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How do we design economic policies that put the wellbeing of people and the planet first?

This is the challenge that the Wellbeing Economy Policy Design Guide aims to tackle – and since the Guide was published, one year ago, it has inspired action around the world. 

Four WEAll hubs are undertaking pilots to bring the ideas in the Guide to life and work with their communities to design wellbeing economy policies through participatory processes. The experiences of the pilot teams will form the basis of resources and tools to expand the existing Guide and which can be used by others working to implement Wellbeing Economy Policy Design.

Join us to celebrate one year of impact since the launch of the Policy Design Guide, learn about the progress of the policy design pilots, and be part of the conversation about how we can continue building momentum towards wellbeing economies. This event is co-hosted by WEAll and our partner ZOE Institute for Future Fit Economies.

There will be two identical events at 15:00 and 21:00 UTC, scheduled to accommodate the time zones of the pilot projects teams and allow the maximum number of interested people to participate.

Register here:

By: Lisa Hough-Stewart

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

It was never intended to simply be a guidance document,  rather to transform policymaking and bring to life better outcomes for our societies.  Almost as soon as it was published, we were seeking collaborators and funding to pilot the Guide in real life settings.

The WEAll hubs and their partners in California, Canada, New Zealand and Scotland are working with community partners and local or city governments to bring the Wellbeing Economy Policy Design process to life. WEAll has also teamed up with ZOE Institute for Future-Fit Economies to collaborate on the process and evolve their groundbreaking policy portal to share learnings and successes from the pilots.

These pilot projects (which you can read more about below) are setting out to do something new. They are attempting to transform not just policy results but the process of policy making and decision making itself–to become more inclusive and democratic. They are, in the spirit of the Guide, working in radically participatory ways so that the policy design processes are not only based on the co-created visions of communities but aim to meaningfully engage those communities at every stage of the process – from deliberation to implementation.

The Guide offers a roadmap for this process, as well as many tools and case studies, which are a starting point for the pilots. However, as they evolve in the process, they are also charting new ground, and much remains unknown. WEAll is keen to learn as much as possible from their experiences, working with the hub teams to share learnings and stories that might help other communities and policymakers setting out on a similar journey. We will also develop a new version of the Guide to incorporate their experiences. 

About the pilots

California

  • WEAll California is carrying out its pilot in the city of Pomona, where the mayor is committed to championing new economic approaches.
  • Jeremy Fackenthal, Managing Director of the Institute for Ecological Civilisation and co-founder of WEAll California explains: “We’re working with local organisations in the city of Pomona to help shape a long term framework and vision for a wellbeing economy, an economy that that works for all people and for the planet, that provides fair and equitable resources and opportunities for flourishing in a holistic set of ways.” 

Canada

  • The Well-being Economies Alliance for Canada and Sovereign Indigenous Nations (WEAll Can) in Canada is focusing on the City of Toronto for its pilot, building on the foundations of “Doughnut Economics” workshops with city officials in 2021.
  • Tara Campbell, Wellbeing Economies Specialist at David Suzuki Foundation which hosts WEAll Canada, explains: “We are working directly with city officials, elected officials and city staff to socialise these ideas about wellbeing economies and generate interest. The other part of the work is building up a community oriented coalition or network that is interested in exploring these ideas, to develop wellbeing visions for the city of Toronto, to evaluate what’s already been happening, and imagine policy initiatives that could take place.”

Aotearoa/New Zealand

  • WEAll Aotearoa/New Zealand is aiming to work with community partners in three different regions.
  • Paul Dalziel, Professor of Economics at AERU, Lincoln University and co-founder of WEAll Aotearoa/New Zealand, explains: “We are talking with community groups, who are not formally part of local government themselves, but are collaborating with their local council to promote a vision around participation of people and creating economic opportunities and general wellbeing for themselves, their families, and their communities beyond what the people can achieve just on their own.”

