Welcome to our weekly update! As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond.

Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

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Water in a Wellbeing Economy – WEAll Briefing Paper

Now more than ever we need to reach out across the barricades and our ethnic and racial divides – By Kumi Naidoo

The aftermath of looting on Queen Nandi Drive, in Durban on July 14. File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

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By Rohit Rao and Hugh Coppell

There is nothing on this planet more crucial to life than water. It is a fundamental human need necessary for our biological survival. It exists in the bodies of all people, animals, and plants and is a crucial element of almost all the products and services that we rely upon today. If managed sustainably, it also allows us to create thriving economies that generate social and ecological wellbeing for everyone.

Therefore, a Wellbeing Economy must ensure that people have safe and secure water access, and that sustainable water flows are created and maintained.

However, we currently face challenges that we must overcome in order to make this happen. The emphasis on short-term economic and monetary gain over long-term ecological and social wellbeing mean that is difficult to truly define and evaluate the value of water in terms of the holistic benefits it provides. This is compounded by environmental factors such as erratic rainfall patterns brought about by climate change and anthropogenic pollution, poorly designed transnational water legislation and urban water infrastructure, and a narrative that pushes expensive technology at the expense of nature-based solutions.

In our newly launched briefing paper, Water in a Wellbeing Economy, we propose some solutions to these challenges. Using case studies and examples from around the world, we show that, bit by bit, a Wellbeing Economy for water is both desirable and achievable.

The paper builds on the six Principles of Water Ethics set out by Jennings, Heltne, and Kintzele. These are:

  1. Respect for human dignity by providing all people with water, the essence of our basic needs
  2. Equity and proportionality in distribution
  3. Solidarity between various stakeholders
  4. Common good – with rules for governance and management 
  5. Responsible stewardship
  6. Inclusive and deliberative participation of entities 

It focuses on solutions that exist in the areas of good governance; ecosystem services accounting; health and sanitation; agriculture; industry; cities; and individual action.

These areas do not encompass an exhaustive list of solutions. Rather, they provide a starting point as more solutions and areas of focus are emerging every day. We have merely provided a taster of what exists and seek to create the space to facilitate a larger conversation between the general public, policy makers, and researchers towards building a Wellbeing Economy for water.

To find out more about practical steps that are being taken in these areas, and places were bold policies are already making an impact, read the full paper.

If you’re curious to hear firsthand from us, as well as share how your organisation is contributing towards a Wellbeing Economy for water, attend our upcoming event on August 10.

By Isabel Nuesse

Over the last week, massive protests have  broken out in South Africa. It began with calls against the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma. He was sentenced to 15 months of imprisonment for contempt of court after an inquiry looking to a wide-range of allegations of corruption during his 9-year tenure from 2009 to 2018. 

Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering related to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms when he was president. Supporters of Zuma vehemently oppose his imprisonment and have taken to the streets to protest his arrest. However, events have quickly escalated to encapsulate greater issues of poverty and inequality,.  People are frustrated, and demanding government action. 

What is unfolding in South Africa is not unique, however. The ongoing insurgence in Nigeria, the ethnic-based calls for self-determination in Myanmar, the assassination of the state president in Haiti, and recent anti-government strikes in Cuba– social unrest is sparking all over the world.

What’s the root of this?

A call for democracy? Social equity?

I spoke with two WEAll members Xola Keswa and Lebohang Liepollo Pheko about their thoughts and experiences as South Africans during this time. I wanted to understand how this current disruption speaks to the larger picture of social unrest globally.

Xola explained that the uprisings initially began when supporters of former president Zuma began protesting his indictment. But as the citizen action grew, so did the scope of the frustrations. South Africans began to speak to issues stemming from COVID-19 restrictions, vaccination roll out, foreign investment deals, healthcare access, food shortages and general economic insecurity. 

As it stands, more than half of the South African population lives in poverty. Unemployment is more than 32%– and South Africa holds the classification of being the most unequal country in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 63. As Liepollo said: “The dye and stitching branding South Africa as a rainbow nation is coming apart.” She adds: “This is about the crisis within the crisis.”

On the ground, people are desperate. Xola shared the urgency of what he’s seeing: 

“What’s happening in South Africa is becoming a free for all. People are looting because they don’t know when they’re going to get their next meal. They were already hungry.” 

“Once the food they looted is out, it won’t be replaced again.” 

The chaos is resurfacing the undertones of apartheid. Since Nelson Mandela was elected in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) has remained in power. However, while in power, their policies have not really dismantled the oppressive economic structures of apartheid. “The ANC has a lot to answer for. There is always room to renegotiate. Always room to say no,” Liepollo said. The theory stands that if you have enough foreign direct investment, control currencies and interest rates, and do the things meant to constrict state involvement in the economy, the market will function and redistribute the wealth itself. However, these  things are not true. Yet transnational corporations and subscription to the ‘trickle down theory’ is still pervasive in South African politics. Liepollo urges the government to stop accepting this as the status  quo. When these deals continue to perpetuate inequality in South Africa it leaves a total lack of accountability and erodes the faith in South African democracy.

