The world of leadership and societal development is transforming before our eyes. Leaders either learn to cross the threshold or struggle with approaches from outdated mindsets. Over the past decades, whilst life expectancy has increased, economies have grown and technology has developed immensely, we have also witnessed rising inequality, ecological collapse and mental health crises among many other issues. Siren bells are ringing from the Earth as society calls for a new way of organizing and leading that better serves our collective flourishing. 

Most of us in the WEAll community recognise the need to create a different economic system: a wellbeing economy, that puts care of people and our Earth at its core rather than an unrestricted pursuit of profit. If we are to bring about a wellbeing economy, a way of leading our lives and businesses in harmony with ourselves and the Earth, we must first cultivate a different, regenerative source of ‘inner leadership’. The more we embody inner leadership, the greater our capacity to embed this into our organizations – into the culture, processes, structures and the metrics, into every aspect of our organizations, and then into the wider ecosystems and economy that we are also a part of.

Leading From Within

Our team of global New Zealanders, Alexander Evatt, Christopher Evatt and Shruthi Vijayakumar are committed to nurturing inner leadership to enable the systemic shift that society is calling for. Inner leadership as we call it requires us as individuals and collectives to question the way we think about ourselves, each other, the world around us, and why we are here. It recognises how interconnected we are to everything around us, and our interdependence with one another and the Earth. It invites us to look beyond the cognitive capability of the mind and cultivate our intuition, wisdom and capacity to listen and draw from the timeless, deep wisdom of life and natural world. It guides us to our inner source of strength, wisdom, peace and allows our actions to draw from this source rather than from a feeling of discontent, anxiousness, worry, guilt, fear or a host of  other emotions that can drain us.

This way of leading that may feel ‘new,’ is in fact ancient. It is found in many philosophies and wisdom traditions, spanning the East, the West and indigenous traditions which reflect values of living in harmony and respect with all life. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the many leaders who have kept this wisdom alive, which we seek to revive and live by in our efforts to support the systemic change that is needed in this time. 

In August we launched a co-creative leadership development journey, for visionary leaders; entrepreneurs, change-makers, managers, social impact leaders and consultants. To cultivate the capabilities, qualities and skills to transform the extractive models of business and economy into a regenerative model where all life can thrive and gain a community to support you and your organisation’s continued transformation. We are astounded by what’s possible when we collectively come together and deeply appreciate the insights and teachings in each of you.

Despite the difficulties and challenges we uncovered and shared from the current extractive systems, we sensed by practicing and embodying together with an open mind and heart, how we and our business can be a force for transformation.

We look forward to taking the next step in our journey of change makers in our next Masterclasses: October 4th & 5th
How to Create Regenerative Organizations and Cultures


We would love to see you there. With deep gratitude NewDirection team:
Alexander, Christopher & Shruthi


By Shaleen Porwal

At the start of this year, as I was navigating through the Regenerative Building Blocks of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), I paused when I read, “People safe & healthy in their communities, rather than necessitating vast expenditures on treating, healing & fixing”. And in the definition of the health goal, it appropriately mentions, “both mental & physical.” 

Being a mental health advocate myself, this resonated so well with me. I am practising the science of Positive Psychology that focuses on what works well for people and how we can make it even better. This combination piqued my interest and paved my way to be able to contribute to the WEAll network.

The Wellbeing Economy talks about Mindsets that, “…economies should have human… wellbeing” and this encompasses the mental and emotional states besides physical safety, therefore the need permeates through all humans, irrespective of their trade and beliefs. This includes teachers.

I am focusing on teachers because they are an incredibly special group of employees who are empowered with the unique responsibility of shaping the future of a nation through their everyday interaction with young humans, who in turn will become into adults and will be taking up the responsibility of adding value to their nation, themselves, their family, and their community.

Every interaction that we have with another person, has the potential to bring about a notable change in our emotions. This change in emotions further leads to the development of thoughts and subsequently into action. Every day at a school, frequent communication channels are established between teachers and students, among teachers, and among student peers. These collaborations are vital for the functionality of performance and behaviour – students and teachers – for the continuity of “business as usual” i.e., a day in school. 

There are global reports on mental health that we have been made aware of and repercussions which we are observing in our local contexts as well, with a radical shift in the psychological state of children, teachers, and families, and that the World Health Organisation has fully acknowledged as follows: “…there has been increasing acknowledgement of the significant role mental health plays in achieving global development goals, as illustrated by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals…”  

With the advent of the global pandemic – COVID-19 – Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (‘VUCA’) are adding fuel to fire. All of us, from a national level to an individual level, are struggling through it with our fair share of challenges currently. 

However, with a solution-focused approach, I want to see the silver lining of this dark ‘VUCA’ cloud.

We have surpassed the time where we put our resources to destigmatise psychological dysfunction and make efforts for it to be viewed in the light of normalcy. There are already examples of systems, companies, and collaborations that are disintegrating because they are unable to manage the emotional states of employees – after all, the organisation comprises of humans. According to a recent news report, “Mental and emotional well-being are now one of the most important topics in many companies”.

Considering a school as an employer for the teachers, most of the psychological challenges either for teachers or for students pertain to emotions and anxiety. These non-verbal cues need unique skills and methods to tackle and address and at initial stages as a proactive mechanism. We are not in a situation to imagine a scenario where we see attrition of teachers in a similar proportion and events of school dropouts due to the negligence of mental well-being.

