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The Transform our Economy Group is a collaboration between Friends of the Earth Scotland, Scottish Environment LINK’s Economics Group, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland and Prof Camilla Toulmin. Together we’ve analysed Scotland’s recent National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

Read our full analysis here.

With climate change impacts being felt around the world and rising prices pushing more and more people into poverty, the need to redesign our economy to serve people and planet has never been clearer. 

Last year the Transform our Economy Alliance published 10 points that set how an economic strategy for Scotland can start to deliver wellbeing for all within environmental limits. 

Those 10 points were endorsed by 42 academic experts and organisations such as Poverty Alliance and Scottish Women’s Budget Group.

So how does ‘Delivering Economic Prosperity’, the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation stack up against the 10 points? 

We conclude that the strategy has made partial progress against four of the ten points, but has not fully met any of them. You can read our detailed assessment here. This lack of progress is deeply disappointing, given the importance of the strategy for setting the direction of Scotland’s society, environment, and economy over the next 10 years. 

The disconnect between the priorities and ambition of the strategy and the scale of the challenges facing Scotland stems from a lack of an inclusive and wide-ranging participatory process for determining the strategy’s priorities. We hope that the delivery plans will be developed through a more inclusive process that can help to align the strategy more closely with the needs of people and planet. 

Join our board of trustees and help build the movement to redesign Scotland’s economy.

WEAll Scotland is a collaboration of organisations, movements and individuals working to transform the economic system into one that delivers social justice on a healthy planet. 

We believe that our economy needs to be redesigned so it provides us with what matters most – dignity, connection, nature, fairness and meaningful participation. We work with a growing network of Allies across Scotland who are playing their part to deliver a Wellbeing Economy at different levels of society. We are the Scottish arm of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) which has hubs in 15 countries.

Even before the cost of living crisis, one in four children in Scotland were growing up in poverty. Too many of us are living in cold homes, skipping meals, and falling behind on rent while Scotland’s 20 richest families enjoy more wealth than the bottom thirty per cent of the population combined. At the same time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) recently warned that we face a “brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future”. But there is a growing wave of support to redesign our economy so it delivers what matters most to us.

We are seeking to recruit two people to join our Board of Trustees. No previous board experience is required.

We are interested to hear from anyone who:

  • Is passionate about the need for economic system change 
  • Has a good understanding of the issues facing our economy, society and natural environment 
  • You should be confident that you can make a valuable contribution to our work and comfortable with working at Board level. However, prior Board experience is not a requirement
  • Is able to think strategically 
  • Is good at building relationships and works effectively as part of a team (with an ability to challenge constructively)
  • Can provide leadership/championship
  • Shares our values as set out in our strategy
  • Skills in business and financial management are desirable but not essential.

The role:

The Board plays a vital role delivering WEAll Scotland’s strategy: Trustees support a dynamic but small core team and act as ambassadors of the charity.  Board members will be appointed for an initial period of up to three years with potential for extension. The commitment required is a minimum of one day per quarter (attending Board meeting and preparation). We would also expect trustees to take an active role and interest in the charity beyond attending meetings, for example by attending public events on behalf of WEAll and by taking on pieces of work for and on behalf of the Board. There is no remuneration, however all necessary travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed.

We acknowledge that people from a number of communities are underrepresented in our team and in the wider movement of those seeking systemic economic change and the charity sector in general, and we’re committed to addressing this. If you believe you would bring greater diversity to our team, we’re keen to hear from you. We will assist with childcare costs or other duties that may prevent candidates from attending an interview. 

How to apply:

If you feel you have the passion, experience and commitment please send a letter/email setting out why you are interested in the role and your CV to anna@scotland.weall.org. The closing date for applications is 29th August.

For more information about WEAll Scotland please see our recently published strategy.

“The purpose of business is to “find profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet, not to profit from creating problems for either.”

Now is the Time for Purpose, Report of the Scottish Business Purpose Commission

We welcome the first report of the Scottish Business Purpose Commission – a joint initiative of SCDI and the Scottish Government – as an important step in the right direction. Businesses have a vital role to play in creating a Wellbeing Economy that is designed to deliver for everyone’s needs, and protect the health of our planet. But they can only do so if they put the purpose of serving their employees, communities, customers and natural environment at the heart of their business purpose, rather than focusing on short-term returns for shareholders. As the commission says, we need businesses in Scotland to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. 

It is time for businesses in Scotland to show real leadership in moving away from outdated business models and support an economy that works for people and planet. No matter where they are on this journey, all businesses must consider this, whether it is defining and communicating their purpose for the first time, developing comprehensive measures of their impacts on society and planet, or reforming their governance and ownership structures to give a stronger voice to employees, communities and the natural environment. 

The commission shows that Scotland is already full of inspiring examples of purposeful businesses and the key to success is to share the learning and experience from those examples. 

But the commission is also clear that conscientious businesses cannot do this by themselves. Purposeful businesses are not mainstream yet and our economy is still set up to favour those businesses that profit from creating, rather than solving, problems for people and planet. That set up is reflected in the competitive disadvantages, lack of support and limited access to investment for businesses that want to do the right thing. 

Governments at all levels need to step up to create the architecture that ensures that the right thing to do for people and planet becomes the right thing to do for business.

The recommendations by the commission represent an important step in that direction and we call on businesses, the UK Government, the Scottish Government and local governments to implement the recommendations of the commission in full. Governments need to support businesses on their journey by:

  1. Mainstreaming business purpose in business education 
  2. Incorporating purpose into all forms of government support for the private sector
  3. Building a favourable tax system for purposeful businesses.