As a result, people are taking to the streets. They feel that the ANC has not adequately delivered on the promises that they’ve made over the last 24 years. South Africans are tired. 

And as Liepollo mentioned: “There is a much deeper narrative with how states behave when they are deemed to have power over people. While South Africa is run by African people, there is an inherent radicalized disdain for black bodies.”

Which further perpetuates the historical context of racism and white power in South Africa.

 “Race is the red herring,” Liepollo said,  “We need to stop treating this as a civil rights issue. It diminishes the toxicity of white supremacy. It’s been 350 years of white supremacy. It’s ongoing.” People are looking for accountability and support from the government in South Africa, but little action has been shown.

How and why is this relevant for wherever you are in the world?

Social unrest is bubbling up in many places around the world. Power dynamics are shifting. Brexit illustrates this change. Trump’s presidency also illustrates this change. Western centralized power is weakening. The unrest in South Africa isn’t unrelated to what played out  in the United States last year following the death of George Floyd.

From the convoluted language defining ‘protests’ vs. ‘riots’ to the excessive force of military intervention, parallels can be made. Liepollo pointed out: “It’s regrettable and reprehensible that more people in the US aren’t making these connections. There are many more links to be made.”

Xola stressed: “We need to become real. The situation is real. Right now the eyes are on South Africa, but just a couple of months ago we were looking at Israel.” He continues: “We need to act as if the world is collapsing, even if it’s peaceful where you are. Act as if we’re in a state of emergency because the problem isn’t what we think it is.”

Until there are major shifts in power, resources, and land, social upheaval will continue to take place. Until the world begins to make links between economic success and social and emotional wellbeing, this will continue to happen. These things can no longer be divorced from one another. As Liepollo warns: “We have to be very careful – particularly the global north. These sorts of insurrections and fault lines will continue to manifest.”

Join the WEAll community –become a WEAll Member & join our WEAll Citizens Platform.

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

I made millions betting against trickle-down economics – now I’m tackling wealth inequality – Gary Stevenson

“All of these problems can be resolved, and both the economy and collective wellbeing can be improved enormously, if we only start treating wealth inequality as a serious issue and policy goal”

Bulgaria’s Future History Textbook

The circular economy as a de-risking strategy and driver of superior risk-adjusted returns – Ellen MacArthur Foundation

“This white paper demonstrates, with new Bocconi University analysis, that circular economy strategies can curb investment risk and drive superior risk-adjusted returns.”

Measuring Narrative Change: Understanding Progress and Navigating Complexity

Better understanding and measuring progress is an important part of strengthening narrative change strategies. This brief offers insights into some of the questions facing practitioners, funders, and others interested in measuring this kind of work.

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By Chrissi Albus, WEAll Youth

Clean drinking water makes a difference between life and death. 

According to the United Nations, up to 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe, clean, and controlled drinking water. (2) Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General said, Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right. Contaminated water jeopardises both the physical and social health of all people. It is an affront to human dignity.” 

Article 25 of the Human Rights Convention, the right to wellbeing, states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families. Clean drinking water is an absolute necessity for that. Therefore, one essential goal of our society must be to ensure the availability of safe drinking water for everybody. However, “in some countries, there is a 61% financing gap to achieve the UN’s water and sanitation goals”. (2) It is an injustice how access to water is distributed in this world, especially related to the huge consumption of virtual water in many high income countries. Everyone needs access to drinking water for their health and wellbeing. It should not be a game of luck who has water to drink or who can afford it. It is an undisputed part and aim of a Wellbeing Economy to ensure this. This is why it is important to advocate for fair availability of water. 

Inspired and empowered to make a difference

“We believe that the human network is the strongest power in the world in our generation. Networking means telling others about others and others telling others about you”(1). 

To tell a story is probably the most powerful and touching way to communicate. So, I want to tell you the story of Prof. Askwar Hilonga and the Gongali Model Inspire and Empowering Center.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pasted-image-0.png
Glory Mushi at work in the Kilala waterstation.

“I remember my father told me that when I drink stagnant water in the valleys (in Swahili, Maji yaliyotwama korongoni au Maji ya Lambo) – which was very dirty – I should assume, he told me, that it is “a tea with milk” (chai ya maziwa)”(1), says Prof. Hilonga.

The region around Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro, where the Gongali Model Inspire and Empower Center is located, has an exceptionally high fluoride concentration in drinking water. This can cause fluorosis, a disease in which the joints stiffen and tooth enamel degrades due to excessive intake of fluoride. But even better-known diseases such as typhoid fever are still diseases today that arise because of dirty drinking water.

Prof. Hilonga grew up in a small village, Gongali, near Lake Manyara in North Tanzania. He himself struggled with several diseases, mainly related to dirty water. With the support of his local church community, he was able to attend university and later, went to South Korea to do his PhD in Chemical Engineering… He is always asking: “What does my PhD mean to my community in Tanzania?”. He wanted to give something back. Prof. Hilonga designed a new solution to ensure getting safe drinking water as a common good for everyone. He is the creator and founder of Nanofilter TM, a water filter using nanotechnology that provides safe and clean drinking water, in Swahili “Maji Safi na Salama”! It removes 99.999 % of impurities (bacteria, heavy metals, various pollutants) from the water. The filter is customised to the local environment issues.