Therefore, it calls for:

  1. Accepting this emotional ‘Vulnerability’,
  2. Creating an ‘Understanding’ for each other and the ecosystem, 
  3. All of us coming together for ‘Collaborative’ exercise with experts and within the system, and
  4. Doing what humans have historically always been best at – ‘Adaptability’, in the face of every adversity

Thereby creating a healthy and transparent environment where the teachers and students can freely speak about their psychological challenges to appropriate authorities – a psychologically safe ecosystem with the intent of finding solutions.

As a practitioner myself, below are few recommendations:

  1. Invitation by school management and principal, for teachers to participate in designing well-being policies and systems, in partnership with well-being service providers
  2. This will help in addressing the local pain points by customising the needs of the individual school cultures
  3. Create a transparent and permeable climate for open conversations around challenges in managing psychological distress – walking the talk
  4. Proactively recording and addressing instances of signs and observation by teachers of their students through this established well-being machinery
  5. Including vocabulary, integrating practices and interventions in school curriculum – this will have a double advantage, i.e., it will be an effective strategy to enhance the mental well-being of the current workforce, as well as it will equip today’s students (future workforce) with the skillset for managing well-being in their times of distress
  6. Working on changing definitions and popular beliefs around most widely misrepresented terms like success, failure, vulnerability, emotions, and the like. 
  7. Appreciating meaningful and bigger picture initiatives taken by teachers and students

We know that we are cognitive misers and implementation of a schooling system with a psychologically safe ambience might sound financially unwanted and time-consuming, the truth is that there is no quick fix to it. It will not only save time and effort in the long run but also create a healthy systemic effect for a Wellbeing Economy to function automatically with enhanced belonging to the organisation and finding deeper meaning in education – both for students and teachers – and to the nation.

As I connect the dots backwards, I figure out that this is exactly what Goal Number 3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 talks about i.e., Target 3.4 “…promote mental health and well-being

About the author

Shaleen Porwal is a Positive Parenting and Education practitioner, based in Singapore. This blog forms part of the Faces of the Wellbeing Economy series, sharing expert opinions from across the WEAll network.

References

  1. American Psychological Association. Apa dictionary of psychology. American Psychological Association. https://dictionary.apa.org/cognitive-miser. 
  2. American Psychological Association. Apa dictionary of psychology. American Psychological Association. https://dictionary.apa.org/positive-psychology. 
  3. Brown Brené. (2019). Dare to lead: Brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. Random House Large Print Publishing. 
  4. Chuan, W. P. (2021, July 16). Commentary: The coming resignation tsunami – why many may leave their jobs in a pandemic economy. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/resign-quit-new-job-office-remote-work-employer-hr-covid-19-2052156. 
  5. Edmondson, A. C. (2019). The fearless organization: Creating psychological safety in the workplace for learning, innovation, and growth. John Wiley & Sons. 
  6. Singer, T. & Ricard, M. (2015). Caring economics. Picador. 
  7. WEAll. (2021, March 18). Home. Wellbeing Economy Alliance. https://weall.org/
  8. What vuca really means for you. Harvard Business Review. (2014, August 1). https://hbr.org/2014/01/what-vuca-really-means-for-you. 
  9. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_1. 

Written by: Alison Davis

A Wellbeing Economy is an economic system that prioritizes wellbeing for all beings – including people, wildlife, and planet – over short-term financial growth. The economy is currently seen as the end-all-be-all in terms of success on a national and societal level. This means that economic growth is the goal in and of itself, and how we achieve that growth or what we do with it is not important. The Wellbeing Economy movement, on the other hand, provides a framework in which the economy is simply a tool to promote wellbeing for everyone in society. Rather than use the economic system to generate massive profits for the wealthy, a Wellbeing Economy seeks to inclusively improve the lives of all people.

OneNature is proud to be a member of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). WEAll is an international network of groups and individuals who seek to connect their stories to elevate a global narrative whereby the factors that determine success are health, happiness, and connection. With this partnership, we hope to ensure the metrics of a Wellbeing Economy will include wildlife. Understanding the overall value of wildlife and nature to economic systems and to wellbeing will be essential if we are to shift to a Wellbeing Economy.

Here at OneNature, we are thrilled to see all the work that has been done in recent years to promote the inclusion of nature, particularly wildlife, in wellbeing values. Multiple studies and reports demonstrate the critical importance of natural systems to our wellbeing. For instance, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released a report in 2019 titled Animals are Key to Human Development. The report states, “With the sixth extinction crisis upon us, it is more critical than ever for policy makers to link conservation and animal welfare with sustainable development.” This idea has gained momentum as the global pandemic showed exactly what can happen when wild animals are irresponsibly captured and consumed for their economic value. Earlier this year, the World Bank published a study that concluded wildlife conservation through ecotourism would be an effective method of restoring the post-pandemic economy. The conclusions and recommendations in this study highlight the links between wildlife and the wellbeing of people.

We have a good idea of the work that needs to be done. The current economic paradigm tends to treat nature like a financial asset from which humans can take and take. We live in a backwards world where many people believe a tiger – and many other species – is worth more dead than alive. Nature is not infinite, so if this attitude persists, our planet and all its inhabitants, including human beings, will suffer. Instead, we deserve a future where the economic system serves all people, animals, and the planet – not the other way around.

OneNature is currently involved in several on-the-ground efforts to research and determine how wildlife conservation can be included in the policy and practice of a Wellbeing Economy. The goal of OneNature and other WEAll partners is to generate a world where wellbeing for all beings is of greater importance than short-term economic success. Working with other like-minded organizations connected by WEAll will allow us to create change from the bottom up, starting with local communities and together making our voices heard by those at the very top. Building connections through WEAll allows us to practice one of the primary goals of a Wellbeing Economy, which is to stay connected – connected to other people, connected to the planet, and connected to the wildlife that shares our planet with us.

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

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.

Careershifters | UK