By Shaleen Porwal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, it calls for:

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

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

As a practitioner myself, below are few recommendations:

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

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

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

About the author

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


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  3. Brown Brené. (2019). Dare to lead: Brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. Random House Large Print Publishing. 
  4. Chuan, W. P. (2021, July 16). Commentary: The coming resignation tsunami – why many may leave their jobs in a pandemic economy. CNA. 
  5. Edmondson, A. C. (2019). The fearless organization: Creating psychological safety in the workplace for learning, innovation, and growth. John Wiley & Sons. 
  6. Singer, T. & Ricard, M. (2015). Caring economics. Picador. 
  7. WEAll. (2021, March 18). Home. Wellbeing Economy Alliance.
  8. What vuca really means for you. Harvard Business Review. (2014, August 1). 
  9. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health. World Health Organization. 

We asked Meg Thomas, Head of Policy, Participation, and Projects at Includem, to tell us about the work being done at Includem and how it relates to the wellbeing economy. Read her guest blog below.

At Includem, we work 24/7, 365 days a year, to support families when they need it the most. We provide intensive, bespoke support to young people and families in challenging circumstances, building solid relationships of trust to help young people realise their full potential.

For many of the young people and families we support, entrenched poverty is the most common and persistent issue they face. This has of course been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our families report regular issues affording the basics, telling us they struggle to put food on the table, pay the electric bill, and cover the costs of internet access. Social security payments are too low, wages are often insufficient, and the cost of living is too high. This in turn has caused a deterioration in mental health.

That is why discussions of a wellbeing economy are so greatly welcomed – a shift towards a social understanding of the economy beyond the narrow parameters of GDP could provide a vital framework (and impetus) for policies that end poverty and give families such as those we support a strong and reliable financial foundation.

To develop a wellbeing economy, it is crucial that the voices of those at the margins of society – who face the sharpest consequences of current economic policy – are at its heart. The increased emphasis on lived experience in policy development across Scotland gives us reason to be hopeful this can happen.

Initiatives such as Get Heard Scotland enable those affected by poverty to have their voices heard on the policies and decisions that impact their lives; Youth Justice Voices has given young people with care and justice experience a direct route to shape national policy and practice; and The Promise has put those with experience of the care system it is set to transform, front and centre.

At Includem, we too have focussed on amplifying the voices of our young people and families, conducting research on Digital Access and Poverty to highlight the key issues they face, as well as ensuring young people’s lived experience shapes our policy submissions to the Scottish Government.

But while progress is being made in Scotland, there are significant engagement barriers that must be dismantled to ensure marginalised voices are fully and authentically involved at all stages and in all areas of policymaking, service design and delivery.

Without access to equipment, the finances for broadband costs and electricity, or sufficient digital literacy and confidence, many families are unjustly excluded from fully participating in society.

A key obstacle is digital exclusion, an issue that has become particularly prominent over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without access to equipment, the finances for broadband costs and electricity, or sufficient digital literacy and confidence, many families are unjustly excluded from fully participating in society. Their voices are lost in the process. It is imperative that children, young people, and families can participate in decisions that affect them, and digital access is a crucial pillar in ensuring these rights are upheld.

From our experience of delivering intensive family support services, we also know that both stigma and a distrust of statutory services can prevent young people and families from engaging – particularly as families in poverty are 10 times more likely to have their children on the child protection register and to come into care.

Regrettably, this is rarely considered in discussions of tackling poverty and centring the voices of lived experience. I was particularly struck by Dr Calum Webb’s piece on Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality where he remarks on reviewing thirteen of the top selling and topcited books on the topic of inequality, injustice, and its consequences, including four of the highest cited books on the public health consequences of inequality, only to discover none of these books had a dedicated chapter about child protection or social work.

Despite the fact that families in poverty are more likely to receive state intervention, the most deprived local authorities in England “have seen the greatest cuts to their preventative spending, fuelling more disruptive and damaging forms of intervention.”  I would argue that true preventative spending addresses the underlying causes of poverty, not the behaviours resulting from it. 

Fundamentally, parents should not fear being separated from their children because of poverty – a structural inequality which current economic and social policies perpetuate.

I am Australian. I had an aunt who was from Australia’s First Nation. She was one of Australia’s Stolen Generation where children were forcibly removed from their families solely due to race. If current practices continue, we risk having another stolen generation, this time due to poverty.

It is vital that young people and families are given the space to be open and honest about their experiences and struggles without fear or likelihood of consequences. If we do not urgently create such an environment, they will continue to be afraid of speaking out, go unheard by decision-makers, and their voices lost.

As a society, our collective mission must be to ensure that those who are most marginalised have their voices both heard and acted upon. Ultimately, all children, young people, and families should be able to exert their right to be heard. Only then can we truly shape a wellbeing economy for all. 

Meg Thomas is the Head of Policy, Participation, and Projects at Includem.


Bywaters, P., Scourfield, J., Jones, C., Sparks, T., Elliott, M., Hooper, J., McCarten, C., Shapira, M., Bunting, L., Daniel, B (2018) Child welfare inequalities in the four nations of the UK

Includem (2020) Poverty and the Impact of Coronavirus on Young People and Families in Scotland—Includem—Oct-2020.pdf

Includem (2020) Staying Connected: Assessing digital inclusion during the coronavirus pandemic

The Poverty Alliance Get Heard Scotland

The Promise

Staf and The Children’s and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) Youth Justice Voices Webb, C (2020) Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality

Webb, C (2020) Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality

For further information on Includem’s policy and research work, including government consultation submissions, please see:

By: Kitty Forster, Assistant Psychologist & Researcher, Wales 

Statistics suggest 1 in 4 people experience mental health disorders and mental health issues are on the rise amongst younger generations. Our pace of life has evoked unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety and depression in our modern societies, specifically in the younger generation. 

Various causes have been named as hypotheses for increased mental health issues; trauma, housing concerns, financial insecurity, working hours, poverty, social media, reduced connection to nature and communities.

There is enormous cost to society as a consequence of mental health issues; treatment costs, societal issues or missing workdays.  These expenses are projected to increase significantly.

The World Health Organisation calls for reduction in stigma in mental health, and greater focus on prevention strategies.

Mental Health issues on the rise among adolescents

Stressed economy, stressed society, stressed NHS

Paying the price – the cost of mental health care England 2026

Stigma around mental health costs UK economy

Mental health – the economic and social burden

Causes of mental health issues

Social media and mental health

Mental health and nature

Nature benefits mental health

Poverty and mental health

Mental health statistics – relationships and community

Mental health statistics – economic and social costs

World Health Organisation – Mental health action plan

Prevention of mental and behavioural disorders: implications for policy and practice

Cost-Effectiveness and Affordability of Interventions, Policies, and Platforms for the Prevention and Treatment of Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use Disorders

Prevention and mental health

Mental health and prevention taking local action

Preventative strategies for mental health

Mental Health Foundation – prevention review

Current provision

Thankfully, mental health has become less of a taboo in the last couple of decades, along with increased access to evidence-based therapies available on the NHS, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), as well as traditional psychotherapy.

In addition, Mindfulness and other stress-reduction techniques are being promoted in the mainstream. 

This is a valuable shift in perception and action.

NHS services for mental health


Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade

Suggested improvements in a wellbeing economy

The NHS is facing a significant increase in costs for social care services for Looked After Children due to parents struggling, crisis mental health cases, physical health costs of drug and alcohol abuse and judicial services and rehabilitation.

The economic and social costs of crime

The real cost of a fair adult social care system

Fully funded social care

Looked after children – the silent crisis

Children’s social care

This spending is reductionist response to symptoms; rather than a holistic preventative approach, which would attempt to alleviate the prevalence of human suffering in the first place.

As well as providing mental health services for crisis cases, who are obviously prioritised on NHS waiting lists, there should be a greater allocation of funding for access to psychological services.  The irony is that preventative services could cost less than patching up the societal ills of an unsupported community further down the line. 

A wellbeing economy would be designed to prevent mental health issues, where possible, by providing dignity, connection and fairness to all.

Psychology, social care, mental health, education and childcare services are themes at the heart of a wellbeing economy and could be positively impacted by a change in public spending, focusing on valuable services for the psychological wellbeing of our communities. 

Mental Health

Mental health is a spectrum.  You’re not either totally well balanced or completely ‘insane’.  Everyone slides around on the spectrum according to their personal histories, current lifestyle choices and circumstances.  Our current society doesn’t seem to provide support until someone is further down the spectrum towards total mental health breakdown. 

There is a huge proportion of society who could be feeling more emotionally stable if given education about simple tools for wellbeing, and this decreases the chance that some of those people might slide towards the danger zone end of the spectrum. 

Psychology Services & Care in a Wellbeing Economy

Services for All

There are charities, Relate and Mind,  currently focusing on providing mental health services for less ‘crisis’ cases, when the NHS is unable to allocate support.

A wellbeing economy could advocate for greater access to psychological and wellbeing services available for all – to facilitate all citizens to access healthy coping strategies, psychological education and counselling support. 

I would envisage psychological educators, mindfulness teachers, parenting specialists, relationship counsellors, CBT therapists available for group sessions in all villages and community halls on a weekly drop-in basis. Clearly additional specialist one-on-one services would still be required, and these community sessions could signpost individuals to more intense support when needed; including support for domestic abuse, alcohol or drug issues, and referrals for cases requiring specialist one-on-one mental health intervention.

Psychological education

Psychological education could be provided on the following themes: how CBT works, how mindfulness works, the nature of healthy and unhealthy relationships, the psychological benefits of exercise/diet/sleep, the alternative coping mechanisms to try for stress, anxiety and depression. 

This would reduce the likelihood of maladaptive coping strategies or unhealthy behavioural patterns becoming habitual.  There are huge number of CBT resources available online, which are safe for the general public to use on a self-help basis after initial direction.

Self-help resources for mental health problems

CBT information leaflets and self-help guides

Additionally, the provision of wellbeing services such as Mindfulness and yoga classes available in each community centre on a regular basis would be helpful as a baseline measure to promote emotional wellbeing. The NHS now promote Mindfulness and endorse a specific online course Be Mindful.

A relatively new strand of research is demonstrating that the concept of Interoception – ‘the 8th sense’ – plays a huge role in people’s abilities to notice their own physiological bodily signals, that subsequently manifest as emotion.  The ability to notice your emotions as they arise is hugely advantageous in terms of emotional regulation, making positive behavioural choices and personal agency.  Interoceptive awareness can be enhanced with positive psychological benefits through meditation, mindfulness, yoga and other body-based contemplative practise (note: specialist interoceptive interventions are required for those with a history of trauma).

Mindfulness, Interoception, and the Body: A Contemporary Perspective

We’ve lost touch with our bodies

Interoception and Mental Health: A Roadmap

The interoception curriculum

If delivered at scale, these services could hugely benefit the wellbeing of society.  This increased emotional self-awareness and plethora of coping strategies could potentially alleviate a lot of unnecessary human suffering.

However, promoting these wellbeing services is not a panacea. These suggestions are certainly not sufficient to eradicate societal problems such as poverty, inadequate housing, poor social mobility and inter-generational trauma.  More systemic interventions are needed for the most disadvantaged members of society. Interventions for children are needed to help break the recurring dysfunctional patterns in disadvantaged parts of society, as well as adequate government funding for housing, education, health and childcare.

Services for families

These aforementioned psychological services could help support a healthier generation of adults in our society, and this vicariously would have a positive impact on their children too. A parent’s poor mental health understandably influences their children’s wellbeing. A parent who is more emotionally stable within themselves is likely to be more able to provide emotional co-regulation for their children, to scaffold these capacities for the future generations, as well as being positive role models.  Providing parents with the resources to manage their own emotions and help their child to develop emotional awareness is key.