Scotland

  • WEAll Scotland is working with Perth and Kinross Council to deliver “Love Letham”: a project which aims to bring the long term visions to life of children and young people for a flourishing future in their community of Letham.
  • Sarah Stocks, Director of Northern Star which is working as an associate of WEAll Scotland to deliver this project,  explains: “We are working with local people and decision makers together, to first understand what wellbeing means to those people, particularly children and young people in Letham, and then to try and meaningfully affect change in the way that policies are made.”

The story so far

The pilots are still in their early stages, with most of them set to deliver their first community engagement activities in January 2022.

The story that emerges from their experiences so far is one of the importance of relationships and trust as the foundation for a Wellbeing Economy policy design process.

All four pilots have found enthusiasm and willingness to collaborate amongst community partners and policy makers, and they’ve also found that the investment of time and energy required in developing these crucial relationships is considerable. Tara from WEAll Can suggested that the Guide needs a “phase 0” focused on the importance of stakeholder mapping and relationship building, which is something we’ll definitely consider!

The pilot teams reflect on the importance of relationship building and trust

Jeremy, WEAll California: “ The connections that we’ve made have been a real highlight for me. Being able to use those connections toward something that will hopefully make a lot of impact for people in the city of Pomona. So for instance, talking with Sarah McKinley [Democracy Collaborative] and picking her brain about both the positives and the pitfalls of worker owned cooperatives. Also, connections in Pomona, particularly with Latino and Latina Roundtable. Having them as a partner, and a partner who has the same vision for wellbeing and is willing to even adopt some of our language and help use it to shape the way that they talk about the economy has been really a lot of fun.”

Yannick, WEAll Can: “One of the elements of that relationship building is also inviting people not to be speaking primarily from their professional role. In the case of Toronto, the commonality of everybody is that there are residents of a big city, of Toronto. So how do you also create the space where when the elected official comes in, they’re not automatically seen as the policymaker, and that they have to respond only from their professional role as an elected official?”

Justin, WEAll Aotearoa/New Zealand: “Relationships are critical for our Māori partners. Our Indigenous partners, they wouldn’t call it networking, they would call it relationships. So that’s a really important element we’re trying to work on. Two of our three proposed partners are based on existing relationships, for example we have a hub member working with a potential partner which presents a natural collaboration.”

Sarah, WEAll Scotland: “There was quite a lot of time at the beginning, with colleagues in Perth and Kinross Council, basically trying to understand where Perth and Kinross were at. When I look back I remember it being a lot of discussions about wording, how to come up with a description of the project that would work for Perth and Kinross council as well as work for WEAll. But it was really about understanding each other’s position and where we were coming from and what we all were interested in and what we could learn from this process. 

“When we’ve gone out into the community in Letham, sometimes it wasn’t the first people that we spoke to who were actually the people that we needed to engage. But it was necessary to speak to them in order to determine who was. So it’s like a snowball effect, where you speak to someone, and then ask them to tell you who else they think you need to speak to.”

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

Image: Sarah Stocks, Love Letham stall engaging with community members at Letham Christmas Market

By Eloi Laurent, Senior Economist and Professor at the Sciences Po Centre for Economic Research (OFCE)

There is a shattering table on page 18 of the Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report by the IPCC released last month. Its second column shows that all of the five main climate scenarios considered converge toward a 1.5 C degrees world at more or less rapid pace. Call it the column of fear.

Source: IPCC Summary for Policy Makers: Climate Change 2021 – The Physical Science Basics

In the same table, the third line shows that one climate scenario dubbed “SSP1-1.9” foresees a stabilization of global warming at 1.6 degrees between 2041–2060 before witnessing a decrease to 1.4 degrees at the end of the 21st century. Call it the line of hope. To be honest, the only thing that mattered to me when I saw this table among the thousands of pages of the IPCC Report was: what is SSP1? And how do we get there?

SSP 1 stands for “Shared Socioeconomic Pathway 1” and it’s one of the five climate narratives that the IPCC now uses to describe interactions between social dynamics and biophysical realities that will determine the climate future of human communities around the globe. These five scenarios have been detailed in a 2017 paper which has this to say about SSP 1: “The world shifts gradually, but pervasively, toward a more sustainable path, emphasizing more inclusive development that respects perceived environmental boundaries. Management of the global commons slowly improves, educational and health investments accelerate the demographic transition, and the emphasis on economic growth shifts toward a broader emphasis on human well-being. Driven by an increasing commitment to achieving development goals, inequality is reduced both across and within countries. Consumption is oriented toward low material growth and lower resource and energy intensity.” 