Nevertheless, the water filter alone was not the goal. He established the Gongali Model Co. Ltd company for innovative activities to empower and IMPACT people’s lives. He wants to inspire youth to develop innovative and sustainable business ventures and initiatives that empower their community and to answer the question of what is really needed.  The Gongali Model was actually designed to be a model as a movement for Sustainable Transformational Development, as a concept for a new – wellbeing – economic system accessible for everyone. By October 2020, the Nanofilter project has created 127 jobs for young women in water stations, which are placed all over Arusha as well as in Kenya and Zambia. For many young women it is a way to earn an independent income and become more confident. This is contributing to one of the great wellbeing goals of equalising the gender gap by making sure women take part in economic life.  In these water stations, filtered water is sold in refillable bottles at a low price. Thus should also allow the poorest members of the community to access safe and clean drinking water.

A nanofilter for households

The Gongali Model company (https://gongalimodel.com), is launching the #Thirst for life project starting on 22nd July. #Thirst for Life wants to build 1000 Nanofilter water stations throughout Africa, from Alexandria in Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa. The aim is to provide access to clean water to as many people as possible. The project is delivered in partnership with Veronique Bourbeau, who will do a Solo-Run 13,000 km, from the north of Africa to the south to raise awareness to provide safe drinking water for all people. Veronique says: 

“If your why is strong enough, then you can run for a long way.” 

To be inspired and empowered are two of the most important goals of Prof. Hilonga and his wife and business partner Ruth Elineema Lukwaro, from Arusha, Tanzania.He wants to engage the youth to stand up and participate in their local communities, to create new solutions for societal issues . He and his wife Madame Ruth want to touch people’s lives to make a change. Their knowledge and story exemplify a societal vision or further economic changes for wellbeing for all. 

His book “The story of a journey of an African Innovator – From Gongali Village to London & BEYOND” describes his journey. Further information about the projects can be found on the Gongali Model website.

  1. Prof. Askwar Hilonga. 2020. “The story of a journey of an African Innovator – From Gongali Village to London & BEYOND”
  2. United Nations. 2020. Goals – 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

About the author: “My name is Chrissi Albus. I am WEAll Youth member based in Lund, a small town in the south of Sweden. In my opinion, it is very important to be motivated  to create something great or to participate in a movement you believe in.  And that is why I would like to tell you the story of Prof. Askwar Hilonga. He and his wife were my bosses when I worked in their company Gongali Model in Arusha. They inspired me to get engaged with their project, and showed me that motivation and inspiration is the foundation for every project I will get involved in.”

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.

Join the WEAll community –become a WEAll Member & join our WEAll Citizens Platform.

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Going Public: Iceland’s Journey to a Shorter Working Week

“Recognition of the coming impact of automation and technological change on our working lives, alongside a burgeoning desire to spend less time tied up in work has put a reduction in working hours firmly on the policy-making table”

State of the World’s Fathers 2021: Structural Solutions to Achieve Equality in Care Work

“While data show that men are participating more in care work during the pandemic, data also show that the world is a long way off from achieving full equality in care work.”

Shifting Power and Capital in Real Estate Finance – Inclusive Capital Collective

“Real estate is the largest source of asset-based wealth and opportunity for American families, and yet Black and other communities of color are systematically marginalized in renting, owning, and financing real estate.”

Fairness and Opportunity: A people-powered plan for the green transition – IPRR

“The commission argues that no plan for addressing the climate and nature crises should be prepared without public involvement; new national and local citizens’ assemblies should be established and communities should have a greater say in how local budgets are spent.”

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Written by: Isabel Nuesse

The dogma of our current economy has seeped all across our world- even in the smallest of spaces. 

Living in Nairobi, the extent of this dogma cannot be ignored. It glares every worker in the face on a daily basis. 

For example, the security guard business is one of the largest employers in Kenya. Known as Ascaris – originally derived from the word ‘soldier’ – they typically work 12-hour shifts, 7-days a week, with 4 days off a month. The actual work they do consists of opening and closing gates and ‘guarding’ the property. Nearly every building, mall, home and apartment complex in Nairobi employs at least one ascari full time. With unemployment reaching nearly 30%, these guards are easily replaceable and therefore have little to no say in their working conditions or salaries. 

The typical wage of these guards is $150 a month. This is wholly unlivable in Nairobi. These low wages ensure that the ascaris live in informal housing settlements, with little to no opportunity to ‘move up’ in society. 

One of the ascaris who works in the housing complex where I live, Nellie, is a woman that I’ve befriended over the last few months. 