But that can only succeed if there is a clear and shared understanding of what “business purpose” means in practice, what counts as contributing to the solutions that we need and what counts as profiting from the problems. This cannot be left to businesses to decide all by themselves, and the commission’s report offers little clarity. We need the UK and Scottish Governments to set a strong direction for businesses and to develop a coherent framework for measuring whether Scotland’s businesses are moving in that direction. We need effective ways of holding businesses accountable and prevent purpose-washing. Not all businesses take their responsibility for people and planet seriously as shown by recent examples (e.g P&O ferry, energy company profiteering from the cost of living crises and lobbying against climate change rules). 

To set that direction, we need a wider national discussion to create a shared understanding of the kind of businesses that can contribute to building a Wellbeing Economy and which ones cannot. This process needs to be led by governments but be inclusive and make sure that those with the least power in our current economy are heard. 

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

Join our new volunteer programme!

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

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

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

How the volunteer programme works

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to apply

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

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

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

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

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

Tl;dr

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

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

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

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

Earlier this month the Scottish Government unveiled its new 10-year National Strategy for Economic Transformation. The much anticipated plan included the welcome aspiration to become a Wellbeing Economy. But it failed to set out how we will genuinely transform our economy to one that ensures good lives for all of Scotand’s people and protects the health of our planet. In this blog, WEAll Scotland’s, Dr Lukas Hardt, explores the substance of the Strategy and makes the case for a inclusive national debate on how we move beyond business as usual.

The day before the Strategy was published, the global scientific community issued its starkest warning yet about the disastrous consequences ahead if we fail to urgently act to avoid climate breakdown. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautioned that further delay in action will miss a “brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”

At the same time, the cost of living crisis threatens to deepen already eye-watering levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland. One in four children in Scotland is growing up in poverty. Without new approaches that reflect the realities of today, rather than the recipes of the last century, the Scottish Government looks set to miss its child poverty targets. The need to reprogramme our economy has never been more apparent.

Scotland has positioned itself at the forefront of the movement to build a new type of economy which is designed to deliver good lives for all on a healthy planet. Scotland was a founding member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership – a collection of nations who are united in their ambition to redesign their economies. Nicola Sturgeon’s Ted Talk on the subject received 2.4 million views. But this rhetorical commitment to a different sort of economy has yet to be met with sufficient action.

Ahead of the publication of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation, 40 leading economists and climate change academics urged the Scottish Government to set out how it will put environmental and social concerns at the heart of financial and economic decision making. The final Strategy includes some positive commitments such as a Wellbeing Economy Monitor to measure the things that really matter to people and to review ‘how to increase the number of social enterprises, employee-owned businesses and cooperatives in Scotland’. But overall it marks a continuation of the same flawed logic that has delivered decades of inequality and environmental degradation.

The economy we have today is driven by a widely debunked logic – that continually growing the economy will automatically ‘trickle down’ to more wealth for the whole population. Yet in practice this necessitated that governments have to set aside some of this money in taxes to pay for the social and environmental casualties of our economic system. This economic paradigm has driven a cycle of paying to fix what we continue to break.

For example, the Scottish and UK Governments spend billions of pounds in Scotland topping up poverty wages, housing people who are homeless and building flood defences. Our recent report on Failure Demand has quantified the financial cost of this way of operating.

By privileging GDP growth and indiscriminate productivity, the National Strategy for Economic Transformation continues to follow this flawed logic. The most important challenge for Scottish and other economies in the 21st century is not a lack of productivity, innovation, inward investment (as important as they are). It is that they are often construed as goals in their own right. What we need to do is ask: What sort of innovation? Productivity of what and who gets the benefits? And how to ensure investment flows to those activities most aligned with a Wellbeing Economy? The key responsibility of governments in our time is to embed a new purpose into all economic and financial decision making. It is to ensure that  power is shared across workers and communities so that our economy uses our resources and creativity to provide the things that really matter. Governments have to make sure that care work is valued, that we all have the basics, like safe warm homes, that we expand the economic activities we need more of, such as decarbonisation, not just those that offer the biggest profits. There is very little in this strategy to suggest that the Scottish Government is living up to this responsibility.

Businesses have a vital role to play in a Wellbeing Economy, but the Strategy fails to offer a clear mechanism to ensure the enterprises Scotland will nurture will help build thriving local communities. Fostering social enterprise, employee-owned businesses and cooperatives has to be a key part and the Strategy promises a review of how their number can be increased. But more concrete support is needed urgently.

The Government needs to set the right rules and incentives to make sure that the right thing to do for people and planet becomes the right thing to do for businesses. The many enterprises in Scotland that are pioneering fair, green and transformative ways of working would welcome moves to rectify the unfair competition they face from those businesses who are shirking their responsibilities to the environment and society.

The Strategy talks about “Team Scotland” and rightly notes that economic transformation has to be supported by all citizens, and implemented through collaboration of the public, private and third sector. But the process of developing this Strategy has not lived up to this ambition. There is little evidence that this Strategy has had input from citizens and communities across Scotland.

The reports of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland and the Scottish Climate Assembly clearly show that people want the Government to step up to the plate and set a new direction for our economy.  Four in five Climate Assembly delegates supported the recommendation to reframe the national focus for Scotland’s future away from economic growth towards the prioritisation of a more person and community centred vision of thriving people, thriving communities and thriving climate. While the Strategy references an aim to respect environmental limits there is very little evidence of how this will be achieved nor how this squares with the thrust of the Strategy which focuses on growth.

This Strategy has failed to present solutions that are adequate for the challenges of the 21st century. Scotland now needs an urgent and inclusive national debate on how to transform our economy into one that truly delivers good lives and protects the health of the planet we depend on.



Commenting on Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, Jimmy Paul, Director of Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, said:

We welcome the Scottish Government’s aspiration to become a Wellbeing Economy and the aim to respect environmental limits. The Strategy includes some positive commitments such as a wellbeing economy monitor to measure the things that really matter to people.