Barnardos: resources to teach child mindfulness

Barnardos: improving your family’s calmness and mindfulness

NSPCC: mental health and parenting

Parental mental illness – the impact on children

In addition, a wellbeing economy could consider how to support families in whatever way suited their personal choices.  Either to enable greater financial support for child are services, if mothers chose to return to work; or to support mothers to stay at home to raise their children during the early years. 

Stay-at-home mothers

Parents decisions about returning to work and child caring responsibilities

Despite this being a personal choice for families, and hugely positive that it’s now socially acceptable to return to work, reportedly there is some judgement felt if women choose to remain at home with their young families.  Some women report to be made to feel they are not contributing to society; yet they are raising the next generation, our descendants!

This role in society should also be valued. Incentivising a quick return to the workplace and to pay for childcare may be entangled in an economic system that doesn’t have families’ wellbeing at heart.  Both options should be a financially viable choice for all families. At present women feel judged for returning to work and judged for staying at home!

Services for children

These broad themes within childcare services and the educational system could arguably have a greater impact on the wellbeing of our future as sociological culture evolves, than merely introducing new services for adults. A child growing up in a society where there is access to psychological education and wellbeing services as an accepted norm, has a greater chance of developing into a well-adjusted adult, with self-awareness and a repertoire of positive coping mechanisms to be resilient to life’s challenges.  The reformation of the Welsh curriculum to incorporate health and wellbeing is hugely encouraging. 

Welsh curriculum – Health and wellbeing

Mindfulness in schools

Putting health and wellbeing at the core of the new Welsh education curriculum

Statement of what matters – Welsh curriculum

Wales has an amazing opportunity to promote mental health awareness from an early age, whilst children are receptive to new concepts.  Some countries have ‘Interoceptive Awareness’ curriculums in mainstream schools, to teach children to notice their internal bodily signals and to learn to notice their emotions. 

Interoception in the Australian curriculum

Interoception – the 8th sense

In Personal, Health and Social Education subjects, there needs to be a greater focus on psychological education – techniques for managing anxiety, stress, depression; which could encompass CBT resources, breathing and meditation techniques and the benefits of physical exercise.  Children could also be taught about healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to negotiate difficult relationships they may encounter. 

Centre for psychology in schools and education

NSPCC – promoting healthy relationships

Should schools be teaching about healthy relationships

Mental health in schools – make it count

Launching our new guidance on preparing to teach about mental health and emotional wellbeing in PSHE

Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision

Relationships and Health education in schools

Healthy Relationships pack for Primary Schools

A film focusing on resilience in children cited a programme called ‘Miss Kendra’, developed to provide children with opportunities to express things that upset them, which they couldn’t safely express in day to day life. It was delivered in neighbourhoods with a propensity for a high proportion of Adverse Childhood Experiences (a significant predictor for both physical and mental health issues).

Other aspects of the film focused on how schools can teach children to have healthy expectations for how to be treated with respect and advocated mindfulness and meditation techniques to manage stress.  Some schools have incorporated Mindfulness and yoga into their provision.  


Trauma informed schools

Miss Kendra

Scientific evidence for yoga and mindfulness in schools – how and why does it work?

Redefining success in schools

Mental health aside, in a broader sense, schools could have a huge impact on the wellbeing of subsequent generations if working in alliance with the Wellbeing Economy.  Moving away from a competitive indoctrination of children to try for the best grades academically and feel that they are less worthy if they don’t achieve this.

Schools should ideally have the freedom to value the range of skills in a group of children, to foster their individual strengths. Some may take the typical academic path, others may be more practical, mechanical, artistic, or a very caring and nurturing person who may end up being an excellent ‘keyworker’ in social care services.  Covid-19 really highlighted the inequality in our society – social and health care workers are not adequately valued or financially compensated for the vital services they deliver.  Building an Education system that incentivises and values equally all roles in society – and an economic system that financially compensates roles which are crucial for functioning communities – would create a more diverse range of jobs that are considered to be valuable and aspired to.

Our current achievement and wealth-based status system is elitist and damaging to the self-worth of the majority of working people.  We are led to believe that if we aren’t earning top wages, we haven’t achieved our potential.  There needs to be a radical shift in social values, which could start in schools; to promote a more diverse acquisition of interests in children, with the ultimate aim to support long-term wellbeing in society – rather than creating worker bees who will grind away at the cogs or our current economic system. 

Developing character skills in schools

Education in Wales – our national mission

Fromm: man is a cog in the vast economic machine

Matthew Taylor warns against ‘cog in a machine’ working culture

Education should teach children to have the confidence to voice their opinions, promote creativity,  promote and value positive personality characteristics, normalise emotional difficulties and provide time and space for children to indulge in the ‘being’ mode, rather than rushing them into the ‘doing’ mode of Western civilisation – with no time to develop towards their true potential.  Children should feel pride for whatever skills they’re blessed with and not only if they are built to win the rat race.

Kitty’s Bio: I have a Psychology Bsc and MRes in Psychology. I have worked in the children’s social care sector, the NHS and within the Psychology department at Bangor University. I like to consider the macro perspectives in mental health issues and consider how these could be addressed systemically for the wellbeing of our society.

By: Lisa Boll, ZOE Institute for future-fit economies

ZOE, the Institute for Sustainable Economies, is a non-profit think & do tank. Together with politics, science and civil society, ZOE develops trend-setting impulses for the fundamental questions of a sustainable economy.

COVID-19 has revealed the deep-rooted vulnerabilities of our current socio-economic system. “Business as usual” cannot guarantee sustainable prosperity on a healthy planet for all citizens. Relaunching the economy with the usual tools and policies won’t create the just transition we need.

This is a crucial moment to steer economic transformation towards structural resilience: enabling economies to be in a stronger position to absorb and recover from future shocks. It’s time to implement new policies that are fit for a just future. This means a shift away from structural dependence on the ‘growth paradigm’ and the use of GDP as the ultimate measure of success for policy decisions.

To tackle this challenge, today, the ZOE Institute has launched a new interactive website that offers a toolbox for ‘future-fit’ policymaking – which leads towards a sustainable, wellbeing economy.

Background Information: in-depth knowledge on different growth dependencies & strategies to overcome GDP-reliant economic frameworks, based on Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics.

Interactive Policy Database: The website features a state of the art, open-access policy database for sustainable prosperity, with over 200 transformative policies in the realm of employment & income, the environment, money & finance, and many more.

Users simply selected specific goals and objectives, and the interactive database displays relevant policy strategies for each topic, giving users concrete tools to work for a just and sustainable future for all.

Evidence-based Argumentation Strategy: Along with the policy database, the website features an interactive reflection game, which helps policymakers enhance arguments in favour of progressive policymaking, based on insights from scientific studies.

Visit to explore the vast interactive, open-access policy database and join a network of progressive thinkers across Europe.

By Liz Zeidler, Founding Director of Centre for Thriving Places

It’s safe to say that leading economists, environmentalists and political leaders rarely agree. But from the OECD Director General Angel Gurria, to Jeffrey Sachs and George Monbiot and many more, there are a growing number of powerful voices saying that some form of wellbeing economics is vital for a better future.

Few in the WEAll membership would disagree with this view of course, and thankfully it is increasingly not just an academic or theoretical discussion. Real progress is being made at a national level in pioneering countries around the world. From New Zealand to Scotland, Iceland to Wales, small nation states are starting to shift the compass from growth-at-any-cost to a new model of prosperity centred on wellbeing.

But there is a challenge at the heart of this progress, in that the unifying factor in these countries is size.  Smaller nations are innovating, taking some political risk and showing courageous leadership in this space in a way that larger are not. For those of us living and working outside of these pockets of progress, do we need simply to wait and hope?

Centre for Thriving Places (and under its previous name Happy City) has been tackling this challenge for over 10 years. It was clear even back in 2010 that it was never going to be easy to get national or global agreement to shift to a wellbeing economy approach. The transition needs cross-party, cross-sector, cross departmental and cross-generational collaboration.   New ways of thinking and doing, and new measures of progress are needed to build a credible base on which to deliver change. These are currently hard to come by in major national government environments.

Momentum can and must be built by pioneering people and places, at a local level and a national scale. The Thriving Places Index is designed to make this practical and achievable and it is being used by a growing number of Local Authorities, funders, community programmes and far-sighted businesses across the UK.

The approach needs to be as relevant to the mayor of a major city as they are to a junior community development worker on the frontline of tackling complex social and environmental challenges, so the TPI at its most fundamental level asks three powerful and unifying questions:

  • Are we creating the right local conditions for people to thrive?
  • Are we doing this equitably so everyone has the chance to thrive?
  • Are we doing this sustainably so future generations can also thrive?

Published annually for all Local Authority areas in England and Wales, the TPI is an asset based framework, drawing in a broad range of data from different recognised sources. It paints a meaningful picture of what supports the wellbeing of communities, and what can be done locally to improve it.

In every corner of the UK there are clear strengths and challenges when you look through a sustainable wellbeing lens. By providing comprehensive, but clear and comparable data for all local authority areas, the TPI allows learning to be shared, and a collaborative approach to systemic issues to be fostered.  It is a rigorous and accessible way to support local decision makers across sectors to assess and prioritise policy and practice, based on the impact it has on the wellbeing and sustainability of people and communities.

Whilst a national focus on wellbeing set by central or devolved government  is something to be celebrated, it’s not a prerequisite for beginning to make the change that we want to see.   Let’s not sit by and watch as levels of inequality spiral and the climate emergency deepens, waiting for the national political and legislative environment to support a new way of governing. Pioneering leaders from all sectors need to show the courage to innovate a new approach where they are now – one focused on growing our capacity to thrive, now and for generations to come.


About the Thriving Places Index: The 2020 results for Local Authorities in England and Wales are now live at – head there to explore the data and find out more ways to get involved – wherever you are.  

The Thriving Places Index is delivered by the Centre for Thriving Places and supported by Triodos Bank.

About the author: Liz is an internationally recognised leader in sustainable wellbeing with over 20 years of experience in connecting, challenging and supporting change-makers. She has been a key part of the development of all Centre for Thriving Place’s wellbeing measurement tools and approaches. She is a globally in-demand speaker and advisor on community wellbeing and place-based approaches to measuring, understanding and improving wellbeing in all sectors.

Photography by Gareth Iwan Jones

It used to be the case that focusing government efforts to growing the Gross Domestic Product made perfect sense. Post-WWII Finland was a poor and agricultural country devastated by the war where the oldest people still remembered the great famine of 1866-68 when over 100,000 people – over 5 % of the whole population – died of hunger. Against this background, the rapid economic growth that has made Finland one of the richest countries has been a remarkable success story: Not only are Finnish people materially well off and protected from famine but also – according to World Happiness Report – the happiest people in the world in both 2018 and 2019.

However, two key concerns force governments to refocus their aim away from increasing GDP and into measuring and improving human well-being more directly.

First, for wealthy Western countries, GDP growth no longer produces well-being. In low income countries economic growth often helps to lift people out of poverty, thus contributing to well-being. Money that buys food on the table buys happiness for the family. However, there is a threshold beyond which the needs that money can satisfy are satisfied. And thus money no longer produces happiness – not for countries and not for citizens. As for citizens, a recent study published in Nature Human Behavior utilizing data from 1.7 million individuals from 164 countries demonstrated that beyond annual incomes of $95,000 money no longer contributes to life satisfaction and for experiencing positive emotions, the satiation occurs already at $60,000. As for countries, the wealthy Western countries have passed decades ago the satiation point beyond which pushing for economic growth produces only marginal gains in well-being. If even that.

In the last ten years, the US economy has continued its growth. At the same time citizen happiness and even the average life expectancy of citizens is declining. Since 1999 suicide rate has increased by a third, while drug overdose deaths have quadrupled. The economy is getting better, the citizens are doing worse. Unfortunately, the politicians focusing on the former are blind to the latter, which provides one key explanation for the populist backlash against the establishment that we have seen in recent elections in US, UK, and many other countries.

