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Towards a Global Impact Economy: Letter to G20 Leaders #GlobalImpactEconomy

WEAll is supporting some of its members and friends (Sistema B, The B Team, B LAb and GSG Impact Investment) in calling on the G20 country leaders to prioritise a wellbeing economy. Get involved with the petition on Change.org

From Change.org:

“The traditional economic system has many advantages, but it has also contributed to increasing inequity, to the extent that the top 1% of the population now own two-thirds of global wealth. In addition the environment continues to be seriously threatened, and more corruption is being uncovered that was always there. In this context, building a sustainable and inclusive future demands urgent redesign and change.

For this reason, a group of global organisations have joined together to write an Open Letter to governments of G20 member countries. The purpose of the document is to demonstrate, with concrete actions, that millions of people can be part of global scale solutions. Given that our world leaders will meet this month to discuss the global economy, we call on them to recognise and address the fact that today’s economy is not aligned with many of the real needs of society and the planet.

We need the economy to always have a positive impact on people and the planet

Concrete proposals:

1. Create a working group, as part of the G20 structure, to propose net positive impact economic policies.

2. Create mechanisms and a legal framework in all G20 countries for establishing ‘for-benefit” corporations.

3. Convene Leaders of global businesses, funds and NGOs to work with G20 governments over the long term on economic transition.

We invite you to join with your signature and echo this call.”

Sign the petition to add your voice now

By Desta Mebratu (Prof.), member of WE-Africa

African nations have been importing economic theories to fit realities on the ground, with little to show for it. But it is never too late to adopt a “Well-being Economy,” one that takes stock of opportunities and limits of local resources and external opportunities, writes Desta Mebratu (Prof.) (desta@africaleapfrog.org), CEO of African Transformative Leapfrogging Advisory Service. 

This article first appeared in Addis Fortune

Neo-classical economics, with its different forms and scope and with market and trade liberalisation at its core, has been the dominant economic theory since the first industrial revolution. Despite all its inherent theoretical and practical limitations, it has been successful in driving economic growth in some parts of the world.

It has also been key in the globalisation of national economies in the second half of the 20th century. In recent decades, however, its dominance was significantly challenged by prominent economists, including some Nobel Laureates in Economics.

The challenge took a new dimension and scope with the growing inequality observed within and between countries as its trickle-down effect failed miserably. This has been mainly caused by the exclusive focus on economic growth as measured by the growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP).

The emergence of global environmental challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, has also been another source of challenges faced by the dominant economic thinking. This was again mainly caused by its principle of externalising all costs related to environmental pollution and degradation.

Since independence from European colonial powers, international development organisations led by the World Bank and the International Monitory Fund have been at the forefront of promoting and stipulating neo-classical economic principles of market and trade liberalisation on African countries.

The infamous structural adjustment programs that were imposed by these institutions in the 1970s and 80s led to extensive socio-economic havoc in many African countries. Despite the enormous effort made by these organisations and the stated commitment of successive African governments to laissez-faire market economies, not a single African country that took a Bretton Woods’ prescription succeeded in becoming a developed or a transitional economy.

As it was eloquently stated by the prominent Pan-Africanist and Kenyan Lawyer P.L.O. Lumumba, what we have in the region is more of a “voodoo economics,” which is an African version of neo-classical economics. Hence, we saw for decades economies that are either in shambles or seemed to be developing but are under state capture, benefiting a small group of people.

Experiences of the last half a century have clearly shown that neither neo-classical economics nor its African version, “voodoo economics,” helped Africans to achieve an economic development that meets the needs of their people.

Today, Africa is faced with multitudes of economic, social and environmental issues which have made the development challenges more complex. These challenges are expected to be further aggravated in the coming decades as a result of the extremely high rates of population growth coupled with an increasing percentage of youth.

In this context, African countries and their development partners need to recognise that existing and emerging socio-economic challenges could not be resolved with the same approaches and prescriptions of the twentieth century. That is why it is important for African countries to channel their effort toward the development of a “well-being economy” that responds to the reality of the region.

A well-being economy is an economy that strives for the continuous fulfilment of basic human needs and aspirations of its people within the limits and possibilities of its resources and available external opportunities. This would require deploying a national development strategy that is home-grown and organic but at the same time adaptive to global dynamics.

It also requires governance mechanisms that are equipped with transformative leadership that is based on adaptive learning and inclusivity. A well-being economy addresses both the distributive and participatory justice of its people through their active involvement in the planning and management of the development process.

