Category for Hubs News posts

Happy New Year! Below is a brief roundup of the Wellbeing Economy Ireland Hub‘s activities over the past few months. 

We have a lot planned for 2023, so please keep an eye out for our updates in the course of the year. You’ll be hearing from us again soon!


  • Cultural Creatives: Transformation Catalysts for a Wellbeing Economy

    We’re delighted to be collaborating with the Carnegie UK Trust on this exciting new project.  The aim is to expose ways in which a dominant economic narrative captures our popular imagination, and to mobilize creative, affirming cultural practices that present alternative world views.

    We will build a community of practice to support storytellers, singers, film-makers, visual artists and writers in contributing to this process of imagining the island’s diverse landscape of language, communities and alternative socio-ecological narratives. This new community of practice will bring together researchers, creative practitioners and activists. We’ll be sending around more information about this work in the coming months. 

  • Social Justice Ireland held its Annual Social Policy Conference, ‘Towards Wellbeing for All’ on Wednesday, 16th November 2022

    The Conference posed the question “What does Wellbeing look like and what needs to be considered for society, for the planet and for communities to thrive and what policies are needed to get us there?”

    Speakers at the event included Raili Lahnalampi (Finnish Ambassador to Ireland); Larry O’Connell and Anne-Marie McGauran (NESC); Carrie Exton (OECD); Sabina Alkire (OPHI); Gabriel Makhlouf (Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland); Clodagh Harris (UCC); Peter Doran (Queens University Belfast/WEAll Ireland Hub); Helen Howes (Wicklow Public Participation Networks); and Colette Bennett (Social Justice Ireland/WEAll Ireland Hub).

    Conference proceedings, videos, and slides are available on the Social Justice Ireland website at Towards Wellbeing For All – Conference Videos and Papers | Social Justice Ireland . They include Colette and Peter’s papers and presentations. 

  • Feasta’s Caroline Whyte gave the keynote address, ‘From Growth Trap to Dynamic Balance: Achieving a Wellbeing Economy’, at the Development Studies Association of Ireland conference in Limerick on November 17th. The theme of the conference was ‘Critical Perspectives in Sustainable Development’, and its goal was to rigorously interrogate the concept of sustainable development, examining its viability and adaptability to the emerging 21st century climate and habitat crises, and exploring some possible ways forward. You can access the slides from Caroline’s talk here.

  • Feasta, in its role as an Environmental Pillar member, made a series of recommendations to the Department of the Taoiseach on the Irish Government’s new Wellbeing Framework, as part of the Pillar’s submission on the National Economic Dialogue. We subsequently attended an online meeting with the DOT officials who are working on the Framework. Our recommendations include making the Framework’s development process more inclusive, ensuring that all of its indicators match the ‘wellbeing economy’ criteria, and clarifying its use in policymaking. We’re also advocating for a move towards post-growth and wellbeing economics in Irish policy in our role as an Environmental Pillar representative at the National Economic and Social Council.

  • Democratic, Inclusive and Creative Neighbourhoods: WEAll Ireland Hub event and live podcast on Oct 11 2022

    This dynamic session explored how we apply neighbourhood-based, participatory and incisive processes to community-led housing, and other cooperative initiatives. The day-long session took place in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, with Joseph Rathinam, a south Indian community activist. With inputs from Sinead Cullen, Peadar Kirby, Nathaniel Whitestone, SOA, Common Knowledge & WEAll IRELAND. It was hosted and facilitated by Davie Philip (Cultivate/WEAll Ireland Hub) and Chris Chapman.

  • The Derry Playhouse has been bringing activists and groups active in Zero Waste and Climate Action in the Derry-Londonderry area to build collaborative working and grow capacities as part of our Artitude project exploring climate, culture and the circular economy.

    We have also joined a pilot Community Wealth Building Hub with a range of organisations across different sectors. Led by Development Trust NI, we are working on a range of initiatives that are seeking to establish a community wealth building approach in the area and across Northern Ireland. Further details here

A commentary by WEAll Ireland Hub member Peter Doran on “The Mindful Commons”

The writer, Philip Pullman (2008) has observed that environmentalists –  essentially – tell a story about ‘us’ and ‘themselves’ and about our place in the universe (e.g. Thomas Berry: the new cosmic story) In this sense, environmentalism has something in common with the function of religion. Questions are posed: why are we heres? What is here? And What does it consist of? Above all, perhaps, we are confronted by the question: ‘What does it mean for us to be conscious of what we are doing to the world?’

In this age of the Anthropocene we have – individually and collectively – arrived at a threshold of consciousness. The quality and trajectory of our consciousness is no longer incidental (perhaps it never was) to the fate of the planet and the associated ecosystems, including the relative stability of the atmosphere.

At the core of this mindful and more conscious living must be the extension of an ethos of ‘non violence’ and a gentle self regulation wherein life is lived in the key of a new song: biorhythms…not algorithms.

Petra Kelly, one of the foremost influences on my early thinking, put it like this:

In a world struggling in violence and dishonesty, the further development of non-violence not only as a philosophy but as a way of life, as a force on the streets, in the market squares, outside the missile bases, inside the chemical plants and inside the war industry becomes one of the most urgent priorities. … The suffering people of this world must come together to take control of their lives, to wrest political power from their present masters pushing them towards destruction. The Earth has been mistreated and only by restoring a balance, only by living with the Earth, only by emphasizing knowledge and expertise towards soft energies and soft technology for people and for life, can we overcome the patriarchal ego (Chatto and Windus).

Equally, the quality of the stories and connections will be paramount. After twenty years of global and regional ‘action’ to pursue the sustainable development agenda set out at the first Rio ‘Earth Summit’ (1992) the United Nations Environment Programme (2012) has concluded that efforts to slow the rate or extent of changes to the Earth System have resulted in only moderate successes but have ‘not succeeded in reversing environmental changes’. Moreover, several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded. Once these have been passed, abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur, with significant adverse implications for human well-being.

The questions posed by the ecological crises are, above all, a series of provocations. That’s why writers have detected that the scale and nature of this crisis – or crises – invites us to revisit our most basic assumptions. Zizek (1995:34) caught the mood with his suggestion that the radical character of the ecological crisis is due not only to the effective danger. What is at stake is our most unquestionable presuppositions:

the very horizon of our meaning, our everyday understanding of “nature” as a regular, rhythmic process (Zizek 1995:34)

Echoing Wittgenstein, Zizek concludes that the ecological crisis bites into our ‘objective certainty’, into the domain of self-evident certitudes about which, within our established ‘form of life’, it is simply meaningless to have doubts.

The truth – of course – is that we have no choice but to live with new and far reaching questions about the implications of crises such as climate change. As Zizek and others have hinted…we are at a point of transition – ‘between stories’ – and as ‘communities of fate’ in a risk laden world, facing uncomfortable, unsettling questions is what we must now do both personally and collectively. Among the most interesting questions are those that confront the ‘social logic’ of capitalism and consumerism – for this is where we live out our lives, both real and imagined. And here, we meet one of the most intriguing questions of all (after Zizek): why is that we can imagine the end of the world much more easily than the end of capitalism?

Kia ora koutou

Haere mai and welcome to the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Aotearoa’s 2022 year in review post. It’s been a huge year for us and we wanted to share some of our highlights. We also wanted to wish everyone around the world a happy New Year. In Aotearoa, Summer is time for family, relaxing and connecting with nature – all the things that make life worth living but are not captured by GDP.

This year we welcomed Gareth Hughes, as WEAll Aotearoa’s first Country Lead to help progress our collective mahi. Gareth is a former MP and has a background in many progressive causes. He wrote a blog introducing himself on our website here. Since May, Gareth has been leading our work program and building connections and relationships.

We have been awarded a generous grant from Partners for a New Economy which will supercharge our work next year. With this grant we are undertaking research with The Workshop on how to reset economic narratives, we will launch a campaign generating big transformational ideas and we will undertake a national roadshow and host a national conference in Auckland.

We focused on sharing and creating new knowledge and policy to influence change towards a Wellbeing Economy.

