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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Matariki everyone – mānawatia a Matariki.

Written by: Sandra Ericson

There seems to be an intellectual allergy to developing policy for the practical knowledge needs of human life. 

Policy sets out goals, missions, objectives, and visions, but policy does not make a life decision for you and me on a Tuesday morning. Personal policy does that, assuming there is one. This difference in scale is why any policymaking process to develop Wellbeing Economy policies should include what it takes to form personal policy amongst citizens. Life today is more urban and risky. Urban life has often prevented people from fulfilling their health and housing needs with its remote extended supply chains and red tape. Given the degree of social failure in cities, neither income nor trust in urban living ensures personal health and safety. For many, the old bandit challenge is an everyday decision, “your money or your life?” See the recent 2022 report from the Edelman Trust Barometer for a shocker about trust.

Government can’t deliver on its own. From past practice, the assumption is that government committees or economists can address the needs of regular people by enlisting local leaders or maybe they survey local groups. These exogenous efforts are limited by default and cause policymakers to ignore the other most effective means of assuring prosperity — universal education. Imagine the degree of health and wellbeing if governments proactively educated their people in personal care and caution. It could prevent social failure (like drug abuse), economic losses (like recessions and depressions), unforeseen natural events (like pandemics), and coming soon to your block, the effects of climate change. If governments enlisted a population of informed and highly-motivated equal partners, skilled in preventing local loss at its core, the gains could assure greater national wellbeing for generations.

When policymakers consider the educational arsenal, the capitalistic mindset interprets ‘education’ to mean income-producing professional education, believing that income will deliver wellbeing. It no longer does. Given the number of current proposals for direct payment, it is clear that some policy wonks believe working, and now even survival itself requires compensation. The hope is that each recipient will gain dignity from spending money (wisely or otherwise) rather than earning money — is that possible? Does money make everything alright? Mark Twain had it right when Pudd’nhead Wilson said, “faith is believing when you know it ain’t so.”

The Past is Prologue.

With a centuries-long history spanning continents and cultures, a better way, called Bildung in Europe and Consumer Science, Life Skills, or Human Ecology in the US, is waiting. It was an avenue abandoned because the ‘invisible hand’ could not assign it financial utility in trendy short-term markets. So, most economists have not supported such wellbeing education, letting governments pay later — well, it is later, and they are paying. Local governments, burdened with rising social and financial problems, micro and macro, face debt and insolvency. 

Note that three of the four Edelman trust recommendations point to an educational approach:

  • Demonstrate tangible progress by showing how the system works.
  • Focus on long-term thinking via solutions.
  • Provide credible information, meaning trustworthy, consistent, and fact-based information. 

And, by the way, full trust is generated if the information is neutral and local. Enter school districts. For national prosperity, wellbeing education policy must be front and center in creating new public/private partnerships. It is how societies combatted poverty before in Europe and the US; now, it is how meta-modernity can be made livable.

This Social Century Requires Social Skills.

At the center of this new policymaking must be life skills, the human life abilities needed every day. It means teaching old favorites like cooking and sewing, how to choose then choosing medical insurance, the cause and effect of climate change, leasing contracts, why children are not mini-adults, depression, label law, sanitation, fiduciaries, and aging bodies. Age-related work through the complete subject list takes 15 years, three hours per week, K-14. The result will be a universal understanding of human needs within 21st C. social and economic systems. Future leaders will have grown up with a realistic definition of economics. Without this empowering education, democracy itself stands a poor chance.

Why does this education work to benefit the whole of governance? Because with every life, human or not, the first and most-demanding need is to serve the body — its needs garner the highest self-interest. Reduction of pain, cooling/heating, hunger, sleep, light, and physical safety rule the self; unmet needs drive the mental fallout from material deprivation, fear, anger, depression, cognitive load, lower bandwidth, and social rebellion. The prolonged lack of physical safety and comfort has caused most revolutions at the population tipping point. Malcolm Gladstone surmises that the tipping point is 13.5%.