“But this does not amount to a plan to transform our economy to one that truly puts our collective wellbeing first. The last decades have shown us that economic models that focus too narrowly on growth and productivity for their own sake fail to translate into more secure jobs, higher wages, decent housing for all, or a healthier natural environment. Assuming growth and productivity will trickle down to all has been debunked – Scotland needs to be bolder in its approach to economic change.

“Businesses have a vital role to play in a Wellbeing Economy, but the Strategy fails to offer a clear mechanism to ensure the enterprises Scotland will nurture will help build thriving local communities.

“The Strategy refers to economic transformation as a “collective national endeavour”, but there is no evidence that this Strategy has had input from citizens and communities across Scotland. This must be the start of conversation across Scotland about how we choose a new economic path that serves the health and wellbeing of our communities and protects the planet we depend on.  

“Scotland has positioned itself at the forefront of the movement to build a new type of economy, and the world is watching. Last week, 40 leading economists and climate change academics urged the Scottish Government to set out how it will put environmental and social concerns at the heart of financial and economic decision making. This Strategy stops short of achieving that. 

ENDS

For enquiries call 07855 069 952 or email frances@scotland.weall.org

Notes to editors

  • Dr Lukas Hardt, ecological economist and Policy Lead at Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland is available for interview.
  • Scotland’s National Strategy for Economy Transformation is here 
  • Nicola Sturgeon has previously championed the Wellbeing Economy agenda with her Ted Talk on the subject receiving 2.4 million views. Scotland is a founder member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments Partnership together with New Zealand, Wales, Finland and Iceland.
  • Last week, 40 leading economists and academics called on the Scottish Government to use the strategy to set out how it will put environmental and social concerns at the heart of financial and economic decision making. Their asks, supported by Poverty Alliance, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Scottish Environment Link and others here.
  • The strategy comes as yesterday’s IPPC report showed we only have a brief window to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. 



Calls for radical, transformative changes to Scotland’s economy in order to ensure wellbeing for all within our environmental limits have been backed by almost 40 leading economists and climate change academics.

In advance of the publication by the Scottish Government of its new economic strategy on Tuesday 1 March, these experts have endorsed Ten Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy produced by the ‘Transform Our Economy’ alliance.

These ideas outline a new purpose at the heart of our economy: providing wellbeing for all within environmental limits. They will require the government to set the trajectory for the economy and present a credible plan for delivery using all the powers at their disposal.

The alliance, comprising Scottish Environment LINK, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, is also calling for much more extensive public debate about the direction of our economy and believes that participation from workers, affected communities and those who are in greatest need of economic transformation has been lacking.

Matthew Crighton, Sustainable Economy Adviser at Friends of the Earth Scotland said,

“In the midst of climate and nature emergencies, with too many people trapped in poverty and businesses still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, there is no question that economic transformation is needed.

“In the face of these challenges, the Scottish Government must plot a new direction in building a truly sustainable and just economy that can meet people’s needs.

“Recent history has shown us there is a persistent gap between high-level aspirations and the actual performance of the government in effectively intervening the economy in Scotland. The fear is that the new economic strategy won’t redesign the economy, but will instead continue to deliver inequality and environmental destruction.

“New ideas are sorely needed for a transformative economic agenda which can provide sufficient investment to deliver a just transition to zero carbon, integrate the protection of nature into economic decision making and ensure social equity and participation by currently marginalised groups.”

Professor Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey and acclaimed author of Prosperity Without Growth backing the plan said,

“With the forthcoming 10-year Strategy for Economic Transformation the Scottish Government has a unique opportunity to make Scotland a global example of an economy that is fit to address the challenges of the 21st century, delivering wellbeing for all within environmental limits.

To do that, the Strategy needs to put at its heart care for people and planet, it needs to build on meaningful participation of those at the sharp end of our economy, and it needs to put in place measures which will give priority to ensuring people’s wellbeing rather than the pursuit of GDP growth for its own sake.”

The ten points proposed by the ‘Transform our Economy’ group offer a robust framework for building such a strategy. The Scottish Government would be well advised to take note.”

Professor Jan Webb, Professor of Sociology of Organisations, University of Edinburgh, and one of the 38 signatories, said,

“Orthodox economic strategy aims to maximise GDP, and then to make some adjustments for fairness and environmental harms. A transformative strategy, fit for addressing climate emergency and major inequalities, has to direct all economic action to achieving a fair, and sustainable, society. This means all investment prioritises decent work, zero waste, biodiversity and climate protection. I hope the Scottish Government will respond promptly and constructively to the Transform Our Economy alliance.”

The headings of the Ten Key Points are:
1. The goal: wellbeing for all within environmental limits
2. Setting specific economic objectives to care for people and the planet
3. Using all the tools available to government to meet those objectives
4. Policies must show how the objectives can be achieved
5. Combat economic pressures which are helping cause the problems
6. Public priorities must lead the direction of development of the economy
7. Clear tests for all investment programmes
8. Measure performance through metrics which matter
9. An economic strategy for all sectors – economic transformation as a national mission
10. An inclusive and participatory process

The full text of the Key Points can be read here

The Ten Key Points have been endorsed by the following 38 leading academics:

Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey
Jan Webb, Professor of Sociology of Organisations, University of Edinburgh
Dave Reay, Professor in Carbon Management and Education, University of Edinburgh
Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation
Gerry McCartney, Professor of Wellbeing, Glasgow University
Kate Raworth, Senior Teaching Associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Mike Danson, Professor Emeritus of Enterprise Policy, Heriot-Watt University
James Curran, Visiting Professor, Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Strathclyde
Victoria Chick, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London
Dan O’Neill, Associate Professor in Ecological Economics, University of Leeds
Julia Steinberger, Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change, University of Lausanne
Malcolm Sawyer, Emeritus Professor, Leeds University Business School
Molly Scott-Cato, Professor of Green Economics, Roehampton University
Prof Christine Cooper, Professor of Accounting, Edinburgh University
Laurie Macfarlane, Head of Patient Finance, Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, UCL
Camilla Toulmin, Professor in Practice at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University
Beth Stratford, Fellow New Economics Foundation and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance
Gregor Gall, Affiliate Research Associate at the University of Glasgow
Grace Blakeley, Author and journalist
Nancy Folbre, Professor Emerita of Economics, University of Massachusetts

