are companies. That the best governments are the ones that exert the least regulatory or legal influence on the powers of business. That endless growth is the goal of economies and companies. That companies’ only social responsibility is to maximise profits for one group of stakeholders—the shareholders, as Friedman put it in a famous and influential, yet problematic, New York Times article in 1970.
Neoliberalism’s flawed and problematic orthodoxy (a generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice) remains deeply embedded in both business practice and governmental focus on flawed measures like GDP. The thing is, as my recent paper ‘Reframing and Transforming Economics around Life’ (published in Sustainability) argues, what the world really needs now is not another attempt at reforming the current framing, but a completely new economicorthodoxy.
The world needs an economics that favors life in all its aspects. One that fosters wellbeing for all humans, as well as non-humans. That economics needs to be built on powerful precepts— ‘memes’ or core building blocks of culture—that resonate broadly yet are considerably more holistic than those of neoliberalism.
My paper argues for six synthesised precepts or building blocks, for Wellbeing Economics, drawn from a wide range of literatures.
1. Stewardship of the Whole
Stewardship of the whole is foundational. Simply put, this means that leaders, governments, communities, businesses, and other institutions and, indeed, all of us, have shared responsibility for ensuring that the ‘whole’ system, including the planet itself, is healthy and supporting all of life for the foreseeable future. Living systems, including communities, organisations, and Earth itself, are healthy when all of their parts work together productively—when the ‘whole’ is considered, not just the parts.
2. Co-creating Collective Value
Economic activity can be positive or negative (think the clear cutting of forests). This is why the focus of today’s economics on the growth of money as the sole way of assessing wellbeing is incredibly narrow-minded. Many other values, though perhaps not as readily measured as monetary outcomes, are important to humans, including health, relationships, community, meaningful work, and belonging, among others. Thus, another precept that underpins health, life, and wellbeing is co-creating collective value. Scholars Donaldson and Walsh argue that generating collective value should be the core purpose of businesses. Many important societal values that lend ‘life’ to human systems can be included in such a metric, as the Genuine Progress Indicator demonstrates.
3. Cosmopolitan-localist Governance
Another core precept is cosmopolitan-localist governance. Given today’s technologically connected world, it is possible to create local governance systems in which citizens can have voice, input, and impact, and connect those to the global system. Cosmo-local governance, as it is sometimes called, relies on this connectivity, while decentralising decision making as much as possible, and allowing for communities to create and share ideas, knowledge, skills, technology, culture, and ecologically sustainable resources.
4. Regeneration, Reciprocity, and Circularity
Cosmo-localism is complimented by an approach to production of goods and services that emphasises regeneration, reciprocity, and circularity. The idea here is to produce goods and services in alignment with the natural environment’s capacity to regenerate them, to operate in accord with nature’s own principles, in which exchanges are reciprocally balanced as inputs and outputs, and avoid toxic by-products (or products). Circularity avoids the take-make-waste approach too often used today, and instead adopts the idea of ‘waste equals food’, as some ecologists put it— which suggests that what is waste for one part of the system, needs to be reused as ‘food’ (inputs) in another part.
5. Relationship and Connectedness
In contrast to neoliberalism’s strong bent towards individualism and individual responsibility, economics for all of liferecognises the idea of relationship and connectedness as foundational to what it means to be human—and what it means to exist in a complex world where physicists tell us, everything is connected. Human beings thrive in the context of relationship—and indeed, cannot survive on their own. The South African principle of Ubuntu,the idea that ‘I am because we are’, and the Lakota principle of Mitikuye Oyasin, or the idea that ‘all are related’ (sometimes translated as ‘All my relations’) reflect the core principle of relationships and connectedness.
6. Equitable Markets and Trade
Since we are all connected, equitable markets and trade needs to replace the flawed idea of free markets and trade—because how we treat each other in markets and trading situations matters. Equitable or fair markets/trade offer fair and fully costed products and services, with all costsinternalised, because otherwise, they are absorbed by and harm societies and the natural environment. It also means producing goods and services that are actually needed by customers and recognising the importance of good—and participative—governance over their fairness.
There’s much more that could be said about each of these principles.
The key idea here is that to make progress towards a Wellbeing Economy, many more progressive initiatives need to come to agreement about what the core ideas are, that would drive such an economy.
My paper is intended as a start on that conversation, though by no means is it the end point.
Dr. Sandra Waddock is the Galligan Chair of Strategy, Carroll School Scholar of Corporate Responsibility and Professor of Management at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Sandra has published well over 100 articles on corporate citizenship, sustainable enterprise, difference making, wisdom, stewardship of the future, responsibility management systems, corporate responsibility, management education, and related topics. Her research interests are in the area of macro-system change, intellectual shamanism, stewardship of the future, wisdom, corporate responsibility, management education, and multi-sector collaboration.