You may be thinking, how can an organization, even ‘new’ economists, believe that a single education policy could apply to the cultural contexts of over 150 countries? Answer: start and end with structural human common denominators; they are species constant. They include food, clothing, shelter, safety, finance, aging, child development, climate adaptation, communication, transportation, social interaction, cultural protocol, personal presentation, and professionalism. Along with professional and civic education, courses in these physical and psychosocial subjects are applicable worldwide. Educators in every country can customize lessons to fit resources and social constructs. This kind of personal education generates human globalism before commercial globalism.

Policy designers implementing Wellbeing Economy policies should consider an educational approach for teaching human wellbeing. It is the one area that focuses on an indisputable fact of life: All human beings want to survive and be successful within their culture. Help them do that; teach Human Ecology; make it possible for people to learn about themselves and their own lives. 

*About the author: 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. 

Written by: Lisa Hough-Stewart and Amanda Janoo

One of the statements below comes from our latest briefing paper “This is the moment to go Beyond GDP”; the other was made during the Stockholm+50 conference last week by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres:

“We must place true value on the environment and go beyond Gross Domestic Product as a measure of human progress and well-being. Let us not forget that when we destroy a forest, we are creating GDP. GDP is not a way to measure richness in our current situation in the world. We must shift to a circular and regenerative economy.”

“Current policies prioritise economic growth rather than long-term societal and environmental goals: wellbeing, inclusion and sustainability. 50 years after the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the moment has come to finally go beyond GDP.”

The fact that you can hardly tell who said what is cause for hope – a sign that multilateral organisations are finally listening to and taking steps towards a Wellbeing Economy vision. We have much to celebrate coming out of Stockholm, no doubts about that, but we’d also like to bring some reflections on the hard work that still needs to be done to make Wellbeing Economies a reality, and the mindset shifts that we need to address in order to implement truly upstream solutions.

WEAll at Stockholm+50

The WEAll Amp team saw the Stockholm+50 conference as a critical moment for connecting with members and new audiences, and championing Wellbeing Economy ideas in a space where countries and multilateral organisations were shaping plans for tackling environmental crises. Solutions to the environmental challenges we face will be at best temporary band-aids if we do not urgently address the underlying systemic issues with how our economy works today. 

The two of us (Lisa and Amanda) spent a whole week in Stockholm, making the most of the opportunity to connect with people, deepen our relationships and participate in key spaces to present a Wellbeing Economy approach to climate change. Here’s what our week looked like:

WELLBEING ECONOMY SIDE EVENT: We promoted an official side event, “Wellbeing Economies: a new economic approach for human and planetary health,” as part of the Stockholm+50 programme, organised by WEAll, WWF, EEB, SSNC and Club of Rome. The side event was at full capacity and the audience was inspired by remarks from Sophie Howe (Welsh Future Generations Commissioner), Virginijus Sinkevičius (European Commissioner), Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor (Kingdom of Bhutan) and Minister Terhi Lehtonen (Finland), as well as civil society leaders. You can watch the recording and see the official outcomes of the side event here.

PEOPLE’S FORUM: We ran a session at the People’s Forum ahead of the conference, collaborating with Scenario 2030, which featured Amanda in conversation with the brilliant Jennifer Hinton  – check out her pioneering work on Not-For-Profit economic models here. This event was a chance to connect with activists and changemakers, mostly local to Stockholm, and as a result of our conversations there we’re exploring the potential to establish a WEAll Sweden hub.

WEAll MEET & GREET: We hosted an informal gathering for WEAll members and partners. As ever, it was energising to be together in person, making new connections and deepening existing relationships. We’re so grateful to the 25 or so people who came along and made this evening feel special. We hope you found it as useful and inspiring as we did.

LAUNCH OF NATURE POSITIVE ECONOMY ROADMAP: We attended the launch of WWF and UNEP’s Nature Positive Economy Roadmap, which we’ve been helping to shape as a civil society partner. It’s encouraging to see governments, including Nigeria, Finland, Costa Rica and Spain, engaging with this process and we’re excited to continue supporting its development.

Personal Reflections


I’m still buzzing from the great conversations we had in Stockholm – too many to count. We discussed the Wellbeing Economy with government representatives, activists, WEAll members and more. Everywhere, there was excitement and curiosity about the need for economic system transformation. I expected we were going to have to push this agenda into what was essentially a space about the environment, but, instead, it really felt like the Wellbeing Economy agenda was already at the heart of Stockholm+50 and we were a key part of it. The Secretary General’s statement and the official outcomes of the conference are testament to this.