Eurig Scandrett, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen Margaret University
Andrew Mearman, Associate Professor of Economics, Leeds University
John Barry, Professor, Queen’s University Belfast
Gary Dymski, Professor of Applied Economics, Leeds University
Yannis Dafermos, Senior Lecturer in Economics, SOAS
Mark Huxham, Professor, School of Applied Sciences, Napier University
Elizabeth Bomberg, Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Edinburgh
Dennis Mollison, Emeritus Professor of Applied Probability, Heriot-Watt University
Karen Bell, Senior Lecturer in Urban Sustainable Development, Glasgow University
Elena Hofferberth, PhD student, Leeds University Business School

Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh
Miriam Brett, Director of Research and Advocacy, Common Wealth
Andy Watterson, Professor, Public Health Researcher, Stirling University
Danny Wight, Professor, Institute of health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow
Claire Duncanson, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Edinburgh
Donald McKenzie, Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh
Josh Ryan-Collins, Senior Research Fellow in Economics and Finance
Maria Nikolaidi, Associate Professor in Economics, Greenwich University



Denisha Killoh and Jimmy Paul represent Scotland on the Future Generations Commission.  In this blog they explore how the Future Generations Bill could help steer us to a safer future where everyone can flourish.

In 2015, the Welsh Government introduced its groundbreaking Wellbeing of Future Generations Act which requires public bodies to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Calls quickly followed for the UK to follow suit.

In 2019 Big Issue founder, Lord John Bird, introduced a Private Member’s Bill on the Wellbeing of Future Generations into the House of Lords. The Bill incorporates lessons learned during the implementation of the Welsh Act as well as insights from a growing body of international experience of similar initiatives. Simon Fell MP joined forces with Lord Bird to urge the UK Government to back the Bill which last week completed its passage through the House of Lords.

Lord Bird said:

“We could just call it the “Hindsight Bill”. Why do we not have a Minister for Hindsight? Very clever—somebody who can read the future or who can say, “Hang on, why are we always doing things that come back to bite us in the rear at some later stage?””

The Bill would require the UK Government to:

  • Act to protect future generations from existential and environmental threats;
  • Work preventatively, and with foresight, to solve societal problems;
  • Account for, and seek to increase, its preventative spending.

This concept of working with ‘hindsight’ in mind drives both our work at WEAll Scotland and the Future Generations Commission. The Future Generations Commission was set up to promote the principles of the Bill to the general public and to governments.

At WEAll Scotland, we work to future-proof Scotland by redesigning our economy to work in service of human and ecological wellbeing. At the Commission, we combine our knowledge and experiences with the voices of Scottish communities to plan long-term solutions to tackling the root causes of our most challenging and cyclical problems. We also hold key decision-makers and politicians to account to ensure they are working in a way that is regenerative, collaborative and purposeful, while striving to meet the needs of the present, without negatively effecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

As the Bill makes it way to the House of Commons, we are delighted to see such early, broad support for a new approach to policy making.

Why we need the Bill

Every child deserves to grow up in a secure environment with the foundation they need for a future full of possibilities. But right now, one in four children are living in poverty in a country blighted by unaffordable housing, subsistence pay, exploitative working conditions and the degradation of our natural environment. On our current trajectory, extreme weather events like Storms Malik and Corrie will only get worse and their impacts will be most felt by those who already struggle to make ends meet. A recent global study revealed that three quarters of young people are frightened about the future with almost half of all respondents sharing that feelings about the climate affected their daily lives. Yet, young people’s voices are often ignored by a policy making culture that struggles to think beyond election cycles.

The Future Generations Bill would be an important step towards an alternative path. By embedding analysis of the long-term impacts of our actions in policy making the Bill would force us to tackle the root causes of the challenges we face. Every year the Scottish and UK Governments spend billions of pounds in Scotland topping up poverty wages, housing the homeless and building flood defences.

Our current economic paradigm has us trapped in a cycle of paying to fix what we continue to break. The Bill could help us transition to a new type of economy that prioritises our collective wellbeing.

The Future Generations Commission asks us to lift our gaze, to design an economy and society where firefighting the problems caused by the endless pursuit of economic growth becomes a thing of the past. It means making our economy more equal from the outset, so that it recognises and rewards everyone’s contributions. It means investing in warm homes, renewable energy and public transport to create an economy that is healthier for people and planet. And it means investing in our preparedness for future pandemics, so that we are not left as helpless as we were in March 2020. By designing policies differently, we can lay a fire-proof foundation for our children and grandchildren to thrive.

The transition to a Wellbeing Economy is already underway in pockets of activity around Scotland – from businesses redefining what it means to succeed, to local authorities investing in Community Wealth Building. But the full redesign of our economies will require commitment from the UK and Scottish Governments. 

The progress of the Future Generations Bill to the House of Commons is a huge cause for celebration. But we will need to be vigilant to ensure that it retains its transformative potential.  

We all want to hand down a better world to our children and grandchildren. A Bill that embeds long-termism and preventative thinking could help make this dream a reality.

Denisha Killoh is a Trustee of WEAll Scotland and Jimmy Paul is Director of WEAll Scotland
.

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

Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is recruiting a Policy and Engagement Lead and a Communications Lead!

