The Wellbeing Economy Alliance, European Environmental BureauWWF InternationalSwedish Society for Nature Conservation and Club of Rome invite you to join us for an event on “Wellbeing economies: a new economic approach for human and planetary health” at Stockholm +50:

Stockholm +50 – Wellbeing economies: a new economic approach for human and planetary health

2 June, 9:30-10:45, Room 4 & online

Are you in Stockholm and have registered for Stockholm+50? Please join us! Breakfast will be available in Room 4.

Not in Stockholm? Follow the live stream. The link will be available before the event on the Stockholm+50 side event page. You can also watch it herewhen we will be live at 9:30.

“Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity” will take place five decades after the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. The event will provide leaders with an opportunity to draw on 50 years of multilateral environmental action to achieve the bold and urgent action needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet.

The planet, societies and economies are under growing pressure. This event aims at reimagining policymaking to design economies that serve human and planetary health. Governments will showcase innovative instruments and policies to establish Wellbeing Economies. Civil society responds and shares its vision for a new economic system.

Moderator: Patrizia Heidegger (Director for Global Policies and Sustainability, European Environmental Bureau)

Keynote opening speech

  • Sandrine Dixson-Declève (Co-President, Club of Rome) 

Government interventions

  • Virginijus SinkevičiusEnvironment Commissioner, European Commission
  • Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
  • Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor, Ambassador to the EU, Kingdom of Bhutan
  • Terhi Lehtonen, State Secretary, Ministry for the Environment, Finland

Short civil society respondents

  • Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo, Executive Director, IBON International
  • Nina GualingaWomen Defender from the Kichwa community at Amazon Watch
  • Georgina Muñoz, Co-Chair, Global Call for Action Against Poverty
  • Ebrima Sall, Executive Director, TrustAfrica
  • Bruno Roelants, Secretary General, the International Cooperative Alliance

Closing speech

  • Johanna Sandahl, President EEB and President SSNC

More details about the conference: https://www.stockholm50.global/
See event in the official Stockholm agenda: https://www.stockholm50.global/events/wellbeing-economies-new-economic-approach-human-and-planetary-health

More info

The 1972 Stockholm Conference highlighted the centrality of the environment for human wellbeing. However, our planet, societies and economies are under growing pressure. Human activities overshoot several planetary boundaries whilst governments struggle to meet all societal needs. It is time to reimagine economic policymaking and to make our economies serve human and planetary wellbeing. Although the contexts, concepts and pace vary, some governments around the world are engaged in reimagining their economic model. Bhutan orients its policies at Gross National Happiness, Wales has passed the Well-being of Future Generations Act, and the European Commission is designing a Beyond GDP dashboard. These innovative actions illustrate how wellbeing-focused economies can drive sustainable development. The purpose of this event is to exchange concrete measures that governments are taking to redefine the priorities for a new economic system. It will discuss how to initiate and enable the transition towards wellbeing economies and what good policy practices can look like. The event strives to encourage further debates on how to reimagine our economies in respect of the planet’s ecological limits.

We thank the Laudes Foundation for providing funding to organise this event.

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.

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is recruiting a new Knowledge Lead to work with its global Amp Team. The Knowledge Lead position is a fantastic opportunity for someone with a deep understanding of the Wellbeing Economy ecosystem and the various concepts, ideas, and initiatives that comprise it. The successful candidate will be well versed in the new economic literature whilst being able to “see the forest from the trees” by recognising the important contribution that different perspectives and approaches bring to the Wellbeing Economy movement.

This position will allow a passionate individual to not only connect with like minded individuals and organisations around the world, but to also support in moving from theory to practice by making the ideas needed for economic systems change accessible.

WEAll recognises the need for greater diversity in our team and the economic systems change movement more broadly and is committed to addressing it. If you believe you would bring greater diversity to our team, we’re particularly keen to hear from you.

Click below for more information on how to apply. The application deadline is Sunday, June 26, 2022 at 11:59 PM UK time.

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. 

By Jennifer Wilkins

An increasing number of people in the affluent nations are realising that our levels of consumerism reflect learned habits rather than our real needs, that inputs to industrial production are less than 10% recirculated causing over-extraction and pollution, that the fossil fuels that power our lifestyles need to stay in the ground in order to mitigate climate change because decoupling technologies are infeasible, and that the renewable energy revolution may not happen as rapidly or as adequately as we’d like. The affluent Western lifestyle is a privilege for millions and an aspiration for billions, yet it imperils the planet and humanity. We must build a vision of a new aspirational way of living that consumes far fewer unnecessary goods and uses far less energy. 