Faces of the Wellbeing Economy Movement is a series highlighting the many informed voices from different specialisms, sectors, demographics, and geographies in the Wellbeing Economy movement. This series will share diverse insights into why a Wellbeing Economy is a desirable andviable goal and the new ways of addressing societal issues, to show us how to get there. This supports WEAll’s mission to move beyond criticisms of the current economic system, towards purposeful action to build a Wellbeing Economy.
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/Copy-of-Blue-and-White-Quotes-Twitter-Post-2.png10802160Rabia Abrarhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngRabia Abrar2020-11-13 19:44:402020-11-13 19:50:50Life-Centered (Wellbeing) Economics for the 21st Century
Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the way we measure economic growth, has become the primary measure of success of societies. Countries that have a high GDP are considered important and governments that experience high economic growth are admired. As a result, there is a dominant narrative in society that “growth is good”.
But we have known for many decades that this narrative is flawed and that GDP is not a comprehensive measure of success. It does not measure important components of wellbeing such as health, education and social relationships. As far back as 1968, Robert Kennedy already proclaimed that GDP “measures everything….. except that which makes life worthwhile”.
Crucially, GDP also does not account for the growth in environmental degradation or growth in inequalities that are caused by growth in GDP.
To remedy this gap, many hundreds of alternatives for measuring economic success have been suggested: the Human Development Index, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Genuine Progress Indicator, Ecological Footprint, Happy Planet Index, Adjusted Net Savings, Comprehensive Wealth, and the Inclusive Wealth Index. Many brilliant scientists, thought leaders and important institutes have contributed to this impressive body of research, which is foundational to the creation of a Wellbeing Economy, an economy that delivers social justice on a healthy planet.
Yet, despite 50 years of understanding the drawbacks of GDP and the introduction of hundreds of alternative ‘Beyond-GDP’ measures of economic success, it seems that the “growth is good” economic narrative is becoming stronger every day. But now, more than ever before, we need our economy and society to focus on delivering wellbeing, sustainability, and equity. The election of Joe Biden, the introduction of climate targets in China and Europe, marches for racial justice and climate action are all signs of the dire need and public demand to ‘Build Back Better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic. There has never been a better time to replace the growth narrative. WEAll’s new briefing paper describes a three-pronged strategy which should be adopted to do just that:
1) Harmonise. There are simply too many Beyond-GDP alternatives and new ones are being created every month. One of the most powerful features of GDP is that it is measured in the same way all over the world. The United Nations and OECD played a crucial role in developing a global economic accounting framework: the System of National Accounts, which allows for the global comparison of GDP. We need the United Nations and other international institutions to step up and help harmonise Beyond-GDP indicators to ensure there are consistent measures of success for the performance of a Wellbeing Economy.
2) Develop Policy Tools. Statistics help us to measure how things have developed in the past. But policy makers also need advice about their policy options in the future. Macro-economists have developed many tools to help inform difficult policy decisions, mainly focused on GDP growth. This community needs to create tools which show governments how to enhance wellbeing, sustainability and equity in their societies. A prime example of such a tool is New Zealand’s pioneering Wellbeing Budget that is designed expressly to prioritise the wellbeing of citizens.
3) Change the Social Narrative. This strategy will only be successful if it manages to change societal discourse on economic success. Currently, our media plays a key role in spreading the “growth is good” economic narrative. The development of globally harmonised statistics and policy tools will help journalists and the general public to shift their belief on economic success to a narrative which values wellbeing, sustainability, and equity. If you would like to learn more about these ideas, download and share our new paper here.
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/Screen-Shot-2020-11-12-at-1.02.33-PM.png322794anahttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngana2020-11-12 20:19:382021-01-15 16:19:27Measuring the Wellbeing Economy: How to Move Beyond GDP
Tomorrow is the US election. The stakes are high. Our country is currently experiencing a pandemic, social unrest and whether we like to acknowledge it or not, an environmental crisis. As millions of Americans are thrust into poverty and COVID-19 cases soar, we urgently need bold recovery strategies that can protect and promote the areas of life most vital for our wellbeing.
The other day my best friend Johanna reached out, because she was confused by news headlines that announced “record growth” of the US economy in recent months.
“Does this mean that our economy is actually doing really well?”, she asked.
Initially, I thought about explaining how growth rates are misleading because they are highest when you start with lower numbers (as this record growth was only possible due to a record decline) or about the delayed impacts of government stimulus.
Instead, I just asked, “Do you think the economy’s doing well?” Johanna responded by saying, “I don’t think so… but I don’t know a lot about the economy”.