As part of our global collaboration developing WEAll’s Policy Design Guide, our Hub team have been collaborating locally, piloting the use of the guide in Porirua and Lower Hutt. The WEAll Aotearoa team worked with the Te Hiko Centre for Community Innovation to explore how the elements in the Guide can work in practice and have just published the final report which you can read here.

We have spoken about building a Wellbeing Economy at a number of events including at the Economic Development NZ conference, a SDG seminar, webinar presentations to Pathway to Survival, Our Climate Declaration and panel discussions with current and former ministers.

We jointly hosted a webinar with the New Economy Network Australia (NENA) discussing Trans-Tasman governmental approaches to wellbeing and what each country can learn from each other. You can watch a recording here. 

We welcomed the launch of The Wellbeing Reflex a paper investigating how New Zealand, Finland and Bhutan were able to successfully contain the initial waves of Covid (2020-2021) by taking a Wellbeing Economy approach which Hub member Paul Dalziel helped write.

We focused on spreading and amplifying powerful narratives of hope to change the debate and inspire New Zealanders from all walks of life.

We have set up social media accounts on TwitterFacebook and Linked In, which we would love for you to follow.

We commented on New Zealand’s fourth Wellbeing Budget and its first national wellbeing report – Te Tai Waiora an independent big-picture stocktake into the state of wellbeing in New Zealand, produced by the New Zealand Treasury. 

We submitted on the Productivity Commission’s forward-looking A Fair Chance for All report inquiring into disadvantage, which you can read here.

We were proud to sponsor the first award for wellbeing outcomes at the Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) conference to promote and acknowledge the good work happening at the local council level.

We focused on strengthening, supporting and connecting existing powerbases to build a movement for a Wellbeing Economy.

We hosted networking get-togethers in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin connecting people from diverse communities to talk about economic transformation and build the movement.

We have a growing list of people interested in building a Wellbeing Economy and we hosted two supporters Zoom meetings and sent out Spring and Summer pānui / newsletters. You can suscribe here.

We have engaged with and followed various local wellbeing initiatives across the Motu and Hub member Justin Connolly has been an active participant in the Waikato Wellbeing Project.

We joined with many other organisations as part of the Vote Climate alliance pushing for climate action in the local body election and we have recently joined a number of other groups to campaign for a fairer, more progressive tax system in next year’s election. 

We were glad to be in Cannons Creek to join with others to celebrate the launch of Wesley Community Action Te Hiko Centre for Community Innovation’s new website to help spark community action.

We have been active participating as part of Collective Change Kōrero, to foster systems change dialogue and you can read the updates from the firstsecond and third meetings. 

We collaborated globally as part of the incredible Wellbeing Economy Alliance and loved seeing the work coming out of the Amp Team and WEAll Hubs.

We saw a lot of Wellbeing Economy coverage in the news:

  • Wellbeing Economics had a big feature in North and South magazine including comment by WEAll Aotearoa hub member Paul Dalziel. 
  • Hub member Suzy Morrissey spoke about New Zealand’s journey to Wellbeing Budgets to the ABC.
  • Gareth explored the links between Wellbeing and food in an article for Organic NZ magazine magazine and has been writing articles on the Cost of Living and the Budget for Newsroom. 
  • WEAll Aotearoa member Lindsay Wood published his People, Places and the Climate Crisis podcastwhere sixteen experts and six mayoral candidates answered critical climate questions ahead of council elections.
  • WEAll Aotearoa member Jack Santa Barbara reviewed the new book – Herman Daly’s Economics for a Full World about the thinker often cited as the ‘Father of Ecological Economics.’
  • With corporate profits rising fast, Gareth appeared on TodayFM discussing windfall taxes as one possible solution to the cost of living crisis and he wrote for Newsroom arguing now wasn’t the time for tinkering with tax, but a transformational change was needed to build a fairer tax system.
  • Hub member Paul Dalziel was featured in Actuary magazine where he discussed his work thinking about a Wellbeing Economy. 
  • WEAll Aotearoa had a wonderful feature in the Economic Development New Zealand journal.
  • Gareth also regularly appeared as a progressive commentator on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon’s The Week in Politics segment and also discussed WEAll’s work on the Working Group podcast.

As you can read here it has been a huge year and we thank our Hub members, supporters and partners who have worked with us on this important mission. We are excited about our ambitious goals for next year and if you’d like to get more involved please contact WEAll Aotearoa Country Lead Gareth Hughes.

Ngā mihi nui

Qué hacer frente a los retos climáticos, ambientales y sociales.

22 de Octubre 2022. Presencial y streaming.

Grabación de la jornada organizada por REVO en colaboración con WEAll Iberia Hub, sobre algunas iniciativas que se proponen entre diferentes colectivos y administraciones europeas para abordar los problemas climáticos, ambientales y sociales que ponen en peligro nuestra propia civilización.

Las presentaciones tienen un enfoque global, si bien las iniciativas que se exponen pueden ser replicadas en cualquier lugar.


00:00:00BienvenidaPresentación de WEAll Iberia hubNeus Casajuana
00:04:45Economía del Bienestar y nuevas economíasNeus Casajuana
00:46:50Gestionar el presupuesto de carbonoSusana Martín
02:03:20Propuestas de acción para escenarios de colapso en  una ciudad de tamaño medianoMariona Tatjer
02:28:32Aplicando los ODS en la ciudad de BarcelonaRamon Canal
03:01:10La Economia del Dónut en BarcelonaClaudio Cattaneo

At its core, economics is about choice. What do we value? How do we choose between competing priorities? How do we balance the needs of different groups? How do we balance the needs of current and future generations? The purpose of Te Tai Waiora: Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand 2022 is to inform those choices – Caralee McLiesh, Secretary to the Treasury.

Today Aotearoa New Zealand published its first national wellbeing report – Te Tai Waiora – an independent big-picture stocktake into the state of wellbeing in New Zealand, produced by the Treasury.

It’s a deep and detailed look into the country’s collective wellbeing – from its people’s health, income, relationships to its cultural and natural environmental wealth. It’s incredibly important that the New Zealand Treasury and Government inquire into more than just GDP or other traditional economic metrics. Asking a wider range of questions where the country is at and where it needs to improve leads to more and better answers how collective wellbeing can be improved.

Te Tai Waiora is a fair and comprehensive report built upon voluminous data and numerous studies but it is only a snapshot in time. Under the Public Finance (Wellbeing) Amendment Act, the Treasury is required to provide an independent report at least every four years which will allow wellbeing to be traced better over time. 

The report finds that in some areas New Zealanders wellbeing is improving in terms of incomes and health, and in comparison to other OECD countries we have high life satisfaction and levels of social cohesion and trust. However, in other areas such as housing, education and mental health we do less well and the situation is especially stark for young New Zealanders. This intergenerational wellbeing gap is a major challenge identified in the report as well as the risks from climate change and other natural shocks.

It highlights critical areas where the country needs to improve. Like a map, Te Tai Waiora can tell us where things are, but decisions need to be made where the direction of travel will be. If the country is going to tackle the systemic and long-standing problems like intergenerational inequity, poor quality and unaffordable housing & transitioning to a low-carbon, resilient economy it is going to take decision makers and the public making deliberate choices to act. While the report doesn’t contain policy recommendations it is going to take concrete policies to tackle the problems. Better yet this report offers us a reminder that by redesigning our economy and systems to prioritise dignity, purpose, nature, fairness and participation we can deliver wellbeing by default.

by Simon Ticehurst Movements and Advocacy Lead at WEAll

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The first time I attended a multilateral event was at the beach resort of Cancun, when I was with Oxfam at the WTO Summit, in September 2003. Coldplay, who were championing Oxfam´s Make Trade Fair campaign, turned up with a message of hope that multilateralism could deliver fair trade rules. The summit collapsed, no consensus was reached, and it ended early, after Lee Kyung-hae, a Korean farmer, angered by the failure to address the concerns of small farmers, stabbed himself in the heart and died at the organized protest. Right in front of me. 

Seven years later, after the meltdown and disappointment of climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009, the COP16 was held, again in Cancun, in 2010.  A last-minute agreement to establish a global Climate Fund took the climate talks off its life support system. But it wasn´t until the COP21 in Paris in 2015 that things started to get serious. The Paris Agreement established a landmark, legally-binding treaty to limit global warming and take action against climate change. A first real sign of hope for a global solution to climate change. 