If enough of the world’s affluent people were to make sufficient changes, we could avoid the immense social, environmental and economic effects of climate change and nature loss that would lead to a global economic crash affecting multiple subsequent generations. 

This is an opportunity to redesign the global political economy to be climate positive, nature regenerative, inclusive and fair; to reimagine an economy that operates within the limits of a social foundation and planetary boundaries for all people in all nations. The transition to this new economic ideal is known as degrowth because it requires a radically smaller resource throughput than that which the current ever-expanding growth economy demands. 

All parts of society, all sectors and all professions will need to adopt degrowth transition thinking – policymakers, accountants, engineers, agriculturalists, financiers – not by waiting for the new economic vision to become clear and then adopting some guidelines, but by venturing forward with ideas, innovations and interventions right now that develop the pieces of this new economy and by fitting them together. 

The white paper Investing in Degrowth by Jennifer Wilkins and Bill Murphy, both of whom are based in New Zealand, focuses on the changes that the investment community could make, asking them to consider the feasibility of funding the transition to a new economy that no longer supports economic activities that fall outside safe ecological and fair social boundaries. It urges them to deeply consider the purpose of their investment strategy and whether they are willing to place their capital into projects that provide a more inclusive set of returns in order to bring about an economic revolution that could not only save humanity from a crisis but propel it toward a new ideal.

Our wonderful co-founder and Advocacy Advisor, Dr. Katherine Trebeck, is stepping back from WEAll, after many years of incredible work and dedication to put the Wellbeing Economy into the public agenda and gather so many people and forces around this shared vision. She has been fundamental in the construction of this organization and movement, and we will all miss her passion and enthusiasm in the WEAll family, but we know this is also just a “see you soon”, not a “goodbye”. Below, word by word, is Katherine’s recent blog post explaining a bit more in depth her path until now and next steps:

March 2022
Time off and next steps

This blog has been a long time coming (and it’s not even a blog – just a wee note to explain why I’ll be going quiet and unresponsive for a few months).

Being part of building the Wellbeing Economy Alliance has been the most incredible journey. It began when Stewart Wallis wrote an email to me back in June 2017 with the subject line of: ‘Hello and Mad Suggestion!’ It was mad, but somehow it feels we have made what felt mad – but very necessary – now manifest and possible (the photo above shows just some of the fantastic folk who make it so).

But, my husband is retiring so I am taking the opportunity to gather my thoughts a bit and from April to the end of June I will be ‘downing tools’ and taking some extended leave; stepping back from being a core team member for both the WEAll global team and WEAll Scotland.

It is because of where WEAll is and how it’s standing that I feel it is timely to find new adventures and different ways of trying to be useful. The global WEAll ‘Amp’ team has just met in person, for the first time for many of us. We cooked together, laughed, drank caprihinas, walked, and worked through some knotty internal questions and made some rather fantastic plans for the coming months and years. The team are pretty darn amazing – such different skills on top of shared energy, care, and passion for the work of WEAll. WEAll feels steadier now in a way it hasn’t before. People are coming to WEAll, wanting support to implement and learn more about the nature of an economy that puts people and planet first. There is secure funding beyond the next few months for the first time and WEAll is in the process of recruiting some excellent new colleagues to help carry it into the next stage.

And as for Scotland WEAll, while smaller and still fragile financially, is punching above its weight thanks to a dynamic board of dazzling women; volunteers who are generous beyond anything I have ever seen; and a small staff team who couldn’t be more perfect for their respective roles.

So it feels like a new era for WEAll – one in which I can be more a friend, by-stander and cheerleader than such an active player.

WEAll is more necessary than ever. I am more grateful for WEAll’s existence than I can imagine given the current economic debates in Scotland which feel pathetically inadequate for our times and given the lack of sufficient action pretty much everywhere to build a more humane economy that’s gentler on the planet.

What instead after my time off? There are a few ideas, some irons in fires and twinkles in eyes. But I can’t pick one above another until I’ve had a bit of a break and spent a bit of time in the Scottish hills and then breathing deeply of some Australian eucalyptus (something I am missing terribly after almost three years). So TBC I guess.

There’s a lovely wee saying that ‘you can’t discover new oceans until you are ready to lose sight of the shore’. I’m not feeling particularly brave or adventurous or anything, but I am feeling it’s time to look out again and see what new ways I can find to be part of building a more humane economy.