Having spent time with Sophie Howe and her team from the Future Generations Commission, I’m even more convinced that the Welsh Wellbeing of Future Generations Act offers one of the most tangible and compelling routes to transformative change. It was encouraging to see other governments’ and multilateral institutions’ interest in learning from Wales  – and I am excited for my home country of Scotland to set up its own Commission soon, which the government has already committed to.

The experience of planning for and participating in Stockholm was one of truly effective collaboration. I’m feeling grateful for the WEAll members and coalition partners that worked with us – galvanising action together around this key moment has made us feel even more like a team. The energy and talent of the people working to build a Wellbeing Economy gives me renewed hope that we’ll get there.


There is so much about the Stockholm +50 conference that left me hopeful and convinced of the incredible momentum of the Wellbeing Economy movement. The call for economic systems change could be felt in nearly every discussion and the once fringe idea of moving  “beyond GDP” felt nearly mainstream. 

All in all, the Stockholm+50 conference was a huge accomplishment for our movement and a testament to incredible work being done all over the world to raise awareness of the need for economic systems change if we are to save our planet and our species. 

However, throughout the discussions, I could not help but feel that the economic logic that got us here in the first place is still predominantly guiding our solutions. 

The recognition that we must value nature led quickly to the solution of appropriately pricing nature. As most proposals go, in order to recognize that “nature is not free” we must monetize it and find market based solutions to healing, protecting and revitalising our natural world. 

This question of how to appropriately “value” nature has been around since the inception of classical economics, with Adam Smith pondering the “water-diamond paradox”. Why is water, the source of all life, worth nothing? When Diamonds, which have little functional value, are worth so much? Questions of “value” are at the heart of economics but have long been lost from the discipline, because to understand “value” we must explore underlying “values” and such ethical discussions are viewed as beyond the remit of our modern pseudo-science. 

In a world that is relentlessly exploiting and destroying plants, animals and minerals, I can understand why it feels so urgent to appropriately account for our “externalities”, but I keep coming back to this quote by E.F Shuchmacher: 

“In “the Market’ everything is equated with everything else. To equate things means to give them a price and thus to make them exchangeable. To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price”.

Our current economic system is a product of centuries of colonialism that treated people and planet as commodities to be owned, sold and disposed of, and that ignores the things that matter most for our wellbeing–the incredible interplay between humans and nature and the sacred, free ways we produce and provide for one another.

Think about the gift of water or the shade from a tree. The smile from a stranger or the care of a loved one when we are sick. How, and why, would be put a price tag on that which is given freely? 

Perhaps, given the urgency of the environmental crises, pricing nature would at least be a step in the right direction. A way to slow down the relentless degradation. But I wonder what logic and values would determine the prices we put on nature’s gifts. Would diamonds continue to be “worth” far more than water in this new logic?

These are some open questions that stuck with me after Stockholm +50, and questions to which I know we can together find answers to. The incredible thing about working for WEAll is that I’m always more likely to find tons of people pondering the same things than not. 

While at Stockholm, I happened to eavesdrop on a conversation about a sharing economy campaign that then led to a proposed collaboration to amplify examples, predominantly from the Majority World, of ways in which communities are actively decommodifying aspects of life. I had an opportunity to sit for hours under a bridge with one of our members and discuss the idea of the care economy and what policy mechanisms exist to reverse the market-mechanism that has encroached on so many sacred aspects of life. I was able to challenge my own thinking when speaking with a documentarian who reminded me of Amartya Sen’s insight that markets are like conversations, they are simply mechanisms of exchange and so perhaps it’s not the “market” as much as the profit motive that animates it, encouraging us to always take more than we give. 

I know that together, with our powers combined, we can figure this out and co-create new systems of value that ensure we produce and provide for another in a way that supports the wellbeing of all species on this planet.” 

Written by: Alison Chopel

So much of history describes the violent separation of people from land. There is the recurring story of people who arrive from outside with money and weapons to force people to change the way they use their land to nourish their own bodies. There is the recurring story of people who arrive from outside and rip the people from the land they steward by killing them all or making life so hard that they flee. There is the recurring story of people who arrive from outside to kidnap people from their homes, and forcibly steal or exploit their labor in a way that is harmful to themselves and their communities.