Second, it is no longer possible to deny the devastating impact of economic growth on our planet. Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change has made it clear that keeping the global warming below 1.5 C requires rapid globally coordinated action to mitigate the worst-case scenarios. There is currently much talk about whether it is possible to decouple economic growth from environmental impact by taxing emissions, switching to cleaner energy sources, and various technological solutions. Many experts are skeptical about the possibility of achieving decoupling fast enough to allow for ‘green growth’ while still stopping the global warming.

But the true question is not whether it is possible to decouple economic growth and environmental impact. The true question is why we should care about economic growth if it has decoupled from human well-being. Decoupling human well-being from environmental impact is what really matters. Economic growth used to be the means to growth in well-being. Now that it no longer works, we should stop fetishizing the means, and concentrate on the target.

True enough, some economic growth produces well-being. However, other economic growth – like medications for the burned out, petrol consumed while stuck in traffic, or treating lung cancers caused by polluted air – are symptoms of ill-being. Accordingly, we need to distinguish between economic growth that produces well-being and economic growth that produces ill-being. Getting rid of the latter is good from both human and environmental point of view.

To get there, we need reliable and timely measures of human well-being.

A few decades ago citizen happiness was an impossible policy goal for two reasons: 1) There was not enough reliable annual data that could be used to track how happiness of the citizen is developing within a country. 2) Given the lack of data and subsequent lack of research, there were not many evidence-based policy recommendations that politicians interested in improving citizen happiness could apply.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Commissioned by French president Nicolas Sarkozy two Nobel-winning economists, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen wrote in 2009 a report on broader measures of well-being that initiated a new era. UK Office for National Health started to track citizen well-being extensively in 2010, OECD has tracked the well-being of its member countries since 2011 through its Better Life Index, and World Happiness Report has tracked citizen happiness around the world annually since 2012, with various national efforts to make happiness the key policy goal underway in countries ranging from New Zealand and Scotland to United Arab Emirates.

This has led to an explosion of research on how various institutions and policies affect citizen well-being, demonstrating, for example, the importance of social trust, rule of law and low corruption, and the extensiveness of welfare benefits and labor market regulation for citizen happiness.

Finally, we have the tools and measures in place that make it possible to realize the true aim of every democratic government, as articulated already by Thomas Jefferson in 1809: “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the only legitimate object of government.”

So, if we want to still save the planet and if we believe that the true object of governments ought to be improving the well-being of citizens in a sustainable way, then now is the time for paradigm shift: Instead of tracking GDP growth as the prime measure of government success, we need to track citizen well-being more directly.

Achieving this paradigm shift requires action from us all: Media should use as much space to report well-being metrics as they now use to report economic metrics and hold politicians accountable for shifts in people’s life satisfaction. Political decision-making should become two-dimensional: Assessing both the economic and well-being impact of policy proposals ought to be a routine part of all policy-making (see figure above). And we, as citizens, should be mindful in our voting decisions and push for our representatives to take the issue of citizen happiness seriously.

Time is running out. Blind economic growth for the sake of economic growth is pushing us beyond planetary boundaries – often without contributing to our well-being. It is time for well-being economics and well-being politics that ensures that economy serves people and their happiness, not the other way around.

Photo by Singkham for Pexels

“Wellbeing Starts with We”

A California City Creates Community at its Inaugural Wellbeing Summit

By Juliana Essen


On November 16, 2019, the small coastal city of Santa Monica, California held its inaugural Wellbeing Summit – a free and interactive community event that brought together nearly 900 residents, city leaders, local organizations, and members of the global wellbeing movement.

The Summit was designed to engage a broad cross-section of stakeholders to both understand and implement the findings from Santa Monica’s Wellbeing Index – the first in the US, which was made possible by a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Julie Rusk, Santa Monica’s Chief Wellbeing Officer, summed up the day this way: “This is an opportunity for everyone to come together to connect, to learn from each other, and to share their best ideas for how we really become the sustainable city of wellbeing for all.”

I had the pleasure of attending Santa Monica’s summit as an invited presenter (representing the Wellbeing Economy Alliance – WEAll) and a participant. A month later, I find my-anthropologist-self reflecting: what lessons might be gleaned for those of us seeking to advance a Good Life for All? As a key event in the wellbeing movement landscape, what core message can Santa Monica’s Summit impart?

A flash of insight came in the form of a T-shirt – the ones silk-screened on demand at the Summit itself, with the slogan “Wellbeing starts with We.” Above all else, this event underscored the necessity of shifting wellbeing work from me to we, and it highlighted several characteristics vital to making a thriving community. Here are 6 of them, and just for fun, they all start with “C”:

1.     Celebrate the positive

2.     Connect with people

3.     Consider new ideas

4.     Co-create solution

5.     Care for others

6.     Commit to move forward together

For explanations and examples of how these community-making characteristics played out at Santa Monica’s inaugural Wellbeing Summit, read on.

  1. Celebrate the positive

Santa Monica’s Summit builds on 4 years of work to measure residents’ wellbeing through the city’s Wellbeing Index. The index tracks indicators of progress in 6 areas: community, place and planet, learning, health, economic opportunity, and overall outlook, using data from resident surveys, social media, and various other sources available to the city. In short, this data is used to understand how residents are doing so that the city can invest in areas that will have the greatest impact. So first and foremost, the summit was a celebration of progress made to date.

The positive approach can be surprisingly controversial. An older Caucasian gentleman who came to protest at the entrance held a cardboard sign hand printed in red marker that read, “Wellbeing? What about Being Real?” A valid question, to be sure. His opinion (shared by others) was that the city should focus on “real” problems like homelessness and crime.

City Manager Rick Cole offered this response in his post-Summit reflection: “Pursuing a positive approach to our problems is not a naïve denial of them. All the challenging issues of our time were addressed on Saturday – but in a spirit of “what can we do to make things better?”


  1. Connect with people

One of the main goals of the Wellbeing Summit was clearly to bring the community together in a fun and festive atmosphere. From the up-beat kick-off by the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra’s Mariachi Band to the closing circle dance with Bhutanese dancers, summit goers were treated to countless opportunities to interact in the California sunshine.

We lingered over creative stations like the “What’s Wellbeing” wall, where participants could write in their ideas for heath or economic opportunity; the “Family Photo” studio, where passers-by posed with strangers for family-style portraits (and became acquainted in the process); and the Santa Monica Tourism board’s “Staycation” location, where kids played ball on Astroturf and adults lounged in pastel Adirondack chairs and dug their toes in sandboxes.

Perhaps it’s a “California thing” but we also chatted with each other as we waited in line. There were lines to sample free food from local vendors – like acai bowls, jackfruit sliders, street corn, and aguas frescas – and a significant wait to get a silk-screened T-shirt printed to order. In fact, my favorite memory from the day was dancing to Prince in the T-shirt line with an elderly African American woman I had just met. With the right conditions, that intercultural and intergenerational connection we try so hard to fabricate just happens naturally.

The summit planners indeed succeeded in this goal: early event surveying showed that 40 percent of participants met 5 or more people for the first time. As for the value, the head of Familias Latinas Unidas! (purveyor of aguas frescas) summed it up best as he twirled a volunteer during clean up: “It’s about ‘to connect’ because once we connect, we get along better.”

  1. Consider new ideas

Running concurrently with the outdoor festival were dozens of panel discussions and workshops that aimed to build participants’ understanding of the factors that affect wellbeing for people and the planet. The variety of session topics meant that was something for everyone – for different learning styles, knowledge about wellbeing, and interests.

The first panel of the day laid it out in a somewhat wonky but still accessible way: “Wellbeing: What it Is, What it Isn’t & Why it Matters,” with Anita Chandra (RAND), Carol Graham (Brookings Institution), and Neal Halfon (UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities).

I also moderated a panel that leaned toward serious: “Global Wellbeing from the United Kingdom to Bhutan to Latin America,” with Dr. Alejandro Adler (Earth Institute, Columbia University), Benilda Batzin (Health Citizenry Tutor, Guatemala) and Kinga Tshering (Institute of Happiness, Bhutan).

But there were also sessions that engaged local activists, like “Building Resilience in Communities of Color: Lessons from Virginia Avenue Park’s Parent Groups,” led by Santa Monica resident Irma Carranza, and an edgy workshop titled, “Creative Resistance through Printmaking,” in which participants learned about the role printmaking has had in California supporting movements such as the United Farm Workers while creating their own custom-stenciled posters.

The quality of these diverse sessions raised the wellbeing quotient of the summit beyond positive emotion and social interaction to incorporate learning, one of the dimensions of Santa Monica’s Wellbeing Index itself. As one Santa Monica resident remarked, the Summit was a “great way for the community to come out and … learn about things that we don’t normally learn about in our own insular world.”

  1. Co-create solutions

Rather than simply imparting knowledge, many sessions at the Summit aimed to inspire more collaborative, solution-oriented learning. In the “Mobility Matters” workshop, participants considered how reimagining the way we use our streets can impact wellbeing, looked at models from Los Angeles County, and worked elbow-to-elbow to design kid-friendly streets for their own neighborhoods. And in “Wellbeing Imaginarium,” summit-goers participated in an interactive visioning experience to create their own city of wellbeing.

At the summit, the City of Santa Monica also demonstrated its tangible support for resident-led co-created solutions in the form of Wellbeing Microgrants, a new approach to empower residents to make positive change. Each year, the city plans to distribute several grants up to $500 for small-scale, local actions to improve community wellbeing, with annual themes varying according to the Wellbeing Index findings.

To see the microgrant program in action, Summit-goers could visit a booth in the outdoor marketplace to meet past grant recipients, see displays of their work, talk to them about their experience, and even buy goods produced with the grant, like traditional Oaxacan shawls. Also on hand were applications for the next grant cycle and city staff to help explain the process.

Residents also had an opportunity to start co-creating their own projects at a design charrette I led. A design charrette is a fast-moving, interactive, creative process in which participants write quick ideas on Post It Notes (in this case representing improvements they’d like to see in their communities within the framework of the six dimensions of wellbeing), organize those ideas into categories, and then form small groups to discuss and decide. Besides a better understanding of wellbeing and knowledge/skills for project design, at least a few participants left with plans shaping up to apply for a microgrant together.

  1. Care for others

Perhaps the most vital characteristic for a thriving community is care for others. Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis made this assertion quite clearly in her blog post reflecting on the Summit:

Finally, we will know that we are a sustainable city of wellbeing when, in considering local policies, we stop asking what’s in it for me and start asking what’s in it for everyone.  This community spirit needs to permeate all our decisions, even those that involve asphalt and lane markers. Only when people in the community feel responsible for the wellbeing of others in the community—people they know and people they don’t know, can we truly reach our goal of being a sustainable city of wellbeing.

Unfortunately, care for others doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes we just see the problems in our community rather than the people who are struggling. “Homelessness” is one such issue in Santa Monica (as well as my own coastal town to the south), in which discourse is typically framed in terms of public detriments such as visual blight and crime, not human suffering. The Summit’s solution? An interactive station with virtual reality headsets that allowed users to literally walk in another person’s shoes in a journey from homeless to housed. The station underscored the reality that it’s much easier to care for others when we can imagine their experiences as our own. Leave it to “Silicon Beach” to use technological innovation to do just that.

  1. Commit to move forward together

Overall, Santa Monica’s Summit represents the government’s commitment to placing the people and the planet at the forefront of their decision-making. City Mayor Gleam Davis sees this as her charge: “One of the sacred duties of all governments – federal, state, regional, and local – is to improve the wellbeing of their constituents.”