*Her original post can be found in her website: https://katherinetrebeck.com/time-off-and-next-steps/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

Notes to editors

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full text of the Key Points can be read here

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

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

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

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



The WEAll global Amp Team is recruiting for a new full-time Communications and Narratives Co-Lead.

The position is a fantastic opportunity for someone with skills and experience in storytelling and journalism, and who has the energy and ideas to help WEAll build a better system for people and the planet. The successful candidate will be part of an exciting movement, working with people from all over the world who are collaborating to transform the economy. 

What WEAll is looking for

We are looking for an organised, flexible, and highly motivated individual with the vision and skills to take WEAll’s global narratives and communications work to the next level. They will have demonstrated persuasive communications skills, and a passion for economic system change. The person in this role will work with the existing Co-Lead on WEAll’s communications and narratives strategy and delivery, with a focus on imagining and bringing to public consciousness new stories that create a different set of beliefs about what is viable and desirable in our society.

The post holder must be adaptable, creative, good at self-management, and – due to the nature of our small, flat-structured charity – willing and able to turn their hand to a range of tasks and projects as required.

We acknowledge that people from a number of communities are underrepresented in our team, in the wider movement of those seeking systemic economic change and the charity sector in general, and we’re committed to addressing this. If you believe you would bring greater diversity to our team, we’re keen to hear from you. 

What WEAll is offering

An opportunity to work with a highly motivated team committed to accelerating economic system change. A team with a set of dedicated values: Togetherness, Care, Honesty, Equality, and Passion. This is WEAll’s core ‘amplification’ (Amp) team. 

The position offers the opportunity to co-lead on the management and enhancement of WEAll’s communications and narratives approach and the promotion of Wellbeing Economy ideas. Amplification of our vision around the world is critical to our theory of change. 

Start date: As soon as possible after 1 April 2022

Fee: £40,000 per annum (dependent on experience) for a full time role

Hours of work: The nature of this role is that flexibility in hours is both required by the role (for example, there will be some evening and weekend work) but also offered by WEAll. The contracted hours will be 35 hours per week, which can be worked flexibly. Please note that WEAll does not officially operate on Fridays.

Location: Our team is global and we encourage and welcome applications from anywhere in the world (working from home). However, this specific position requires working directly with a Communications and Narratives Co-Lead based in Sao Paulo (GMT -3:00), so availability to work with this time zone will be taken into account during the selection process. In Glasgow, Scotland, we can potentially offer access to a shared working space.

Applications close at 23:59 UK time on Sunday 13 March 2022. Interviews will be held starting on March 30. To find out more and how to apply, download the recruitment pack here.

How do we design economic policies that put the wellbeing of people and the planet first?

This is the challenge that the Wellbeing Economy Policy Design Guide aims to tackle – and since the Guide was published, one year ago, it has inspired action around the world. 

Four WEAll hubs are undertaking pilots to bring the ideas in the Guide to life and work with their communities to design wellbeing economy policies through participatory processes. The experiences of the pilot teams will form the basis of resources and tools to expand the existing Guide and which can be used by others working to implement Wellbeing Economy Policy Design.

Join us to celebrate one year of impact since the launch of the Policy Design Guide, learn about the progress of the policy design pilots, and be part of the conversation about how we can continue building momentum towards wellbeing economies. This event is co-hosted by WEAll and our partner ZOE Institute for Future Fit Economies.

There will be two identical events at 15:00 and 21:00 UTC, scheduled to accommodate the time zones of the pilot projects teams and allow the maximum number of interested people to participate.

Register here:

We’re launching a 6-episode series called WEAll Meets! For the month of February, we’ll release six short videos where our Engagement and Content Lead, Isabel Nuesse, interviews different members in our network. Each episode follows a similar format – where Isabel asks a question around how each person became interested in systems change and what gives them hope in the world.

Our last episode features Katherine Trebeck. Katherine is the Influencing & Advocacy Lead at WEAll and author of the brilliant book, Economics of Arrival. How did she get involved in this work? Her initial interest was peaked through the beyond GDP movement.

“The GDP lens is full of perverse incentives and it trains the gaze of policy makers on a very very narrow set of questions. It implicitly downplays other questions that are more important to life and things like the question of global injustice. Can the village (I used to live in) in Cameroon or those like it have a decent fighting chance to increase their material living standards if we don’t think about the economic models and production and consumption processes in countries like the one I’m sitting in at the moment in Scotland. We’re implicitly saying those global inequalities are going to stay embedded in the system….and I think that’s the beauty of the Wellbeing Economy agenda as it asks us to look upstream…”

She pushes for us to be bolder in answering these fundamental questions about our current economic system. And when asked how she see’s hope in the movement, Katherine adds, “It’s not as if nothing is happening, we see so many examples of a new economic system being built. The next wave where we need to put our collective shoulder into is joining them up and make them connect.”