Fast forward to 2022, the parties come together at another beach resort, at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, for COP27. 

Despite the setting, the scientific evidence being presented at the COP27 from the latest IPCC report paints a bleak picture of accelerated decline resulting from the impact of climate change, with widespread and irreversible losses in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal and open ocean marine ecosystems, as well as impacts on human systems, water scarcity and food production, health and wellbeing. 

The Egyptian presidency is calling this the “Implementation COP.” The time to move from negotiation to implementation, from words to action. 

There are two main COP workstreams following the Paris Agreement: Climate finance, essential for any type of climate action and scaling up of ambition, and mitigation commitments aimed at turning down the heat and keeping the planet below 1.5 degrees. We are not yet seeing the political will and annual commitment on finance, and according to the latest IPCC report there is no longer a pathway to achieve the 1.5 degree target ceiling. 

The global context of multiple crises threatens further disappointment. In a time of Covid recovery, the war in Ukraine is adding further crisis. Energy and food inflation combined with fiscal pressures are exacerbating inequalities and generating renewed demands for fossil fuels, taking us down a trajectory contrary to the goals of the Paris Agreements. So many of our intererconnected crisis, are caused by a flawed economic system that doesn’t protect the natural environment. 

Not surprisingly, we are also off-track with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals. The latest 2022 UN report argues that the confluence of crises are affecting implementation of all the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Yet we cannot let the crisis we face in the short-term sideline our commitments and dilute the political will to address the climate emergency which UN Secretary- General António Guterres describes as “the defining issue of our time”.

Where can we find hope?

Inger Anderson, Executive Director of UNEP states that “only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.” 

In the context of crises and implementation failures, we can no longer revert to type and kick the can down the road. The time has come for more radical solutions. Hope lies in the growing convergence around increasingly sophisticated propositions to deliver planetary wellbeing. Such thinking includes the post-growth pathways that require a fundamental turnaround in economic systems, of production and consumption models, with more regenerative, cyclical, redistributive and predistributive design and implementation principles as outlined in the Club of Rome’s latest book, “Earth for All.” 

Governments across the world are also moving towards new economic frameworks that take into account the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance government Partnership program is a great example of this. Leaders from Iceland, Finland, New Zealand, Scotland, and Canada are collaborating on ways to develop policies that go beyond economic measures alone and take the health of nature into account. 

Moreover, there are ways to finance this transition, through progressive fiscal reform, windfall taxes on those who have benefitted in times of crisis, for example the huge profits of energy companies and the super rich who have doubled their wealth during Covid. Clearly the time has come (again) to provide debt relief, to help address the financial shortfall, provide fiscal space for developing countries for public services, economic transitions, and climate adaptation. 

Another source of hope lies in the greater influence of perspectives from the Global South. Regions, like Africa, have contributed little to the climate crisis, and yet face some of the worst consequences given their higher levels of environmental and societal vulnerability. One such perspective is related to “loss and damages” resulting from the impact of climate change. Rich nations have so far been reluctant to discuss the financial implications of this, but it is gathering momentum and is now finally on the agenda of the COP27 and was also discussed in the latest IPCC report. Introducing loss and damages raises the stakes by bringing in issues of responsibility, reparations and attributions. While politically complex, organizations from the global south are pushing for loss and damages as a third pillar of climate negotiations. Loss and damages can force a rethink around financial commitments and contributions, and pressure for both debt and tax reform as well as renewed financial commitments for mitigation and adaptation, the so-called New Qualitative Collective Goal (NQCG) on financing. 

And finally, hope lies in people power. Regardless of the long distance and difficulties of access to such a remote location, and even with the accumulated frustration around how slow things are moving, this is an opportunity to connect and collaborate with others and help build alliances and a movement that can provide momentum for a convergent power base able to influence change further and faster. There are a range of organizations, movements and alliances addressing the different component parts of human and environmental wellbeing, and the  climate change movement is a key part of this. The challenges they are all trying to address have economic roots, but not all movements embrace or converge around the need for economic systems change. Can such a convergence be around the recognition of the needed economic turnaround mentioned above? The root and branch transformation of our economies, as proposed by the Director of UNEP? Can we go further and work together around the central ideas of a new global eco-social contract? Our collective participation at Sharm el Sheikh can help connect with this convergence of purpose, narrative and action and force greater accountability and change. It’s also an opportunity for us to look at the systems that are driving the climate crisis, in particular our economic system which doesn’t value the environment. And for those of us who can´t make it to Sharm el Sheikh, “well you get on your feet and out on the street”. Join this global movement towards a wellbeing economy. Never lose infinite hope.

by Suzan Joy of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance East Africa

Agriculture is a major driver of African economies, typically representing 30-40% of GDP and 65-70% of labor force. Smallholder farmers still control the largest areas for production, most of whom practice mixed farming. They employ 70% of the workforce and are home to most of the poor. More than half of the rural households are dependent on agriculture.

It’s becoming more common that large commercial farms are buying out small farms.. When this happens they become vulnerable to interests and conditions set by larger farms. The problem is the majority of large farms produce for exports and don’t practice regenerative farming. They practice monocropping which destroys the soil fertility, apply artificial fertilizers which contain chemicals into the soil and are the largest promoters of genetically modified foods.

Because small farms are owned by farmers who have limited resources to counteract challenges like unreliable rainfall patterns, pests & diseases, land conflicts amongst other challenges , they are set off balance and this affects the quality and quantity of food produced. 

It’s important to note that smallholder farmers supply food to the local markets. So we can not ignore the role small farms play in ending hunger at national level. Many of them practice ecological agriculture which leads to sustainable production and environmental conservation. Therefore for smallholder farmers to strive, we need to collaborate with them to solve their challenges.

Farmers african wellbeing

So how can we support smallholder farmers?

There is a need to provide subsidies and policy reforms for farmers. Many have limited access to credit and farm inputs so a package of inputs and credit access would make a huge difference. For example The Pollination project distributes seed grants to grassroots community projects worldwide, and through this they have funded agricultural projects and supported small holder farmers like Martin Morris set up an irrigation system for a community vegetable garden that supplies food to residents of Okunai village, Soroti district. They have supported Akongo Benza with a revolving fund for a savings and credit scheme project comprised of over 130 small holder farmers in Bukedi, Tororo District. 

Land tenure policy reform is a priority as many farmers have expressed land access as a major constraint. We also need to strengthen institutions to make markets work better for smallholder farmers. Some of these institutions could provide services such as access to finance, market intelligence, marketing and business development services

Training and resource sharing on key areas like soil fertility, post harvest handling, pests and diseases amongst others. And promote strategic non violence to address the raising cases of land grab.

We need to strengthen the network of regenerative agriculture advocates to lift small holder farmers so they can continue producing food for local markets!

African food production

A networking and peer-sharing opportunity for community catalysts and practitioners of creative place making. This dynamic session explored how we apply neighbourhood-based, participatory and incisive processes to community-led housing, and other cooperative initiatives. 

The day-long session took place in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, with Joseph Rathinam, a south Indian community activist. With inputs from Sinead Cullen, Peadar Kirby, Nathaniel Whitestone, SOA, Common Knowledge & WEAll IRELAND. It was hosted and facilitated by Davie Philip & Chris Chapman

In-Person Active Workshop  – 11.00 – 17.00 – Tuesday October 11th 2022 WeCreate Workspace, Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Tipperary. 

Tune in to the Live Podcast – 16.00 – 17.00 Participants share their ideas in this online session live from WeCreate.

Presented by Cloughjordan Co-Housing and SONEC (Sociocratic Neighbourhood Circles), Cultivate, FEASTA, Workhouse Union, SOA and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance of Ireland. Part of the Creatively Building Back Better Project supported by the Irish Environmental Network. 