Each of these  strategies were, and often still are, used to satisfy the desires of some groups, while stomping an essential human need of others: the need to connect to and live from land. The Wellbeing Economy is a set of strategies that guide us to discover ways to support the fundamental needs of all people, rather than the desires of a few at the expense of many. And the Wellbeing Economy (WE) also offers a different kind of story, one that many of us believe wholeheartedly and seek to spread. The Wellbeing Economy story is that there is enough for all of us. The challenge is: how do we relegate to memory the destructive stories of the past and open space for a different story?

The histories of my ancestors are full of these terrifying stories. My parents were both born and raised in California because their ancestors crossed the sea to escape from story #1 (Irish potato famine) and story #2 (the holocaust).  

I was born in Colorado, an ongoing stage for story #2. I learned it in history class, and I learned it from Native friends who told me about how they missed the Ghost Dance, since it was now forbidden and called “of the devil.” My child’s other parent survived story #2, fleeing persecution of Tibetans in China, only to kill himself slowly in a foreign land, drinking away the pain of missing the air, the mountainous horizon, and the spring flower blossoms that were only visible in his home steppes on the roof of the world. When we met, I had also fled my homeland. I also expected to never again breathe the dry Colorado mountain air or look upon the snow capped peaks to find my West. But my story was not history, it was understood as an individual, isolated case–the personal childhood traumas that drove me from Colorado. When I moved to California, where my parents were born, I experienced displacement on a personal level (in a place where gentrification was happening on a collective level), as my child and I were evicted year after year from rental homes by landlords greedy for profits. 

My current partner was born in the southernmost tip of the US, a place that had been called Mexico a few generations prior, to people whose grandparents had suffered story #3. As a Black man from the South, he is a refugee from both personal and collective pain. He’ll never again live in his “homeland” of Texas because of racism and violence. So, we set out to find our new home together. And we landed in a place where all these stories were staged with grotesque cruelty. A place where they were not confined to history (though, in reality, that’s most of the inhabited earth these days). A place where outsider status brought us peace, and alienation. Where we experience the complex mix of acceptance and welcoming, deeply aware that the government that claims to represent us both is actively, and hypocritically, oppressing our neighbors, colleagues, friends. 

Here, in Borinkén, named Puerto Rico by the Spanish conquerors (Rich Port– to give their intentions away), the Taíno people were murdered en masse or made to flee (story #2) and then erased even further by lying history lessons that taught that they left no descendants on the face of the earth. Here, in Borinkén, stolen African people were made to labor in sugar mills, worked so brutally that slavers calculated it was cheaper to kidnap and transport more people across the ocean than to invest in the health of the enslaved bodies to enable them to reproduce (story #3). In my very neighborhood, formerly enslaved people who successfully liberated themselves created a free community with each other and the crabs who had made home among the mangroves for millennia and nourished the peace-seekers while they hid.  

Here, in Borinkén, the next generations of people whose ancestors were the villains and the victims and the bystanders in those stories, people who called themselves Jíbaras and Jíbaros, were made to stop cultivating the earth for their own sustenance and come into factories where their labor could create profit for people who they would never know (story #1). This was called Operation Bootstrap, an industrialization policy that solidified dependence on the abuser/occupier/colonizer. Now, the people of Puerto Rico receive 85-90% of their food from outside, arriving to us after being packed on ships for days, losing a little bit of life with each moment. And for the past decade, austerity measures and laws such as Acts 20/22/60 attract tax evaders who use their ill-gotten capital to displace people whose families have lived here for generations and rob them of access to natural resources. 

As an outsider, who shares some identities with these people, I asked myself, what should I do? What can I do? First, I took stock of those shared identities. I am American, English-speaking, white. I am not, however, an expat. The identity of expat centers the place left behind. Expats stick together, they work to re-create their homeland in a new place, they cling to its virtues, are blind to its exploitations and are forever apart from their new home. My partner and I instead identify as immigrants. We migrated in to this place. We seek to learn its culture, to know its land, to connect to its people, to contribute to it, to respect and protect its ecosystems, while recognizing our relative insignificance.