You can watch the entire episode on our YouTube Channel here:

We’re launching a 6-episode series called WEAll Meets! For the month of February, we’ll release six short videos where our Engagement and Content Lead, Isabel Nuesse, interviews different members in our network. Each episode follows a similar format – where Isabel asks a question around how each person became interested in systems change and what gives them hope in the world.

Our fifth episode features Robert Wanalo. Robert is deeply involved in the movement for economic systems change. As a fellow at Post Growth Institute and active member in the Bateson institute, his understanding and commitment to complex thinking is astounding.

“My experience of the past couple of years and where I find hope is realising the possibility that is there for us to open ourselves up to the learnings and the shifts of this time and to be globally present and to attend to what is possible in terms of what kind of changes can happen.”

He also comments on the paradox that the rigidity amongst the people in established systems – that hold the power to make change, are not necessarily opening themselves up to the learning that is available.

You can watch the entire episode on our YouTube Channel here:

Written by Sandra Ericson

The Scandinavians were once very poor, with high rates of child poverty and child labor. Most people lived under a 3-part feudal rule of royalty, merchants, and peasants. The fate of poor peasants was determined at birth and had been so for centuries. Then, in the 13th century, writers and thinkers in Europe began the Reformation, planting new ideas of personal autonomy and self-determination. But it took until the mid-1800s for poverty reformers to make these ideas a reality for the poor. They started in Denmark by introducing ‘folk schools,’ teaching Nordic Bildung, adopting the German word for education. Its ideas empowered independence, better living conditions, and social mobility.

In 1862, Congress mirrored Nordic Bildung education and passed the Morrill Act for US farms and families. The legislation created land-grant colleges by trading federal land to teach agricultural science and Home Economics, recognizing that all living decisions have an economic impact. Sadly, in the 1980s, most school systems discontinued these programs. Today, the discipline is called Human Ecology; it now includes climate adaptation and seems to be formally taught in only one high school, Syosset, in New York. 

Just as the Bildung concept did and still does in Scandinavia, Human Ecology begins with teaching people about their human selves and their social interactions, paralleling Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. Students develop informed, realistic views of universally shared human needs and graduate knowing how to live independently, with the interpersonal skills to build societies, businesses, governments and sustain the environment. It is a proven discipline of life-sustaining education from kindergarten to community college. The universal premise is: National wellbeing is not possible without empowering all people with the knowledge, understanding, and control of their living conditions and social interactions. It is the fundamental basis for self-determination, personal wellbeing, and building human capital.

What is Human Ecology?

Human Ecology education begins with the concept that our physical bodies shape our minds and includes the daily decisions that determine the character and security of home life, health, home environments, finance, social interaction, and safety. It is tough to think long-term or big picture when you’re physically or psychologically in pain. It lowers threat levels by teaching finance, foods, medical care, housing, personal environments, child development, aging, climate adaptation, and social presentation. Each area is now more complex and directly affects personal dignity and self-respect. The content balances physical and social risks because “a hungry man is an angry man.” Result: Greater self-worth along with individual and community stability.

What Does it Mean for Each of Us?

As twenty-first-century challenges dent our confidence and increase cognitive loads, Human Ecology offers formulas for assigning priorities, thinking long-term, and evaluating options that boost confidence and become life habits. As personalities mature, students learn to handle more complexity. They can process risk-aversion and future orientation and are more conscientious and resilient within the larger society. There is a saying, “you can’t step in the same river twice,” meaning that people change continually, and so does the river. Therefore, everyone must learn to be resilient, adapt to change through the phases of life, and acquire the needed psychological strength. As we see schools dealing with student chaos and anger, it’s easy to forecast that, without resilience, childrens’ anger will drive the quality of their lives—and eventually everyone’s. We see it now in our civic life.

How does Human Ecology Benefit Others?