She invited me to her home in Kibera – one of the largest informal housing settlements in Nairobi-  one Sunday for chai. (For context, I speak Swahili and therefore am able to communicate quite easily with Nellie). She welcomed me to her single room home – housing Nellie and her four kids – and we spoke about her dreams and opportunities in life. 

Essentially, Nellie is stuck. She wakes up at 4:30am each day, walks 1.5 hours to work (because spending $0.20/ride on transit each way adds up), works 6:30am to 6:30pm, walks home- arrives at 8:00pm, cooks a quick dinner for her children and heads to sleep to do the entire routine again the following day. 

She has no life. She works. 

This is typical for many Kenyans living in Nairobi. It’s so common to work in this way it’s common for people to reference their ‘hustle’– or second job. People have single or multiple ‘side hustles’ to supplement their incomes as the city is expensive and one job is not enough. 

On one hand, this makes this city incredibly vibrant. Never have I lived somewhere where innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity are so alive. The city is truly booming. On the flip side, it creates a culture of constant work, where value is heavily placed on how busy you are. Threading through this culture is the mantra that wealth is king. 

This brings me back to Nellie and my visit to her home. Nellie, her neighbour and I were speaking of life, making ends meet and the challenges of the present day economy. I noticed that inserted into their Swahili, they started to speak of the need for ‘capital’ – not money, capital. This is the jargon, the language and narrative that is eroding its way into Kibera. The residents are taught the value of having capital – to start their enterprise – to send their kids to school, to make ends meet.  

It was this moment where I felt the pervasiveness of the economic system. Nellie and her neighbour(s) are essentially slaves to a system that entraps them. Their entire lifestyle is centered around work – in upholding the system of extraction. It’s now seeped into their language and the way they express themselves. Using the jargon of the system, to make them believe that is the solution out of the system. “If only I had access to capital.” 

While there is nothing I can do to change the ascari system in Kenya, getting to know Nellie has reaffirmed for me the desperate need for an alternative economic system. This is most urgent in spaces where the dominant extractive system is beginning to wrap its cold hands around the population.

Maybe one day we can envisage a world where the ascari system in Kenya is run on a cooperative model – where the workers make their hours. Or maybe the security guard business becomes obsolete? Maybe the word capital is replaced by words of abundance and opportunity? 

It certainly makes me feel powerless – and pushes me to continue to fight for an economic model for those that don’t have the agency to do so. 

Around the world, there are a plethora of activities that blend environmental benefits with health benefits. This co-beneficial approach is outlined in our recently published paper, 5 Pathways to Health and Environment in a Wellbeing Economy

The paper showcases a number of these case studies that marry these two ideas – proving that we don’t have to choose between just focusing on environmental benefits or only focusing on health benefits. ather, there are ways in which we can develop policies that support both of these objectives simultaneously. 

On June 28th, WEAll hosted with the authors of this paper, a panel that brought together speakers from around the world implementing these practices in their local communities. 

The case studies show that multiple objectives can be achieved if thought of holistically. Social cooperation, food security, health, climate change – all of these can be tackled simultaneously to build a Wellbeing Economy. 

The first case study was Emma Whitman from Moo Foods. Based in the Scottish Highlands, Moo Food works to build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge and confidence. 

“Everything we do at MOO Food is based on these three words; Growing Our Future.”

Emma Whitman

They do this by supporting a multitude of agriculture projects in their community. From planting orchards to building growing spaces, to instigating school partnerships, Moo Foods reaches a  wide range of the community –  all centering around food security. This method of practice centers food security while also strengthening  community. 

The webinar then learns from Piedad Viteri from Johannes Kepler school in Ecuador. This school integrates regenerative design into all aspects of their curriculum. They’ve taken the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the framework to further develop their strategy. They even went as far to declare their school as an ‘SDG Territory’. 

“We have to get together, in order to change things, in order to also regenerate.”

Piedad Viteri

One of the highlights of their program was the decision to move all the classrooms outside. This furthered the education of the students at their school to not only understand the core pieces of their curriculum, but also foster a deeper connection to the earth and to each other. 

Lastly, the webinar introduced Zeenath Hasan who works at Rude Foods in Malmo, Sweden. In Sweden there is an activist culture around food rescue. Rude Foods saw this and thought they could make food rescue a part of the mainstream. 

“Most of the economic activities that are hidden, is mainly what makes up the economy.”

Zeenath Hasan

With this in mind, they’ve built a strategy to rescue food and resell it to the community. This practice they refer to  as a ‘food rescuing catering service’. In this practice, they’re able to reduce food waste and blur the lines between the eater as an activist or the activist as someone who is food insecure. 

These case studies show the creativity involved to develop co-beneficial approaches to achieving both health and environment objectives. If you’re curious to learn more, please read the paper here.

Written by Isabel Nuesse

By Gary Stevenson

In 2008, I started a job predicting interest rates and the strength of the world’s largest economies.  In the thirteen years since then, financial markets, economists, and global central banks, predicted a recovery for both interest rates and the economy in every single year from 2009 to 2020.