Joseph Rathinam, a south Indian community activist, the lead trainer for the Neighbourhood Parliaments movement and an advocate and practitioner of ‘Neighborocracy’
Rosie Lynch, Creative Director of Workhouse Union and has been vital in developing the Nimble Spaces/Inclusive Neighbourhood programme.
Sinead Cullen, an architect, visual artist and Movement Medicine teacher working with individuals and organisations to imagine and build healthier ways of living.
Nathaniel Whitestone, is a certified Sociocracy expert with twenty five years experience in ethical business and sustainable community organising in North America and Europe. 
Peadar Kirby, an academic, author and active resident of Cloughjordan Ecovillage who has published widely on Ireland’s model of development, the political economy, globalisation, vulnerability/resilience, and on the low-carbon transition.
The proceedings will be co-facilitated by 
Davie Philip, a community catalyst and facilitator at Cultivate, the Sustainable Ireland Cooperative who has spent the last 25 years actively promoting and catalysing sustainable communities in Ireland. 
Chris Chapman, a highly experienced and competent convenor and host of conversations that matter with a background in community development and an interest in the powers of particular places to support transformative work.

Cloughjordan CoHousing.Coop is progressing an affordable, diverse and cooperative neighbourhood model of low-carbon development, with an emphasis on sustainability and community, proposed to be located on sites within the Ecovillage in Cloughjordan. Cloughjordan CoHousing has co-hosted several events entitled ‘Housing Ourselves’, bringing together community-led housing activists, researchers and design professionals.
SONEC(Sociocratic Neighbourhood Circles) is an Erasmus+ project – funded by the EU’s “KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices / KA204 – Strategic Partnerships for adult education” program – that addresses serious social and environmental issues by applying neighbourhood-based, bottom-up, participatory and inclusive decision making processes.
Workhouse Union supports the development of inclusive, meaningful, positive places and communities. Their unique approach is rooted in care and collaboration. Using creativity, they bring people together around often complex issues, needs and challenges, helping facilitate a meaningful transformation of towns, neighbourhoods and shared spaces.
Cultivate – The Sustainable Ireland Cooperative Established in 2000 the Sustainable Ireland Cooperative trading as Cultivate is national NGO focused on education and civic engagement. The co-op has progressed sustainability and community resilience through courses, events and publications. For ten years Cultivate managed a sustainable living and learning centre in Dublin city before relocating in 2011 to Cloughjordan, County Tipperary and currently manage the WeCreate Community Enterprise Centre in Cloughjordan Ecovillage.
FEASTA Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, aims to identify the characteristics (economic, cultural and environmental) of a truly sustainable society, articulate how the necessary transition can be effected and promote the implementation of the measures required for this purpose.
SOA SOA is a not-for-profit action research think tank, formed in 2017 to research and promote cooperative and collaborative approaches to housing in Ireland. We study proven and successful UK, European and North American strategies and look at how these might be adapted to Ireland.
WEAll Ireland – ~Wellbeing Economy Alliance The WEAll Ireland hub is a collaboration of organisations and individuals across the island of Ireland working towards a wellbeing economy, delivering human and ecological wellbeing. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is a global network building momentum for economic transformation and changing the debate so that economies around the world deliver shared wellbeing for people and planet.

Porquê uma Economia do Bem-Estar em Portugal?

Portugal é o 22º país, entre 31 países europeus, no que diz respeito ao cumprimento dos objetivos do desenvolvimento sustentável, ainda que, se toda a Humanidade consumisse recursos naturais como Portugal, desde o dia 7 de maio estaríamos todos a viver a crédito ambiental, com todas as implicações que daí resultariam em termos de pressão sobre o equilíbrio ambiental. 

Sabemos que não podemos fazer mais do mesmo e esperar resultados diferentes. 

Neste contexto, a ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável, no final de 2021, organizou um conjunto de quatro workshops com a participação de 31 organizações/instituições de diferentes quadrantes da sociedade portuguesa, com o objetivo de refletir, em conjunto, sobre uma visão para Portugal em 2040 numa Economia do Bem-Estar. Deste trabalho de reflexão resultou o relatório tornado público no início do mês de julho e que pode ser consultado em português e em inglês.

A visão para Portugal

“Em 2040, queremos que Portugal seja um país no qual todos possam viver vidas saudáveis e realizadas, independentemente de quem sejam ou de onde vivam e onde as decisões são participadas, inclusivas e transparentes. Que as pessoas vivam dignamente, conectadas e em harmonia com a natureza, reconhecendo e respeitando as interdependências e os limites. Que haja um sentido de comunidade, prosperidade e coesão em todas as regiões e respeito entre todos (gerações presentes e futuras) no nosso território e além-fronteiras.”

Os eixos estratégicos de intervenção

  • Organização da sociedade
  • Educação e capacitação
  • Economia
  • Trabalho
  • Saúde
  • Energia, edifícios e mobilidade
  • Recursos naturais e território
  • Instrumentos financeiros

Ko Matariki kei runga, ko te tohu tēnā o te tau!

Matariki is up; that’s the sign of the year!

Aotearoa New Zealand is today celebrating its first indigenous national public holiday – Matariki. 

The rising of Matariki, the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades, signifies for many Māori the start of the new year. It is a time for rest and reflection on the year that has been and planning for the future. Matariki is grounded in a connection to nature and awareness of planetary cycles which were critical within Mātauranga Māori for acknowledging the seasons, navigation and planting. Rest, reflection and time off from work is crucial for individual and collective wellbeing.

In 2020, after growing interest and a revival in Matariki commemorations over the previous decades, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Matariki would become Aotearoa’s eleventh national public holiday. Unlike many of New Zealand’s other holidays grounded in Western culture like Christmas and Easter, Matariki is significant because it is the first holiday grounded in Māori culture, acknowledging our place as a South pacific country. It’s a sign of New Zealand’s growing unique national identity.

It’s another example how te ao Māori (the knowledge and traditions of Māori culture) is enriching New Zealand society. Increasingly Māori tikanga (cultural rules and principles) are being incorporated and recognised in the New Zealand legal system and inspiring approaches like legal personhood for nature features such as the Whanganui River and conservation tools. Around the world people and countries are turning to indigenous knowledge to tackle challenges like climate change.

This weekend, communities across Aotearoa have come together to view the stars, share food and remember the deceased. Today as I rest and reflect on the past and how New Zealand is changing from initiatives like Wellbeing Budgets to incorporation of Māori knowledge I take optimism that we can build on these to grow an economy that puts wellbeing at its heart. By genuinely embracing New Zealand’s foundational document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Aotearoa has a unique opportunity to reframe what’s important – revisioning a focus on money and economic growth into kotahitanga, whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga.

Happy Matariki everyone – mānawatia a Matariki.

By WEAll Aotearoa Country Lead Gareth Hughes

Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s fourth Wellbeing Budget continued the focus on wellbeing and responded to social and environmental failings – but did it address them?

A transformation is still needed to go from Wellbeing Budgets to a Wellbeing Economy – one that delivers wellbeing by default, not one where it needs to be added on.

After two years of Covid dominating Government spending decisions, Grant Robertson pitched the 2022 Budget as “less of a crisis budget” and a return to the wellbeing framework. What the country saw this week was very much a Wellbeing Budget but one that responded to failing rather than addressing them.

Since the first Wellbeing Budget in 2019 the Labour-led Government has approached the annual process to put together the national books differently from their predecessors. A wellbeing analysis was applied across all spending, and government departments were asked to leave silos and work together on joint proposals.

With a message of kindness and a focus on child poverty this approach received international plaudits in a world hungry for inspiring, positive news.

The 2022 Budget continued this focus, with Treasury’s updated Living Standards Framework providing the behind the scenes structure. Robertson’s focus in this Budget was health, cost of living issues – especially for the ‘squeezed middle’ – and climate change. Big ticket items were a record amount spent on a buckling health system, a temporary $350 payment for around two million New Zealanders and $2.9 billion of Emissions Trading Scheme revenue recycled on climate projects.

In Parliament National moved the inevitable amendment to oppose the Budget and labelled it the ‘Backwards Budget’, instead pushing for tax cuts. New Zealand is already in the bottom half of the OECD for tax as a percentage of GDP and a tax cut, especially one targeted at higher earners, would simply increase inequality while placing further pressure on public services.

This Budget contained many good measures, including rectifying a historic child support injustice.