Human Ecology also teaches cultural competency by studying deportment, protocol, lifestyles, and traditions, developing self-awareness and cultural intelligence. This knowledge enables more global inclusiveness, diversity skills, and cultural and racial pliancy, in addition to understanding personal cultural biases and stereotypes. According to Child Care Aware of America, by age 9, children’s cultural attitudes are set and tend to stay constant unless there is a life-changing event. More complex interactions, like professionalism, are introduced as students mature. These skills are essential for international relations, workplace productivity, and family relations. They prevent misplaced anger or perceived disrespect, increasing trust and the confidence to participate in larger social contexts.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen some hard truths revealed about human loneliness, tribal behavior, and other conditions of stress and suffering. Human Ecology mitigates by teaching the interconnectedness of our social systems and our shared lives. It opens students to the benefits and practice of cooperation and counteracts destructive self-interest. A recent report advanced that opioid use imparts the feeling of being loved. But the question is, how to be loved or liked without trying all the wrong ways? It happens through positive life experiences, good role models, and educating the whole person, not only a future worker. If the first two are missing, as they more often are, education becomes even more critical for nurturing a personality that attracts others and returns kindness. 

It is time for American education to develop a more humanistic vision and strategy. As each generation of Human Ecology students raises the next, the knowledge prevents social division, fear, and poverty before they happen, averting devastating social and financial costs. Human Ecology, mandated for K-14, is the pathway to national wellbeing, just as the concept of Bildung transformed the Scandinavian countries. It served us once, from the 1860s to the 1980s; we need it again now, as we face and fear a new generation of angry, scared young people. Human Ecology education instills care for themselves and others as they age into power. It is every nation’s first educational task and should be at the top of American political and school board agendas.

Bibliography

Line Andersen and Tomas Bjorkman, The Nordic Secret, 2017

College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, https://www.human.cornell.edu/

Georgetown University, UNXD-050-02:  Mastering the Hidden Curriculum, spring 2021. 

Cody R. DeHaan, Tadashi Hirai, Richard M. Ryan, Nussbaum’s Capabilities and Self-Determination

Theory’s Basic Psychological Needs: Relating Some Fundamentals of Human Wellness, 2015.

Elinor Ostrom, A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems, Science magazine, July, 2005.

Samuel Bowles, The Moral Economy, Why Good Incentives are No Substitute for Good Citizens, 2016.

Bio

Sandra Ericson is the former chair of the Consumer Arts and Science Department at City College of San Francisco. She served three elected terms on the Napa Valley College Board; one appointed term on the St. Helena Planning Commission and eight years as chair of the St. Helena Climate Protection Task Force. She currently lives in Eugene, Oregon. 

Editor’s Note: The Wellbeing Economy Movement is dynamic and in constant change and evolution. Therefore, please take into account, while reading, that many findings about the ecosystem back then could render different conclusions today. Since publication, more action has taken place in the policymaking arena, namely: the creation of the WEAll Policy Design Guide in collaboration with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance network, the expansion of the Policymaker Network to other countries, and the implementation of the Policy Design Guide by WEAll Hubs and local authorities who have been piloting these ideas and processes in loco. The WEAll Amp Team would also like to clarify that much of the emphasis that has been given throughout our work in the “Global North” is deliberate, as these countries today hold a larger share of the responsibility when it comes to human and ecological damages to our planet and need to be involved in systems change.

Written by: Alexander Gamerdinger

I would like you to imagine the Wellbeing Economy movement as a two-sided medal. The front side of the medal represents what is most visible about it, such as the participating organizations, their goals, strategies, and research reports. The often-overlooked reverse side represents the people behind the movement, their careers, ideas, and interlinkages. In this blog post, I introduce this reverse side of the Wellbeing Economy movement which I have studied intensively for the last year as a part of my Master’s Thesis. 

My interest in the Wellbeing Economy movement grew steadily during my work at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and quickly developed into a thesis idea as it resonated well with my education in sociology and international political economy. 

In contrast to many political economists who study powerful organizations such as the UN, or countries such as the United States to understand how authority is generated in an international setting, I wanted to understand how people’s backgrounds, strategic positions and professional networks are influencing the success of the Wellbeing Economy movement. Insights into the social relations of active members can provide a different understanding of the movement and shed light on why it is so difficult to “overrule” the current economic system. I very much hope that this sociological view on the Wellbeing Economy movement can give inspiration to new ideas that strengthen the impact of the movement going forward. Intellectually, much of thinking is inspired by scholars at Copenhagen Business school (e.g. Seabrooke & Henriksen, 2017). 