In other words, moving beyond economic growth and toward human well-being is a critical necessity for the future of humanity. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is committed to doing just that. My understanding of our common commitment is that the age of “indicators” is behind us: we now need to work on well-being policies, i.e. operationalizing new visions of the economy and mainstreaming these visions into policies. More precisely, we need both new narratives and visions on the one hand and new institutions and policies on the other. It can be said indeed that transitions are about turning aspirations into institutions. 

An important resource in this perspective is the WEAll’s Policy Design Guide released last March, which has inspired me to offer a new class in my home university, Sciences Po, and more precisely within the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA). The class is called “Building well-being policies” and has been offered for its first iteration to a group of 21 students in the Master program starting in September 2021. The undeniable strength of PSIA is its global fabric, with 1500 students representing over 110 countries. In the class, 21 students representing 11 nationalities are being asked to build their own well–being vision and policy, with the WEAll’s Policy Design Guide as a compass. The main assignment for the class is a 15-pages long fully-fledged proposal of well-being policy.

After the introductory session devoted to the course’s purpose, outline and organization, the class has really started (“Part I: The Well-being Transition: Connecting Well-being to Sustainability”) with a session devoted to “Building your well-being policy: design thinking and tools” divided in two parts: a presentation/illustration of key building blocks of well-being policies (narratives; frameworks; concepts; metrics; participation; institutions) and a general discussion of the Policy Design Guide (see below).

Session 3 and Session 4 are devoted to presenting one possible well-being policy narrative and vision, the instructor’s, insisting in turn on two critical nodes in the social-ecological feedback loop: the health-sustainability nexus (of “full health” nexus) and the sustainability-justice nexus

Sessions 5 to 8 (“Part II: Understanding, measuring and improving well-being and sustainability”) will be devoted to reviewing main well-being dimensions’ theoretical underpinning and empirical evidence, from the elementary dimensions of economic well-being (employment and income), to widening the lens to human development to putting well-being in motion with resilience and sustainability.

“Part III: Building Well-being Policies around the world at all levels of governance”, with Sessions 9 to 11, is meant to show students that the well-being transition is already under way across the globe at different governance levels, from the European Union to Bhutan, New Zealand, Iceland and Finland to local initiatives such as Amsterdam City Doughnut and BrusselsDonut. The class concludes with a Well-being Policies Forum where students have 5 minutes to present their final paper in poster session format. 

To my knowledge, this class is the first to use WEAll’s Policy Design Guide and showcase the WEGo’s patient and precious work. A widespread WEALL curriculum would be a key asset to achieving the well-being shift we so direly need.

 What some PSIA students have to say about WEAll’s Policy Design Guide

Main strengths

“The Policy Design Guide was very comprehensive and helpful in gaining tangible skills to build well-being policies. Policies are not a “one-size-fits-all” so I think the inherent nature of the guide is helpful in pointing policy-makers and citizens in the right direction to create and/or lobby for well-developed, inclusive well-being policies.”

“The Design-Guide is very eye-catching which makes it interesting to read. I think it was a great idea to include definitions for key-words and phrases in the guide. This establishes greater clarity and encourages the reader to keep reading. Additionally, including the “purpose,” “how to,” and tips for each step on how to achieve the purpose is a great way to interact with the reader, keep them engaged, and, again, establish clarity.”

“In my opinion, the guide is a really useful tool to help citizens and governments to design and correctly implement well-being visions and transitions, since it is very much detailed and reports a lot of best-case practical examples.”

“I particularly liked the transition boxes from ‘Old Economic Policies’ to ‘Wellbeing Economy Policies’. They helped the transition in thought process – especially for someone who has been working/studying policies before from an ‘old economic’ perspective.”