However it continued the incremental, slow approach to change that won’t substantially alter persistent poverty, wealth inequality or the biodiversity and climate crises.

While National’s Christopher Luxon railed against so-called wasteful spending, this Budget was no radical dagger aimed at the heart of Neoliberal economics.

The parliamentary debate is always full of hyperbole but I believe a reasonable and constructive critique of the Budget is that it focused on failure demand.

This is the concept where the Government pays costs which are responding to the damage created by the current economic system. Current settings aren’t delivering a socially-secure, high-wage, low-carbon economy so vast sums are spent addressing symptoms and avoiding causes.

Take the biggest new line of spending – health. More than $11 billion was allocated over the forecast period – a huge sum – spent to patch holes and pay debt from historic underinvestment. Fixing damage.

In the climate space, nearly $340m will be spent looking for agricultural fixes to address the failure that farmers don’t pay the cost of their emissions.

The temporary $350 cost-of-living payment for individuals earning under $70k (except beneficiaries) offers short-term relief but doesn’t solve the systemic problem that Kiwis work some of the longest hours for some of the lowest wages and pay some of the highest costs of living in the developed world.

Half price public transport for Community Service Card holders and higher low-income dental grants help – but only respond to the failure that New Zealanders are not guaranteed liveable incomes above the poverty line.

Spending on motels for emergency shelter, the human and health and costs of diseases from unsafe housing, purchasing international carbon credits to avoid reducing emissions at home are all other examples of costly remedial measures from avoidable damage.

Economically New Zealand is doing reasonably well compared to similar countries in these volatile times. The growth rate is high coming out of Covid, government debt is comparatively small and the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1986. With money to spend, the Government has been able to respond to some areas of failure demand but not all, by any means. A rental crisis, a housing crisis, an inequality crisis, a poverty crisis, a biodiversity crisis, and a climate crisis still stalk Aotearoa.

Wellbeing Budgets have been a welcome innovation but the next step surely must be addressing the root causes of social and environmental failure and building a Wellbeing Economy. A Wellbeing Economy is structured so that the economy serves people and planet, rather than being geared to maximise profit only through economic growth at the expense of the planet. It is designed to deliver quality of life with dignity, purpose, fairness and participation whilst caring for nature.

We need to do more than respond to costly avoidable damages arising from our current system. In 2017 Jacinda Ardern in her first speech as Prime Minister said: “This will be a Government of transformation”. With one Budget left before the next election I hope the Government will deliver on this aspiration.

This was originally published on Newsroom

Written by Gareth Hughes, WEAll Aotearoa New Zealand Country Lead

Many years ago I had the rare privilege to visit Kiribati, the low-lying Pacific nation on the frontlines of climate change. Climate change isn’t academic there – it’s a lived part of daily existence. Even then in 2010, they were building seawalls to try and keep the rapidly-rising seas from washing into their fields. Heartbreakingly these flimsy walls were built from garbage and sticks and would be no match for the power of the waves. 

This week New Zealand outlined the country’s plan to reduce emissions consistent with the Zero Carbon Act. Would a New Zealander travelling to Kiribati today be able to report New Zealand was doing all it could to urgently reduce emissions? Is it enough?

It comes in the fifth year of Ardern’s premiership, fourteen years after the Emissions Trading Scheme was created and 32 years after New Zealand’s first climate targets were announced. Since 1990 New Zealand’s emissions have increased by a full quarter – primarily as a result of ‘cars, cows and coal’. Successive governments have preferred agricultural exemptions, ineffective price signals and technological wishful thinking over more proactive policies. Inadequate targets, pine tress and creative accounting have all been used to mask our long-standing lack of deep and decisive action.

On Monday Climate Minister James Shaw released the Government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) – a laundry list of policies to meet the first emissions budget. The plan sets out $2.9 billion in spending from the Emissions Trading Scheme, the biggest single item being a $569m cash-for-clunkers scheme to encourage cleaner vehicles. There’s $350m for walking and cycling, $650m to help industry invest in low-carbon processes and $339m for agricultural research and a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions. Farming still gets a free-ride outside of the ETS and many people have pointed out the irony it is receiving about a third of the total funding without contributing anything towards it. 

Despite being a weighty 343 pages, the plan lacks detail and ambition and many of its pages are padded outlining existing projects and case studies. Far too many actions are listed as to ‘investigate’, ‘explore’, ‘trial,’ or ‘consider’ and twelve separate new strategies are proposed. Substantially grappling with the 50% of our emissions that come from agriculture or making difficult decisions like reducing the national dairy herd have been ‘kicked down the road’ to another day along with congestion charging and bans on internal combustion vehicle imports. People hoping for a permanent extension of public transport discounts, free public transport or electric bike incentives would have been disappointed.

With billions of ETS revenue to spend there are many worthwhile projects in the plan. Home insulation, more electric car chargers, a new Climate Information Centre and organic kerbside waste collection are all good projects. One particularly promising area the plan outlines is a Māori climate strategy and action plan that ‘prioritises mātauranga Māori’. Funding will be made available for tangata Māori initiatives and I would love to see solar panels adorning the roofs of marae and whanau and hapu producing their own power. I imagine an Emissions Reduction Plan developed in a true Tiriti partnership would be stronger.

I wanted to see a huge regenerative agriculture fund and a €25bn package like in the Netherlands to radical reduce livestock numbers. I wished for more to help our most vulnerable New Zealanders cope with climate change amongst the other structural challenges they face. I hoped the ERP would have sent a clearer signal New Zealand coal burning might end before my children have kids and oil drilling might stop before they have grandkids. There are plenty more climate policies to push politicians of all stripes on.

After decades of inaction, the ERP is a milestone and a step-forward but a small step. Would this plan truly demonstrate to a citizen on a small-island state like Kiribati that New Zealand is treating climate change like an emergency and doing all it can to reduce its high per-person emissions? Probably not. It does show a direction of travel and after decades of inaction, perhaps those selling this aspect of the ERP are right to celebrate this. We need a level of political ambition as high as the existential threat of climate change.

The ERP is a modest step in the right direction but still leaves many of the most intractable, difficult choices ahead. We should celebrate positive steps but we shouldn’t forget Bill McKibben’s warning ‘winning slowly is the same as losing.’

While this isn’t the bold, transformative plan to fundamentally redesign our economy to live within planetary boundaries it should be – it can be a foundation to build on. The climate movement has made massive strides and is now securing serious money and policy programs but the scale of action is not yet matching the scale of the climate emergency.

In the end, a bold, transformative plan is unlikely to come handed down from those in power – it will come from people coming together. People who want to turn roadway into cycleway like on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, travel between our towns and cities on a national network of fast intercity rail and ride on modern free public transport need to redouble their efforts. Those campaigning to end coal burning for milk dehydration and a ban on coal exports need to ramp it up. Those calling for social justice and drawing attention to the fact 15 companies are responsible for three-quarters of New Zealand’s emissions need to constantly remind our politicians about this. We need to work together, build bridges and form alliances across society to create a transformative climate movement. This is just the start.

This was originally published on The Spinoff.

Kia ora ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa. I whānau mai au i te taha o te awa o Tairawhiti. I raro i te maru o te maunga o Kaiti. He uri ahau no Wales, no Scotland. Kei te noho au kei Ōtepoti. Ko Gareth Hughes toku ingoa. Tena koutou katoa.

I’m Gareth Hughes, the new Country Lead for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and I wanted to introduce myself. Above is a little about where I have come from in Te Reo Māori, the first language in New Zealand. I’ve spent my entire adult life campaigning for progressive causes as a campaigner at Greenpeace, as a Green MP and an activist. I describe my background as banging on the outside doors of Parliament as an activist then banging-on from the inside. I’ve taken part in non-violent direct action, like once infamously being arrested dressed as Ronald McDonald, passed laws and led campaigns that helped end offshore oil exploration and shark finning in New Zealand. I’ve always felt a passion and a calling for social justice and to protect our planet and I’ve tried to pull all the levers to achieve it.

After working on the symptoms for so long I am excited to now focus on the source of so many of the problems we face. I believe the most important mission facing us is working together to build an economy that works for people and the planet.