1. Who are members of the Wellbeing Economy Movement?

In the past year, I collected information on 246 people who actively work on Wellbeing Economy issues in association with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). As with other social movements, membership is fairly heterogeneous, dispersed around the globe and composed of different groups. The movement mainly operates in Europe and other countries from the Global North, while deliberately including underrepresented areas from the Global South (see Table 1). 

Table

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Table 1: Countries of the movement (cutoff = 5 residents)

To create an overview, I categorized experts by their sector and professional group (Figure 2). Most of the members are either academics in universities or research institutions. The second largest group is composed of activists who work in NGOs, foundations, and other activist organizations. One fifth of the members work in public or intergovernmental institutions as policymakers, advisers, or politicians, while only a few are businesspeople. 

This sectoral distribution of membership tells us about the status of the movement. As relatively few hold positions within the business or policymaking sector – such as national parliaments, administrations or commissions – ideas associated with the Wellbeing Economy are still very distant from the current status quo.

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Figure 2: Sectors and professional groups

This distance becomes more visible in Figure 3, which shows the professional network of the Wellbeing Economy movement. Each node represents an individual who is connected to other individuals by current or past employment. As highlighted by Louvain’s clustering algorithm, we can see that academics and activists form tighter communities and have stronger organizational affiliations with each other than policymakers. The bigger node sizes of activists and academics also reveal a greater number of organizational overlaps that they have with policymakers. In contrast, EU and UK policymakers form their own, looser communities situated at the periphery of the network. 

Figure 3: Professional network of Wellbeing Economy movement 

Figure 4: Organizational Network

Figure 4 shows the organizational network of the Wellbeing Economy Movement. Organizations with the largest nodes are labeled and weighted according to their number of affiliations; ties are weighted by their shared affiliations. While WEAll and its Scotland hub are among the most prominent organizations by design, other important organizations include international organizations such as the UN, OECD and World Bank, NGOs such as Oxfam and the Club of Rome, as well as a variety of mostly British universities, think tanks and professional organizations. Most noteworthy is the triangular connection between WEAll, the UN and the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity, involved in the very creation of WEAll,  which is mostly composed of prominent ecological and environmental academics. 

In sociological terms, the organizational footprint allows us to identify “locations of change”, where Wellbeing Economy ideas are allowed to prosper. Although international organizations and NGOs are an important ally to have, they alone cannot push for a Wellbeing Economy revolution. The movement strongly relies on the support of prominent national institutions which currently act as gatekeepers for change. Looking back at Figure 4, such national institutions are largely absent in the organizational network of the movement. The Scottish Government is one of the rare exceptions to the case. 

2. What are strategies to achieve a Wellbeing Economy? 

As an umbrella organization, WEAll unites the voices of people and organizations that share the goal to move away from the current growth-seeking economic system. Scholarship on wellbeing policy (e.g. Laurent 2021; Bache & Scott 2018) highlights the existence of three distinct fundamental goals of a Wellbeing Economy, namely: 1) to alleviate social inequalities and poverty, 2) to tackle climate change and other forms of environmental degradation and 3) to increase mental health and subjective wellbeing. 

As a result, professional groups possess a variety of strategies aimed at transitioning into a Wellbeing Economy. These include: 1) the measurement and monitoring of wellbeing indicators, 2) the active use of wellbeing indicators in cost-benefit analysis, wellbeing-budgets, or mandated legislation, 3) the explicit use of wellbeing-minded policy, 4) the creation of new socio-political wellbeing narratives, 5) the initiation of system change and 6) an either agnostic, positive or negative stance towards continued economic growth. 

Given the recent emergence of the movement, there is currently no unique strategic position on how to transition into a Wellbeing Economy shared amongst all participants. Although some professional groups do possess clear strategic positions, their strategies are mutually conflicting. Figure 5 illustrates that activists and academics advocate for system change while policymakers and other academic groups believe that a Wellbeing Economy is achieved by continuously measuring wellbeing indicators. The conflict is created as the former calls for a radical shift in policymaking, while the latter rather signalizes a reformation of current policymaking through the inclusion – and possibly active use – of wellbeing indicators. 

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Figure 5: Strategic positions of professional groups

3. How can we transition into a Wellbeing Economy?

This quick glimpse at the reverse side of the medal representing the Wellbeing Economy movement reveals the underlying problem and a strategic opportunity. Conflicting strategies between policymakers and other professional groups seem to slow the transformation to a Wellbeing Economy. This is further decelerated by an industry sector that lacks  a clear strategic vision towards transformative change.