Possible improvements

“I found it sometimes to be redundant, especially about the citizens’ co-participation- which is of course paramount for successful implementation of a well being policy, but I think it was reported too many times. Also, I would suggest to use also developing countries more often as best-practice examples of well-being initiatives, by showing that market-led economic growth is not the only possible step of development for this kind of countries. Finally, I would further suggest to show graphically, in a more accurate way, the difference between the old economic policy and the new one.”

“I think that the guide needs additional arguments, why one should implement well-being policies. I have the feeling that, e.g., Ukrainian officials or politicians thinking about a public endorsement would be reluctant to conduct a significant shift without tangible examples of why to bother (or, as may media claim, “spend tax-payers money”). So some case success stories or maybe methodology to convince conservative state systems would be an asset.”

“While the booklet did not resemble a typical guide, including ‘guide’ in the title may be slightly confusing. From my understanding, it is meant to initiate the thought process in wellbeing economy policies (transition from old to wellbeing and tips), and encourage a platform/starting point from which to work further.”

 “While speaking about building a well-being policy in a particular field, an explanation/additional info would help to understand how people may adopt strategies in specific sectors with regard to the whole socioeconomic system and its problems: how to deal with some challenges (e.g. poverty) and how (if needed) apply effects of well-being policy in one field to an entire system.”

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

Weekly Reads

Were Economists Prepared for the Pandemic?– Rethinking Economics

“Increasingly, it is economists that governments turn to when responding to  these crises, but do their economics courses do enough to prepare them for this vital  role?” 

Goliath and Goliath: Asset Management and Ownership in the UK Economy

“This briefing – which introduces Common Wealth’s programme of work on the future of the sector – explores the implications of this rise and concentration in assets and, by extension, economic power, setting out key questions for policymakers, particularly with respect to this industry’s growing role in our response to global challenges, from ensuring a strong and fair Covid-19 recovery to tackling the climate crisis.”

Pathways out of Capitalism: Building Forward, New and Radical

“Anti-capitalist organising must be rooted in a commitment to see the world for what it is but at the same time push forward with unrelenting hope that another world, a better one, is possible.”

Better Business Act

“We’re joining the coalition because we believe that now is the right time to raise the bar for British business across the board, it’s time for broader accountability to be a legal requirement for the many, not just a moral imperative for the few.” – Arlo Brady, Freuds

The Principles of Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.”

Community Currencies as Crisis Response: Results from a Randomized Control Trial in Kenya

“This paper presents the results of what may be the world’s first randomized control trial on community currencies. In 2020, Grassroots Economics’ Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) model was adopted by the Kenya Red Cross as a humanitarian response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Wellbeing Transition – Eloi Laurent

“The purpose is to advance the understanding and undertaking of the well-being transition away from growth and toward resilience and sustainability, at a time when this progress has become a vital necessity”

Inclusive and sustainable economies: leaving no one behind (executive summary)

“There is a social gradient in health: the lower an individual’s socioeconomic position, as defined by their job, qualifications, income, wealth, and where they live, the worse their health. It has been estimated that, between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2018, over a third of deaths in England were attributable to socioeconomic inequality. Such avoidable inequalities are unjust, and there is both a moral and economic argument for acting at scale to reduce health inequalities.”

Good Lives for All in Greater Manchester

Nothing we describe in this vision for the city-region is impractical or unachievable. Good things might be already happening somewhere, but they need to be happening everywhere.

The Green Central Banking Scorecard – Positive Money

“While some institutions have taken concrete action to assess environmental risks and incentivise green investments, all are shying away from policies that disincentivise or restrict financial flows to environmentally harmful activities.”

OECD: Beyond Growth

“At the core of the report is recognition of the sociality of human beings and their embeddedness in social instituions, an idea with profound implications for our understandings of both economic theory and policy.”

Careless Finance—Operational and economic fragility in adult social care

Adult social care across the OECD is in crisis. Covid-19 has exposed deep fragilities which have combined to place unprecedented strain on social care organisations. Principal amongst these is the process of marketisation and financialisation of the social care sector. In this paper, we take a critical perspective on this process

DAWN Informs on PPPs

Together they compose a panorama of the state of PPPs today, filled with analysis and critique, looking at effects and consequences to women’s lives and communities’ wellbeing, all in the name of so-called development.