This is not the first time I’ve had this kind of conversation in the US. The word “economy” has a unique power here. Every policy or program can be justified or discredited by its impact on “the economy”. We keep talking about the effects of COVID-19 on our economy and the need to “get the economy going again”, as if we are not a part of it. We have bought into a narrative of the economy as some abstract overlord that we’re meant to promote above all else, without having clarity on what it actually is and how it relates to our lived realities.
To be clear, we are the economy. It is simply a word for the way that we produce and provide for one another. So, the question is not, “how is the economy doing”? The question is, “how are we doing?
In looking at the current state of affairs in the US, we’re not doing great. In my small town of Vermont, a lot of people, including Johanna, have become unemployed during the pandemic. Most of my family and friends here are struggling to make ends meet, as we head into winter and wait anxiously for the federal government to come to an agreement on another stimulus package. This makes news stories of booming billionaires and soaring stocks feel that much more raw.
In looking towards the months ahead, the US government will have to step up. The economic recovery strategies that we implement have the potential to be transformative. Now more than ever, we need to make sure we are providing one another with the things we need most.
If we focus on the areas of life most important for our wellbeing, we can rebuild a more just, equitable and sustainable economy.
With this vision in mind, WEAll developed a short briefing paper which outlines ‘5 principles to help guide US recovery efforts towards a wellbeing economy’:
1) Economic Freedom
We have allowed our economy to become increasingly controlled by fewer and fewer corporations, limiting our avenues for economic self-determination and empowerment. We must revitalize democracy and allow people to have a say, over the shape and form of our recovery efforts. We must rebuild by providing communities and states with the resources and autonomy required to effectively respond to the unique needs of their people. In order to expand our economic freedoms, we must uplift our voices, while decentralizing wealth and power, so that each contribute to rebuilding an economy that works for us all.
2) Economic Security
History shows that protecting livelihoods is the most powerful action a government can take, to prevent a spiraling economic depression and social collapse. As the richest country in history, the United States has the wealth and capacity to ensure that no individual falls into poverty during the COVID-19 crisis. The $600-a-week unemployment support was critical for Johanna and many other families in my community. We need to expand such income support programs to all Americans and prioritize affording every American foundational services, such as medical care.
3) Economic Resilience
This pandemic has illustrated just how fragile our current systems are. Resilience can only come when we begin to prioritize balance over growth. We must ensure that our recovery efforts actively regenerate our natural environment, promote community vitality, and prevent future crisis and shocks. Our future stimulus should not put another $500 billion into big business; instead, it should rebalance our economy by promoting small businesses, social enterprises and circular economy initiatives that are vital for a resilient and adaptive economy.
4) Economic Justice
Our economy has been built on centuries of subjugation, exploitation, and exclusion. We have an opportunity to heal the wounds of this historic injustice. Now more than then ever, we need to ensure that the weight of this recovery does not fall on those who are already struggling the most. We can reduce inequalities and rebuild an economy that promotes fairness, equity, and social justice at its core, by reallocating spending away from incarceration and the police, towards Wellbeing Economy initiatives, such as student debt forgiveness.
Now is the time to live up to our proclamation that “all persons are created equal and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
5) Economic Leadership
The United States has been a major driver of the economic globalization that now binds our world together. We must not retreat within ourselves at this critical moment. Now is the time for the US to be a leader in supporting global environmental and economic development initiatives, and promoting long overdue initiatives, such as closing offshore bank accounts and tax loopholes. We can respond to this crisis by joining other visionary leaders to reform our global economic system in the interest of peace and prosperity for all.
In the full briefing paper, we ground these bold principles in concrete policy proposals, illustrating that a different economic system is not only possible, but also achievable through strategic action. However, we recognize that this list of policy proposals is far from exhaustive. Across the country, visionary thinkers, organizations, communities, and activists are promoting policy reforms to build a more just and sustainable future, which we are committed to supporting.
One of my favorite quotes of all time, feels especially relevant now:
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empires, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe…
Remember this: We be many, and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
On this day before our election, I hope we can remember that “we are many” and we, collectively, are the economy. And since we live in a democracy, we get to make the rules. People like my friend Johanna should feel that they do “know about the economy”, because we know our own needs.
The votes we cast tomorrow are important, not only at the federal level, but at the local and state level as well. Now is the time to move beyond outdated economic thinking and implement bold economic recovery measures to heal historic injustices, rebalance power, and regenerate our natural world.
Now is the time to build a Wellbeing Economy in America.
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/Screenshot-2020-11-02-at-21.12.18.png524589WEAllhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngWEAll2020-11-02 21:13:182021-01-21 22:15:26Now is the time: 5 Principles for Rebuilding to a US Wellbeing Economy
On Wednesday, 28th October, Holyrood and the RSA held their online conference, “Scotland: The Recovery”. Chaired by WEAll Scotland trustee Sarah Deas, the event provided an opportunity for the public, private, and third sectors to gather and discuss how Scotland can move forward and build a post-pandemic society that works for everyone.