Anuj Gupta, Santa Monica’s Deputy City Manager explains, “We in the city government, we’re not really succeeding at our jobs unless our people are thriving and that’s really what this [summit] is all about: making sure our community is healthy, connected, engaged.”

At the same time, the Summit made it clear that wellbeing is a collective endeavor. In the final session of the day, a community conversation on “What’s Next for Wellbeing” with Mayor Gleam Davis and City Manager Rick Cole, the mayor shared this sentiment:

We truly are a Sustainable City of Wellbeing, but this is not something that the city government can bestow on you or can do alone. If we are truly going to live up to that title, then each and every one of us needs to invest in this community. I know we heard today that there are things we need to work on. But let’s do the hard and satisfying work of working on them together….

Santa Monica City Councilmember Ana Maria Jara offered a more inspiring reflection as the day came to an end:

This is only the beginning. A summit seems to me like it’s more of a closing. It is not. We’ve just started to climb. So let us continue together so we can all learn, so that we can all … act upon doing better for everyone.

For me, Councilmember Jara is speaking not only to residents in Santa Monica, but to all of us engaged in the global wellbeing movement.

To get a better feel for Santa Monica’s inaugural Wellbeing Summit, watch this recap and hear the individuals quoted above speak in their own voice:

And to learn more about Santa Monica’s Wellbeing Project, visit the Office of Civic Wellbeing website:





By Sam Butler-Sloss, Co-Lead of WEAll Youth Scotland and Organiser at Economists for Future

I got involved in the Wellbeing Economy Alliance because the case for repurposing and redesigning the economy to deliver wellbeing for people and planet is overwhelming. Yet, as a student of economics, it is unclear to me to what extent the economics profession agrees with this. 

In my experience, most economists want to enhance the wellbeing of humanity through analytical contributions. Yet, in the past several decades, dominant economic theory and practice has made a number of consequential errors that have compromised the discipline’s ability to fulfil this goal. Chief among them is the de-prioritisation of the single greatest threat to the wellbeing of humanity in the 21st century – the climate and ecological crisis. 

 Across teaching, research and public and policy engagement, economists have failed to adequately engage in this issue. The most cited journal in economics has never published an article on climate change. The teaching of economics remains abstracted from ecological foundations. And even as other academic disciplines have become increasingly vocal on this issue, economists have remained too silent. 

Worse too, when economists do engage, they often distort the problem. To name a few examples, their models tend to leave out tipping points, catastrophic risks and treat all threats as ‘marginal’. As a result, many economists’ contributions have been used as evidence to scale back, rather than scale up, climate ambition. 

The economics profession’s insufficient response to the climate crisis puzzles me – it appears they are not even living up to their own standards.  

Firstly, over the last several decades, economists have tried to convince the world that they are ‘scientific’. But, if they pride themselves on being scientific, then they must take the most important science of our day seriously.

Secondly, if the purpose of economics is to further human prosperity, then in an era of environmental breakdown, the exclusion of the natural world is only undermining that very goal.

 Thirdly, the priorities of economists are often governed by cost-benefit analysis, but there is no scenario that is more expensive than unabated climate change. Even when using this dangerously narrow framework, the economic imperative for urgent action is clear. With the inclusion of harder-to-quantify aspects, such as distributional justice, this imperative for action is only amplified.  

You might ask, why focus on economists? Is the inaction not the fault of politicians? Is it not a lack of political will? Sure, political willpower is in serious shortfall. As COP comes to an end, all eyes are on the world leaders. Rightly so. They must show leadership: they must take decisive and ambitious action or step aside for those that will. But pressure groups must also dig one layer deeper and ask how policy-makers make their decisions. For better or worse, economics has a central role in this process. If we are going to radically ramp up the ambition of climate policy, we must change how it is designed. We must change economics. 

That is what motivated us, a group of students from across the world, to found Economists for Future. To arrest the climate crisis, economics must move from getting it wrong to making it right. 

At Economists for Future, we are critical optimists. We have a deep belief in the power of good economics to make the world a better and more humane place. But we believe that we are currently not living up to our responsibility to help create and communicate a policy framework that accelerates the transformation to a more sustainable, prosperous and fairer world. 

At this stage, failure to step up to this responsibility and to seize this opportunity is to let down the world. If economists cannot engage in this economic transformation the science requires—then who? If we do not raise our game now—then when? The likelihood is it will be too late. In which case, history has every right to judge us harshly. 

In our one-page open letter we lay out the case for economists to raise their game. 

We are encouraging everyone to sign and share it. 


What do we want? To save the world!

When do we want it? Now!

How are we going to do it? Errr….

It was easy to be caught up by the exuberance of the Climate Strikers and Extinction Rebellion last Spring. Greta took many of us by surprise – a determined Swedish Joan of Arc campaigning solo against climate change. Who could forget her on the stage at Davos next to the venerable Sir David Attenborough, the old and the young united in purpose – calling for “a plan”? But as yet no masterplan has appeared to rescue the natural world and moderate climate change. And so, as we feared, the alarming decline continues.

For far too long an environmentally unaccountable economic juggernaut has dragged us towards a precipice of environmental collapse. But now the cohorts of climate protest have done something truly worthwhile- they have lit a beacon that will now be impossible to extinguish. However, it is vital that this beacon shines on the right place– the interface between economics and the natural world. The philosophical ground has been laid by Raworth, Klein and Occasio-Cortez and others. Their arguments are heartfelt, compassionate and elevating: the goals are admirable. Nevertheless, even the Green New Deal is as yet only a list of aspirations. We still lack the all-embracing blueprint for a practical, immediately realisable green economics revolution that doesn’t plunge the world into economic chaos. So where do we find that?

I’ve been searching for that blueprint for a long time, and I discovered it has been right under our noses all the time – in Nature itself.

It’s several decades since I first got seriously worried about what was happening to the environment and began the journey that eventually led to the publication of my book, Junglenomics, earlier this year. For years I suffered the pains of the ‘eco-anxiety’ that the American Psychological Association now recognises as a mental condition and describes as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”. Rachel Carson drove the nails in deeper. I may have been hard to live with sometimes, I admit. I found it difficult to see a future worth having children for (though I’m forever grateful to my wife for ignoring me!). Then I came across an old book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, by Dale Carnegie. Two pieces of advice stick in my mind: “compartmentalise” and “one step at a time”. The book taught me that you have to take control of your fears, not wallow in them. To do that I realised I needed to understand why we humans destroy the natural world that we depend on for our very survival. Not the superficial why- “greed” for example, but the genetic, developmental, anthropological why. “Look deep into Nature”, Einstein said, “and then you will understand everything better”. Few wiser words have been uttered. Yet I was to find that Nature not only helps you understand, it also provides solutions.

I began to see who we humans are in the big scheme of things: for example, that we are genetically driven to colonise resources, like all our ancestors before us since the beginning of life. I also came to realise that we live in an “economic ecosystem” that is an extension of natural ecosystems, with us as its “species”. But we aren’t tied to one niche like wild species: we are avatars, able to slip from one niche to another. Here, evolution is provided by ever more rapidly advancing technology and the new jobs it creates, while the out-dated go extinct.

And there lies the problem: our economic ecosystem has evolved too fast and too far to develop the fine synchrony that takes ecology millions of years to achieve; too fast in particular to build the checks and balances that in ecosystems keep species from destroying their environment. The chief reason our economic ecosystem has got so out of balance with the natural world is therefore because, unlike in ecosystems, polluters and degraders are divorced from the consequences of their destructive behaviour, so their own viability isn’t directly diminished by it. In ecosystems, “detritivores” have coevolved with potential polluters to clean up and recycle their outputs, each working for its own profit, innocently colluding to transfer nutrients back down into the soil to begin their life-giving journey once again. In contrast, markets have been free to degrade the environment yet thrive.

This is foremost an economics issue therefore. The power of markets, expressed through our ancient resource-hungry genes, now needs harnessing to work for the environment not against it, and until markets are subjected to the same economic disciplines found in ecosystems, the decline will go on.

There is of course much more to this, but the really exciting thing about this ecosystem approach is that it at last provides real beef- a manifesto covering all areas of the economics-ecology interface that any enlightened government could begin tomorrow: for example “Robin Hood” levies that take from polluters to fast-track a green tech revolution, and investment instruments that permanently protect important wilderness in return for infrastructure capital that benefits the poorest.

I believe passionately that if we can get our leaders to adopt it, such “ecosystem economics” could get us back in synch with the natural world before it’s too late.

Simon Lamb is the author of Junglenomics: Nature’s solutions the world environment crisis: a new paradigm for the twenty-first century and beyond

You can find the “12 Core Principles of Junglenomics”, and the “60-point manifesto for an environment-saving economics revolution” at

The circularity paradox in the European steel industry

What happens when solutions to economic system challenges start to create their own problems?

Researching the European steel industry, Dr Julian Torres discovered that the more integrated supply chains are, the easier it is to track the lifecycle of steel alloys and the elements that go into them. Higher levels of integration make it easier to bring steel back via reverse logistics without losing too much value. The more you do this, the less iron ore you need to mine and melt, and the longer the reserves of high-grade iron ore – which needs less energy to transform into steel – will last. And integrating supply chains does not necessarily mean having the different steps all within the same company.

Recycling, remanufacturing and refurbishing are indisputably important tools for reducing our consumption of natural resources. These activities contribute to what scientists call circularity: making sure we use materials for as long as possible, over and over, so that we exploit nature less and less.

Doing so requires creating what are called “secondary markets”, where used materials are gathered up, reworked and injected back into the economy. While this is an essential part of creating circularity, there can sometimes be unintended and negative consequences. A striking example is the secondary metals market: it has been a success), creating new jobs and business opportunities), but the environmentally friendly goal that it once had is no longer a priority.

In Europe, we recycle more than 70% of used steel on average, and just over 30% of all recycled or remanufactured steel is produced in furnaces that use electricity rather than burning coal. Not bad, but no longer enough when considering the increasing steel demand from developing nations, which are growing rapidly.


Read Julian’s recent piece for The Conversation here explaining his findings, and what the steel industry can do to improve.

He has also created this entertaining video to help explain the circularity paradox – a.k.a. the “little monster” Scrappy! Check it out, and be sure to share it.

Dr Julian Torres is a recent graduate of the AdaptEcon II PhD programme. During the Programme’s final retreat in Iceland in August he participated in workshops with the WEAll Amp team. Julian received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme via a Marie Curie Fellowship on Excellent Research (grant agreement 

675153). Julian is a member of the International Society for Industrial Ecology and a Board Member of the Jean Monnet Excellence Center on Sustainable Development.

Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

Anna Chrysopoulou is a volunteer with WEAll Scotland – she has written this blog to mark Challenge Poverty Week 2019.

“What does economic growth, measured by GDP[1], tell us about essential issues such as poverty and social inequalities?

Technically nothing. As long as the economy is growing in terms of production and consumption, the country is considered successful. When it comes to the distribution of wealth, are we still successful when poverty and social discontent are rising?

Having a job and yet struggling financially

Although GDP ignores factors such as pay gaps, unpaid work and inequalities, what it does measure is paid work. What if employment does not guarantee the route out of poverty?

Working or in-work poverty, which describes households who live in relative poverty even though someone in the household is in paid work, is a rising issue. The Scottish Government in 2015 issued a report which proved that the majority of working-age adults (52%) in Scotland are in ‘in-work’ poverty, and this figure has been gradually increasing. Indeed, in 2017/2018, working poverty increased to 60% (representing 390,000 working-age adults after housing costs), which means that more people are locked in daily struggle.

Let’ s add now to the conversation social inequalities. Our economy creates powerful currents that could easily pull any of us into poverty.