Job Openings & Opportunities

What to Watch

Listen Up

Upcoming Events

WEAll Originals  

Blogs:

Publications:

From the Archives

On March 18 WEAll launched the much-anticipated WEAll Policy Design Guide. We were so amazed by the level of interest in the event. It was the largest online gathering WEAll has ever hosted! There were some people that weren’t able to access the meeting as our Zoom account capped the room. Please read this recap as a quick overview of what happened – and see the end of the post for avenues for further engagement.

During the 60- minute session, we introduced The Guide as a mechanism to create wellbeing economy policies in communities around the world. Crucially, the Guide emphasises the role for all citizens to work with policy makers to envision, develop and implement such policies. It’s important to understand that we are the economy – and we all have a role to play in designing the policies that prioritise the wellbeing of people and the planet.  

During the event, Amanda Janoo gave a 30- minute presentation introducing the Guide and its various dimensions. She was supported by Paul Dalziel and Andy Turner, who alongside 70+ other WEAll members, were contributors to the Guide. The three provided unique perspectives on the Guide’s development and implementation and shared their hopes for the potential transformation that the guide can catalyze in the policy development space. 

The Guide features inspiring case-studies to showcase where policy making toward a Wellbeing Economy is already taking place. 

For example, Amanda spoke about La Paz instituting a “Barrios De Verdad” (Real Neighborhoods) programme that encouraged the community to develop budget proposals for infrastructure and development in their community. 

She highlighted the importance of participatory processes in order for governments to gather what is needed to better serve their communities’ wants and needs. 

When she spoke about measuring wellbeing, she drew on Rutger Hoekstra’s paper, “Measuring Wellbeing: How to Go Beyond GDP” as a resource for individuals and governments to explore alternative indicators  to look beyond GDP as the measurement for success. 

The Guide appreciates the need to embrace experimentation and learning for policy makers who feel like they can’t fail. The Guide isn’t going to tell policymakers what to do, but rather, how to get to their desired outcomes. 

Most importantly, Amanda emphasised that “we ourselves are policymakers. We are the trailblazers in this area. What we’re trying to learn here is something new. Therefore, we need to develop collective mechanisms for learning and reflection – and not feel so constrained by fear but to be open and brave to experiment and find new strategies to move forward.” 

In questions concerning austerity and fighting the biggest power-holders, Andy culled concerns by saying, “It’s important to notice there is progress everywhere. As a species, we’re idiots, but we’re heading in the right direction. It’ll be easier in some places than others but pretty much everywhere they’re making progress.” 

Bringing further inspiration to the conversation, Paul made an important point around accounting for diversity in building indicators, “In my own country, New Zealand, we are anxious not to look for harmonization early on in the process. There has to be room for diversity of values and experience.  For comparisons, it can be useful to have a core set of harmonized measures, eventually. But even in that system there has to be room for diversity and respect for diversity. Because we learn from each other that is how we build a strong fabric; by drawing on different perspectives.”

The energy from the event was inspiring as it’s clear that people are looking for support in developing policies that create wellbeing economies everywhere. If you missed the session, you can re-watch the recording here. If you’re a policy maker and interested in joining our policy makers network, please sign up here.

We are going to host another few events upcoming on 21 April at 10:00 Boston/ 15:00 London and 17:00 Boston/ 9:00 Auckland (22 April)

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

Weekly Reads

WEAll Policy Design Guidebook

“This guide has been co-created by the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) to support visionary policy makers, to build more just and sustainable economies for people and planet.”

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing – Dr. Katherine Trebeck

“The report argues that the Scottish Government’s stated aims of improving wellbeing across society and addressing the fact that one quarter of children live in relative poverty cannot be met unless we create conditions for our youngest children to be healthy and supported from the outset.”