After initial remarks from Sarah, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister, opened the event by sharing her aspirations for a wellbeing economy. Acknowledging that economic policy should be “a means, not an end”, the First Minister called for the people of Scotland to work together to deliver an economy that places “wellbeing alongside wealth”—not just as an afterthought, but as a vital part of Scotland’s post-pandemic economy.
Also speaking by video address was Rt. Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK Government. The Minister also emphasised his commitment for a green recovery.
In other words, now is the moment for a wellbeing economy.
Throughout the day, there were numerous discussions, panels, and guest speakers (including WEAll’s Advocacy and Influencing Lead, Katherine Trebeck). The dominant theme was everyone’s shared commitment to taking wellbeing economy ideas and discussing how best to turn them into permanent, lasting reforms.
Sarah explained the shared vision of a wellbeing economy in her opening remarks:
“With nations across the world taking unprecedented steps to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for the global economy and society is bleak, with many challenges ahead. It’s also widely acknowledged that climate change poses a major threat, placing further crises on the horizon. So, as we seek to build back better, we must do so in a manner that builds resilience and addresses what’s not working in the current economic paradigm.
“It requires us to ask fundamental questions and explore ‘radical’ solutions. How do we design a recovery that doesn’t embed inequality? How do we move to a regenerative economy, rather than one that is ecologically destructive?
How do we design a recovery that doesn’t embed inequality? How do we move to a regenerative economy, rather than one that is ecologically destructive?
“In other words, how do we build a ‘wellbeing economy’, transforming our economic system so that it delivers social justice on a healthy planet—the first time round.
“This requires us to consider questions like, what kind of growth? And for whom? Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.
What kind of growth? And for whom? Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.
“It’s recognised that greater emphasis needs to be placed on the root causes of societal problems—leading to ‘upstream’ preventative measures—rather than focusing mainly on ‘downstream’ measures, which involve cleaning up and redistributing after the fact. Whilst the latter are also important in the short term, we won’t escape the downward spiral by patching up after the event. Instead, we need upstream systems change.
“As a founding member of the WEGo partnership, alongside Iceland and New Zealand, Scotland is already at the forefront of global efforts to build a new, inclusive economy focused on societal and environmental wellbeing.
“So how do we do it? Today’s Holyrood event, in partnership with the RSA, brings together policymakers and thought leaders to explore that key question.”
As the conference came to an end, the closing keynote came from Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, The Scottish Government. She spoke to Holyrood back in August about Scotland’s desire “to create a strong, resilient wellbeing economy”, and the need is just as prevalent today.
There’s still lots of work to do, but it truly is promising to see the wave of support for economic systems change that benefits everyone—including the key workers on whom we’ve relied so greatly this year.
WEAll Scotland response to the Programme for Government in Scotland Lukas Hardt and Katherine Trebeck; 28 September 2020
Earlier this month, the Scottish government published its Programme for Government, setting out its plans until the election for the Scottish parliament next year and explicitly committing to building a wellbeing economy in Scotland; an economy that is “fairer, greener, more prosperous”.
We welcome that commitment. And lot of the measures go in a promising direction.
For example, the government recognises that rebuilding the economy after COVID needs to simultaneously contribute to climate change mitigation and other environmental goals. The promised investment in energy efficient buildings, green sectors, tree planting and peatland restoration is important and to be welcomed, even if it still falls short of the scale necessary.
There are nods to the importance of social enterprises, community wealth building and the 20-minute neighbourhood. Some money is provided for cycling infrastructure. The emerging Scottish National Investment Bank could be used to provide the long-term investment we need for a just and green transition. The Youth Guarantee could be a great way to provide meaningful, well-paid job opportunities (although it could also become another way to subsidise poverty wages). Adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law gives society real power to hold the government to account.
But, despite the promising direction, the Programme for Government doesn’t live up to the ambition of a wellbeing economy. Building a wellbeing economy is about transforming our economic system so that it delivers social justice on a healthy planet, the first time round. That last phrase is important, because the Programme for Government, and much of our social policy debate in Scotland, is still too much about cleaning up and redistributing after the fact.
What do we mean by that? Our current socio-economic model is failing because it tries to deliver good lives, but does so by taking the long way round. The approach can be described in three steps1:
Get the economy to grow bigger, but don’t fret too much about the damage to people or the environment that this does.
Second, sequester a chunk out of this economy via taxes.
Third, channel some of this money into helping people and the planet to cope with step number 1.
The limits of this approach are clear – it implicitly concedes to damage and harm being done to people and planet by stage 1; such damage is now so great that actions in Step 3 cannot keep up, so people and planet are inadequately repaired; and in a world of finite resources and ever-more apparent limits to growth, the risks of step 1 are mounting.