Women, ethnic minorities and disabled people are more at risk of poverty

Poverty in Scotland has a female face; women are more likely to be living in poverty compared to men. In 2015-2018, the poverty rate for single working-age women was higher than for single adult men, whether they had dependent children or not.  The same relation is found to pensioners, as the relative poverty rate is higher for single female pensioners than male. Apart from the pay gap, one of the reasons for this difference is that women are the majority of low paid workers, due to what is usually considered “women’s work”, such as cleaning, care and retail, being underrated in the labour market.

These figures follow a global trend which shows that it is harder for women to escape poverty. And of course, not to mention unpaid work, such as childcare and housework, which is not even taken into account. According to Oxfam, women do at least twice as much unpaid care work than men, with an estimated global value of $10 trillion, equivalent to one-eighth of the world’s entire GDP.

Social inequalities appear in terms of race and disability, as well. Relative poverty rates are higher where a family member is disabled[2] and are also higher for ethnic minorities. People from minority ethnic (non-white) groups are more likely to be in relative poverty from the ‘White- British’ group. A report in 2017 revealed that poverty in BME[3] communities is twice that of white communities, which is even worse for BME women as they are more affected by austerity. Unemployment levels in many ethnic groups, which is strongly related to poverty and is holding people down, are also higher than most of the Scottish population.

So when we aim to tackle poverty, inequalities ought to  be considered thoroughly and comprehensively.

This evidence demonstrates that we cannot measure everything using economic growth and a monetary system. Living in poverty cannot be described only with numbers. It affects all aspects of one’s life, including those such as mental health that are not measured and therefore, are ignored.

For this reason, it is vital to redesign our current narrow economic system, which keeps failing to show the big picture and focus on people’s wellbeing rather than the economy itself. Scotland could lead the way on that.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, stated in her recent TED talk that “the objective of economic policy should be collective well-being. What we choose to measure as a country matters. It matters because it drives political focus and public activity”.

A wellbeing economy that places people and the planet first is necessary.  This wellbeing economy could be the solution for poverty and social injustice. It is based on the creation of a society that accounts for nature, distribution of resources and better quality of life for everyone. It aims at social, economic and environmental justice and suggests alternative business models, like the employee ownership model that as Sarah Deas, board member of WEAll and former director of CDS, explained: “fosters ‘predistribution’ of wealth with employees,  while companies perform well in terms of productivity, inclusion and innovation”.

And as Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams argued in their book The Economics of Arrival “Growth up to a certain point is important- and countries and people below their respective threshold points need more of it, as long as it is good quality and distributed well. After that point, however, societies need to become better at focusing on the quality of the economy instead of its size. Bricks and mortar are the material foundations of a house, but they are not what constitutes the warmth, welcome and comfort of a home- that stems from relationships, security and personalisation”[4].

Maybe this exactly how we should think of our economy.”



[1] GDP: Gross Domestic Product which measures the total value of all goods made, and services provided, during a specific period of time.

[2] Since 2012/2013, disabled people are identified as those who report any physical or mental health condition(s) that last or are expected to last 12 months or more, and which limit their ability to carry out day-to-day activities

[3] Black and Minority Ethnic

[4] Trebeck, K. and Williams, J. (2019). The Economics of Arrival. 1st ed. Bristol: Policy Press, p.71.

Let me start by telling you a secret, you can’t tell my boss though. When I first got a job at The Equality Trust I didn’t really know what inequality was. This is probably partly down to my privilege, but if you asked me to define it, there and then, as I was being interviewed, I’d have been toast. 

So when I started at The Equality Trust, I did what everyone does, I googled it. Then I read books on it, really good books. Then I watched Ted Talks on it and listened to podcasts but still it couldn’t quite stick. I couldn’t quite make sense of it in my head. Until I heard a story about it

Then I got it. Inequality is everywhere, every time you get that sick feeling of injustice in your stomach, the feeling you can’t define when you are a child, the feeling of sadness at the state of the world, that’s inequality. It’s everywhere and ever present. 

So how do we fight inequality? Well how about stories? After all, it worked for me.  

At The Equality Trust we have created a new platform to hear people’s stories about their experience of inequality… and it involves you. It’s called Everyday Inequality and brings home all the stats: think Humans of New York meets Everyday Sexism, but we’re talking about inequality in all its forms. 

We are facing unprecedented changes to our world. The climate crisis, shockingly unfair  levels of income distribution, insecure work and unequal pay. Inequality is entrenched in all these issues, yet there is no platform or forum providing information or access to the lived experience of inequality or its everyday impacts. Amongst the statistics, policy briefings and panels of experts, we forget real people’s voices and stories of inequality are lost. 

Everyday Inequality aims to change this. We are bringing together blogs, interviews, podcasts, poetry, music, art, videos and photography that showcase the real, diverse stories of what inequality feels like.

Videos, words, poems, performances – all forms of creative storytelling are welcome. Anyone can contribute, you don’t need any experience or a specific story to tell. You just need to be open to starting a conversation and talking about your personal experience, in whatever form you are most comfortable. We want this to be diverse and unique. Because inequality is bad for all of us, not just for people at the sharp end but those at top as well.

To find out more about the project, please get in touch with or visit our sign up form here. 

Frankie Galvin is Campaigns and Administrative Assistant at the Equality Trust

This blog has been reposted from Happy City

Why is it that almost all the radical approaches to delivering a new economic vision are being led by women?

From Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand to Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, there is a North-to-South shared agenda calling for wellbeing to be put at the heart of government thinking.

Here in the UK, of the five largest national parties, only the two led by women have come out in support of the fast growing ‘wellbeing economy movement’ that is challenging the foundation stones of our economic and social systems. In July this year, Caroline Lucas called on parliament to take seriously the urgent need to move ‘beyond GDP’ in our measures of progress and to better assess and prioritise the wellbeing of people and planet. Yesterday, Jo Swinson used her first party conference as leader to announce that the Liberal Democrats would introduce a Wellbeing Budget to tackle climate change and social inequality.

And this trend goes beyond the headline makers.

Having led a pioneering wellbeing economy organisation, Happy City, for the last 10 years, I have seen this pattern repeated at every level and around the world.  Within global organisations like OECD to national ones like ONS, it is women who are leading on the serious work being undertaken to challenge the central role of GDP as a reliable measure of societal progress.  NGOs and campaigning organisations, such as Wellbeing Economy AlliancePositive MoneyDoughnut Economics and New Economics Foundation, all have powerful female leadership blazing a trail for a new way to do policy and practice.

What began as a personal curiosity about an emerging pattern, is fast becoming a blindingly clear thread running through the wellbeing economy movement.

There is, however, a real risk that policy makers and the media may once again fall into the misogynistic pothole some of our current leaders seems to keep disappearing down.  Whenever ‘wellbeing’ or ‘happiness’ are mentioned it is usually alongside a slight snigger about anyone serious wasting their time thinking about such frivolities. The notion that suggesting a Minister for Happiness, or a Wellbeing Budget might be the action of a ‘big girls’ blouse’ is so far from the truth that our politicians, institutions and media giants need to catch up.

Increasingly, economic heavy-weights and leading environmentalists are pointing to wellbeing economics as the only way to address our current social and environmental crises.

This is no fluffy stuff.  It is one of the most urgent actions of our time, and women leaders need to be supported for their courage in stepping up and saying so.  I for one, am with them every step of the way.

Liz Zeidler

Co Founder and Chief Executive

Happy City

Marine Tanguy is CEO of MTArt

Contemporary research into future cities tends to focus on technology, architecture and infrastructure.  Art in Smart Cities  is a recent study that highlights the importance of public art projects for our future cities.

Very little evidence and academic studies exist to determine whether or not public art is core to the life and demand of citizens. My co-author Vishal Kumar and I collected data at two public art initiatives organised by MTArt Agency. We found that 60% of the sample audience were willing to pay at least £5 for the implementation of more public art in their local area, with 84% willing to pay at least £2, and 84% of our sample said regular public art initiatives would increase their wellbeing.

The main motivations of this work are to shine a light on the value of public art initiatives. The smart city concept is inclusive and based on cross-pollination: public art projects are representative of this complexity as they should involve art experts, urban planners, economists, sociologists, political scientists as well as citizens.

It is important to understand the economic value of public art initiatives within the smart cities context because it will allow policy makers, urban planners and developers to implement such initiatives in the future. The dialogue must be open and eclectic in its methodological approach. It calls for a different, much closer, relationship between cultural institutions and empirical researchers than has been the case to date.

Our study is here to encourage economists to work and value public art projects: it shows a demand which can be expanded to all future cities and worth studying while the public art value reveals itself to be key to citizens.

Hopefully this study is also encouraging to more cultural institutions to partner up with data analysts to lead stronger research into their audiences, the impact these projects generate and the support that they may get from them. Historically, the unwillingness of cultural institutions to engage with the tools of economics has resulted in little progress in valuing art projects, specifically public art ones. No doubt this is in part due to the unfamiliarity at using the language of consumer surplus and willingness to pay and we hope this study helps making it a more familiar method.

We also wish that this study could be the start to a long-term aim of systematically building a rigorous body of evidence which can be used to understand the value of public art projects in its various forms.

Founded in 2015, MTArt Agency is an award-winning talent agency which represents the top visual artists. While the art world concentrates on selling art on walls for a few, we focus on investing in the top artists who could inspire everyone. Every month, the agency reviews 200 portfolios of artists. Our selection committee select artists with innovative techniques, inspiring content and strong visions. Find out more.

Image: MTArt ‘Don’t Think Twice’ project by Jennifer Abessira at London Bridge

Reposted from Junxion 

Capitalism is suffering from a crisis of legitimacy and nowhere is that truer than in the banking sector. Following the 2007/8 crash, banks have focused on compliance and getting their house in order, but they have broadly failed to win back the trust they lost.

Working together in a process convened by the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a group of 30 banks have developed the Principles for Responsible Banking—a framework for all banks to show that they understand their purpose is to serve and contribute to meeting society’s needs and individuals’ goals. Following a six-month global consultation, the final version of the Principles and supporting documents were released this week (July 25, 2019). The Principles will be opened for signature on 22 September 2019 at the UN General Assembly.

To cite r3.0—the multi-stakeholder platform that promotes Redesign for Resilience and Regeneration of which Junxion is an Advocation Partner—it’s the kind of ‘radical collaboration’ needed for system change. The Principles for Responsible Banking aim to create nothing less than the sustainable banking system of the future.

Who’s involved?

The 30 founding banks come from around the globe and include China’s ICBC—the world’s largest bank—BNP Paribas, Barclays, Citi, National Australia Bank, BBVA and South Africa’s Land Bank. A further 40-plus banks have committed to becoming signatories and these include Standard Chartered, ABN-AMRO and Amalgamated Bank from the US.

There are also a number of non-bank endorsers of the Principles—banking organizations such as the European Banking Association and the World Savings Bank Institute as well as specialist service providers such as Datamaran and responsible investment advocates such as ShareAction.

What are the Principles for Responsible Banking?

The Principles for Responsible Banking are a framework for all banks to show that they understand their purpose is to serve and contribute to meeting society’s needs and individuals’ goals.

The six principles signatory banks commit to are:

  1. Alignment We will align our business strategy to be consistent with and contribute to individuals’ needs and society’s goals, as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and relevant national and regional frameworks.
  2. Impact & Target Setting We will continuously increase our positive impacts while reducing the negative impacts on, and managing the risks to, people and environment resulting from our activities, products and services. To this end, we will set and publish targets where we can have the most significant impacts.
  3. Clients & Customers We will work responsibly with our clients and our customers to encourage sustainable practices and enable economic activities that create shared prosperity for current and future generations.
  4. Stakeholders We will proactively and responsibly consult, engage and partner with relevant stakeholders to achieve society’s goals.
  5. Governance & Culture We will implement our commitment to these Principles through effective governance and a culture of responsible banking.
  6. Transparency & Accountability We will periodically review our individual and collective implementation of these Principles and be transparent about and accountable for our positive and negative impacts and our contribution to society’s goals
How will banks implement the Principles?