It’s complicated, but not that much more complicated than the Puerto Rican identity. One of the most iconic images across Puerto Rico is that of the Three Kings. The Three Kings represent the tri-continental ancestral identity (African, American, European) that many Puerto Ricans wear with pride. They claim among their ancestors the murderers and the murdered, the exploiters and the exploited, the abusers and the abused. The truth is, most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, should do the same. But because the myth that skin color can tell me everything I need to know about a person is so pervasive in the States, most of us simplify our ancestral identities into a tidy little lie. 

Second, I reflect on my part in these stories. This requires me to first recognize how they are playing out now–not just in history. I try not to create displacement (my apartment was vacant for years before we bought it, in a neighborhood with high levels of vacancy). I try not to re-create economic inequities (work for less than I did elsewhere, seeking parity, adjust budgets when I can, bringing co-workers’ remuneration up). I resist the temptation to hold onto outsider privileges (relinquished my ability to vote for US president or congressional representatives in favor of voting for local Puerto Rican offices) and adjusted my diet so that I am consuming locally-grown food even when it means less variety.

I also listen to people around me and work to drip my beads of sweat onto the side of the scale that tips toward connection and away from the violent, brutal wrestling people from their homelands. I do this in partnership and relationship with local leaders, humbly following where elsewhere I might have led.

Now, this is hard, and it’s confusing, and I often get a little bit stuck. But here’s what I’m thinking so far:

  • Maybe I can help re-write story #1 as the story of reclaiming the relationship between land, the people who live on it, and how it is cared for and nourished to in turn nourish the bodies of the people who care for it. I support the authors of that story instead of those who want to pave over the island or turn it into wellness retreats for Americans or private playgrounds for visitors. Those authors are the farmers without land or capital, and those who support them, such as Fideicomiso de Tierras Comunitarias para la Agricultura Sostenible (Community Land Trust for Sustainable Agriculture) and Organización Boricuá (archipelago-wide network of agroecological farmers).
  • Maybe I can help rewrite story #2 as the story of strengthening the power of people to stay in their homes and shape their neighborhoods. The authors of that story are people who are rescuing buildings and lots that have been abandoned as worthless in the pursuit of capital and turning them into livable, workable, playable community spaces that meet the needs of people who live around them like Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat. People like my late, great teacher of Plena and Bomba, Tito Matos, who together with his partner and his community rescued an abandoned school and turned it into a celebration of arts, culture, healing and gardening. People like the fierce advocates and community leaders of FURIA (firm, united and resilient with advocacy), and La Liga de Ciudades de Puerto Rico who are taking power by pushing community members into decision-making spaces. Instead of just shaking my head and wagging my finger at outsiders who come in with mountains of capital and wield it like a weapon, maybe I can help direct it toward their community members, the people who have a history of co-creating the communities and cultures that make this place sing, the people who have inherited knowledge from their ancestors of how to cultivate and steward the ancient ecosystems of this beautiful archipelago, so that they are making the decisions about what kinds of businesses and buildings to bolster with resources.
  • Maybe, just maybe, I can help rewrite story #3 as the story of people who collaborate to meet needs as worker-owners, who negotiate their income upon the value of products and services to customers and clients, who share profits only with colleagues and loved ones as they choose, and thus inoculate themselves from exploitation by people far away from them. Maybe there are examples of how to do this, or resources to support such work, like non-extractive capital loan funds for cooperative businesses such as Seed Commons, Our Power Loan Fund, or Ground Cover. Or there are examples right here, like the collective of residents from eight low-income communities in el Caño Martín Peña who now own their land through a trust and recently received $163 million to restore their homeland.

Those old stories, of people who arrive from outside to cause starvation and poverty, evict and displace locals, exploit and wring the lifeblood from people, are exalted in history as momentous, as warnings, and as turning points. I suspect that there are multitudes of stories of people who moved from one place to another and who brought something of value, or simply connected and joined and contributed to their new homes. These stories did not make it into the history books because they did not cause mass suffering, upheaval, or pain. I strive for my story, the story of an immigrant to Puerto Rico, to be one of those stories. That’s why I don’t want to make history.

Written by: Lisa Hough-Stewart

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

Since then, WEAll hubs in California, Canada, New Zealand and Scotland are working with community partners and local or city governments to bring the Wellbeing Economy Policy Design process to life. 