Progress toward a well-being economy is measured by actual and perceived improvement in the well-being of its people rather than solely relying on the growth rate of GDP and foreign direct investment. Achieving this would require the development of distributed local economy networks in combination with national backbone industries that are low-carbon and resource efficient.

Its primary operational objectives would be job creation and value addition at the local level, which are extremely crucial for African countries. Such an economy also recognises the critical importance of maintaining the well-being of the natural ecosystem as the foundation for the fulfillment of its developmental objectives on a sustainable basis.

In essence, the Well-being economy provides a fundamentally new vehicle for the effective implementation of Agenda 2030 on sustainable development goals with a qualitatively higher outcome. Hence, it is time for African leaders and policymakers to provide the creative space for the development of a Well-being economy in Africa rather than continuing with the same versions of ‘voodoo economics’ and expect a different outcome.

Political dysfunction, violence, floods, droughts, hurricanes and opioid addictions.

The news headlines are depressing and the problems seem overwhelming. From Russia to America; India to Turkey; Italy and most recently from Poland to Brazil — growing numbers of people have voted for authoritarians — presumably as a way to return to a simpler and better past.

Meanwhile, the challenges and threats keep mounting. Inequality has reached morally indefensible heights, power concentrates in ever fewer corporate hands, poverty continues to crush souls and according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the environment is beginning to crash. If the globe was a person, we would rush them to the emergency room.

And yet, just below the surface, hidden by partisan rancor, hope and solutions can be found everywhere. Surveys continue to show that most Americans agree on far more than they disagree. They want the young to be able to thrive. They believe all people deserve real opportunities. They know our environment needs serious protection. They believe old people should live out their lives in dignity and that illnesses deserve treatment without risk of poverty or despair. Above all, they keep caring, inventing, problem-solving, together.

Collectively, we have accomplished a great deal. Mountains of wealth; medical breakthroughs; technologies that give us access, organize us, connect us. And yet debilitating poverty persists, basic medical problems remain untreated and people disappear in dark tunnels of loneliness and depression.

With so much knowledge, so many tools and such good intentions and values, how is it that we can go so wrong?

The core problem is this: the overarching, single most important goal of modern societies is growth, not human and ecological wellbeing. Our primary mandate is to increase “efficiency” and “productivity.” Make it cheaper, faster and above all, make more of it.

Busy speeding up a runaway train, we see our dominant gauges of success continue to point in a positive direction. Unemployment is down, GDP is up. The stock market keeps hitting record territory. In service of growth, the economy and with it politics, no longer adequately reflect our realities.

The deeper reality is this: today, in an overpopulated world choking on stuff, a focus on more has become both absurd and dangerous. Three recent international studies all came to the same conclusion: We have reached very real limits to growth.

Our train needs a new track.

One focused on a greater vision of human and ecological wellbeing, one leading to real human prosperity anchored in environmental health and sustainability. An emphasis on what is actually good for us — more connection, more opportunities, less inequality. Above all: a healthy environment and stable communities.

There is little difference between Democrats and Republicans, but neither can answer a simple question: how to grow indefinitely on a finite planet? Neither can answer why growth would even be desirable, when its drawbacks range from resource depletion to pollution, from accidents to addictions, from more miles commuted to more hours worked?

No we must grow, as economists and politicians keep telling us. Trust the market. Trust science and technology. Trust something, just so long as you don’t question growth.

As more aspects of our lives turn into contributions to the growth mantra, our focus on quality of life — on community, on meaningful work, on family and love, on a natural world that can nurture our children — inevitably shrivels.

The good thing: There is a growing number of people whom are building companies that don’t depend on fossil fuels, cities that serve people rather than cars, communities that don’t generate poverty or homelessness, health-care systems that don’t leave anyone behind, regions that provide security and jobs for everyone. On the frontiers, we’re learning how to create prosperity without waste — waste of resources, people, potentials.

Solutions come from every part of society: socially and environmentally responsible investing (ESG), builders and architects creating improved LEED standards in construction, doughnut economics that explains how to create human prosperity within the boundaries of natural systems, to cyclical production systems that eliminate waste. Across the spectrum, people are working on ways to build regenerative economies focused on human and ecological wellbeing rather than blind growth.

The future is bright — if only we can get politics to catch up with what is already happening all around us.

Dirk Philipsen is an economic historian teaching at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and author of “The Little Big Number – How GDP Came to Rule the World, and What to Do About It” (Princeton UP, 2015).