Unfortunately, the main thrust of the Programme for Government seems largely confined to such a model. Step 1 policies include the £100 million “Green Jobs Fund” or the “Inward Investment Plan” aimed to boost GDP. Yes, the government is now putting a strong green slant on such policies, which is good, but fundamentally such policies are still about stimulating more growth within the current system. That won’t work.
On the other end, the government needs to spend heavily on Step 3 policies to patch up social inequalities and environmental damage.
Consider the high-profile announcement of a Scottish Child Payment and Child Winter Heating Assistance; or the Tenant’s Hardship Loan facility, which will help tenants, but is only shifting their debt from landlords to the government; or the £150 million of additional funding quietly earmarked for additional flood protection measures (and, while you’re at it, compare the latter amount to the Green Jobs Fund – telling isn’t it?). Such policies are good and important if we are to take care of people in the face of an economic system that generates inequality, financial insecurity and poverty and climate chaos.
But the real tragedy is that they are necessary in the first place.
Heralding redistribution as progress and patting ourselves on the back for helping people survive and cope with the current system is a sad reflection of how low our ambitions are.
A wellbeing economy is about attending to root causes – looking upstream. Designing the nature and configuration of the economy so it enables people to live good lives first time around rather than allowing so much damage to be done – often in some outdated and misguided pursuit of growth – and then thinking we’ve done well when we patch up that damage. A wellbeing economy agenda asks more of the economy. It starts from the premise we can no longer be content to patch and heal and repair – we need to construct the economic system in a way that delivers social justice on a healthy planet. From the outset.
Building a wellbeing economy requires changing the rules of the game and redesigning our institutions, our infrastructure and our laws. It means embracing the potential of pre-distribution rather than re-distribution and measuring our progress in a way that is better aligned with what is really needed. We already have lots of ideas on how to do this.
Some of what is needed is already being done in Scotland – just too tentatively. Take support for alternative business models that put people and planet before profits, such as worker-owned cooperatives or social enterprises. There are good steps towards community wealth building to keep wealth in the place where it is created and reform of land ownership rules (and that of other assets). The National Performance Framework is starting to broaden goals away from simply GDP growth – but hasn’t yet knocked GDP off its ill-deserved pedestal.
While the Scottish government’s powers are limited, it could use planning and procurement and business support much more proactively to cultivate the sort of business activities required for a wellbeing economy. Radical transformative action can be done in small steps. It is time that it takes its own rhetoric on the wellbeing economy seriously and initiates transformative change.
Trebeck, K., and Williams, J., 2019. The economics of arrival: Ideas for a grown up economy. Policy Press, Bristol, p. 86
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And yet, I always held frustration about why these issues exist in the first place. Why do we need to redistribute income after poverty has reached crisis levels, why are we having to fund clean ups of oil spills and why are individuals expected to ‘consume responsibly’, when producers are not also mandated to produce responsibly?
Joining the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) has helped articulate my long-held beliefs: business, politics and economic activity should exist solely to deliver collective wellbeing – a.k.a social justice on a healthy planet.
We should only pursue growth in those areas of the economy that contribute to collective wellbeing and shrink those areas of the economy that damage it. And this shift in the purpose and functioning of the economy requires systems change.
The Wellbeing Economy and A Healthy Planet
As Dr. Katherine Trebeck described in a recent interview with the Herald,
“The wellbeing economy agenda … comes from a recognition that, if we don’t transform how the economy operates – who wins, who loses out of the economic system, how we price things, what we incentivise, how businesses operate, how we build our infrastructure – we won’t have a chance of delivering that goal: social justice on a healthy planet.
Crucially, a wellbeing economy will only ever have been achieved if we have delivered environmental sustainability, addressed climate breakdown and regenerated our environment.
That’s what today’s Global Climate Strike is about. In at least 3500 locations around the world, youth are striking as part of the Fridays for Future movement, to reinforce the urgency of the climate crisis even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and to demand more urgent action on the climate and ecological crisis by governments. Young people are taking action both online and in the streets where COVID-19 regulations allow.
Social Injustice Drives Environmental Breakdown
Katherine explains that,
“the environmental crisis is [actually also] a social justice issue and the two of those are bound up in how we design our economics.”
And further, much of our environmental breakdown is actually rooted in social injustice.
Fascinatingly, research shows that:
High levels of inequality drive huge amounts of consumption and hence emissions, especially by the very wealthy
Inequality actually undermines political mobilisation on these issues, which is why those countries that are less unequal are more likely to be more proactive on addressing environmental issues.
Redesigning our Economy
“If we transform the economy towards a wellbeing economy, this will help us deliver on the social justice side of things and on the environment.”