Chasing Carbon Markets: The Deception of Carbon Markets and “Net Zero”

“Net zero” is a smokescreen, a conveniently invented concept that is both dangerous and problematic because of how effectively it hides inaction. We have to unpack “net zero” strategies and pledges to see which are real and which are fake. Fake zero strategies rely on offsets, rather than real emission reductions. Real zero strategies require emissions to really go to zero, or as close to zero as possible

Mindset Shifts: What are they? Why do they matter? How do they happen?

This report is intended as a resource for all those working on and funding mindset shifts.The research yields clear lessons and recommendations for how advocates, activists, funders,and other practitioners can maximize the impact of their efforts to change how we thinkabout social issues in order to change the contexts and structures that shape our experiencesand realities

SBTI … Net Zero Targets … TCFD … ESG Investment … resistance bubbles up that ‘trust us, we’re big’​ is not sufficient any longer

It is clear that ‘business as usual’ is not sufficient any longer (and hasn’t been for long), and remaining incremental ‘steps in the right direction’ are wilful predatory delay and not part of the solution. Now, do we have the tools at hand to react sufficiently and responsibly?

Devastatingly pervasive: 1 in 3 women globally experience violence

“Violence disproportionately affects women living in low- and lower-middle-income countries.  An estimated 37% of women living in the poorest countries have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their life, with some of these countries having a prevalence as high as 1 in 2.”

Health Verses Wealth?

“This briefing, by drawing attention to the longer term interactions between public health and the economy, dispels the myth that measures to protect public health are necessarily detrimental to economic well-being. Whilst difficult choices do have to be made, this ‘health versus wealth’ mentality is shown to be a false dichotomy.”

The Key to Good Collaboration, by Mark Gough

“So why then, when almost every organization claims that “collaboration is key”, do we often feel that it is an annoyance, a necessary evil and that it slows down progress?”

Changing Words to Change Society: The Marriage Equality Case in the US

By focusing on what Susan Blackmore calls memes, core ideas that help shape culture, like words and phrases, we wanted to visualize whether a controversial issue like marriage equality and the language used to describe it changed over time

Participation and Change: Lessons From the Future

“Participatory processes are giving us glimpses of how we can mainline public opinion into decision-making and regulate for the type of climate action that would match public concern. I am certainly excited by the developments and momentum in participatory and deliberative democratic processes. But how confident are we that these types of process will always truly reflect a public mandate?”

Building the Transition Together: WEAll’s Perspective on Creating a Wellbeing Economy

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere.

Job Openings & Opportunities

What to Watch

Listen Up

Upcoming Events

WEAll Originals  

Blogs:

Publications:

From the Archives

Amanda Janoo WEAll’s Knowledge & Policy Lead 

Around the world, people are losing faith in their governments. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer  over half of the world now believes our current economic system is doing more harm than good and that democracy is being eroded. Policy makers are increasingly viewed as facilitators of the growing inequality, injustice and environmental destruction that afflict our world rather than protectors and champions of our wellbeing. 

It is easy to understand this growing distrust in government when you live in a country like mine. When the COVID pandemic first hit, our President, Donald Trump legitimized inaction by saying “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA…Stock Market looks very good to me!” His barometer for our national health was the stock market and his first concern was how this pandemic would affect our economy. As if forgetting that we are the economy and that there is no greater cost than life itself. This confusion begins to make some sense when we consider that we evaluate our national success by our level of economic growth (GDP) not by our level of wellbeing. 

Around the world however, from the local to the global, policy makers are flipping this script. Recognizing that we’ve confused means and ends for too long. That people and planet are not here to serve the economy, it is here to serve us. That the economy is just the way that we produce and provide for one another and that we can produce things in a way that regenerates our world and provide to one another in a way that ensures wellbeing now and for generations to come. 

We find hope and inspiration in the leaders of the Wellbeing Economy Governments, such as Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand who has said: “Capitalism has failed our people. If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure. What else could you describe it as?” The wellbeing economy movement is not just being driven by heads of state, at all levels of government there are visionary policy makers who recognize the failures of our current economic system and are working to build a more  just and sustainable world. 