In 2020 I ended a decade-long career as a Member of Parliament. I am proud of what I achieved there but I was also frustrated how often the focus was on the short term, policy tinkering or debating what type of ambulance should be at the bottom of the cliff. Things like climate change, homelessness, poverty and inequality were seen as if they were bugs in the system when in fact they were consequences of a system that needs to change fast. My final speech in Parliament was a challenge to all political parties for transformational change – this is what I’ll be focused on in this new role. As such, I have stepped away from political party membership so I can advocate effectively to all parties.

In my valedictory speech I ended on a note of optimism for the future. “Fortunately for us in Aotearoa, we have an alternative value system focused on collective wellbeing, long-term thinking, and a strong connection to nature in mātauranga Māori. I believe if we truly became a Te Tiriti o Waitangi – respecting nation, we could escape the fatal embrace of short-term, individualistic, environmentally damaging thinking that has dominated our politics.” 

In my office I used to have a poster of the first whole image of the Earth taken from space hung on my wall. It was a reminder we need to operate within planetary boundaries which is so beautifully communicated in the Doughnut Economy. In the last year I have been researching and writing a biography of the late Jeanette Fitzsimons who was one of the pioneers of challenging infinite growth on a finite planet and GDP as a measure of success in New Zealand. This deep-dive into her work and the wider thinking that has occurred by many people over multiple decades has further inspired me to focus on a wellbeing economy. These are well-established ideas and the move towards them is now urgent.

I’m also a Dad to two kids, Arlo 14 and Zoe 11 and partner to my wife Meghan. We live in paradise, next to the sea in a small village on the Otago Peninsula in the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island. I love travel but I want to see the world in a low-carbon way so in the last five years I’ve become passionate about sailing. Most weekends you’ll find me on my yacht Avanti.

I am proud to join the New Zealand Hub in this new phase, as it becomes an established organisation with full-time staff, and to continue to expand on the more recent work of our WEAll volunteers in New Zealand. I have a busy work plan and I’m looking forward to rolling that out and working with WEAll partners, citizens and all political parties. 

WEAll Campfire

Comhrá cois teallaigh

‘What is the role of the artist in catalysing a wellbeing economy on the island of Ireland?’

Friday 25th March 2022 – 19.30 – 21.00

A Blended – Online and Physical Event

Via Zoom and at: An Gairdín Beo, Old Dublin Rd. Carlow

This event follows on from the Irish WEAll Hub launch event in October 2021, ‘Breakdown or Breakthrough?: Catalysing the Wellbeing Economy’ with Katherine Trebeck, Jen Wallace and Kate Raworth.

This session focussed on a Social Imaginary project which the Ireland Hub’s core members have been discussing. The project is a co-production process – a community of practice of artists, activists and researchers exploring how we might imagine the wellbeing economy. 

Why focus on artists for this event?

In the words of Sandra Waddock, 

‘Often labelled visionaries, artists can serve as ‘seers’ of reality as it is, of what is that others do not see, and of what might be. They thus help frame and envision new cultural mythologies and social imaginaries. Artwork is more than beauty or decoration, it has the power to wake people up and create meaningful change. Art can be a compass towards the future we want to live in.’

We asked each contributor the question: 

What is the role of the artist in catalysing a wellbeing economy on the island of Ireland? 


Matt Baker 

Matt Baker is a Scottish public artist who has focused on long-term activist strategies for integrating creative practice into the social, economic and political structures of his home region in South West Scotland. He founded, and is based with, The Stove Network in the heart of Dumfries town centre, which is is the only Community Development Trust run by artists in Britain.

Rosie Lynch 

Rosie is the Creative Director of the Workhouse Union in Callan, County Kilkenny, which works with artists, designers, architects and crafts-people to develop projects examining housing, civic infrastructure and the commons, engaging people with the spaces and places we live. Her activities include work on Nimble Spaces, an innovative housing project developing long term collaborations between artists, architects and adults with a disability, considering ‘home’ and shared living. 

Thomas McShane

Thomas McShane is a native of North Carolina, with family links to Leitrim. He is a professional viola player and currently plays in ensembles throughout Ireland, including the National Symphony, Luminosa Music Galway, and the Ulster Orchestra. He is also a fluent Irish speaker and is completing a graduate diploma in Applied Irish at the University of Limerick.

Kevin Murphy

Kevin is the CEO of the Playhouse Derry, a local community theatre which uses the arts to promote healing, understanding, reconciliation and transformation between people and communities in or emerging from conflict. He is also a voluntary director of Wall2Wall Music which is involved in a range of community music, music education and cross-artform initiatives that seek to engage people in exploring their own creativity.

Sandra Waddock 

Sandra Waddock is an academic, holding the Galligan Chair of Strategy at Boston College, and an author whose latest book is Transforming towards Life-Centered Economics: How Business, Government, and Civil Society Can Build a Better World . She has carried out extensive research on transformational catalysts and on the special role of artists in creating social imaginaries.

Mel White

Mel White is a multi award winning spoken word artist, a resident of Cloughjordan Ecovillage and an active member of Extinction Rebellion Ireland (XRI). Her dynamic poetry comments on a variety of social and environmental issues, amid a backdrop of vivid imagery and personal stories. Mel is a regular performer at events all around Ireland, as well as numerous protests, community and educational events, literary gatherings, and Cloughjordan’s SpeakEATsy, which she co-hosts.

If you’d like to sign up to our mailing list in order to be kept informed of the WEAll Hub for Ireland’s activities, please go here

By: Lisa Hough-Stewart

In March 2021, WEAll published our Policy Design Guide. This Guide was co-created with over 70 WEAll members, and aims to support visionary policy makers to build more just and sustainable economies for people and the planet. 

It was never intended to simply be a guidance document,  rather to transform policymaking and bring to life better outcomes for our societies.  Almost as soon as it was published, we were seeking collaborators and funding to pilot the Guide in real life settings.

The WEAll hubs and their partners in California, Canada, New Zealand and Scotland are working with community partners and local or city governments to bring the Wellbeing Economy Policy Design process to life. WEAll has also teamed up with ZOE Institute for Future-Fit Economies to collaborate on the process and evolve their groundbreaking policy portal to share learnings and successes from the pilots.

These pilot projects (which you can read more about below) are setting out to do something new. They are attempting to transform not just policy results but the process of policy making and decision making itself–to become more inclusive and democratic. They are, in the spirit of the Guide, working in radically participatory ways so that the policy design processes are not only based on the co-created visions of communities but aim to meaningfully engage those communities at every stage of the process – from deliberation to implementation.

The Guide offers a roadmap for this process, as well as many tools and case studies, which are a starting point for the pilots. However, as they evolve in the process, they are also charting new ground, and much remains unknown. WEAll is keen to learn as much as possible from their experiences, working with the hub teams to share learnings and stories that might help other communities and policymakers setting out on a similar journey. We will also develop a new version of the Guide to incorporate their experiences. 

About the pilots


  • WEAll California is carrying out its pilot in the city of Pomona, where the mayor is committed to championing new economic approaches.
  • Jeremy Fackenthal, Managing Director of the Institute for Ecological Civilisation and co-founder of WEAll California explains: “We’re working with local organisations in the city of Pomona to help shape a long term framework and vision for a wellbeing economy, an economy that that works for all people and for the planet, that provides fair and equitable resources and opportunities for flourishing in a holistic set of ways.” 


  • The Well-being Economies Alliance for Canada and Sovereign Indigenous Nations (WEAll Can) in Canada is focusing on the City of Toronto for its pilot, building on the foundations of “Doughnut Economics” workshops with city officials in 2021.
  • Tara Campbell, Wellbeing Economies Specialist at David Suzuki Foundation which hosts WEAll Canada, explains: “We are working directly with city officials, elected officials and city staff to socialise these ideas about wellbeing economies and generate interest. The other part of the work is building up a community oriented coalition or network that is interested in exploring these ideas, to develop wellbeing visions for the city of Toronto, to evaluate what’s already been happening, and imagine policy initiatives that could take place.”