The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is a collective of organisations, alliances, movements and academics operating collaboratively across many different sectors to redesign the economic system – including place-based hubs, which are working with governments across the globe to test out new narratives, policies, ideas and models to make the wellbeing economy a reality in their own localities.
This work is crucial, especially now, as we all discuss how to ‘Build Back Better’ beyond COVID.
“What keeps me optimistic is the young people … around the world who are so passionate, so articulate and so bright. Climate breakdown is something they don’t question because they’ve grown up knowing that it’s a reality . . . and so they’re rolling up their sleeves and being collaborative.”
Want to get involved?
Join the conversation and action around the Global Climate Strike or WEAll Youth network, a global movement of regional youth communities collectively taking action towards a creating a wellbeing economy.
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Conventional metrics of economic success, like Gross Domestic Product, have long been criticised for their inability to capture wellbeing, inequality or environmental destruction.
This has led to a growing interest in the different measures of progress, leading some governments, such as Iceland and New Zealand, to trial using wellbeing metrics to determine how government money is spent.
Katherine Trebeck, WEAll’s Advocacy and Influencing Lead recently joined Benedikt Arnason, Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister and Committee of Ministers of Iceland, and Andrew Simms, Co-Director, New Weather Institute, at a #BeyondCOVID event to discuss exactly this topic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted both the fragility of our economy and how this can damage our health and wellbeing. This session explored how an approach to policy that prioritises wellbeing could sit at the heart of efforts to recover from the pandemic and to realise a more resilient, sustainable and fair society.
Watch the event here to learn more details about how Iceland is putting into practice 39 wellbeing indicators, to bring the vision of a wellbeing economy to life. These indicators cover all areas of the 5 ‘WEAll needs’ in a wellbeing economy: dignity, nature, connection, dignity, fairness and participation, ranging from measures of work-life balance to security to air quality.
This event was part of the Beyond COVID: The Discussion Series, which brings together leading experts to explore key issues in the debates over how to recover and reform from the coronavirus crisis. The series is part of the wider Beyond COVID initiative, which helps people navigate the debate over how we build a fairer and more resilient economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent comments made by Benny Higgins, the chairman of Nicola Sturgeon’s advisory group on economic recovery, have caused quite a stir. WEAll would like to address his claims about how growth is the best way to build a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland.
“A market economy is well capable of responding to environmental change and delivering wellbeing”.
The current state of the world is proof that this is not the case.
The economic model that dominates policy making has strangled our imaginations and our sense of possibility: the current economy is seen as the only kind of economy that we can have – and changing it would bring society to its knees. But, we’re already there.
Our world is facing multiple crises: rising inequality, accelerating climate breakdown and rapid biodiversity loss. These issues are interconnected and stem from the same core problem: our economies are structured, governed, and measured to promote short-term growth over long-term stability.
A focus on ‘growth’is not supporting the wellbeing of society. That’s why we see widening economic inequalities; increasing levels of insecurity, despair and loneliness; and the emergence of coping mechanisms that turn people inwards or against each other – all while trust in institutions withers away.
A focus on ‘growth’isnot supporting the wellbeing of our planet. Our home is on the brink of the 6th mass extinction with the prospect of catastrophic climate breakdown getting closer and closer. In the last 40 years, humanity as a whole has gone from using one planet’s worth of natural resources each year, to using one and a half, and is on course to using three planets worth by 2050.
Governments have responded to both crises with a suite of (often inadequate) amelioration measures, such as:
Redistributing after the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest has opened up
Cleaning up after floods and storms caused by climate change
Providing respiratory medicines after peoples’ asthma is exacerbated by pollution
While these are vital measures to help people cope with today’s circumstances – they are reactive measures that could be avoided in a wellbeing economy, which attends to their root causes.
“The recovery for Scotland has to be green, it has to be fair and it needs to be inclusive, but it needs to have economic growth”.
We disagree that a wellbeing economy is about generating “strong economic growth”.
A wellbeing economy would ask: “What sort of growth – and for whom – is needed for collective wellbeing? What sort of lives do people want to live and what sort of economy can enable that?”
Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘green’ modifiers to ‘growth’ does not answer either of these vital questions.
In a true wellbeing economy approach, business, politics and economic activity would exist solely to deliver collective wellbeing – while being agnostic to economic growth, not dependent on it.
We are not against growth in GDP per se, but we are against the idea that GDP growth should be the top priority. We should only pursue growth in those areas of the economy that contribute to collective wellbeing and shrink those areas of the economy that damage it.
We do not need growth in GDP to achieve wellbeing.
What we need to be happy is security, comfort, social connections, a healthy environment and a feeling of belonging in our community(ies).
“A wellbeing economy needs growth to pay for itself”.
Growing GDP is incredibly expensive.