Despite these twelve consecutive years of predicted recovery, now, in 2021, interest rates all over the world, much like the global economy, remain at emergency levels.  This was true even before the onset of the Covid-19 economic crisis.

So why have economic forecasts, as well as the recovery of economies, been so disappointing since the 2008 crisis?  I have devoted the last twelve years of my life to figuring this out.

The logic behind these optimistic predictions has been as follows:

The economic collapse of 2008, as well as the prolonged “Great Recession” that has followed it, were both what economists would call “demand crises”.  That means that, at their core, they are caused by society, as a whole, not spending enough money.  When people don’t spend enough money, businesses can’t sell their products, and they respond by closing down, shrinking, or stopping hiring.  That pushes up unemployment and pushes down wages, leaving people with even less money to spend, making the problem worse.

Modern economics is well familiar with this kind of problem, and has two broad solutions which can be used.  The first, often referred to as “fiscal stimulus”, refers to the government boosting spending and employment directly, either by giving money to people, or large scale spending and investment projects.  The second, often called “monetary policy”, refers to making large amounts of low interest rate loans, via the banking system, in the hope that companies and individuals will use the cheap loans to increase their own spending and investment.

After the 2008 crisis, at first, both of these policies were used in large amounts.  Soon afterwards, however, with the election of an austerity-focused government in the UK, and the emergence of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, direct spending from many governments was cut back, and “monetary policy” was left to take centre stage, with increasingly larger and larger amounts of money lent, rather than spent, into the economy via the financial system.

Despite cutbacks in government spending across the world, financial markets, central bankers and economists continued to predict that these aggressive “monetary policy” interventions, such as zero or even negative interest rates, and “quantitative easing” would be enough to kick start the economy.  The fact that these supposedly temporary measures are still in place today, shows that they were wrong.

So why didn’t this policy work, and why were economists still predicting a recovery as recently as early 2020, before the Covid crisis hit?

These were the questions about which I obsessed in 2010 and 2011.

At that time, I was an interest rates trader at Citibank in London.  My job was to predict when interest rates would recover, and I had witnessed markets incorrectly predict a recovery for the previous three years.  I was also, at that time, still living in my family home, a small terraced house squeezed in between a railway track and a disused factory in Ilford, East London.

I had studied Economics at the London School of Economics, and I knew that economic theory suggested that the huge amount of cheap loans being lent out by the Bank of England should stimulate the economy.  But I could not see any trace of a meaningful effect on the people who grew up with me in this working-class corner of East London.

At the same time, I was working on an enormous trading floor, in a glittering skyscraper in Canary Wharf.  I was immersed in financial markets, which had been rocketing despite the despondent economy, and was working shoulder to shoulder with millionaires, who got richer each day that financial markets rose.

It started to become apparent to me that “monetary policy” had an achilles heel.  No matter how much money global central banks poured into the economy, cheap loans were only available to the rich.  Not only that, but the rich were not spending the money – they were using it to buy assets, such as stocks and property, which did nothing to boost the economy.  Inequality was the missing link.  Unless the money was channeled to ordinary and poorer working families, rather than just the wealthy, it would never boost the economy, only asset prices.

My conclusion from this was inescapable, but depressing – since inequality was at the heart of the crisis, but was not being addressed, the economic crisis would be interminable: wages would stay low forever, and new money would constantly be pushed, via wealthier individuals, into stock and house prices.  The economy would never get a boost.  Upon realising this, in 2011, I started to bet that there would be no end to the economic recession.  By the end of that year, I was Citibank’s most profitable trader in the world.

This is a bleak economic forecast, and I believe it is true.  But it also provides profound opportunity for improvement and change.  Our current tools have not been working to boost the economy, but that is only because we have been failing to address this key issue.  Richer people tend to save their money, whereas ordinary working families spend almost everything they make.  When too much wealth accumulates in the hands of very wealthy families, it causes problems of underspending in society, and oversaving, pushing down wages and interest rate and crushing the economy, whilst simultaneously making housing unaffordable and pushing stock markets up.  All of these problems can be resolved, and both the economy and collective wellbeing can be improved enormously, if we only start treating wealth inequality as a serious issue and policy goal.

I have personally made millions by betting that failing to tackle wealth inequality will keep our economy in a slump forever.  I firmly believe that wealth, well paid work, and good quality, secure housing could be a realistic possibility for all if we deal with wealth inequality as a society.

The only realistic path to reduced wealth inequality is a serious change to the way that we tax the super rich.  Reducing wealth inequality is not about increasing tax on hard working, well paid workers and professionals.  These people may be relatively high income, but they generally do not hold huge amounts of wealth.  Billionaires and multi-millionaires, increasingly sitting on large amounts of inherited, family wealth, do not earn their incomes from working and, as a result, do not pay income taxes.  Instead, they pay other, lower taxes, which are often completely avoidable.  If we allow this situation to continue, it is inevitable that wealth inequality will increase, and our economic and societal problems will get worse.  We must amend the tax system so that the richest pay higher rates of tax than the rest of us, not lower rates than their cleaners, as they often do now.