However, recognizing that strategic positions emerge from current and past forms of social interaction, WEAll has the timely opportunity to change such strategies by building new forms of social interactions between formerly disconnected professional groups. 

What the Wellbeing Economy movement has done so far, is to strengthen the strategic coalition between activists and academics – convincing researchers that real, transformative change is necessary. However, coalescing between activists and incumbent policymakers has not yet been successful, partly because transformative change is contrary to the current way of policymaking. One recent exception  was seen in Germany, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed Jennifer Morgan, the American head of Greenpeace as a special climate convoy (Schuetze, 2022). More initiatives like this are needed. Thus, to foster the coalition between activists and policymakers from a sociological viewpoint, my recommendation for WEAll is to: 

1) Foster relationships with policymakers through targeted events, research, or membership involvement. National policymakers are the avenue for change. Change is about creating social ties, and if ties to current and future policymakers can be facilitated, Wellbeing Economy ideas might drive the policymaking of the future.

In the European Union, ideas about the “Economy of Wellbeing” have shown interest from the Council of the European Union (European Council, 2019). In order to convince European policymakers about the Wellbeing Economy, WEAll should: 

2) Focus on policymakers working in national institutions, as they currently only occupy peripheral positions in the network

3) Consider the strategy: system change through wellbeing measurement – an increasing focus on wellbeing measurement show policymakers the need for system change 

References

Bache, I., & Scott, K. (2018). Wellbeing in Politics and Policy. In I. Bache & K. Scott (Eds.), The Politics of Wellbeing: Theory, Policy and Practice (pp. 1–22). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-58394-5_1

Bauer, T. N., & Erdogan, B. (1996). Organizational socialization.  APA Handbook of I/O Psychology3, 51-64.

Della Porta, D., & Diani, M. (2006). Social movements: An introduction. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

European Council. (2019). Economy of Wellbeing in the EU: People’s Wellbeing Fosters Economic Growth. https://eu2019.fi/en/backgrounders/economy-of-wellbeing#:~:text=Wellbeing%20is%20one%20of%20the,they%20work%20and%20pay%20taxes

Laurent, É. (2021). The Well-being Transition: Analysis and Policy. Palgrave Macmillan.

Christopher F. Schuetze. (2022).  Germany Has a New Climate Envoy: an American Greenpeace Activist https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/09/world/europe/germany-jennifer-morgan-greenpeace.html 

Seabrooke, L., & Henriksen, L. F. (Eds.). (2017). Professional networks in transnational governance. Cambridge University Press.

We’re launching a 6-episode series called WEAll Meets! For the month of February, we’ll release two short videos where our Engagement and Content Lead, Isabel Nuesse, interviews different members in our network. Each episode follows a similar format – where Isabel asks a question around how each person became interested in systems change and what gives them hope in the world.

Our third episode features WEAll’s own, Amanda Janoo. As a radical thinker and dreamer, Amanda takes us on a quick journey fighting for economic systems change and where her inspiration came from.

“To base an entirely, really important discipline on the assumption of the worst parts of ourselves and to actively think that encouraging and rewarding those parts of ourselves was somehow going to lead to a good outcome seems insane. And I maintain that it’s insane.”

Later in the episode she speaks about holding the beliefs that both everything happens for a reason and we’re master of our own destiny. Curious to learn more?

You can watch the entire episode on our YouTube Channel here:

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

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

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

Lord Bird said:

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

The Bill would require the UK Government to:

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

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

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

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

Why we need the Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denisha Killoh is a Trustee of WEAll Scotland and Jimmy Paul is Director of WEAll Scotland
.

We’re launching a 6-episode series called WEAll Meets! For the month of February, we’ll release two short videos where our Engagement and Content Lead, Isabel Nuesse, interviews different members in our network. Each episode follows a similar format – where Isabel asks a question around how each person became interested in systems change and what gives them hope in the world.

Our third episode features Gary Stevenson speaks about his journey working in economics – and why he now advocates for shrinking the yawning inequality gap.

“If ordinary people are losing their assets and going into debt and governments are losing their assets and going into debt..where are all the assets? And who are the debts going to? That’s when I realised inequality is problem. It is the fundamental structural problem of our economy preventing a recovery. And that was in 2011.”

Learn more about how he became one of the youngest and most profitable traders at City Bank to now one of the largest advocates for systems change.

You can watch the entire episode on our YouTube Channel here:

By: Martin Oetting – Omnipolis Media

When it comes to going ‘beyond GDP’, there are two major countries that have a mighty historical disadvantage: the United States of America and Germany — my home country. Until very recently, I was convinced that these two would only move away from that mighty number once every other country on the face of the earth had let go of it.