Within four years of signing the Principles banks must fully implement the three key steps of analyzing positive and negative impacts, target setting and implementation, and reporting on progress.

The impact analysis has to ‘identify the most significant (potential) positive and negative impacts on the societies, economies and environments where it operates’ and identify the business opportunities to increase the positive and decrease the negative ones.

Secondly, banks have to set two or more targets covering at least two of the priority impact areas. These targets have to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). Banks have to begin taking steps to meet the targets, including establishing a governance and oversight structure to monitor progress.

Thirdly, banks have to publish their impact analysis and report their progress in implementing the Principles and meeting their targets, and this self-assessment has to be subject to limited assurance.

So what?

A responsible business professional might say this is sustainability 101 for banks: Set a vision, improve performance with the help of some targets, engage with all the people that matter in the shape of your customers and stakeholders, look at how you make decisions and your company culture and report on progress.

But it’s not just any old vision that the banks can set for themselves: it’s a vision of what the world needs. The draft Implementation guidance for Principle 1 talks about ‘creating consistency between the bank’s value creation model and the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement …’. This is big: the Principles are normative, explicitly calling on banks to work towards how the world should be.

It’s not just any old vision that the banks can set for themselves: it’s a vision of what the world needs.

And this theme is continued in Principle 2 about measuring impact and setting targets. On the face of it, that looks like any sound sustainability programme. But those targets have to meet or exceed the targets in the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. Again, signatories have to contribute explicitly to what society needs.

And if those targets are judged to be failing to address that bank’s most significant targets or are not in line with the ambitions in the SDGs and Paris, then that bank can be removed from the signatory list. So, the Principles have teeth.

Will the Principles achieve any real change?

There are definitely reasons to be cheerful. The Principles elevate sustainability to the strategic level—this is more than some risk analysis on an individual transaction or an ESG (environmental, social and governance) screen on a particular portfolio. The Principles are saying society’s goals have to form an integral part of banks’ own strategic objectives.

And they are deliberately designed so banks can ‘start where they are’. No matter their starting point or context, developed or developing country, banks can get on board so the Principles create a framework for the global banking industry.

A key determinant of how much progress banks will make to delivering on the promise of the Principles lies  in the interpretation of ‘alignment’—a question that was raised In the public consultation that just closed. The official answer is that ‘Alignment requires that a bank’s business strategy is consistent with and geared towards making a positive contribution to the SDGs, the Paris Climate Agreement and relevant national or regional frameworks, where a bank is best positioned to do so through its business.’

This is clearly designed to leave space for individual banks to make their own judgement. But James Vaccaro, director of strategy at the ethical Triodos Bank, one of the founding banks that led the development of the Principles, is confident that the Principles are well designed to achieve change across the banking system:

“We have our ‘light on the hill’ in the shape of the SDGs and Paris and we have that ‘ramp effect’ where companies make progress as they individually go through their iterations of analysis, engagement and implementation. But crucially there is sharing between the individual signatory institutions as well. And that means you will have a race to the top, which creates the right conditions for non-linear change and the potential for the banking industry to take some really big steps towards the world we want.”

What’s the big opportunity here?

This is much more than a voluntary industry initiative that banks glibly sign up to, warns Madeleine Ronquest, Head of Environment, Social and Climate Risk at South Africa-based FirstRand Bank—also a founding bank of the Principles:

“We want to properly apply our minds so that the process and the information we publish will stand up to scrutiny. And there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be done in advance, engaging critical stakeholders, internally and publicly, spending as much time as may be required and being as inclusive as possible. The Principles are very aspirational and very ambitious and that was the intention in developing them. Signing them represents a serious commitment.”

The real opportunity of the Principles is to convince a sceptical world that businesses can and will collaborate for the common good.

So, they are not going to be easy to implement—but we all know they are necessary. The Principles represent an outstanding opportunity for the banking industry to do the right thing. To demonstrate that they are serious about backing up their social purpose statements with real impact that ‘achieves shared prosperity for both current and future generations’, as the Principles’ mission statement says.

And given the crucial role that finance plays in society’s collective efforts to create a better future, there is a lot riding on how banks step up here. It’s more than securing their own legitimacy and creating the sustainable banking system of the future, it’s about financing the change we need to see in the world.

Even more than that, we need these industry initiatives—these ‘meso-level’ activities in r3.0 parlance – to succeed and society has to see that they do. The real opportunity of the Principles is to convince a sceptical world that businesses can and will collaborate for the common good.

It’s what we at Junxion call being ‘audacious, together’. It is leadership.


Adam Garfunkel is an owner and Managing Director at Junxion. For more than 20 years, he’s been involved in corporate sustainability initiatives and led the team that created the communications strategy for the Principles for Responsible Banking.

This is the first in a series of guest blogs, exploring a range of new ideas for how we can move forward and create a future economy with human and environmental wellbeing at its heart. These blogs reflect the opinions of their authors, not necessarily WEAll and its members. What do you think of Angus’ idea? Comment below!

By Angus Forbes

“Two extraordinary things have just happened to the human race. The first is the understanding that we now run, along with Mother Nature, the life-support system of our planet. This is tantamount to a second Copernican revolution. The second is that we have now formed into a connected global citizenship.

From this point on, the future of both Earth and us humans is inextricably linked due to our size and power. So, we now have part responsibility for the planet’s ability to sustain life as we know it. We, yes, us humans, have to decide what the biophysical integrity of this planet will be in 2120, 3020, 4020 and thereafter.

We created our 200 countries though numerous acts of national self-determination when the global population was, on average, just under two billion (1924). Now we number just under eight billion people, we are urban, we are powerful and things have changed.

We now have a global problem that clearly cannot be handled by the system of independent countries and their multilateral organizations that we have created. For in the 50 years since the 1972 UN Stockholm Declaration which stated that the natural assets of Earth must be safeguarded, we have witnessed the accelerating destruction of our most valuable global asset, the biosphere. So something is structurally very wrong.

I believe the blame for the current predicament lies squarely with us, that is, you and me, because we have not created the right governance tool for our times, the risk we face and the known future. The nation state system we built was never designed to protect a biosphere from attack by 8 billion of us.

I am absolutely convinced that in order to protect the biosphere, we need a specialist global authority to do the job. We need to give it powers of regulation and revenue collection over all human organizational form (including the nation state) sufficient to impose the necessary biophysical boundaries for us all. Our new specialist authority will make decisions based on time frames different from those used by any existing human organization, i.e. 100, 500 and 1,000 years.

I believe that humanity is just about to embark upon our first act of global self-determination and enter the current void in global governance to create this authority. In 2022, 32 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote the computer program HTML and gave us the World Wide Web, five billion of us will be connected to each other via the internet. Five billion global citizens who are only seconds apart.

Because we know the problem and we are now connected, we have in place the two preconditions for positive radical change. We are in fact 80% of the way to forming the Global Planet Authority. We have no one to ask except ourselves in order to take the last step, to vote the GPA into existence.

It will involve hard work and sacrifice in the short term, of that there is no doubt, but I believe that we are in fact desperate to live in a world of clear biophysical boundaries, to show that we can shoulder this, our greatest intergenerational responsibility. After all, we are all just humans and all part of the biosphere. As we damage it, we damage ourselves. If we restore and look after it, we restore and look after ourselves.

We must, and can, overcome our limitations by an evolutionary leap in governance. My book, ‘Global Planet Authority: How we are about to save the biosphere’, is available to order now. “

First published on Local Futures website

Imagine a world where food routinely gets shipped thousands of miles away to be processed, then shipped back to be sold right where it started. Imagine cows from Mexicobeing fed corn imported from the United States, then being exported to the United States for butchering, and the resulting meat being shipped back to Mexico, one last time, to be sold. Imagine a world in which, in most years since 2005, China has somehow managed to import more goods from itself than from the USA, one of its largest trading partners.

This may sound like the premise of some darkly comic, faintly dystopian film – albeit one geared towards policy wonks. But it’s no joke – in fact, it is the daily reality of the global economy.

The above examples are all instances of ‘re-importation’ – that is, countries shipping their own goods overseas only to ship them back again at a later stage in the production chain. And these are far from the only instances of this head-scratching phenomenon. In the waters off the coast of Norway, cod arrive every year after an impressive migratory journey, having swum thousands of miles around the Arctic Circle in search of spawning grounds. Yet this migration pales in comparison to the one the fish undertake after being caught: they’re sent to China to be fileted before returning to supermarkets in Scandinavia to be sold. This globalization of the seafood supply chain extends to the US as well; more than half of the seafood caught in Alaska is processed in China, and much of it gets sent right back to American grocery store shelves.

Compounding the insanity of re-importation is the equally baffling phenomenon of redundant trade. This is a common practice whereby countries both import and export huge quantities of identical products in a given year. To take a particularly striking example, in 2007, Britain imported 15,000 tons of chocolate-covered waffles, while exporting 14,000 tons. In 2017, the US both imported and exported nearly 1.5 million tons of beef, and nearly half a million tons of potatoes. In 2016, 213,000 tons of liquid milk arrived in the UK – a windfall, had not 545,000 tons of milk also left the UK over the course of that same year.

On the face of it, this kind of trade makes no economic sense. Why would it be worth the immense cost – in money as well as fuel – of sending perfectly good food abroad only to bring it right back again?

The answer lies in the way the global economy is structured. ‘Free trade’ agreements allow transnational corporations to access labor and resources almost anywhere, enabling them to take advantage of tax loopholes and national differences in labor and environmental standards. Meanwhile, direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels, on the order of $5 trillion per year worldwide, allow the costs of shipping to be largely borne by taxpayers and the environment instead of the businesses that actually engage in it. In combination, these structural forces lead to insane levels of international transport that serve no purpose other than boosting corporate profits.

The consequences of this bad behavior are already severe, and set to become worse in the coming decades. Small farmers, particularly in the global South, have seen their livelihoods undermined by influxes of cheap food from abroad; meanwhile, their climate-resilient agricultural practices are actively discouraged by the WTO and ‘free trade’ agreements. And food processing and packaging – both critical for food that’s going to be shipped a long way from where it was produced – account for a significant proportion of the global food system’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Food is not the only product that accrues unnecessary miles of shipping. The components of a typical smartphone, for example, have traveled a collective half-million miles – touching down on three continents – before landing in your pocket. This kind of excessive trade is why carbon emissions from international transport are growing nearly three times faster than emissions from other sources. At current rates of growth, international trade by sea and air will, by 2050, emit about as much CO2 as the entire European Union does today.

The link between liberalized trade policies and carbon emissions is clear and straightforward: A recent study from Japan’s Kyushu University found that when countries reduce or eliminate their tariffs – particularly on resource-intensive industries like mining and manufacturing – they see corresponding increases in the amount of carbon emissions associated with imported goods.

What this means is that if we’re going to effectively combat the climate crisis, we’ll have to pay attention to trade policy. Specifically, we’ll need to change it so that unrestricted, unlimited ‘free trade’ is no longer an option. But policymakers currently have little incentive to reduce international trade because, bizarrely, emissions from global trade do not appear in any nation’s carbon accounting. There are plenty of ways to fix this – for example, emissions from trade could be assigned to countries on the basis of where goods start out, where they end up, or where the ships and planes transporting them are registered. All that countries would have to do is agree on a standard. But at the moment no country is assigned responsibility for these floating emissions. The result is a situation in which policymakers promise to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously working to expand global trade – even though these two goals are wholly incompatible.

If policymakers continue to drag their feet, the impetus for real change in the way we conduct global trade will have to come from peoples’ movements working together to make their voices heard. We must call for an end to the deregulatory ‘free trade’ and tax policies that make practices like re-importation and redundant trade profitable. One of the most critical steps towards sanity would be the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels. When taxpayers stop paying part of the cost of global transport, transnational corporations will have to radically reconsider the way they operate.