The challenge of course is that our current economic thinking has not only determined our measures of progress but also our government structures, power dynamics and cultural narratives. Developing a Wellbeing Economy is therefore not only about different measures or policies but critically about changing our relationship to the economy and our approach to its management and governance. The transformation we seek requires all of us, because we are the economy. It requires us to expand our imagination regarding what the economy is and can be. It needs all of us, with each of our unique gifts to co-create policies that can realign our economic systems with our values and objectives. Such a transformation can feel daunting, but just because a path is not paved does not mean we should not strive forward. 

With this in mind, the WEAll membership came together to co-create a Wellbeing Economy Policy Design Guide, illustrating that we can expand our notion of value and progress and proactively build an economy that can deliver social justice on a healthy planet. 

This guide challenges one-size-fits-all economic thinking by celebrating a diversity of approaches and values. It embraces the complex and intangible and empowers all people to participate in this transformative project. It moves us beyond viewing governments as market enablers to proactive agents of change. It re-embeds the economy back into our society and environment and calls for an integrated, holistic and co-creative approach. And it makes all of these very radical shifts in how we design economic policies seem down-right practical.

This short guide is filled with an abundance of case studies, tools and tips from our members on how to design policies for a Wellbeing Economy. More specifically, you’ll find resources and ideas on how to:

  1. Understand what matters for wellbeing, and how to craft and communicate wellbeing visions and measurements 
  2. Identify the areas of economic life that are most important for wellbeing,  managing trade-offs and confronting power dynamics 
  3. Assess and co-create Wellbeing Economy policies through meaningful participation 
  4. Successfully implement Wellbeing Economy policies by empowering local stakeholders and communities to create, adapting and aligning these policies to their context 
  5. Evaluate wellbeing for learning, adaptation and success 

This guide is just the beginning, as the wellbeing economy is still young and there are many questions that remain unanswered, many tools still to be developed and many more experiences to learn from. This guide aims to be practical without being overly prescriptive so that you can align these policy design processes and ideas to your unique context. Our request is that you share your experience with us so that we can learn together how to transform this thing we call an economy through deliberative, inclusive and democractic processes. The process we use to get to the future is the future we will get. 

Now is the time to move beyond critique of our economic system & governments and proactively work to transform them in line with our values & objectives. Now is the time to experiment and consider radical new ways to mold and direct our economy to deliver social justice on a healthy planet. Together we can show the world that a Wellbeing Economy is not only possible but already underway. 

To learn more:

WEAll is developing a Policy Design Guide that is to be launched in January. In support of this, we hosted an event on November 5th to galvanize interest. Amanda Janoo led the discussion and in her presentation, she outlined the goals of the Guide and how it can be used by Policymakers around the globe. In particular, the Guide addresses the need for case studies that show how to transition toward a Wellbeing Economy. 

After her short presentation, participants broke into breakout rooms to discuss the following questions:

Discuss your experiences designing policies to build a just and sustainable economy. What has worked and what hasn’t? 

How could a global policymakers network and/or WEAll support governments to build a Wellbeing Economy? What would you hope to gain from a network such as this?  

Some of the interesting questions that were raised are detailed below. 

What is a Wellbeing Economy?

  • Definitions: What are the different definitions of wellbeing? How do we make these understood by global audiences?
  • Clarity: What is the definition of a Wellbeing Economy? How we get there is still unclear. The goals feel too general and are disconnected from what is happening on the ground. How can we provide better clarity? 
  • Communication: Clear messaging around a Wellbeing Economy is important. How do you get more buy-in from colleagues? Some expressed the misconceptions around having to give something up to make progress on social or environmental issues. Do people have to choose between the economy and the environment? One suggestion for developing widespread understanding of a Wellbeing Economy was creating a forum for communication with people e.g. hosting Citizen Assemblies, as done in Scotland, for example. 
  • Education: There must be a student-led movement and shift in school curriculums to educate about a need for a Wellbeing Economy and the necessary transitions to achieve it. In addition, there must be a shift in understanding that economic policy, environmental policy and social policy are not ‘separate’; these distinctions are unhelpful and efforts must be connected to each other to deliver desired wellbeing outcomes.