This article was originally published on TheHill.com 

WEAll members submitted their recommendations for ‘must-read’ books  to understand the case for, and path towards, a wellbeing economy.

Here’s the result – 15 important books that provide answers, inspiration and hope.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive – comment below with your own recommendations.

 

Alphabetically by author:

  1. An Economy of Wellbeing: Mark Anielski
  2. Change Everything: Christian Felber
  3. Wellbeing Economy: Lorenzo Fioramonti
  4. The Divide: Jason Hickel
  5. New Economy Business: Margo Hoek
  6. The Age of Thrivability: Michelle Holliday
  7. Prosperity Without Growth: Tim Jackson
  8. The High Price of Materialism: Tim Kasser
  9. A Finer Future: Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, John Fullerton and Anders Wijkman
  10. Economics Unmasked: Manfred Max-Neef
  11. The Spirit Level: Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
  12. Doughnut Economics: Kate Raworth
  13. Small is Beautiful: E.F. Schumacher
  14. Local Dollars Local Sense – Michael Shuman
  15. How to Thrive in the Next Economy: John Thackara

Guest blog by Henry Leveson-Gower and Teresa Linzer (Promoting Economic Pluralism)

Post the Crash, we seemed set for economic revolution. 10 years later and here we are – still waiting, entangled in an economic system that is just as addicted to GDP growth as it was 10 years ago. So, how best to bring about the long overdue revolution? What ways are there to contribute to shifting and opening up the narrow systemic focus, from mere growth for its own sake to sustainability, wellbeing and genuine prosperity?

At Promoting Economic Pluralism, we think that part of the answer is changing economics education. The language of economics is the language of power and many students are required to learn it both in economics departments and as part of interdisciplinary masters. At the moment it is generally taught as if there was only one way of thinking about economics and that certainly involves endless growth.

However that is not true of all courses: some lecturers are more pluralist in how they teach economics. This means recognising that there is more than one way of thinking about the economy and encouraging critical reflection. These lecturers draw from a wide range of economic traditions such as ecological, institutional, complexity and post-Keynesian economics. Although this is often referred to as new economics, in fact its roots go back to the 1930s and further. There is a wealth of scholarship and literature, which is largely ignored by the mainstream.

This provides the space for the main economic theology of growth, self-interest, shareholder dominance etc to be challenged. It gives students tools to then question the policy and perspectives based on economic orthodoxy that they are likely to encounter later in work. It also provides ideas on which to base new innovative approaches to tackling the social and environmental challenges we face. Students are likely to come ideas of social enterprise, wellbeing, ecological limits and more, that mainstream economics would ignore.

We are therefore planning to raise the profile and legitimacy of these types of courses so students are encouraged to join them and other universities are encouraged to put them on.

We have chosen to start with masters courses as university departments have much more flexibility over what they can teach at this level. Students from these courses will also be entering the ‘real world’ very soon to use their learning.

There are many departments and centres teaching these courses as can be seen here. It is happening in the same high ranking universities where the economic departments themselves defend the status quo. However the courses have a whole range of labels. For the uninitiated, it is not obvious they take a pluralist approach to economics.

Hence we want to co-create an accreditation system so they can have a common identity and ‘brand’.  The point of this is not to determine what economics is ‘right’ or which courses are ‘best’. It is to build a shared sense between those inside and outside of academia of what economic teaching looks like that fosters creativity and critical thinking to address real world issues and genuinely transform the economic system. Then potential students can easily and confidently find these courses.  We will also of course work closely with Rethinking Economics and the student movement to magnify this effect.

To turn this idea into reality, we want to invite you to participate in actually co-creating the scheme.

This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to get involved in the detail or devote huge amounts of time to it. We will ensure people can give their views on the principles and broad approach as easily as possible. Please sign-up here to be involved and if you first want to find out more, sign up for a webinar here. And please make sure to also register your public support for this initiative here! It is crucial that we demonstrate a diverse and wide-ranging support for this initiative. Your voice matters.

Join a webinar.

For more info about why we think this is the road to much needed change in economics check out our website and have a look at our latest blog here.

On 15 September 2018, the ten year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, #WEAll campaigners gave away free money outside the bank’s former building in New York. The purpose: to urge people to rethink our relationship with the economy, and to promote sharing, collaboration and dialogue. #FreeMoneyDay #10yearson

Photo and video by Create the Remarkable

Wondering what WEAll is all about, and what we’re hoping to achieve?