You can read more about the background of these pilot projects in our introductory blog posted in December 2021.

Now, at the halfway point of their projects, these four WEAll hubs are focused on co-creating locally rooted wellbeing visions with their communities, which will go on to inform policy recommendations.

Why developing a wellbeing vision matters

“We need to move beyond narrow measures and views of value and broaden our definition of progress”

Patsy Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand 

Wellbeing Economy policy design begins with setting a different vision of progress. For decades, we have used indicators such as wealth and GDP growth to assess societal progress.

This has led us to focus on fostering economic growth, regardless of whether or not it leads to improvements in collective wellbeing. Many governments are now flipping the script and developing more holistic and longer-term visions of progress, so that collective wellbeing becomes the ultimate measure of economic success. These visions help us to recognise wealth as one driver of wellbeing, alongside a wide variety of other social, cultural and environmental factors.

The challenge, of course, is that viewing wealth as the main–and often only–indicator of progress has become embedded in many of our cultures, influencing the way we view our own capacities, relationships, and purpose. Changing this requires expanding our understanding of the economy, its relationship to social and ecological wellbeing, and our notion of progress to encompass a wide variety of factors that determine the quality of our lives on this planet. As such, a Wellbeing Vision is not something that can be imposed; it must come from  within communities and will vary according to each of their needs, desires and contexts. Co-creating Wellbeing Visions requires engagement with communities to understand what matters for their wellbeing, now and for generations to come.

The Wellbeing Economy Policy Design Guide breaks the process of developing a Wellbeing Vision into three steps for policymakers and communities to work through together: 

1) Understanding what matters for wellbeing

2) Crafting and communicating the Wellbeing Vision

3) Measuring wellbeing. 

The purpose of this process is to develop a medium- to long-term Wellbeing Vision towards which the society and government will work. 

The visioning work of the hubs so far


[The Love Letham Commission kick off meeting. Photo credit: F Rayner]

Working with schools and young workers, the Love Letham team has carried out age-appropriate visioning with over 270 children and young people in Letham: that is over 20% of all children and young people in the community they’re working with. 

The activities were innovative, designed to be fun and engaging for the children and young people taking part as well as to draw out their hopes for a thriving future in Letham. The different techniques used were:

  1. Magic Carpet – pretend they are flying above a future version of Letham and describe what they see
  2. Photo Walk – taking pictures of what they value about their community and what they would change
  3. Poems and presentations – young people choose their own medium to communicate what a good life means for them
  4. Small world observed play – young children play with figures representing themselves, and their caregiver. They act out what they like to do and where they feel safe and happy on a map or sandtray. 
  5. Small group discussion – these included parents and carers too. The discussion was based on questions about the local area and what children need to live well there.

The project team has also established the Love Letham Commission, which includes young people, local leaders and community representatives. At their first meeting in April, they also took part in visioning exercises to connect with what a Wellbeing Economy could mean for Letham. Through the collaboration with local primary schools, a parallel Children’s Commission is also up and running. These two Commissions will analyse the data from the visioning exercises and develop it into a shared vision in the coming weeks. 

Sarah Stocks, Northern Star (delivering Love Letham project on behalf of WEAll Scotland) reflects on this juncture for their visioning work:

“It’s great to have a lot of data that’s not in the same homogeneous form. We’re going to use the Mosaic Approach to bring it all together. At the first Commission meeting, we took some of the data to them and asked what was striking them. There were lots of really interesting observations about what people need. What children want is to be able to have the things that they need in the place that they’re in.”


[Pomona residents take part in a visioning workshop inside a local solar panel factory. Photo credit: J Fackenthal]

With a core group that includes WEAll California hub members, representatives of the Latino Latina Roundtable and elected officials, the California team has developed and honed its approach to visioning that it will now go on to use with the wider community in Pomona.

They developed a workshop that can be used online or in person. Ahead of the workshop, participants were asked to name general areas that are a priority for achieving wellbeing in Pomona.

The pilot team distilled those into five priority areas. During the meeting, the core group was put in pairs and each pair came up with as many wellbeing priorities as they could for that area. They were explicitly asked not to worry about ranking or prioritising, just to capture everything they could think of.

Next, different sets of pairs looked at these long lists and ranked them in an unusual way.