It will not be an easy task, undoubtedly.  The super rich have the best tax lawyers and often the ability to amplify their voice in the media. They will proclaim that leaving them untaxed is essential for the economy.  I have made a career and a fortune by betting that isn’t true.

If you want to know more about the damage that wealth inequality does to our economy and society, please feel free to watch and share my videos on Youtube, or to read the full theory on my website.

A prosperous, dignified future can be available to all of us.  But only if we fix wealth inequality.

Photo by Simran Singh Mohan

Join the WEAll community –become a WEAll Member & join our WEAll Citizens Platform.

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Pathways to good work: toolkit for community organisations

“Work that is decent and fair is crucial to creating a motivated and skilled workforce that is empowered to deliver high quality services and to innovate.”

A New Economics to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals – by Marcello Hernández-Blanco  and Robert Costanza

“The Anthropocene” has been proposed as the new geological epoch in which we now live. We have left behind the Holocene, an epoch of stable climate conditions that permitted the development of human civilization.”

Open Letter: A Strong EU Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy

“This July, we therefore expect to see the European Commission’s Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy
propose strong instruments and laws to achieve the necessary change”

European Commission: Economic Policy-Making Beyond GDP: An Introduction

“Although GDP remains central to much of the European Commission’s economic analysis and communication, several steps have been taken over the last decade to acknowledge the ‘beyond GDP’ agenda and lay the groundwork for the collection and publication of new data on relevant variables that are not captured by GDP alone”

Silver-Spoon Oligarchs – Inequality.org

“There are several reasons we should be concerned about the formation of inherited wealth dynasties and the larger hidden wealth-preservation system that makes them possible”

Socio-economic conditions for satisfying human needs at low energy use: An international analysis of social provisioning. – Jefim Vogel, Julia K.Steinberger, Daniel W. O’Neill, William F. Lamb, Jaya Krishnakumar

“Here, we assess which socio-economic conditions might enable societies to satisfy human needs at low energy use, to reconcile human well-being with climate mitigation.”

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Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is recruiting a Policy and Engagement Lead and a Communications Lead!

Closing date: 23:00 on 1st August 2021

Interviews: First interviews w/c 9th August 2021, second interviews w/c 16th August 2021

WEAll Scotland is looking for two new people.  The first is a Policy and Engagement Lead who will play a key role in influencing across parliament, local government and business audiences.  They will coordinate and support our Allies to promote Wellbeing Economy messages to various levels of government and other policy audiences.  They will represent the network externally with key stakeholders from business, government and civil society. They will present at events and will also support key voices from within the core team and network to be heard at external events.   They will also support evaluation and monitoring across the organisation, and will create useful summaries of the impact of work which is in support of a Wellbeing Economy, enabling Allies to contextualise this for their specific work.  

The second is a Communications Lead.  This role is responsible for the internal and external communications for WEAll Scotland.   They will represent the network externally with key stakeholders from business, government and civil society.  They will be responsible for creating an external communications strategy and delivering this for the Allies programme.  They will also be responsible for creating and delivering on an internal communications strategy, ensuring high quality communications across the Board, the Core Team, Associates and volunteers, who collaborate to support both practical and policy changes. They will build relationships with key journalists across Scotland which will maximise the profile of our work.  They will create content for external events and the media, by working with the Core Team, Associates and volunteers, as well as designing and hosting events, seminars and press conferences.  They will also manage our social media channels and support the redevelopment of the WEAll Scotland section of the wider global WEAll website.

How to Apply

If either of these roles sound like you, please download the application pack and application form for the Policy and Engagement Lead role here, and the Communications Lead role here. The closing date is 23:00 on 1st August 2021.

We acknowledge that people from a number of communities are underrepresented in our team and 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. 

If you have any questions or if you feel you could succeed in this role but don’t have all the characteristics we’re looking for, please get in touch with Jimmy Paul, WEAll Scotland Director, on jimmy@scotland.weall.org.

Join the WEAll community –become a WEAll Member & join our WEAll Citizens Platform.

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

An EU renewed sustainable finance strategy– Open Letter from Change Finance

“Financial flows must be diverted from unsustainable to sustainable activities and that investments in fossil fuel production and infrastructure must be halted immediately. It is also quite clear that this must be done at a rapid pace”

Silver-spoon oligarchs: how America’s 50 largest inherited wealth dynasties accelerate inequality– Report from inequality.org

“The U.S. continues to suffer from the extreme and growing wealth and power of inherited-wealth family dynasties – and the growth of their extreme wealth accelerated during the pandemic”

What we learned at the Stories for Life Virtual Gathering – Green Economy Coalition

“What do stories and story-telling have to do with the daunting challenges we face in the coming century? Turns out, quite a lot.”

IUTC Global Rights Index 2021

European Commission report on alternative indicators to GDP

Job Openings & Opportunities

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Join the WEAll community –become a WEAll Member & join our WEAll Citizens Platform.