In our current economic system, growth in GDP is demanded as a means to pay for services that people need. But very often, these services are needed to fix the harm to people, communities and the environment that is created by a growth-driven economy. The costs of this ‘failure demand’ are enormous. For example, poverty in the UK alone, costs £78 billion every year.
A wellbeing economy would deliver good lives for people the first time around, and thus avoid having to deliver expensive down-stream interventions to fix the damage caused by growth-focused economies.
While avoiding these costs, wellbeing economy policies could also deliver benefits such as job creation in a growing renewables sector and the circular economy; improvements in health and economic and social resilience due to better environmental quality and equality.
Building a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland will require a different approach.
Decisions made in times of crisis have long-lasting consequences. After the 2008 financial crisis, inequality grew, and climate emissions spiralled. We want to see this moment seized for the common good, not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
The recovery period following the COVID-19 pandemic is a window of opportunity for Scotland to lead the world in truly putting collective wellbeing at the heart of economic policy making.
Imagine an economy, that by its very design, ended inequality and environmental destruction and delivered good lives for everyone, everywhere.
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WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy Lead, Amanda Janoo and WEAll Wales Hub lead, Duncan Fisher, spoke at the “Care and Education – Cornerstones of Sustainable and Just Economies”webinar.
The webinar was hosted by Make Mothers Matter (MMM), a network of 40 grassroots organisations working in 30 countries to support and empower mothers and their families, and to advance the human rights of women and children.
Specifically, MMM advocates for the recognition of mothers as change-makers and spending on Care and education as essentialinvestments and not expenses.
Amanda’s talk outlined the first concrete steps taken by a few women-led countries to promote the emergence of a Wellbeing Economy, and how they support Care and gender equality. Watch the “Care and Education – Cornerstones of Sustainable and Just Economies” webinar here.
Inspired by the webinar, Beverley Smith writes about her experiences as an advocate in Canada for the recognition of unpaid care as an essential economic activity, since 1976:
Statistics Canada admitted that unpaid labor, if counted, would account for one third of the GDP. But, GDP does not account for unpaid labor for childcare – which saves governments billions from not having to fund public daycare.
So, I was pleased to learn of alternatives to GDP on the webinar. The webinar showed we are making big strides. But there are still hurdles.
A ‘working mother’ implies there are non-working mothers. Though we say ‘housework’ and being in ‘labor’, a person there is dubbed inactive. Economist Marilyn Waring said,
“When I see a woman holding her child, I know I am watching a woman at work”.
She was ground-breaking and right. Still, terms like ‘work’, ‘labor force’ , and ‘productivity’ only count paid work. And because childcare is defined as paid care, government funding for it goes only to daycares.
Viewing Care as a Privilege or a Burden
The myth that women at home are rich, led to higher taxes on the single income household, as costs of childcare were only claimable if cash was paid to a third party. This was despite the evidence from the Canadian Council on Social Development that most families with a parent at home live near the poverty line.
When parents pointed out their role was not leisure and involved sleepless nights and intense days, traditional economics flipped the view. Now, care of children was a burden – and the answer was for men to share the load so that women could do useful paid work. These moves did not value caregiving.
The Right to Choose
First wave feminists got the vote. Second wave feminists got women a career, pay equity. Third wave feminists aim at the win-win, respect for paid roles and care roles equally. But traditional economics is still blind to the value of unpaid roles.
Is care a personal decision or a societal one?
In the current economic paradigm, we are told that people ‘need‘ daycare and have no other choice: mothers hire caregivers so they can return to paid jobs, which creates two ‘jobs’ in the economy – a success story.
Nobody asks what the parent wants though, and nobody asks the child.
Luckily, it is us, who set up the economy. We could fund care itself to give full choice to parents. We’re not there yet.
We are confronting traditional economics that only counts paid work. No wonder this is hard.
And sigh… most of this lobbying to get unpaid work valued, will be done by unpaid work.
You can contact Beverly for a the timeline of international caregiving, a summary of 100 years of women’s rights advocacy or a study on the state of children’s rights, globally.
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Earlier this month, the WEGo partnership was featured in the 2020 edition of WWF’s Nature In All Goals publication, which outlines how we can restore our relationship with nature to realise the promise of the SDGs and Leave No One Behind.
Individually, the 17 SDGs define key areas of progress for humanity. Delivered together, they will transform the world and create prosperity for all on a healthy planet.
The publication gives inspirational examples of where each of the 17 SDGs have been put into practice – ranging from Supporting Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Communities in Myanmar to Renewable energy solutions for better health and energy security in Karachi, Pakistan.
In WEAll’s article, we discussed how to shift toward a Sustainable and Just economy – one that promotes wellbeing for all.
Action on the SDGs in the next ten years is not possible without a fundamental transformation of our economic system.
In order to do this, WEAll’s membership has developed the 5 priorities a wellbeing economy should deliver on.
