Category for Hubs News posts

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? 

Contributors 

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

California

  • 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.” 

Canada

  • 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.”

Scotland

  • 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 lisa@weall.org

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.

Business

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. 

Government/EU

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. 

Panelists:

  • 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

Canada gains new momentum toward a wellbeing economy

During World Wellbeing Week (June 21-30), Canada and sovereign Indigenous nations announced the launch of the latest WEAll hub.

“The current economic system was borne out of the Second World War, and it served its purpose at the time, which essentially was to prevent another war,” said Yannick Beaudoin, Innovation and Ontario director with the David Suzuki Foundation and lead facilitator with the WellBeing Economies Alliance for Canada and Sovereign Indigenous Nations (WEAll Can).

“But our lives now are about more than preventing war. Instead of just focusing on material growth forever, we need an economy whose purpose is to deliver on all aspects of wellbeing.”

“It’s not about being anti-growth, anti-business, anti-anything. It’s about being pro wellbeing,” Beaudoin said.

“That’s a big difference. And it’s going to make a big difference to all our lives, and to the future of the planet, if we can get it right.”

WEAll Can will work to co-create an economic model and supportive systems that nurture wellbeing for people and planet. It emerges from an acknowledgement of pre-settler economies, where Indigenous Peoples prioritised wellbeing among each other and with nature for millennia. WEAll Can will also begin to track for the first time Canada’s progress toward a wellbeing economy.

“White economics informed by a reductionist western world view have dominated the scene for too long,” Beaudoin said. “We need to go back to the table, to sit with Indigenous knowledge keepers, change actors from underrepresented communities, women and youth. We need to rethink, together, what we want our economy to deliver and how we know that we’re getting there. It’s already being started in other countries. It’s about time we started here too.”

Learn more about the Well-Being Economies Alliance for Canada and Sovereign Indigenous Nations at www.weallcanada.org

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Stefanie Carmichael, David Suzuki Foundation: scarmichael@davidsuzuki.org, 437-221-4692

Ahead of World Well-Being Week (June 21-30), an international alliance of organizations and individuals challenging the core purpose of the contemporary economy will soon include a hub for Canada and sovereign Indigenous nations.

“The current economic system was borne out of the Second World War, and it served its purpose at the time, which essentially was to prevent another war,” said Yannick Beaudoin, innovation and Ontario director with the David Suzuki Foundation and lead facilitator with the Well-Being Economies Alliance for Canada and Sovereign Indigenous Nations (WEAll Can). “But our lives now are about more than preventing war. Instead of just focusing on material growth forever, we need an economy whose purpose is to deliver on all aspects of well-being.”

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance has been working in select countries to help enable a reimagining and redesign of economic systems to put the well-being of people and planet first. Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand are just a few places that are reenvisioning their economic purpose and designing policies and metrics that deliver more meaningful value to people’s lives. 

“It’s not about being anti-growth, anti-business, anti-anything. It’s about being pro well-being,” Beaudoin said. “That’s a big difference. And it’s going to make a big difference to all our lives, and to the future of the planet, if we can get it right.”

WEAll Can will work to co-create an economic model and supportive systems that nurture well-being for people and planet. It emerges from an acknowledgement of pre-settler economies, where Indigenous Peoples prioritized well-being among each other and with nature for millennia. WEAll Can will also begin to track for the first time Canada’s progress toward a well-being economy.

“White economics informed by a reductionist western world view have dominated the scene for too long,” Beaudoin said. “We need to go back to the table, to sit with Indigenous knowledge keepers, change actors from underrepresented communities, women and youth. We need to rethink, together, what we want our economy to deliver and how we know that we’re getting there. It’s already being started in other countries. It’s about time we started here too.”

New Zealand is aiming to adopt a wellbeing economy approach in its economic policy. The Government, for example, presented the world’s first Wellbeing Budget to Parliament on 30 May 2019.

Against that background, Paul Dalziel and Caroline Saunders prepared a Research Briefing in September 2020. It summarises lessons learned in the initial New Zealand experience with the wellbeing economy approach. The authors are the Deputy Director and Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University, New Zealand.