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Open-source archive of The Leap’s operational policies and guidelines

“This page archives the policies and guidelines we created, as we struggled to build a workplace rooted in revolutionary values”

Sustainable Corporate Governance– NGO Policy Briefing

“This paper focuses on presenting recommendations on elements of sustainable corporate governance that clarify the specific responsibilities of the board to oversee sustainability but do not further address broader aspects of corporate governance”

The Senses Toolkit – Making sense of climate change scenarios for activists

“These modules help you understand and communicate climate change scenarios.

Intentional Communities and Covid– Foundation for Intentional Community

“A study of how intentional communities have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021”

Why the good society needs a wellbeing economy

“Masawa recently joined Wellbeing Economy Alliance with the goal of helping to make the shift to an economic paradigm that puts health, wellbeing, and participation at the forefront.”

Launch of Feminist Pocketbook for Human Rights Defenders

“The pocketbook is a result of years of collaboration with partner organisations in Africa and around the world and aims to give the readers hands-on tools and a resource that will help them reflect upon and adopt feminist principles and practices in their human rights work.”

What we learned at the Stories for Life Virtual Gathering – Green Economy Coalition

“What do stories and story-telling have to do with the daunting challenges we face in the coming century? Turns out, quite a lot.”

10 Real-life Prototypes for a Common Good Economy

Our new publication shows 10 international prototypes that illustrate how transformative change can happen on different levels:”

Guest column: Time for Canadians to redefine economic success

“What if we set our gaze on building an economy that delivered for more people, did so on a healthy planet and measured it all in a way that actually means something to people?”

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Canada gains new momentum toward a wellbeing economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In May, WEAll launched a policy paper titled, “5 Pathways toward Health-Environment Policy in a Wellbeing Economy” which outlines transformational approaches in five policy areas that can offer a co-benefit – both to the environment and to human health. These five areas are Energy, Food, Healthcare, Education and Social Cooperation. 

On June 8, the authors of the paper, Éloi Laurent, Fabio Battaglia, Alessandro Galli, Giorgia Dalla Libera Marchiori and Raluca Munteanu hosted an event to showcase the paper and open a conversation with Lorenzo Fioramonti who is the former Italian Minister of Education, University and Research. 

Over the hour-long discussion, the authors and Lorenzo discussed the practical implementation of these co-beneficial policies. 

Lorenzo, as a former politician himself, gave quite a lot of insight into what is needed for policymakers to design, advocate and implement these kinds of co-beneficial policies. 

“Policymakers need catchy titles – they don’t have time to study” he says, “[the concepts] have to be easily understood and put in language that can be reused.” 

He then goes on to address the framing of a Wellbeing Economy: “The economy we’re talking about is an expansive economy. It’s not an economy that gives up, but an economy that gains.”

When he speaks about advocating for an alternative economic system, he encourages us by saying, “Your message needs to be positive, forward looking. This is very important.”

Lorenzo touched on the framing that policy-makers often use, with the WEAllpaper going against the cost-benefit  approach that is typically undertaken. Instead of seeing through a lens where you’re giving up something to gain something else, there is an alternative way. This is the concept of the co-beneficial approach. The authors of the paper remind us that we don’t have to choose between human health and the environment, rather, we can build policies  that are co-beneficial to both objectives. To make this point heard, Lorenzo says, “it’s not a battle between more or less, it’s a battle for better.”

This quick recap only touches the surface of the discussion. If you’re interested in learning more, watch the full webinar here:

Next Monday June 28, WEAll is hosting another event with the authors that also features individuals from the case studies in the paper. We’ll showcase three of the case studies in the session which will unpack how they are able to reach these co-benefits in their work locally. 

Find more information and register for the next event here 

Join the WEAll community –become a WEAll Member & join our WEAll Citizens Platform.

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Why the good society needs a wellbeing economy

“Masawa recently joined Wellbeing Economy Alliance with the goal of helping to make the shift to an economic paradigm that puts health, wellbeing, and participation at the forefront.”

Launch of Feminist Pocketbook for Human Rights Defenders

“The pocketbook is a result of years of collaboration with partner organisations in Africa and around the world and aims to give the readers hands-on tools and a resource that will help them reflect upon and adopt feminist principles and practices in their human rights work.”

What we learned at the Stories for Life Virtual Gathering – Green Economy Coalition

“What do stories and story-telling have to do with the daunting challenges we face in the coming century? Turns out, quite a lot.”

10 Real-life Prototypes for a Common Good Economy

Our new publication shows 10 international prototypes that illustrate how transformative change can happen on different levels:”

Guest column: Time for Canadians to redefine economic success

“What if we set our gaze on building an economy that delivered for more people, did so on a healthy planet and measured it all in a way that actually means something to people?”

Pay Equity Analysis Is a Critical Step to Advancing Racial Equity in Corporate America

“Corporate America has an opportunity and a responsibility to end these inequitable cycles. It begins with performing an audit to identify where racial wage gaps exist, then being transparent to help drive accountability, and finally doing the work to close the gaps”

Half-Earth or Whole-Earth? Green or transformative recovery? Where are the voices from the Global South?