Aotearoa/New Zealand

  • WEAll Aotearoa/New Zealand is aiming to work with community partners in three different regions.
  • Paul Dalziel, Professor of Economics at AERU, Lincoln University and co-founder of WEAll Aotearoa/New Zealand, explains: “We are talking with community groups, who are not formally part of local government themselves, but are collaborating with their local council to promote a vision around participation of people and creating economic opportunities and general wellbeing for themselves, their families, and their communities beyond what the people can achieve just on their own.”


  • WEAll Scotland is working with Perth and Kinross Council to deliver “Love Letham”: a project which aims to bring the long term visions to life of children and young people for a flourishing future in their community of Letham.
  • Sarah Stocks, Director of Northern Star which is working as an associate of WEAll Scotland to deliver this project,  explains: “We are working with local people and decision makers together, to first understand what wellbeing means to those people, particularly children and young people in Letham, and then to try and meaningfully affect change in the way that policies are made.”

The story so far

The pilots are still in their early stages, with most of them set to deliver their first community engagement activities in January 2022.

The story that emerges from their experiences so far is one of the importance of relationships and trust as the foundation for a Wellbeing Economy policy design process.

All four pilots have found enthusiasm and willingness to collaborate amongst community partners and policy makers, and they’ve also found that the investment of time and energy required in developing these crucial relationships is considerable. Tara from WEAll Can suggested that the Guide needs a “phase 0” focused on the importance of stakeholder mapping and relationship building, which is something we’ll definitely consider!

The pilot teams reflect on the importance of relationship building and trust

Jeremy, WEAll California: “ The connections that we’ve made have been a real highlight for me. Being able to use those connections toward something that will hopefully make a lot of impact for people in the city of Pomona. So for instance, talking with Sarah McKinley [Democracy Collaborative] and picking her brain about both the positives and the pitfalls of worker owned cooperatives. Also, connections in Pomona, particularly with Latino and Latina Roundtable. Having them as a partner, and a partner who has the same vision for wellbeing and is willing to even adopt some of our language and help use it to shape the way that they talk about the economy has been really a lot of fun.”

Yannick, WEAll Can: “One of the elements of that relationship building is also inviting people not to be speaking primarily from their professional role. In the case of Toronto, the commonality of everybody is that there are residents of a big city, of Toronto. So how do you also create the space where when the elected official comes in, they’re not automatically seen as the policymaker, and that they have to respond only from their professional role as an elected official?”

Justin, WEAll Aotearoa/New Zealand: “Relationships are critical for our Māori partners. Our Indigenous partners, they wouldn’t call it networking, they would call it relationships. So that’s a really important element we’re trying to work on. Two of our three proposed partners are based on existing relationships, for example we have a hub member working with a potential partner which presents a natural collaboration.”

Sarah, WEAll Scotland: “There was quite a lot of time at the beginning, with colleagues in Perth and Kinross Council, basically trying to understand where Perth and Kinross were at. When I look back I remember it being a lot of discussions about wording, how to come up with a description of the project that would work for Perth and Kinross council as well as work for WEAll. But it was really about understanding each other’s position and where we were coming from and what we all were interested in and what we could learn from this process. 

“When we’ve gone out into the community in Letham, sometimes it wasn’t the first people that we spoke to who were actually the people that we needed to engage. But it was necessary to speak to them in order to determine who was. So it’s like a snowball effect, where you speak to someone, and then ask them to tell you who else they think you need to speak to.”

Are you interested in finding out more about the pilot projects, or using the Policy Design Guide to inform your own work? Get in touch with me at

Image: Sarah Stocks, Love Letham stall engaging with community members at Letham Christmas Market

This event drew an online audience of over 120.

For a few minutes prior to the official start of proceedings we were serenaded by the gentle guitar music of Paddy Flamenco (Paddy Anderson). Then our genial compere Davie Philip ( a member of  Hub steering group) introduced proceedings with a poem from fellow Cloughjordan resident, poet Mel White.

Mel’s inspiring poem was followed by a presentation from Seán Ó Conláin, also a member of the Hub steering group, on the work done to arrive at this point. He invited everyone to join the journey to create an effective alliance in Ireland on this crucial notion  of a different kind of economy. He referred to the work of NESC and the government response, namely, to create a set of national indicators, but suggested that what we need is  a transformative action programme, which we can co-create. 

Our first guest, Katherine Trebeck, Strategic Advocacy Advisor for WEAll, commented that she was pleased to see so many friends from across the globe who will able to support the new Hub. While patch and repair might be offered as a solution, as an economist she argues that we need a new model of the economy – but what should it look like? The ethos of WEAll is all around collaboration, and support for those who are doing pioneering work. Hubs represent conversations at a local level which can lead to a global vision.

Katherine was followed by Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy at Carnegie UK, who presented their concept of how we can contribute to collective wellbeing and the work that Carnegie has carried out on the wellbeing economy in Northern Ireland, particularly on a community level. (Jennifer’s PowerPoints are here).

Then there were two brief reflections, both from other members of the hub steering group: first, Peter Doran of Queens University Belfast. He made reference to Michael D as a role model for solidarity within Ireland and Europe. He reminds us of the notion of reconciling the economy with global climate justice and the principle of listening to local conversations.

Colette Bennett of Social Justice Ireland commented that we should listen to Katherine Trebeck’s comment that we must continue to ask questions, behaving like 3-year-old children. This underpins the idea of a deliberative democracy; and understanding what community wellbeing really means. But we must avoid ‘wellbeing washing’. The key for her, was creating a transformation task-force.

We then had a second emotive and profound poem from Mel White.

Next Roisin Markham of the Irish Doughnut Economy Network (IDEN) introduced our special guest speaker, Kate Raworth. She gave an inspiring talk, based on this slide deck. Kate related the Doughnut concept to the current situation in Ireland. She asked four questions: how can the people of Ireland thrive? How can Ireland be as generous as the wildlife next door? How can Ireland respect the health of the whole planet? How can Ireland respect the wellbeing of all people? She identified elements of  the deep design of places and gave examples of city Doughnut workshops across Europe. Finally, she suggested the Doughnut Economics Action Lab as a resource that we might turn to.

Davie Philip sought two quick  reflections on Kate’s presentation. Firstly,  Caroline Whyte of FEASTA (another member of the Hub steering group) spoke about the need for Ireland to reflect on its relationship with other countries, taking as an example the prominent role of Ireland’s current Minister of Finance in the Eurogroup. She also stressed the importance of ‘upstream’ measures such as hard limits on fossil fuel production and the introduction of commons-based taxation such as land value tax, so as to help reorient the entire economy. 

Charlie Fisher of the Development Trust of Northern Ireland reiterated the point that earlier speakers had made about Ireland’s effect on the global economy, and emphasised the important role of land ownership and property assets, calling for a community rights act in Northern Ireland and a strengthening of democracy so as to deter abusive extractive industries.

Several comments followed from audience participants, referring among other subjects to Community Wealth Building, EU-level work and the need to emphasise peace and reconciliation.

Davie invited Mark Garavan of FEASTA and  the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology to provide closing remarks. Mark said, in summary:

‘ A recurring idea in all of the contributions was the posing of the question ‘how’, not why, we must move to a new ‘well-being’-centred system? We start with questions, not answers. Therefore, a key barrier to the transition that we need is imagination, as Katherine said. While we need limits to growth we need no limits to thought.

Kate’s doughnut is a visual representation of new modes of representing our social and ecological breakdown points. 

Part of the conception we need is not to limit ‘well-being’ to the human but to also include the well-being of all life – tree, river, mountain, habitat. The well-being we seek is the well-being of all.’

Davie thanked all the speakers, promised to harvest the chat from the recording and link attendees to our mailing list. On offer in Spring 2022 will be a further dialogue with Tim Jackson, ecological economist and author of books such as ‘Post Growth, life after capitalism’.

The session ended with a contribution from Irish bard, John Spillane.

This interactive event was the formal launch of the WEAll Ireland Hub – a follow-up to our successful online gathering in June. We heard from leading global visionaries Kate Raworth of Doughnut Economics and Katherine Trebeck of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. They joined with Jennifer Wallace of the Carnegie UK Trust, core members of the new WEAll Hub for Ireland, the Irish Doughnut Economics Network and other local Irish activists to help identify the strategic actions that are needed to shift values and reorient our economies toward wellbeing policies and practices, to create an island of wellbeing.