The USA were built on the promise that each following year, ‘the cake’ would be bigger — with ‘the cake’ being the space that was available to immigrants (while the aboriginal population was killed or dislocated). And, as long as new places could be ‘discovered’ and conquered, this logic held true: Anyone could make a living and build a wonderful new life in the New World. 

Fast forward to today, and ‘the cake’ is no longer space — today, it is money. “With GDP growth there will be more money next year, so even you — yes, you, the poor girl/guy with nothing to eat, no roof above your head — can make it, if you only try hard enough” says the American Dream. The fact that this Dream is no longer available to most — despite the millions that are still clinging to it — may explain at least some of the current distortions in American democracy and society.

In Germany, our love affair with GDP has been much shorter — but no less powerful. For us, it provided meaning in our darkest hour: After the Nazis had inspired, motivated, coerced, tempted, roared, seduced, threatened the country into “total warfare” with the whole planet, our country and our world lay in ruins, and there was no way back to the (presupposed) glory of old. Enter GDP, to provide us with our new glory. Instead of winning the world by military means, my compatriots were handed a new tool to win it economically. And win we did. Leaps and bounds in GDP growth were soon summarised in the very term every West-German child is familiar with: “Wirtschaftswunder”, aka: “economic miracle“. (I grew up in the West and do not want to speak on behalf of my neighbours and friends in the East who grew up under the Eastern Bloc regime, which was governed by a somewhat different rhetoric. However, in 1990 they also joined the system that had been built in the West — for better or worse.)

Growing the GDP was our way to pull us out of the quagmire, the contempt, the devastation — and to regain acceptance around the world. It became our religion and our source of national pride and joy. And when it came to consumption patterns, we were more than happy to learn from our new North-American Ubervater.

I was more than surprised when I read earlier this month that one of these two countries might be making an attempt at changing course. After sixteen years of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship — over which history will cast a withering verdict, I am sure — we now have a new German government. In it, the ministry for the economy has given itself a new double-mandate to additionally serve as ministry for the climate, which didn’t exist before. At its helm sits Robert Habeck from the Green party. Only days ago, he presented the latest economic report of the Federal German Government. Large parts of it read like a manifesto to fight climate change. And crucially, one section outlines how Germany must evolve its concept of the ‘social market economy’ to a ‘social-ecological market economy’ — a process for which GDP will need to be taken off center stage and surrounded with a range of metrics that will be better suited for assessing whether or not the country is actually making progress.

Not quite the revolution yet – but the door is opening.

Going beyond GDP is no silver bullet and no miraculous cure. But to accept that this earth and the amounts of money we can extract from it are finite is an important first step. It shows that a socio-political system is (finally) acknowledging the physical realities of our world. Habeck has not (yet?) stated outright that in the global north we can no longer afford GDP growth. Nor that it logically follows that we must start talking about what is fair or acceptable in terms of social inequality — and do something about it, once we agree that our combined income cannot keep growing; alas, that it might actually start shrinking. But he seems willing to take the long overdue first step into a direction that will ultimately enable that conversation. 

Initial press reactions seem to hang somewhere between curiously critical and critically curious. To be sure — Habeck’s initial draft was much more progressive and daring, it contained questions regarding the capitalist logic of our societies, or the sustainability of consumerism. But much of that has been sanded down by the inner-coalition debate with the other government parties before the actual report was published. As a matter of course, ‘decoupling’ becomes — once again — the solution for the unsolvable. And yet, Habeck was not shy to preempt the actual report by leaking parts of his proper vision to the public.

The USA, on the other hand, seem nowhere near taking that first step. Watching them go these days, it seems they might soon be moving into the opposite direction — all the while being not only the biggest player but also the referee and writer of rules for the global economy. That probably provides the most compelling argument for the countries that do understand all of this to join forces and be stronger together. With the WEGo initiative — begun in 2018 by visionary pioneers Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand — that solution is already implemented, and has since been reinforced by Finland and Wales. This must be turned into the next global alliance of governments that shows the world a new way: Politics is not about making more money, but about enabling better lives for people and for the planet. The time for that is now.

In the homeland of Nazism, many of us have a hard time feeling and expressing national pride. I personally consider national pride a waste of energy and a bane of humanity. And yet — if one day Germany joins the Wellbeing Economy Governments, I may actually give in and feel a little pride. If only for a minute.