“To succeed we need the Global North to shed its remnant colonialism and to acknowledge the central role of the Global South, both in the specific arena of conservation and in the wider paradigms of planetary wellbeing”

Climate Litigation as Climate Activism: What Works?

“In this briefing we examine this wave of post-Paris legal mobilisation. We discuss the who, why, how and what for, of this new wave of activity that has not been quietened by increased multilevel commitments to take steps to manage the climate crisis.”

Job Openings & Opportunities

What to Watch

Listen Up

Upcoming Events

WEAll Originals  

Blogs:

Publications:

From the Archives

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As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

What we learned at the Stories for Life Virtual Gathering – Green Economy Coalition

“What do stories and story-telling have to do with the daunting challenges we face in the coming century? Turns out, quite a lot.”

10 Real-life Prototypes for a Common Good Economy

Our new publication shows 10 international prototypes that illustrate how transformative change can happen on different levels:”

Guest column: Time for Canadians to redefine economic success

“What if we set our gaze on building an economy that delivered for more people, did so on a healthy planet and measured it all in a way that actually means something to people?”

Pay Equity Analysis Is a Critical Step to Advancing Racial Equity in Corporate America

“Corporate America has an opportunity and a responsibility to end these inequitable cycles. It begins with performing an audit to identify where racial wage gaps exist, then being transparent to help drive accountability, and finally doing the work to close the gaps”

Half-Earth or Whole-Earth? Green or transformative recovery? Where are the voices from the Global South?

“To succeed we need the Global North to shed its remnant colonialism and to acknowledge the central role of the Global South, both in the specific arena of conservation and in the wider paradigms of planetary wellbeing”

Climate Litigation as Climate Activism: What Works?

“In this briefing we examine this wave of post-Paris legal mobilisation. We discuss the who, why, how and what for, of this new wave of activity that has not been quietened by increased multilevel commitments to take steps to manage the climate crisis.”

Five key dimensions of post-growth business: Putting the pieces together – Jennifer Hinton

“The intention of developing this five-dimensions framework is to offer a more coherent and concrete theoretical basis for ongoing discussions about which types of business are compatible, or incompatible, with post-growth pathways.”

Can we legitimately say something? – Rabia Abrar

“Since my day job revolves around promoting the creation of a Wellbeing Economy, I could legitimately say something about this situation [events in the Occupied Palestinian Territories] if I can show how it is relevant to that. Let’s see…”

The Importance of Resource Security for Poverty Eradication – Global Footprint Network

“72% of the world population live in countries faced with a precarious situation. These countries both (1) run a biological resource deficit (where demand for biological resources exceeds regeneration) and (2) generate less than world-average income, limiting their ability to purchase resources from elsewhere.”

Public Banks and COVID-19

“Five overarching and promising lessons stand out: public banks have the potential to respond rapidly; to fulfill their public purpose mandates; to act boldly; to mobilize their existing institutional capacity; and to build on ‘public-public’ solidarity. In short, public banks are helping us navigate the tidal wave of Covid-19 at the same time as private
lenders are turning away.”

WEAll Publication: Health and the Environment

WEAll Scotland Report: Business and a Wellbeing Economy

How to achieve a ‘health renaissance’ – Social Europe

“First and foremost, recognise the health-environment nexus as the core of planetary health and evolve from cost-benefit analysis to recognition of ‘co-benefits’”

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Simplifying complexity is one of the greatest challenges in understanding the practical implementation of a Wellbeing. Economy. Luckily, there are media producers, such as Broaden who champion the initiative. With their 11-minute video interviewing Simon Mair, an Ecological Economist, the video simplifies the complex nature of discussing the topic of economic systems change.

On June 2, WEAll hosted a Q&A discussion with Broaden (Bryony Simcox & George Webster), Simon Mair and Lukas Hardt around ecological economics, narratives, and the Wellbeing Economy.

The hour-long webinar first premiered the video with the audience, then opened the conversation up for discussion. You can watch the recording here:

One question that erose during the conversation was “How do you make a living in a way that embodies your ideals if they conflict with the dominant system?” Simon spoke of the power of the current economy in that it forces each of us to choose between meeting our basic needs – i.e. participating in the system – or choosing to make decisions that are more in line with our  values.  Noting the success of the current system to nearly  require us to participate in it. 

He carries on to say, “find a way to participate in the market, but find a way to do it to engage with the things that shift the balance of power within a workplace or a community.”

Bryony adds, “models and frameworks help us but we don’t have to adopt a single one. We are working toward the same goals with a slightly different framework and a slightly different model. We’re trying to erode the system, as opposed to completely overthrowing it.” 

 Later, Lukas spoke to frameworks and models and added, “There are  lots of different models and we don’t have to choose one. I think it’s very  encouraging  that a diversity of models are being taken up. And hopefully at some point it can lead to change at a higher level.”

This event was a beautiful collaboration of the WEAll Network supporting each others initiatives. If  you’re interested in hosting a session on your work, please reach out to Isabel <isabel@weall.org> to learn more.