Jeremy Fackenthal, EcoCiv and WEAll California co-founder, explains: “We wanted to genuinely assume that everything that was listed in the previous session was important or valuable. So instead, we ranked in terms of time and priorities. What could be accomplished? What should be focused on within the next 12 months? What should be prioritised over the next three years? Over the next five years? And then beyond?

“We really want to start to do this with larger and larger circles. It shouldn’t just be our core group naming what we say are the priorities. We’re be repeating the process with a number of different groups from May onwards, starting with community groups and activists working on issues related to wellbeing and ideally more City Council members. Then over the summer, the idea is to build toward larger, almost citywide events, but to do that by starting to reach out to groups of maybe 12 or 15 people at a time using some existing networks.”


[The first visioning meeting of the Toronto pilot steering group took place around a camp fire. Photo credit: T Campbell]

The pilot team working in Toronto is also taking the approach of starting with a core group for visioning work, and will soon progress to work with City Government officials and wider groups of Toronto residents. 

Not only is the core group going through the visioning process, they are also co-creating it.

Tara Campbell, David Suzuki Foundation (delivering the Toronto project on behalf of WEAll Can) has put a lot of focus on the people who make up that core group, taking care to invite them into this process as unique individuals rather than representatives of an organisation or group. She explains:

“These are people who are community organisers, designers, artists, academics: people who have deep relationships in Toronto. They have networks that they could invite into the larger process, and who are also quite invested. I don’t know if any of them would have ever even heard the term Wellbeing Economy before. But I would say that their work falls within it.”

Attention is also being paid to the types of spaces people are being invited into. The core group is initially meeting outdoors, gathering around fires to share their visions for a thriving future in Toronto. The group has a mood board and a shared playlist, taking a multi-sensory approach to wellbeing visioning. They are currently shaping the broader visioning process which City officials and wider groups of residents will be invited into over the course of the summer.

New Zealand

body of water between gray rock formation during daytime
[Photo by Callum Parker on Unsplash]

The WEAll team in Aotearoa New Zealand are concentrating on local government for their study project. Local governments are required by statute “to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities in the present and for the future”. This requirement was first introduced in 2002, and so there is a good history of New Zealand initiatives in the Wellbeing Economy space.

Some local governments, for example, have worked with community partners to create formal frameworks for monitoring the wellbeing of their communities. The Canterbury Wellbeing Index is a good example. This includes a wellbeing framework named He Tohu Ora, which is based on Indigenous values developed in liaison with the local Māori tribe, Ngāi Tahu. Another is at the top of the South Island. Te Tauihu is an intergenerational wellbeing strategy inspired by the vision to be good ancestors, this was developed in conjunction with the local government’s economic development agency.

Against that background, the WEAll team are working with a community wealth building project in Porirua, which is a city within commuting distance of the country’s capital city of Wellington. The project has identified three opportunities for developing a local Wellbeing Economy centred on housing, food and digital. Project leaders are exploring how to develop this potential. The WEAll team is walking alongside this initiative, using the Wellbeing Economy Policy Design Guide to engage with the project on turning vision into policy.

Paul Dalziel, Deputy Director of the AERU at Lincoln University comments: “This project is a practical illustration of how a wellbeing lens can help communities build wealth in a way that respects the natural environment and expands the capabilities of people to flourish. 

Justin Connolly, Director of Deliberate, adds: “Porirua is a good example of how participatory projects can redesign systems to better promote community wellbeing.” 

Paul and Justin are leading the WEAll contributions to this project.

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

Moments before the beginning of the Stockholm +50 Conference, we’re launching a new briefing paper “This is the moment to go Beyond GDP”. This paper has been written by Rutger Hoekstra, author of Replacing GDP by 2030 (Cambridge press, 2019), in collaboration with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, WWF and the European Environmental Bureau.

About this paper

Around the world we are witnessing important shifts in our definition of “progress” and “development”. Since WWII, governments have largely relied on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to assess their national progress. However, GDP only tells us how much is bought and sold in an economy and nothing about our quality of life and the state of the environment.