Amp team members Katherine and Lisa wrote a piece for the Transforming Capitalism Lab, part of our member The Presencing Institute.

Read it here and join the discussion.

Uniting the world for one massive clean up
September 15, worldwide

150 countries cleaning up on the same day? No problem!

So far, over 16 million people in 113 countries have joined us in cleaning up illegally dumped waste. Over the next couple of years, we have an ambitious plan of engaging 150 countries for one massive World Cleanup Day in September 2018, making it the biggest positive civic action the world has seen.

We understand what a challenge this is. By the time we’re through, we will have organized the biggest international clean-up the world has ever seen, and probably the biggest positive civic action movement ever.

In 2018 – World Cleanup Day on September 15th

Much of 2018 will be devoted to preparations and execution of the World Cleanup Day. But we will also be very focused on awareness and debate about sustainable waste solutions worldwide. After all, as much fun as the World Cleanup Day will be… we only want to do it once!

We already have staff working around the clock in preparation. But whether we truly succeed in cleaning up the entire world in one day really hinges on one thing… you.

If you’re interested in being a part of a historic, challenging, rewarding, and fun event, don’t wait. We need you now! Check out all the ways you can get involvedand be inspired.

 

 

Ten years since the financial crash, it’s time for system change.
12 days of action from September 15, worldwide

WEAll is joining the Change Finance Coalition to demand change in the finance system.

A decade ago, banks got bailed out and the public got sold out.

We didn’t cause the crash but we paid a heavy price. Lost jobs, stagnant pay and less money for schools and hospitals.

Our financial system remains as rigged and dangerous as ever, from casino trading to recklessly funding fossil fuel projects, treating nature as free to waste.

Instead of sleepwalking into another crisis, it’s time our politicians took action.

10 years on, we’re calling on our governments to change finance for good!

Get involved

What would it be like if our relationship to money were different?
September 15, worldwide

Free Money Day is a global invitation for people to explore, in a liberating and fun way, what it might be like if our relationship to money was a little different. On September 15th, worldwide, people will hand out their own money to complete strangers, two coins or notes at a time, asking the recipients to pass one of these coins or notes on to someone else. It’s an opportunity to start fresh conversations about money, sharing, and anything else that might come up.

[trx_button style=”filled” size=”small” icon=”icon-login” color=”#FFFFFF” bg_color=”#F4C54C” link=”http://www.freemoneyday.org/about/” popup=”no” top=”inherit” bottom=”inherit” left=”inherit” right=”inherit”]FREE MONEY DAY[/trx_button]

Blog by Lisa Hough-Stewart

I was thrilled to be part of the international Rethinking Economics summer gathering earlier in August.

Rethinking Economics (RE) is an international network of students, academics and professionals aiming to build better economics education and thus contribute to transformation of the economic system.  RE is a WEAll member and we headed to their gathering to explain what WEAll is doing and our vision, and make connections between the work of RE and the wider movement.

This was a really special event – by the time I arrived on day 4, the participants were clearly a really tight group. Despite having already had four intense days of strategic planning and plotting to change the world, energy and enthusiasm levels were through the roof. I reckon there are a few world changers in this group!

I supported Rowan from RE to run the opening session on day five, encouraging students to work in their national or regional groups to use power mapping tools. They each mapped out the different external stakeholders who have influence over their university curriculum and came up with strategies for working with at least one of these to create change in the new semester. The depth of strategic thinking was really impressive for a short session!

Then it was time to deliver a presentation on what WEAll is all about and I was delighted to have a packed room full of people curious to learn about us. I started by asking everyone to say what they think a wellbeing economy is or includes, and the answers were brilliant – all completely in line with WEAll’s definitions! (see the photo) It was great to get an overwhelmingly positive response to my short workshop, and a wee queue of students keen to discuss collaboration at the end.

Myself and the other presenters were swept up in the busy afternoon of workshops, and I had so much fun as part of Team Meme Machine creating memes that RE can use during the #10yearson campaign (watch this space). We were also grateful to be welcomed into the brilliant (late night!) closing party, complete with quiz and talent show. These Rethinkers know how to have fun.

It seemed there was a meaningful connection with WEAll to be made with every Rethinking Economics group, and the other presenters I spoke with to – being part of this incredible Gathering made me more sure than ever that WEAll as an alliance to connect the wellbeing economy movement is really needed. It also gave me a real boost that with the energy and talent that already exists within the movement, we really can succeed in our ambitious goals.