Closing date: 23:00 on 1st August 2021

Interviews: First interviews w/c 9th August 2021, second interviews w/c 16th August 2021

WEAll Scotland is looking for two new people.  The first is a Policy and Engagement Lead who will play a key role in influencing across parliament, local government and business audiences.  They will coordinate and support our Allies to promote Wellbeing Economy messages to various levels of government and other policy audiences.  They will represent the network externally with key stakeholders from business, government and civil society. They will present at events and will also support key voices from within the core team and network to be heard at external events.   They will also support evaluation and monitoring across the organisation, and will create useful summaries of the impact of work which is in support of a Wellbeing Economy, enabling Allies to contextualise this for their specific work.  

The second is a Communications Lead.  This role is responsible for the internal and external communications for WEAll Scotland.   They will represent the network externally with key stakeholders from business, government and civil society.  They will be responsible for creating an external communications strategy and delivering this for the Allies programme.  They will also be responsible for creating and delivering on an internal communications strategy, ensuring high quality communications across the Board, the Core Team, Associates and volunteers, who collaborate to support both practical and policy changes. They will build relationships with key journalists across Scotland which will maximise the profile of our work.  They will create content for external events and the media, by working with the Core Team, Associates and volunteers, as well as designing and hosting events, seminars and press conferences.  They will also manage our social media channels and support the redevelopment of the WEAll Scotland section of the wider global WEAll website.

How to Apply

If either of these roles sound like you, please download the application pack and application form for the Policy and Engagement Lead role here, and the Communications Lead role here. The closing date is 23:00 on 1st August 2021.

We acknowledge that people from a number of communities are underrepresented in our team and in the wider movement of those seeking systemic economic change and the charity sector in general, and we’re committed to addressing this. If you believe you would bring greater diversity to our team, we’re keen to hear from you. 

If you have any questions or if you feel you could succeed in this role but don’t have all the characteristics we’re looking for, please get in touch with Jimmy Paul, WEAll Scotland Director, on jimmy@scotland.weall.org.

Guest blog by Elle Adams – Programme Manager, Scotland CAN B

As we begin the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, a collective global awakening to ecological breakdown and social injustices, and with the inflection point of COP26 and looming on the horizon this November, we face an unprecedented moment to choose how we move forward, #buildbackbetter, and what kind of story we want to be able to tell about what’s going on in Scotland on the global stage.

Scotland is home to both the first Wellbeing Economy Alliance hub and the first national business-for-good programme of its kind, Scotland CAN B (a groundbreaking partnership between the Scottish Government and B Lab). Founded around a similar time in 2018, these pioneering initiatives have been established with a backdrop of Scotland’s long-term heritage of a strong social business ethics, and progressive and courageous national political and entrepreneurial ambitions.

The initiative was launched to explore what happens when you combine the entrepreneurial, innovative and business-for-good ambitions of one country, with the aim of catalysing a fundamental shift in the nation’s approach to business. The initiative draws on B Lab’s experience, standards, and the power of business accountability provided by impact assessment tools, and examples of best practice from certified B Corps, to ask: 

“How might an entire nation learn to think, be and behave like a B Corp?” 

or as the question has evolved over time:

“What might it take to build a nationwide culture of business as a force for good?”

In true Scottish “can do” attitude, we wholeheartedly embraced this challenge, and Scotland CAN B’s work since can be broadly divided into two strands, which we believe to be equally essential, interdependent elements towards leveraging the role of business towards catalying place-based economic systems change in Scotland.

These dual strands of work are:

  1. Fostering a national Impact Culturecultivating coherence and alignment in the mindsets, language, tools and frameworks used about impact in Scotland’s business ecosystem
  1. Developing and delivering Impact Trainings – supporting businesses to learn to measure and manage their social, environmental, and governance performance with as much rigor as their profits

Scotland CAN B’s dual approach Theory of Change mirrors and supports the Wellbeing Economy Alliance’s own broader strategic approach of creating a new economic power base through building coherent knowledge and providing new narratives. We see Scotland CAN B’s work as equipping, enabling, and galvanising Scottish businesses and Scotland’s exceptional business support ecosystem to play their vital role as key agents in this process of economic systems change towards a wellbeing economy.

In short, the work of Scotland CAN B is to provide the mechanisms which realise WEAll’s vision, within the business sector.

Around the world today we are witnessing an inflection point for the redefinition of the purpose of the economy and role of business in society. Indications of this comes in different flavours; whether it’s investors and market forces demanding higher standards of environmental, social, and governance accountability, or momentum behind the campaign currently underway to reform corporate governance in UK – the ‘Better Business Act’ – which would align the interests of shareholders with those of wider society and the environment.  We’re witnessing a new generation prioritising their values in their career and consumer choices, and calls across sectors for the repurposing of the economy from growth at any cost, towards the wellbeing of people, planet, and future generations. 

It’s increasingly clear that business for good is simply better business; no matter how big or small, and whether you are people-, planet-, or profit- motivated; we’re all headed in the same direction. The question has changed from “why should we care?” to “what could we be doing better?” and “how do we not get left behind?

“It’s increasingly clear that business for good is simply better business…”

In Scotland, WEAll Scotland and Scotland CAN B are both committed to ground these market demands, global imperatives, and this political rhetoric in reality. We’ve been working hard to develop and provide the inspiration, support and mechanisms to equip businesses to embody a wellbeing economy through their actions and accountability. 


At Scotland CAN B, we’ve developed the Impact Journey – a cyclical, six module learning journey designed to support businesses in fostering impact awareness and accountability comprehensively across all areas of their business; from their core governance arrangements, through to how they interact with their employees, customers, the environment, and their local community. 

But to catalyse the change we want to see at scale and pace across the nation, commensurate with the converging global challenges at hand, we soon realised we’d need to mobilise some extra support, and turned our attention to leveraging Scotland’s extensive business support ecosystem to join us on this mission. 