These changes will be vigorously opposed by big global businesses, which means that generating momentum for trade policies that promote community health and ecological stability won’t happen overnight. But the first step is raising awareness of trade as a climate issue, and overcoming the unwillingness of most major media outlets, politicians, and think-tanks to discussit critically.

To that end, Local Futures has released a new factsheet and tongue-in-cheek short film on ‘insane trade’ and its consequences. We hope they can help draw attention to the absurdity of the current system, point to healthier alternatives, and make the issue of global trade approachable and understandable for a wide audience. So please, share them with people you know, and start a conversation around this critical topic.

First published by Front Porch Republic

Without question, the rollout of the so-called “Green New Deal” in early February was less than elegant. Not long before the actual resolution proposing the idea was submitted into Congress by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), a set of policy “talking points” were released by a member of Ocasio-Cortez’ staff.  It contained references to “farting cows” (code for methane reductions in agriculture), the elimination of air travel, and a guaranteed income for those unable or “unwilling” to work.

Though none of this language is included in the actual resolution, its release by the still “green” (in the sense of political experience) AOC provided quick fodder for her many enemies on the right, especially the pundits at FOX News.  And while more than 70 Democratic members of Congress quickly signed on to the resolution, House speaker Nancy Pelosi rather perfunctorily dismissed the wish list of primarily left-wing ideas for combatting both inequality and climate change as a “green dream,” and liberal senator Dianne Feinstein berated a group of young people who came to her office asking for support.

On the other hand, some conservatives, including New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, did not rush to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Surprisingly, perhaps, while President Trump predictably condemned the wide-ranging resolution as a step toward Socialism, Douthat praised the Green New Deal explicitly for its sweeping approach.  Meanwhile, as expected, dozens of environmental and social justice groups quickly endorsed the measure.

It is important to understand that the current resolution is merely aspirational (and, I would argue, inspirational), its short 14 pages offering only a set of reasons for reform and a set of goals to guide policies.  I want to look carefully at what is actually contained in the Green New Deal resolution and suggest, as Jeff Bilbro put it to me in an email, that the GND may be simultaneously too ambitious and not ambitious enough.  Then, I want to delve into the history of the original New Deal to see how its successes and mistakes might help guide this new effort at comprehensive change.

What Is In The Green New Deal?

House Resolution 109 begins by outlining the impacts of climate change as reported in the National Climate Assessment of 2018, offering a depressing litany of rising temperatures, rising sea levels, “and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure.”  It argues that the United States, by virtue of its role in producing 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (a figure ignoring the offshoring of many of them), has a special duty to take the lead in combatting climate change.  It also claims that public policies over the past four decades have led to enormous inequality, and that environmental destruction and inequality have disproportionally decimated certain “frontline and vulnerable” Americans, including “indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”

Like the original New Deal, the resolution suggests that a Green New Deal can correct these injustices while mitigating the climate crisis, and that it can and must create millions of high-wage jobs for those left out of our current affluence, attain “zero net emissions” of greenhouse gases in the next decade, and secure “clean air and water; climate and community resiliency; healthy food; access to nature; and a sustainable environment” for all Americans.  No small feat indeed.

It calls for large-scale investments into new zero-emission technologies and sustainable infrastructure, including a new energy grid and high-speed rail travel, while, perhaps in an effort to win business and rural support, “spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States,” and “working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.”

The resolution also addresses other forms of pollution, recommends “science-based” solutions, and suggests the sharing of new more sustainable technologies with other nations.  As introduced, the Green New Deal would provide health care, affordable housing, a safe environment, and higher education for all, while guaranteeing family wage union jobs with benefits and paid vacations as well.

Simultaneously Too Ambitious and Insufficient?

It’s undoubtedly a sweeping concept, and though the document calls for democratic dialogue down to the local level on policy specifics—there are no specific recommendations like carbon taxes or cap-and-trade, and nothing, not even nuclear power, is deemed off the table—opponents are likely, as the President already has, to deem the whole thing a massive Federal power grab. Moreover, the costs of such a program would dwarf previous budgets as a share of the economy, and much of it may not be achievable in the ten-year time frame recommended, whatever the investment.

The attention to agriculture, a major producer of both CO2 and the even-more-heat-trapping methane, strikes me as a welcome aspect of the resolution, which I feared might stop with subsidies for wind, solar, and other primarily technological fixes. Both agriculture and its sister, forestry, can either contribute to climate change, or when carefully managed, sequester carbon.  Current agribusiness and corporate forestry practices tend toward the former, small farms and reforestation toward the latter.

Yet, even in its comprehensiveness, the Green New Deal may not be sufficient to the task it sets out to achieve—climate stability and resilience in a context of far-greater economic equality.  In my view, the most glaring omission in the GND is its lack of any challenge to consumerism and our current obsession with economic growth.  Nearly 70 percent of U.S. spending goes to consumer goods, an increasing share of which are made abroad.  We are not blamed for the carbon emissions embodied in those imported goods during the mining, manufacturing, and transport stages.  They are charged to the countries where the goods are produced, yet we, as the ultimate consumers, should be held liable for these real carbon impacts. Our global economy allows us to outsource much of the pollution and toxic waste produced by our insatiable consumerism.

Some studies suggest that production of consumer goods, whether domestic or foreign, may account for up to 60 percent of carbon emissions, more than either transportation or temperature regulation in buildings, the other leading culprits.  In my view, there is simply no way to seriously reduce our carbon footprint without reducing our penchant for consumerism, and yet we are going in precisely the opposite direction.  Abetted by instant-gratification marketers like Amazon and planned-obsolescence producers like Apple, our consumption levels continue to rise dramatically.

Bill Rees, the University of British Columbia economist who developed the concept of the “ecological footprint” suggests that the world is already in “overshoot,” consuming at least 60 percent more resources and dumping far more wastes than nature can process, and that countries like the United States are consuming at rates that would require multiple planets to sustain.  Moreover, recycling doesn’t offer a way out—most of it can no longer be sold to the Chinese or elsewhere, and our waste is simply dumped into vast methane-emitting landfills.

At the same time, almost as if they lived on a different planet where none of this was happening, economists left and right beat the drum for even higher rates of economic growth—the 4 percent rate that President Trump hopes for would mean a doubling of American consumption in only 18 years!  It is hard to imagine a Green New Deal which accomplishes the goals it sets forth without challenging the gospel of consumerism and growth.

Lessons From The Older Green New Deal

But like Ross Douthat, I’m not about to abandon the Green New Deal simply because it’s not yet where I want it to be.  I consider it a bold step in the right direction, an aspiration that can finally get us talking as a nation—and across partisan lines—if we care about the future we are leaving to our children.  What seems clear to me is that we cannot solve the problems that face us—from climate disasters to environmental degradation to poverty, racial division, rural despair, inequality and economic insecurity, anger, the opioid crisis, increasing mortality rates, the stresses of overwork, and the loss of meaning in our lives—silo by silo, as if they are disconnected.  For all its current weaknesses, the GND is an effort to “solve for pattern” as Wendell Berry recommends.  Surely, what we face is what William James referred to as the moral equivalent of war, a multi-faceted existential crisis brought about by our refusal to live responsibly and within limits.

The term Green New Deal harkens on an earlier New Deal, which was a response to problems remarkably similar to our own.  While we aren’t dealing now with massive unemployment, the income and wealth divides are once again as wide as they were then.  In that period, too, the nation faced an environmental crisis, its soils washing and blowing away, its mountains stripped of forests, fires and floods widespread, its wildlife decimated—in less than a century, bison numbers had been reduced to such a degree they had to be bred in the Bronx Zoo and released in the wild; only 15 Trumpeter Swans remained out of millions; bighorn sheep had been reduced from two million to seven hundred, and most waterfowl populations had shrunk by an order of magnitude.  And when it was first advocated by FDR, the howls of “socialism!” from Republicans were deafening.

Though it was rolled out piece by piece, the New Deal was as ambitious as today’s GND.  And, in its early days, as historian Douglas Brinkley shows clearly in his opus, Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America, the old New Deal was also, first and foremost, a green New Deal, with programs like Social Security and the Fair Labor Standards Act arriving later.  While the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the New Deal’s first, largest and most popular program (launched in 1933), was a massive jobs program for unemployed men—with more than three million members overall—it was, even more importantly, an environmental project.  Working from hundreds of camps, spread to every state to increase local support, the CCC planted hundreds of millions of trees (including a “shelterbelt” that saved midwestern soils), helped restore damaged landscapes and wetlands for wildlife, and created hundreds of state and national park facilities that visitors enjoy to this day.

The CCC provides a clear model for a national service program for young Americans—my best friend from childhood, now a conservative Republican opposed to “welfare,” told me he could readily support such a program.  It might also be extended, for example, to unemployed coal miners as GND climate policy requires a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.  Much as CCC members did in the 30s, the miners could restore a wounded Appalachian landscape.  There are now some 530 cutoff mountaintops in that part of the country.  Imagine unemployed miners able to earn a family wage by staying where they now live, working outdoors and restoring those mountaintops, not with a quick sprinkling of exotic grasses as we now term “reclamation,” but with a full and diverse canopy of carbon-sequestering trees.

The next great New Deal environmental initiative, the Soil Conservation Act passed while its pages, in the hands of members of Congress, were literally turning brown from soil blown all the way to the Capital from the Midwest and southern Dust Bowls.  What followed was the establishment of Soil Conservation Districts in every U.S. county, where farmers, ranchers, academic extension agents, and local leaders came together to negotiate better care of soils and water. Such districts, now sometimes called resource conservation districts or simply conservation districts, remain vital to this day and might well be used to engage local input regarding Green New Deal agricultural policies and their local application—I had the opportunity to keynote the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts’ annual meeting last November.   Part of this, as the GND resolution indicates, means reverting large agribusiness holdings to sustainable small farms and training the many young Americans who want to farm to do so, while making land affordable for them by redirecting agribusiness subsidies.

Curt Meine, a biographer of ecologist Aldo Leopold, tells me he believes the Green New Deal must begin with agriculture and rural America, both because modern food production is fossil-fuel intensive but also because a sustainable food system is the basis for everything else.  The opportunity to enhance the lives of small farmers and other rural Americans, who feel neglected by urban liberals, seems an essential aspect of winning bipartisan support for the GND, as it did with the old New Deal.  Rural Americans, initially skeptical of FDR’s grand schemes, were won over by direct improvements in their own lives.

Another Missing Element: Work-Time

As Brinkley chronicles brilliantly, the original green New Deal also saved millions of acres of land for National Parks and wilderness areas, state parks, and wildlife refuges. But not all of it was about conservation.  Perhaps the first vision of the New Deal was the creation of new jobs, not by government programs, but by shortening and sharing working hours. As early as 1930, the Kellogg’s Cereal Company, in Battle Creek, Michigan, had cut its workday to six hours (while paying for seven).  The result was an immediate gain of 300 jobs for the unemployed.  Workers used their extra free time to look after the community (crime dropped precipitously), get more outdoor exercise, volunteer in the community and its schools, take up new hobbies, and grow their own vegetables. Roosevelt’s secretary of labor, Frances Perkins, thought the idea could work at the national level.

With the backing of Perkins, Roosevelt, and organized labor, a bill capping the American workweek at 30 hours (anything more would be charged as overtime) overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Senate on April 6, 1933, only a few weeks after Roosevelt’s inauguration. But facing strong opposition from the National Association of Manufacturers, Roosevelt backed down, in return for support of the CCC and a later jobs program, the Works Progress Administration.  The bill never went to the House.  Five years later, Congress passed the 40-hour workweek bill.  At a time when a third of the country was ill-clothed, ill-housed and ill-fed, as Roosevelt put it, expanding the economy to create jobs rather than shortening hours made sense.  A better distribution of poverty wouldn’t have won hearts and minds.