Date: Tuesday October 19

Time: 12:30-2pm Irish time

Read the event report and watch the video

New Zealand made headlines after announcing its first Wellbeing Budget in 2019. The country continues to lead the way in delivering wellbeing budgets, setting spending priorities to meet wellbeing goals.

Some economists continue to press for the traditional practice of developing strategies to promote economic growth. Justin Connolly is a founding member of the Aotearoa New Zealand hub of WEAll. He has responded to that criticism in a powerful article for the Newsroom

The article recognises that delivering a wellbeing economy will be hard work and will take time to deliver. This does not mean, however, we should return to the old ways. Instead, systems science can help us to deal with the complex issues of transforming to a wellbeing economy.

The article expands on this, drawing on The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. Senge has long championed a systems approach for dealing with complex problems. This approach is currently experiencing a resurgence across business and civic society.

WEAll and other global movements are also developing new insights on how to design policies to support a wellbeing economy. A good example is WEAll’s Wellbeing Economy Policy Design Guide.

Thus, New Zealand’s wellbeing budgets are part of this global movement towards wellbeing economies. They respond to the multi-faceted, inter-generational task of challenging how our economies fail to deliver wellbeing. Both for the planet and for us who live on it, now and in the future.

Justin concludes that wellbeing budgets in New Zealand will necessarily continue to evolve. So will how we measure and manage our current and future prosperity. We all are invited to engage in the discussion and help shape those future systems, recognising that this is a long-term game.

The full article can be accessed here.

Written by Caroline Whyte, WEAll Ireland Hub

High levels of enthusiasm and readiness for change were expressed in the course of this participatory event, with emphasis placed on a need for fundamental economic transformation to bring about greater community empowerment and increase overall societal wellbeing. 

The participants – 45-50 – came from many backgrounds with a wide range and depth of experience, from all over Ireland and a few from beyond. They joined us to explore the principles of a wellbeing economy, identify the range and depth of existing activities on the island and establish how we might catalyse change together. 

At the event we considered these questions:

How might we work together to change the economic system and create a wellbeing economy?

How can the Wellbeing Economy Alliance add value to the existing work we are all doing?

Event Outline

Co-hosts Davie Philip of Cultivate, Caroline Whyte of Feasta, Seán Ó Conláin of Feasta and EHFF, Colette Bennett of Social Justice Ireland, David Somekh of EHFF and Peter Doran of QUB School of Law welcomed the participants and provided some background context on WEAll and the situation of Ireland. Participants verbally introduced themselves in breakout room pairs, and to the plenary via the meeting’s chat. 

Following feedback from the breakouts, a final plenary took place.

We were delighted to have some live music from Belfast-based flamenco guitarist Paddy Anderson at the beginning of the event, and from songwriter Conor Lawlor at the end.

Here’s some of what emerged from the groups and the discussions:

Q1. What has already been done [on wellbeing in Ireland] and Q.2. What is being worked on?

Public Participation Networks (PPNs)

Many PPNs, including Clare, Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Westmeath and Wicklow, have created bottom-up wellbeing vision statements to be used by the local authority, with powerful local engagement.  There is an opportunity to build on this interest in wellbeing arising from this work.

Local development

Collaboration for Change has initiated an online mapping project of local groups throughout Ireland. 42 local/community development organisations currently cover the Republic at local level; their focus includes marginalised groups and contributing to a climate of care. Community Wealth Building (CWB) is being actively promoted by civil society in both jurisdictions, including the Development Trust Northern Ireland.

Doughnut concepts are being very actively explored in a local context, with support from the Irish Doughnut Economics network (IDEN). 

A holistic Gaeltacht initiative is working with people in Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore) on a development plan for the community.


The event included representatives from a large Northern-based community cooperative in the North owned by 250 people, a network of pop-up repair cafés, rural microenterprise, Community Supported Agriculture schemes, and startups in the blockchain space. Participants explained how their work is helping to generate sustainable diversity in local economies throughout Ireland. 


The Governments both North and South have committed to producing Wellbeing Outcomes. In the North, work on a wellbeing framework is well advanced, and includes the NI Wellbeing Roundtable. In the South, a wide-ranging report from NESC is helping to prepare the ground for the planned government programme based on the OECD wellbeing framework.  

At a local government level, Local Authorities in the North have a duty since 2015 to promote wellbeing; Carnegie UK Trust has been working to support this. Meanwhile, in the South, meetings have taken place with Cork City Council on the adoption of Doughnut Economic principles.

More broadly, work is also being carried out exploring financial system reform through organisations such as Positive Money; there is a constitutional campaign in the South on the ‘right to housing’ and the ‘right to food’; and a civil society campaign is focussing on improving diet and making food more sustainable. At EU level, Irish MEP Grace O Sullivan is working on a legislative initiative which is intended to steer the EU towards a wellbeing economy, with six key objectives. 

Qs 3 and 4. What would be the seeds for change – what might catalyse a wellbeing economy? AND How we might catalyse change together?

Vision and narrative: We need an appealing, positive counter-narrative to the dominant one on the economy. It should use clear language, have a localised, participatory focus, embrace commons development as an alternative to State or private ownership, use an ‘investment’ frame rather than a ‘cost’ one, build on lessons from COVID-19, and be free of GDP-growth dependency. It should avoid the use of binary, ‘us’ and ‘them’ language, focussing instead on breaking down silos at national and local government level and in the media. 

Governance and objectives: We need to encourage longer-term thinking by politicians, ensure that the younger generation is well-informed and involved in the decision-making process, embed principles such as those of Community Wealth Building into government approaches, advocate legislation to de-emphasise GDP-based metrics in favour of other measurements, challenge the dominant role played by consumerism and advertising, and advocate for much stronger government support of participatory community work.

Q5: How could a WEAll hub support your work? – Next Steps

Research and advocacy

By connecting the dots between the global, national, regional and local – i.e. developing a way to bring together top-down and bottom-up action on wellbeing throughout Ireland, while working to reverse the trend of commercialisation of community development. There is a need to distill ideas down while avoiding over-simplifying; this ties into the work on narrative change and communication mentioned above.

Communication and Network-building

• By organising regular meetings and conversations of people from across the spectrum, including for example members of the groups within the PPNs.

• By creating a dedicated online space where people can continue to have e-conversations. 

• By creating a dedicated website for people to easily find information on the WEAll Ireland Hub, with clear visuals on what wellbeing economy means, and concrete examples.


We would like to thank all of the participants once again for their time and very valuable contributions.

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. 

  1. 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. 

Over the last year, we’ve given a lot of thought about what it will mean for Brazil to ‘Build Back Better’ toward a society that prioritises human and ecological wellbeing. Read both the English and Portuguese version of the paper, and register for our upcoming event on September 8th to learn more about the paper.

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance California hub and EcoCiv are hosting an online event on July 28 (5-6:30pm Pacific Time) on the role and growth of public banking in California. Register here for the event.

EcoCiv has partnered with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) to bring you our next “Dialogue for Global Systems Change” on the topic of public banking. There is a growing movement in the United States to make banking a public utility. In 2019, the State of California passed the first state law in 100 years to allow for the chartering of public banks, and now the State Assembly is considering legislation to create a state-level public bank. With a focus on developments in California, this interactive dialogue will explore the benefits and challenges of public banking and the role of the banking sector in a wellbeing economy.

Today, numerous cities and counties in California are moving to create their own public banks. These will operate in the public interest by law, keeping money local and directing it toward socially and environmentally responsible investments. But challenges to implementation remain, including the cost and practical requirements for creating these new institutions.

The live, online event will include a 60-minute moderated panel discussion, followed by 30 minutes of breakout room discussions for all attendees. Join us to learn more about this promising path to economic transformation. 


  • Ellen Brown – Founder, Public Banking Institute 
  • Naveen Agrawal – Organizer, Public Bank Los Angeles and the California Public Bank Alliance
  • Tom Steel – Legislative Assistant, California State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago’s Office

Moderator: Wm. Andrew Schwartz – Vice President, EcoCiv