This short briefing paper is a primer for policy-makers interested in how and why to move Beyond GDP. It summarises the debate around Beyond GDP and introduces the most relevant alternative indicators and dashboards currently in use around the world. It aims to simplify the seemingly complex Beyond GDP landscape by explaining the shared principles of these indicators and dashboards, and argues that the time has come to embed alternative measures and methods for collective progress within institutions at all levels. The briefing concludes that the Beyond GDP agenda requires a significant acceleration by policy-makers on three goals: convergence of measurement, more policy tools/uptake and participatory policy approaches.

Our upcoming WEAll Talk this month will cover the topic of what it means to be regenerative and how organisations can apply this concept to their operations and value chains. The talk will be given by our WEAll member Hannah Temple, the founder of regenerative consultancy TealCo. Don’t miss this special WEAll Talk on Thursday, June 23, at 3 p.m. UTC.

Want to make an impact in Scotland’s movement towards a wellbeing economy and get involved in the exciting work WEAll Scotland is doing?

Join our new volunteer programme!

WEAll Scotland, part of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance, is working to change the existing economic system (which prioritises growth for growth’s sake) to a wellbeing economy (which prioritises social justice on a healthy planet).

We’re launching our new volunteer programme so more people can get directly involved with WEAll Scotland and our work. If you have skills, ideas, or perspectives you want to share with us and our movement, we’d love to hear from you.

Keep reading or watch the video below to learn more and how to apply.

How the volunteer programme works

If you join WEAll Scotland’s volunteer programme, you’ll become part of a close-knit group of people who care about the wellbeing economy movement and want to contribute to WEAll Scotland’s work.

Got comms skills? Maybe you’ll want to create a video for that new campaign we’re planning. Good with economics? You might want to share your insights with our policy lead for an upcoming report. Or maybe you are part of a community that’s often left out of systems change discussions. We’d really value your perspective.

We’re especially keen to find people who have skills and experiences in the areas below, but it’s okay if you feel you don’t fit these areas.

  • Content creation
  • Media editing
  • Policy/economics
  • Parliament/MSP engagement
  • Fundraising
  • Youth engagement
  • Project delivery
  • Admin
  • Event support (online and in-person)
  • Sector-specific knowledge (e.g., business, energy, the environment, etc.)

These are just some areas where we know we’d value additional support and perspectives, but anyone is welcome to apply, and we’d love to hear from you.

All new volunteers will receive an induction, including on wellbeing economy principles and WEAll Scotland ways of working. Just to be clear, you won’t have to commit to set hours once you’re up and running, and it’s okay if you need to take breaks due to illness, personal/work events, and anything else. Once you apply, we’ll explain all the details on an introductory call.

How to apply

We encourage anyone who would like to become more involved with WEAll Scotland and the wellbeing economy movement to apply. Here’s how.

Send a brief email to our volunteer coordinator at joey@scotland.weall.org, and include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your preferred pronouns
  • Why you want to get involved with WEAll Scotland
  • What skills, experiences, or perspectives you would like to bring to the table

If email isn’t your thing, feel free to send us a video, link to a social media post, or whatever format suits you best. We just need the above information so we can learn a little more about you before setting up an introductory call.

Once we’ve received your application, we’ll review it and get back to you, most likely setting up an introductory call soon after. On this call, you’ll have a chance to learn more about the volunteer programme, including volunteer benefits and responsibilities, and you can ask questions. Finally, we’ll email you after the call to let you know if we’d like to invite you to join the volunteer programme. This also gives you a chance to reflect after the call and decide whether you’d like to proceed.


Want to become a WEAll Scotland volunteer? We’d love to hear from you.

Send a brief email to our volunteer coordinator at joey@scotland.weall.org, and include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your preferred pronouns
  • Why you want to get involved with WEAll Scotland
  • What skills, experiences, or perspectives you would like to bring to the table

If email isn’t your thing, feel free to send us a video, link to a social media post, or whatever format suits you best. We just need the above information so we can learn a little more about you before setting up an introductory call.

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is recruiting a new US Coordination Lead to work with its global Amp Team!

As WEAll expands into the United States, we are looking for a US Coordination Lead to lead WEAll’s work of connecting and accelerating the Wellbeing Economy movement in the US.

We are looking for an individual who has demonstrable strategic and influencing skills, and a passion for economic system change and working collaboratively to deliver it.

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

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.

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. 


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.