Cue our flagship programme – the Impact Economy Advisors training, designed to train business support professionals in the latest frameworks, tools and perspectives to be able to help the businesses they support to better understand, measure and manage their impact. This year we will be ramping up delivery of the training, with participants joining us from across the spectrum of entrepreneurial support organisations in Scotland.

As more and more businesses and business-support organisations engage with the task of embracing their vital role in contributing towards the global Sustainable Development Goals, Scotland’s National Performance Framework, and embodying a wellbeing economy, we increasingly have proof of concept, and a sense that the change we seek is picking up steam – a nationwide operating system upgrade is underway, shifting the culture of business from a sole focus on profit, towards prioritising purpose and accountability for people and planet. 

This is the moment, the intersection point, where humanity has more understanding than ever before of the complex and interdependent nature of the challenges we all face, yet also, crucially, a small window of opportunity and agency to take the rapid, proportionate action required to do something about it.

At this transformative moment in history, as the tide turns globally towards an emphasis on ESG accountability, the race to Net Zero, and with COP26 hosted in Glasgow on the horizon, it’s an exciting moment for Scotland to be poised to provide global leadership and a tangible example of what a nation of businesses embracing their vital role in the transition towards a wellbeing economy looks like in practice at a national level.

With the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, Scotland CAN B, and many others working together, we have an inspiring and galvanising story here to tell.

WEAll is recruiting for a COP26 Music Event Producer. This 7-month contract offers the opportunity to lead on WEAll’s presence and impact around the COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, and offers a unique opportunity to engage new audiences with the case for economic system change and a wellbeing economy. Primarily this will be done through a multi-arts festival that seeks to be engaging and informative and will be available to digital audiences as well as people in Glasgow.      

Start date: June 2021

Contract type: 7-month fixed-term contract

Remuneration: We expect the role to be the equivalent of a full-time post and the remuneration for delivering the festival is up to £20,000 for the contract period.

Hours of work: The nature of this role is that flexibility in hours is both required by the role (for example, there may be some evening and weekend work) but also offered by WEAll.

Location: Because of where COP will take place this year, our preference is to recruit for a person to be based in Glasgow [Scotland] where we can provide access to a co-working space (COVID rules permitting).

The Music Festival:

WEAll, together with its partner FiiS is planning a one-day music festival during COP26 to be held in Glasgow in November this year. The theme of the event will draw on our narratives playbook Stories for Life (SfL).

We are in advanced talks with the organisers of a central Glasgow site to hold the music festival during the middle weekend of COP26. The site (currently under development) will host a programme for the full 12 days of COP with like-minded content partners.  The WEAll/FiiS music festival will be the key content partner for one of those twelve days.

The site partner aims to develop the site with temporary structures on site including a main stage, smaller stages and workshop areas that are module in design and able to be arranged to meet its content partners’ needs. The site partner will provide the audio/visual needs for the site and plans to broadcast the programme to supplement the likely socially distanced nature of the in-person programme.

WEAll/FiiS are planning a festival that will include musicians, artists, new economy thinkers and practitioners. We plan to hold panel discussions between these different groups, display artwork that draws out the themes of Stories for Life      – themes that highlight the interconnectedness of humans and nature and how the economy must be in service to both.

We are planning to use SfL as a creative challenge and opening it up to all the arts / music / cultural networks we know. The challenge would be to use SfL as a brief, and to create ‘stories’ (in any medium) that pick up on any of the main pillars of the brief. A limited number (say 4 or 5) of the submitted concepts would be commissioned to then be shown at the festival in Glasgow.

We would like to apply the same thinking to bigger agencies / organisations with the aim for them to create their own campaigns / strategies / ideas in response to SfL and then submit them into  a panel – with the awards/results being announced at the festival.

What we are looking for:

We are looking for an organised, flexible and highly motivated individual with demonstrable event design and project management skills and experience, and with a passion for economic system change.

The post holder must be adaptable, creative and – due to the nature of our small start-up organisation – fully capable and competent to lead this work without expectation of supervision. Having said that, the person will need to be an excellent partnership manager as the site developer is looking for the themes and messages of our festival to complement the other content partners (and vice versa).

The post holder must also be adept at talent management, stage management and an excellent project manager.

Download the full job description, which includes more details of deliverables and how to apply, below. The closing date is Tuesday 18 May.

Guest blog by Ross Cameron from Remade Network

Remade Network launched their Repair Stop at Govanhill Baths Community Trust’s Deep End in July last year, serving customers from our Covid-proof hatch. Thanks to the support of the local community, we’ve outgrown our small space and are now able to expand to Victoria Road, which means creating four more jobs and bringing our staff team to 10. We’re really delighted as we’re committed to creating green jobs in the community, and to helping regenerate the high street.

Here Ross Cameron, our electrical repair technician, talks about his time with Remade, which saw him moving from the event industry to working in repair, and some of his favourite repairs…

– Sophie Unwin, Director and Founder, Remade Network


I’ve spent most of the past five years working as a technician in the live event and music industry, and in the course of that work I found myself making a lot of repairs on the equipment I was using. One of the good things about that industry is that most of the equipment we used was designed to be repaired by the people using it, and it wasn’t uncommon to see some pieces of equipment in use (in less than ideal environments no less) for well over 20 years. Unfortunately, it seems that’s a rare exception, as most consumer goods these days appear to be designed without long term serviceability in mind.

…most consumer goods these days appear to be designed without long term serviceability in mind. 