You can access the Research Briefing from the Lincoln University archive here.

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

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

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

What makes a ‘wellbeing’ budget?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing; and

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

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

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

What are the lessons from the NZ approach?

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

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

References: 

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

Photo by Gigin Krishnan on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By: Isabel Nuesse

On Thursday April 8, I spoke with a passionate group of Californians about developing a new narrative for the Wellbeing Economy in California. After a short presentation including WEAll’s own story of narrative development and lessons learnt, we had a group discussion and indicated a few initial thoughts on the values that could underpin a Wellbeing Economy in California. 

For some context, developing a ‘narrative’ or story around a new economic vision is one of the most difficult tasks for WEAll. While a core pillar to our work, it’s without a doubt, the one that is most contentious amongst our membership and the most challenging to articulate and come to consensus on. 

Our first step in the process has been to develop the values that shape a Wellbeing Economy – we refer to them as the 5 ‘WEAll Needs’. These needs (depicted below) are the core tenants that underpin our vision for a Wellbeing Economy. These values will change from context to context-  but from the highest level – when we speak to a Wellbeing Economy, these are the needs that must exist in order for the vision to be felt. 

I also introduced some of the lessons learnt from our work on narratives which are below:

  1. Narratives are ever-evolving
  2. There isn’t ONE narrative  
  3. Don’t counterbalance the current narrative with the opposite narrative 
  4. Focus on a positive vision
  5. All narratives have value to bring
  6. Create a simple story that resonates widely
  7. Doing the work is building the narrative

During the session, there was discussion amongst the audience around the practicalities of implementing such a narrative. One attendee asked, “How do you speak to someone about a Wellbeing Economy if they are staunch capitalists? How do you begin to unseat such strong power structures?” 

I wish I had the answer. The best ‘solution’ is to have counterexamples of other systems that could work to replace the current system. For example, instead of investing in the S&P 500 find initiatives like Boston Ujima Project who are building community-led investment opportunities. Or look to cooperatives as alternative models to replace the current extractive business models. 

We discussed issues around the word ‘freedom’ and what that word currently connotes verses what it could connote in a wellbeing context. 

Towards the end of the discussion, we spoke about what the difference is between what the current progressive left is pushing verses what the Wellbeing Economy agenda is pushing. The word we circled around was interconnection. In a Wellbeing Economy, we are no longer going to work in silos but rather, see the whole, and encourage the system to operate and function within that space. Meaning, seeing that homelessness is related to healthcare which is related to our food system which is related to land pricing etc. It’s all connected and we can no longer operate in a system that doesn’t account for those interconnections.

As an interactive portion of the discussion, we brainstormed some values that could bring definition to what a Wellbeing Economy in California could become. Below is the list of values that the group created.


We will build from the values generated during this workshop as we begin to think about how values and narratives align with policy change during our next webinar. You can sign up to join the California hub on May 18 for a one hour discussion of wellbeing policy design with Amanda Janoo here. Additionally, if you’d like to become a WEAll Member, join us here and also check out our WEAll Citizens Platform.

WEAll California’s Starter List of Values

  • Accountability+1
  • Access to Nature
  • Artistic Thinking
  • Beauty
  • Belief in a living wage
  • Belonging
  • Care for others +1
  • Compassion
  • Connection +2  (Deep Connection)
  • Creativity+3
  • Design Thinking
  • Embracing differences
  • Equity+2
  • Environmental sustainability+4
  • Freedom+1
  • From Wealth to Health
  • From Growth to Wellbeing
  • From Money to Life
  • From Exploitation to Empowerment
  • Harmony
  • Hope
  • Human flourishing+3
  • Inclusion+2
  • Incubation, testing, research to action (higher public education)
  • Innovation (California prides itself on this)+3
  • International (pacific rim) +1
  • Intersection of natural and built environment +1
  • Interrelation +1
  • Integrity +1
  • Kindness+1
  • Justice
  • Local
  • Loyalty to the whole+2
  • Material sufficiency
  • Possibility and transformation
  • Purpose
  • Systemic Thinking
  • Uniqueness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The petition states:

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

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

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

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