‘We All Need’:
Dignity: Everyone has enough to live in comfort, safety and happiness
Nature: A restored and safe natural world for all life
Connection: A sense of belonging and institutions that serve the common good
Fairness: Justice in all its dimensions at the heart of economic systems, and the gap between the richest and poorest greatly reduced
Participation: Citizens actively engaged in their communities and locally rooted economies.
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That’s why they are holding the virtual Festival for Change, which offers expert career guidance for youth on how to help shape a better future through their career – for free! WEAll Youth is proud to be a festival partner.
From July 27th, people from around the world can enter a competition and enjoy a series of online events to change the economic outlook of the world, post pandemic.
1. Develop a proposal to shape new economic landscapes in a Challenge.
2. Join an Explore Workshop to discuss how to widen your thinking
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Do you instinctively support the principles of Wellbeing Economics, but don’t know how you can express that in your everyday life?
Over the next four months, the Grant Rule Trust is launching a Build Back Better webinar series, which will discuss how we rebuild ourselves and our communities after the massive impact of COVID-19 on our health and wellbeing, our social cohesion and our economy.
Sue Rule will look at the political and economic landscape of the UK as we start to come out of lockdown, and some of the challenges and opportunities we face in the changing world, over the coming months.
27th August, 7.30 pm BST: How To Keep Going Improving our resilience to stress and looking after our individual wellbeing.
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Our WEAll member, the Post Growth Institute, recently shared a fantastic article on how we can reprogram our economic operating system to ensure a sustainable future – by adopting an indigenous worldview.
The United Nations estimates that indigenous territories cover approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s landmass. This 20 percent landmass stewarded by indigenous peoples amazingly contains 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.
The indigenous worldview has been marginalised for generations because it was seen as antiquated and unscientific and its ethics of respect for Mother Earth were in conflict with the Industrial worldview … But now, in this time of climate change and massive loss of biodiversity we understand that the indigenous worldview is neither unscientific nor antiquated, but is, in fact, a source of wisdom that we urgently need.
As the article explains, we can adjust or un-choose.Read about the two adjustments in our worldview that can help us work toward a more sustainable economy – and world.
By: Lisa Boll, ZOE Institute for future-fit economies
ZOE, the Institute for Sustainable Economies, is a non-profit think & do tank. Together with politics, science and civil society, ZOE develops trend-setting impulses for the fundamental questions of a sustainable economy.
COVID-19 has revealed the deep-rooted vulnerabilities of our current socio-economic system. “Business as usual” cannot guarantee sustainable prosperity on a healthy planet for all citizens. Relaunching the economy with the usual tools and policies won’t create the just transition we need.
This is a crucial moment to steer economic transformation towards structural resilience: enabling economies to be in a stronger position to absorb and recover from future shocks. It’s time to implement new policies that are fit for a just future.This means a shift away from structural dependence on the ‘growth paradigm’ and the use of GDP as the ultimate measure of success for policy decisions.
To tackle this challenge, today, the ZOE Institute has launched a new interactive website that offers a toolbox for ‘future-fit’ policymaking – which leads towards a sustainable, wellbeing economy.
Background Information: in-depth knowledge on different growth dependencies & strategies to overcome GDP-reliant economic frameworks, based on Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics.
Interactive Policy Database: The website features a state of the art, open-access policy database for sustainable prosperity, with over 200 transformative policies in the realm of employment & income, the environment, money & finance, and many more.
Users simply selected specific goals and objectives, and the interactive database displays relevant policy strategies for each topic, giving users concrete tools to work for a just and sustainable future for all.
Evidence-based Argumentation Strategy: Along with the policy database, the website features an interactive reflection game, which helps policymakers enhance arguments in favour of progressive policymaking, based on insights from scientific studies.
Visit www.sustainable-prosperity.eu to explore the vast interactive, open-access policy database and join a network of progressive thinkers across Europe.
This week, the UK’s #BuildBackBetter campaign launched its #BuildBackBetter statement. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is proud to support the campaign, alongside over 350 other diverse organisations including civil society organisations, businesses, trade unions and academics.
Part of the launch was polling by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which found that only 6% of the British public want to go back to the same economy from before the Covid-19 crisis. Instead people want to build back stronger, greener and fairer.
The campaign calls for “a new deal that prioritises people, invests in our NHS and creates a robust, shockproof economy that is capable of tackling the climate crisis.” This includes a petition to MPs, which UK citizens can use to contact their representatives asking them to support the Build Back Better vision.
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Screen-Shot-2020-07-01-at-2.21.28-PM.png508956Rabia Abrarhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngRabia Abrar2020-06-30 15:12:452020-10-02 16:20:33The British public wants to #BuildBackBetter to a Wellbeing Economy