The Covid-19 pandemic, and the ensuing mothballing of the events industry, coincided with a desire on my part to make a change in my career, and I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to work with Remade Network, delivering an affordable and accessible repair service to the public in Govanhill, the area where I live. It’s provided me an opportunity to use my skills in repair in a more environmentally conscious manner. I’m a firm believer that reuse of consumer goods is a key aspect of the fight against climate change and environmental degradation – not only does reusing goods reduce the amount of energy and resources used in the manufacture of new items, but it also prevents harmful chemical and plastic agents from entering the ecosystem. I’ve always loved to help teach people new skills, and through teaching people how to repair and reuse their possessions, they can gain a deeper sense of ownership, and re-contextualise their items as objects which have had a physical life before it came into their possession, and that may have a lasting effect in the environment after they’ve disposed of them.

I’m a firm believer that reuse of consumer goods is a key aspect of the fight against climate change and environmental degradation…

One of my favourite repairs so far was an old Sony flip clock from the 1980s. It was a complete birds nest of cabling inside, so it took a while to get it properly dismantled. It looked like the motor that drove the axle the numbers rotate on was dead, but the clock was so old we weren’t able to find a suitable replacement part. Not wanting to let such an interesting item end up in the landfill, I very carefully disassembled the motor and cleaned each of the gears and cogs inside. With a copy of the original design diagrams I found online, I was able to reassemble the motor correctly, and the clock has been keeping time ever since.

In April, we’re working to move our operation to a larger and more visible premise on Victoria Road, and with that, expanding our opening hours in response to the high demand we’ve had so far. When Covid-19 lockdown rules begin to abate, we’ll be able to host more workshops and educational sessions in this new space, as well as offering refurbished tech for sale at an affordable price. We’ve had a fantastic reaction from the public. People are incredibly keen to keep their items going for a while longer, especially heirlooms and gifts that they have a strong emotional connection to.

Visit their website or social media to learn more about Remade Network.

Dr. Katherine Trebeck

A major report published this week calls for the Scottish Government to introduce wellbeing budgeting to improve lives for children as part of a radical systems change in the wake of the coronavirus.

The new report, Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing, by WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Dr Katherine Trebeck, with Amy Baker, was commissioned by national charity Children in Scotland, early years funder Cattanach and the Carnegie UK Trust.

Click here to download and read the report

It makes a series of bold calls focused on redirecting finances to tackling root causes of inequality and poverty as Scotland emerges from Covid. Key recommendations include:

  • A post-Covid spending review, with all spend proposals assessed against evidence of impact on children’s wellbeing
  • Training of the civil service to ensure effective budget development and analysis, and moving to multi-year budgeting aligned with wellbeing goals
  • Establishing an independent agency, modeled on the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, to support activity and scrutinise effectiveness of delivery of wellbeing budgeting by the government
  • An overarching change to the ways of working in the Scottish Government budget process to ingrain greater transparency; cross-departmental working; and a participatory approach involving the public and the diversity of children’s voices.

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.

To do this, it makes the case for directing funds at root causes that diminish child wellbeing, rather than targeting symptoms ‘downstream’, which is inefficient, stifles implementation of policy and legislation, and slows ambitions for societal change.

First steps towards wellbeing budgets would involve holding a conversation with the public about budget-setting to absorb lived experience; interrogating data to ‘map’ the distribution of wellbeing in Scotland; and ensuring policy development was properly connected to evidence on what would actually change outcomes for children and addressing the root causes of what undermines their wellbeing.

The report’s lead author, Dr Katherine Trebeck, said:

“If the Scottish budget is to be a mechanism that brings about change, we need to create a context where children can flourish in Scotland. Then we need to think about a few fundamentals. The budget needs to be holistic, human, outcomes-oriented, and rights-based. It needs to be long-term, upstream, preventative and precautionary. Finally, a bold budget for children’s wellbeing needs to be participatory – children’s voices in all their diversity need to be at the heart of setting the budget agenda.”

Katherine speaks about the report in more detail in this short video:

Sophie Flemig, Chief Executive of Cattanach, said:

“This report shows why it is necessary to set out a high-level vision for wellbeing outcomes and hardwire it into government processes. Countries need to acknowledge that the economy is in service of wellbeing goals, not a goal in and of itself. Meaningful public involvement is key. Ministerial responsibility for wellbeing outcomes drives progress. And cross-departmental work is essential for success.”

Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy at Carnegie UK Trust, said:

“This project has focused on one important lever of change – the finance system, the way that we think about money and spend in Scotland, asking: what is value for money when we’re talking about our children’s lives? We know it’s not a silver bullet, but we do think it’s important that we consider how we spend that money if we’re going to begin improving outcomes for children and putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to children’s wellbeing.”

As the election campaign approaches, and following Tuesday’s vote to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, the report’s calls and the case for wellbeing budgeting informs Children in Scotland’s manifesto for 2021-26, backed by organisations across the children’s sector.

The report is published as Scotland takes stock of the damage the pandemic has done to individuals, families, communities, and the macroeconomy, and an increasing number of people recognise that we must not revert to pre-Covid ways of working.

Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, said:

“Now is the time for us to reset our economy and the way in which we prioritise our budgets. Katherine’s work gives us a real manifesto for how we will secure children’s rights and wellbeing. We call on you to read the report, particularly the section which identifies what the crucial next steps are. We don’t need any more research or evidence – we need to work together to put a budget for Scotland’s children into place, this year, and we look forward to working with you to make that happen.”

This content is reposted from Children in Scotland

By Tabitha Jayne

The world of sustainability is confusing. With the drive towards net-zero targets increasing and the pressure of COP26 happening in Scotland this year, it’s easy to think that business is expected to make a quantum leap.

In reality, it’s a journey that we are already on. Many businesses are already on their wellbeing journey. They just don’t know it yet because the language used creates barriers instead of connection.

