Written by: Alison Davis
A Wellbeing Economy is an economic system that prioritizes wellbeing for all beings – including people, wildlife, and planet – over short-term financial growth. The economy is currently seen as the end-all-be-all in terms of success on a national and societal level. This means that economic growth is the goal in and of itself, and how we achieve that growth or what we do with it is not important. The Wellbeing Economy movement, on the other hand, provides a framework in which the economy is simply a tool to promote wellbeing for everyone in society. Rather than use the economic system to generate massive profits for the wealthy, a Wellbeing Economy seeks to inclusively improve the lives of all people.
OneNature is proud to be a member of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). WEAll is an international network of groups and individuals who seek to connect their stories to elevate a global narrative whereby the factors that determine success are health, happiness, and connection. With this partnership, we hope to ensure the metrics of a Wellbeing Economy will include wildlife. Understanding the overall value of wildlife and nature to economic systems and to wellbeing will be essential if we are to shift to a Wellbeing Economy.
Here at OneNature, we are thrilled to see all the work that has been done in recent years to promote the inclusion of nature, particularly wildlife, in wellbeing values. Multiple studies and reports demonstrate the critical importance of natural systems to our wellbeing. For instance, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released a report in 2019 titled Animals are Key to Human Development. The report states, “With the sixth extinction crisis upon us, it is more critical than ever for policy makers to link conservation and animal welfare with sustainable development.” This idea has gained momentum as the global pandemic showed exactly what can happen when wild animals are irresponsibly captured and consumed for their economic value. Earlier this year, the World Bank published a study that concluded wildlife conservation through ecotourism would be an effective method of restoring the post-pandemic economy. The conclusions and recommendations in this study highlight the links between wildlife and the wellbeing of people.
We have a good idea of the work that needs to be done. The current economic paradigm tends to treat nature like a financial asset from which humans can take and take. We live in a backwards world where many people believe a tiger – and many other species – is worth more dead than alive. Nature is not infinite, so if this attitude persists, our planet and all its inhabitants, including human beings, will suffer. Instead, we deserve a future where the economic system serves all people, animals, and the planet – not the other way around.
OneNature is currently involved in several on-the-ground efforts to research and determine how wildlife conservation can be included in the policy and practice of a Wellbeing Economy. The goal of OneNature and other WEAll partners is to generate a world where wellbeing for all beings is of greater importance than short-term economic success. Working with other like-minded organizations connected by WEAll will allow us to create change from the bottom up, starting with local communities and together making our voices heard by those at the very top. Building connections through WEAll allows us to practice one of the primary goals of a Wellbeing Economy, which is to stay connected – connected to other people, connected to the planet, and connected to the wildlife that shares our planet with us.