Data & Evidence

  • Evidence: Many people want to make the transition, but more measurements, case studies, research, indicators are needed.
  • Indicators and data: For the countries that have access to data on wellbeing indicators, questions lie in how to prioritise, how to apply the data and how to share it across various sectors of the economy. For those countries that don’t have access to the internet or systems to collect sound data, how can governments make informed decisions?

Involving Stakeholders

  • Participation: How do we bring people along with us on the journey towards a Wellbeing Economy? How can we engage them throughout the policy design process? 
  • Diversity:. How do we ensure that we’re representing all communities? One comment suggested that the SDGs ignoring racial inequality as a core issue. We cannot achieve the SDGs without first tackling issues around race and racism. 
  • Aligning Institutions: Most government departments still work in silos. How do we align government efforts to recognise and address the interconnections between social, environmental and economic dimensions? How can we illustrate these synergies? 

Considerations for Prioritising Wellbeing 

  • Adaptation: How can we adapt frameworks such as the SDGs or the OECD Wellbeing Framework to our national context? How can we select and prioritise the wellbeing goals that suit our unique context, challenges and culture? 
  • Money: This is still the dominant bottom line in policy: allocate budgets to help the economy grow first and foremost, and people and planet as secondary considerations . If we are to shift  toward a Wellbeing Economy, what kind of investment strategy would we need to address this issue? 
  • Women: If we don’t lift up and empower women globally, how are we going to improve wellbeing? One interesting point was raised around finding out what women actually need. For example, a rural electrification project may want to support women, but is that the solution that is actually going to lift women out of poverty? How do we focus our efforts to address root causes?

Where do we go from here?

There are a lot of questions around transitioning to a Wellbeing Economy that need answers. These answers  will not come from WEAll alone, but from all of us, as a collective. Together, we can share our knowledge and experience, connect the theoretical with the practical, identify the most useful indicators, and simplify language so that others may understand the vision of a Wellbeing Economy. 

Please let us know if you are interested in joining a network of policymakers from around the globe to support and co-create Wellbeing Economy  practices,by filling out this form. 

The use of the term, ‘Wellbeing Economy’ has been increasing with Scotland being an official member and organiser of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership, WEGo.

On Thursday 27th August, 75+ economic development practitioners gathered at a Consultation hosted by the Economic Development Association Scotland (EDAS) and WEAll, to exchange ideas about how Scotland can further develop wellbeing economy policies and discuss the practical implementation of a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland.

Dr Robert Pollock, Managing Director, Regional Development Solutions and EDAS Board Member and Amanda Janoo, WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy Lead, introduced WEAll’s Policy Design Guidebook. The Guidebook aims to support policymakers looking to introduce wellbeing economy policies in their respective spheres, with a focus on the ‘how to’: presenting specific policymaking principles and processes to turn ideas into actions.

WEAll Scotland’s Gemma Bone Dodds, set the stage for the discussion of actualising a wellbeing economy in Scotland, by presenting the wellbeing economy policies that already exist in Scotland and where there are potential gaps. Breakout groups then explored possible next steps to move Scotland beyond a Wellbeing Economy framework and vision, and toward policy implementation.

Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser from the Scottish Government, closed by discussing the WEGo partnership and Scotland’s development of their national performance framework.

Get Involved

The input from the Consultation supports a participatory process that is vital to the Guidebook‘s creation. If you are a policy maker interested in reviewing or supporting with the guides development please contact Amanda Janoo, WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy Lead.

Submit a ‘Wellbeing Economy Case Study

As the Wellbeing Economy space is new, policies supporting the health of people and planet are often not recognised as “wellbeing economy policies”. In order to inspire policy makers on their journey to creating wellbeing economy policies, WEAll is looking for case studies from around the world — especially from the Global South –that are examples of wellbeing economy processes (e.g. participatory policy processes) and outcomes (e.g. bold wellbeing policies). Please share relevant case studies here by August 31st, 2020.