But today, we don’t suffer from too little production.  Today, continued economic expansion as a jobs program is a recipe for environmental suicide, not a healthier, happier society.  Cities like Seattle, where I live, suffer from too much wealth, rather than too little.  Our vast wealth has led to displacement, homelessness, congestion, and palpable community anger rather than happiness.  Today, a reduction in working hours—it’s been 80-years since the 40-hour week took effect and we are many times richer—could offer a way to increase employment opportunities without increasing consumer spending, while improving our health, strengthening our communities and giving us more choice in a society where both conservative and liberal Americans have noted the stresses of overwork and our rush-rush culture.  A Swedish study showed that a ten percent reduction in work-time would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7 to 8 percent.  Policies shortening and sharing working hours are essential for the Green New Deal but, with the exception of vacation time, these have, so far, been overlooked.   For the poor, higher minimum wages and a basic income guarantee, which has also been suggested by GND supporters, could make up income losses from shorter hours.

Measuring Success

The original New Deal needed a way to measure its progress in increasing national output and reducing poverty.  In 1934, economist Simon Kuznets came up with a single index for such a purpose, the Gross National Product.  Revised slightly, and now called the Gross Domestic Product, it is a tally of “the final market value of all the goods and services produced in a country in a given year.”  When we talk about economic growth, we mean growth of the GDP.  But, as even Kuznets pointed out, the measure is simply one of economic output; in no way does it indicate the full welfare of the nation, and in fact, as Italian economist Stefano Bartolini points out, it may well do the opposite.  GDP counts what is paid for.  The costs of accidents or oil pollution or climate disasters often count as plusses but are actually remediation of the effects of earlier growth.  Faster growth may increase work-time and decrease social connection, or destroy the natural commons, leading to poorer health but greater expenditures, and thus a bigger GDP.  Meanwhile, many aspects of life that produce real satisfaction are not counted at all—housework, the value of nature, and the value of leisure, for example.

So just as the New Deal needed an index of success, so does the Green New Deal, but it requires a different one.  We need to measure things that contribute to quality of life and the restoration of the environment and subtract those that do not.  We cannot say whether this will mean growth, or de-growth—it depends on what we measure.  What is clear is that material throughput cannot continue to expand.  But without a new measure, the Green New Deal has no real way to be judged accurately.

Get Involved

As Curt Meine and others point out, the original New Deal, and even its green components, was not without unintended consequences from which we must learn.  Perhaps the most serious was its reliance on big dams.  Grand Coulee, Bonneville, and other massive hydroelectric projects were wonders of the world in their day, but some of them have destroyed salmon runs and others are silting over.  Straightening of rivers has led to new destructive flooding.  These mistakes, which might have been avoided by smaller construction, do not condemn the New Deal, and they vastly improved many lives, but they sound a cautionary note we would do well to heed. Which technologies, seen as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, may bring similar reasons for caution—nuclear power, large-scale wind farms?

But the call for caution is not a summons to inaction.  In my view, the Green New Deal is an exciting and hopeful prospect, especially because of its ambition.  There will be big fights over how to fund it, as there were over the equally-expensive (for its era) old New Deal.  Surely that will require some forms of carbon taxes, taxes on inequality and financial speculation, on extreme wealth and on market externalities like pollution, and on consumption and advertising.  Surely, as it is without question a security measure—the Pentagon has called climate change America’s greatest security risk—it will require a transfer of funds from a bloated and dangerous military budget.  There will be fights over application at the local level; here, as much as is possible, the principle of subsidiarity should take precedence and every effort must be made to engage ordinary citizens in the development of policy, in part through the conservation districts that already exist.

But the stakes are too great to do nothing, and our children and theirs—who are already fighting for this—will not forgive inaction.  It is exciting to see high school and college students leading the way in this effort and filling the offices of members of Congress to demand that they not turn a blind eye to these existential threats.  It is exciting to see Minnesota high schoolers come together to create a draft plan for a state Green New Deal and present it to their governor, Tim Walz. So join them; add your own ideas, criticize where needed, but affirm as much as you can.  Talk to friends left and right and center, asking only that they be respectful as you will be.  Surely if Thoreau and Muir and Carson and Stoneman Douglas and Leopold and the Roosevelts could, they would be at the doors of Congress with the new children’s crusaders.  Think of what they once did and vow that we can do no less.

We will need local models.  In my upcoming film, Green New City, I’m exploring how the diverse and economically-challenged port of Vallejo, California might become an urban model for the Green New Deal, as it seeks to reduce its carbon footprint, develop through attention to nature, beauty and environmental restoration, and fully engage its citizens in planning for the future (including participatory budgeting).

When past times tried our souls, Americans did not retreat to rabbit holes.  When sacrifice was demanded for the public good, they responded willingly to rationing and hardship and found a way forward.  I, for one, intend to take the concept of the Green New Deal to every forum I can, to criticize and seek to improve but not dismiss this bold idea, to act as if our very future on this planet depends on what we do now, and indeed, it does.

John de Graaf, Outreach Director of The Happiness Initiative, has produced more than fifteen national PBS documentary specials and is the co-author of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic and co-author of What’s The Economy For, Anyway? He has taught at Evergreen State College and serves on the board of Earth Island Institute. His new initiative is the Make America Beautiful Again campaign.

We can sense it.  A watershed moment in history.  A growing realization, among young people in particular, that the old systems are failing us. The grown-ups asleep at the wheel, or, worse, racing toward the cliff in full knowledge of the consequences. Or trying to fool us with the promise of returning to some mythical bygone era.  Or all of the above.

Established parties are folding, students are marching, and experts emerge from behind computer screens to tell us with near unanimous voice:  continue on our old path and we may well perish.

In the U.S., high school valedictorians get censored for wanting to address climate change, while young people force aspiring politicians to endorse a Green New Deal.  In Germany, a blogger gets 15 million views on YouTube (that’s one out of six Germans) with an hour-long video explaining how established parties are betraying future generations by promoting a crash course with nature and society. From Sweden to England and France and Germany, what unites millions of students is their fight for a viable future. Meanwhile, crusty elites admonish with a cynical “leave it to the experts.” Scientists, the real experts, come out to side with the young – by the tens of thousands.  Established politics no longer follows best available knowledge.  It slavishly obeys money and power instead, the future be damned.

Time, it seems, is running out on our human experiment. At least the one based on currently dominant ideas and paradigms, almost all based on exclusion, domination, plunder, and exhaustion—homo economicus run amok.

Missing almost entirely from mainstream debates is the fact that this is not just a moment of existential crisis.  It is also a moment of unprecedented opportunities.  Around the world, millions of people are engaged in finding alternatives to models of plunder and exploitation, individual utility maximization and loneliness.  They build sharing economies and design cyclical production methods.  They begin to learn from, rather than dominate nature. They understand the world to be a system, one form of life inseparable from the other.  Above all, they rediscover what reciprocity and kindness and meaningful work could look like once we ditch the pathological addiction to ever More; once we replace artificial scarcity and fear with community and belonging; once we conquer crippling inequality with respect and opportunities for everyone.  Once we start building a society that provides wellbeing for people and planet.

The freshest perspectives, overwhelming in their logic, come from the young.  They start with fundamental questions – “How can you continue to do what will destroy us?  How can you so thoroughly ignore what experts keep telling you?” They lead to logical follow-ups – “Why are we not all rolling up our proverbial sleeves and get to work on solutions that are inclusive and regenerative and just?  Why not listen to those who have transformative ideas, and ignore those intent on leaving the young behind in a sinking boat?”

We can only achieve what we can imagine.  And imagine we must.  Imagine not just reforms and improvements to the old, self-destructive corpse. Rather, imagine development that doesn’t depend on ongoing depletion and growth.  Imagine cities no longer built around the needs of cars, but around the needs of people – cities in which everyone can walk or bike in safety to everything they need. Imagine work in the name of prosperity, not output or profit. Imagine growing food in ways that regenerate soil and communities. Imagine energy production that is decentralized, local, renewable, and clean. Imagine governing that actually represents people and their experiences.  And, not least of all, imagine we power down our screens and build communities where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

No one has all the answers, and lots still needs to be figured out.  Yet we actually do know a lot. We know how to avoid the “uninhabitable world.” Above all, we have to start.  Start by saying a clear and decisive “no” to the old model of ever more plunder and depletion, and “yes” to each other and the environment we inhabit.

There are lots of opportunities – every day.

WEAll can inform you, inspire you, connect you.

 Blog by Sam Butler-Sloss, Economics for Change

Economics for Change – a student-led campaigning organisation based in Edinburgh focused on the need for economic system change – is enormously excited to be joining the Wellbeing Economy Alliance to lead their efforts to establish a WEAll Youth Hub here in Scotland. This Youth Hub’s mission is to mobilise young people behind the historic opportunity to drive economic systems change.


Why young people? And why is it such a historic opportunity?

We are all acutely aware of the multiple crises that face us in the 21st century, from spiralling inequality to run away climate change. Yet however well documented these challenges are, bizarrely, awareness has not been enough to drive the adequate action. Since this insufficient level of action has become the new normal, it has taken our generation to stand up and say the current efforts are simply not enough. They do not begin to meet the scale or the urgency of the challenges that we face.

This year has been a striking demonstration of young people’s’ capacity to be at the forefront of social change. We have shown that we have the expectations and ambitions for a better, cleaner and fairer world that dwarf those who are currently at the helms of power. It is in this same spirit that Economics for Change is bringing young people together to take a stand against a failing economic system; to stamp out the tendency of simply ‘muddling through’ and to advocate for an economy that enables both the people and the planet to flourish.

It is often easy for us to feel overwhelmed, but at the centre of WEAll’s narrative is the idea that whilst the challenges are certainly demanding, the opportunities they present are enormous.

To overcome these great societal challenges requires us to transform our economy–and the climate challenge gives a decade to do so.

A decade to redesign how we produce, consume and share in the 21st century. The chance to fundamentally redesign our economy does not come about often, and with it, comes the once in a lifetime opportunity to redraw a better world.

As the economic consensus fractures and the old principles that defined our economy expire, a space is opening up, in which the case for systems-change has never been stronger. As this space widens, a new era is emerging.

This new era is generating new norms, new business models, new energy sources and new ideas of shared prosperity. It is outcompeting today’s system and is paving the path to a wellbeing economy. Yet the question remains, will this change happen fast enough?  

There is no doubt that were are approaching a paradigm shift between a system built on extraction, exploitation and exhaustion and one that is regenerative, circular and inclusive. And this is where young people must step up and have a catalytic effect.

WEAll Youth is a vehicle to enable us to do so: we are a global, interconnected network of young people fighting for a new kind of economics from all corners of this world. We are thinking globally, with a shared vision for change, whilst acting locally to catalyse this transformation from the ground up. We acknowledge our assets: our votes hold power; our voices form new narratives; and our connectivity brings untamable potential to mainstream new ideas and paradigms with the urgency that does these challenges justice.

While fundamental redesign is no modest task it holds the keys to transforming our future; to keeping us within a 1.5 degree world; and to enabling all humans to live a prosperous and dignified life. As young people, we have the most to gain and the most at risk. This is no dress rehearsal, there will be no second chance. The time to come together to drive systemic change is now–we would be mad not to seize this opportunity.

In the coming month, Economics for Change and WEAll Scotland will be establishing the WEAll Scotland Youth Hub. If you share our passion for an economy that serves people & planet and want Scotland to lead the way, get in touch at and join the movement as  WEAll Citizen at 

If you’re a young person (16-34) and want to get involved with WEAll Youth wherever you are in the world, contact