WEAll Scotland has partnered with Scottish Enterprise (via the Co-operative Development Scotland service) and Remarkable to explore how businesses in Scotland are active in creating a wellbeing economy and how they can do more to contribute to fairer, more inclusive working practices in Scotland.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

There are also twenty-one supporting partners helping us by sharing the survey with their networks:

  • Business in the Community
  • Community Enterprise in Scotland
  • Development Trusts Association Scotland
  • Foundation Scotland
  • Institute of Directors
  • Linwood Community Trust
  • Mindset Experts
  • Natural Change
  • Net Zero Community
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • Remade Network
  • RSA – Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturers & Commerce
  • Scotland CAN B
  • Scottish Council for Development &  Industry
  • Scottish Football Club
  • Scottish Institute of Business Leaders
  • ScienceFest
  • Scottish Business Network
  • Social Investment Scotland
  • VisitScotland Business Events

This is a powerful example of collaboration for a wellbeing economy. 

But why do we need a wellbeing economy?

A couple of weeks ago, my mum told me how a friend of the family had killed himself. As a farmer, he turned to renting out caravans to support himself because he couldn’t survive from what he made from the land. With Covid-19 regulations, he had no source of additional income.

Farmers have a high suicide rate, but we don’t talk about it. They are victims of an economic system designed to exploit people and nature.

Last year, my sister-in-law’s nephew found his friend dead from a drug overdose. He is 17 and has already lost two more friends to suicide. They too are victims of an economic system that doesn’t work.

When I was seven, I nearly died from an asthma attack caused by air pollution. I am a survivor of an economic system that doesn’t work. If you’re reading this, so are you.

It’s time for the economic system to change. A wellbeing economy is a way of preventing needless deaths. It puts people and nature at the heart of our economic system because we are the economy.

Business has an essential role to play in this transition. Yet too often the actions of big business pollute how we view the way business is done.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, I deeply care about those who work for me and for the community I live in. That’s where the journey of a wellbeing business starts.

And that’s why I’m working on behalf of WEAll Scotland to create a survey on business and the wellbeing economy.

If you’re a business (of any kind and structure), we’d love for you to take part.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

2020. There’s no denying it’s been a year of struggle. But like a bright candle in an otherwise dark room, it’s also been a year of opportunity.

As lockdown loomed and work was waylaid, more and more people began to think about who “the economy” really serves. Does it benefit the millions of people, including key workers, who work every day to keep it running? And what about the many people who are unable to work? Or does it tend to benefit a privileged few at the expense of other people and the environment?

We’ve been advocating for Scotland’s transition to a wellbeing economy—a system which delivers social justice on a healthy planet—for a long time now, but the need for its realisation has never been greater. That’s why it’s so encouraging and uplifting to mainstream sources adopting language like wellbeing economy, build back better, and green recovery into their everyday discussions, from journalists to politicians.

In May, for example, Fiona Hyslop (Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs) declared in Parliament that “the time of a wellbeing economy has well and truly arrived.”

The wellbeing economy concept then took centre stage a month later when the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery published its report, Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland.

At WEAll Scotland, we were delighted to see wellbeing-economy language featured so prominently. But it’s important to remember that we exist to advocate for and enable a wellbeing economy, not simply celebrate its becoming a buzzword.

We were concerned with how prominently the reliance on growth was referenced throughout the report. What kind of growth, we ask, and for whom? Simply adding “inclusive” and “sustainable” modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.

It’s time to move away from outdated metrics like growth to GDP and instead focus on the indicators which truly measure quality of life: social justice, a healthy environment, and the opportunity for everyone to pursue the life they wish to live.

Life is for learning, and we’ve certainly learned a lot in 2020. As we look to the future by looking back, we wanted to end the year (and this article!) by sharing some positive stories from lockdown.

Ostrero is a research and advocacy body that raises awareness of what the circular economy is and why it’s vitally important to Scotland’s economic and environmental wellbeing. Earlier this year, they gathered quotes from children across Scotland on what they learned during lockdown and how we can work together to build back better. Ostrero were kind enough to allow us to share some of those quotes here.

Thanks for reading and for helping us advocate for a wellbeing economy in 2020.

Here’s to a bright new year.

“Although lockdown has been hard there’s been many positives, for instance when I go on a bike ride with no traffic on the road, I can go down the Mound without a single car in sight, the air is fresher and cleaner and it’s lovely to hear the birds sing.”

Millie, age 12

“When I was at school, every lunch, we used paper plates. So every day, we threw away our plates, our cutlery and our glass. It wasn’t reusable, so it was harmful for the planet. Now I use a real plate to eat with my family, and it is better for the environment.”

Arthur, age 10

“I had my 10th birthday during Lockdown and it was different, but also good as it was a new way to spend my birthday. My parents arranged for my family to sing to me on Messenger. It was nice and my mum made me a cake. I think that using technology is helping people be able to see each other and also help me to do my school work.  I have been learning Spanish during this time using an app and it has been a lot of fun.”

Ethan, age 10

“I have online classes, so teachers can’t print documents anymore. It strikes me because having documents online already pollutes a lot and by printing them in addition, you only harm nature more by using unnecessary paper. I hope it will help people be more careful when using our planet’s resources.”

Salomé, age 15

“I never really talked with my neighbours (I didn’t even know some of their names) but now we do because we check everyone is ok and we help a neighbour with her shopping, recycling and anything else she needs and in return she bakes us delicious cookies.”

Archie, age 13

NO LONGER ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: Please note that the application window for this position has now closed. Thank you for your interest.

CLOSED: Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is recruiting a Director!

This is a unique opportunity to take WEAll Scotland to the next level – moving it from a high impact but volunteer led organisation to a high performing, professional and sustainable organisation. Your main focus in terms of delivering external impact will be through our flagship Allies programme, which aims to create a network of allies who help collectively deliver and promote the feasibility and desirability of transition to a wellbeing economy. They will collaborate in various activities to support both practice and policy changes. 

WEAll Scotland has a strong external profile, and you will represent the network externally with key stakeholders from business, government and civil society. You will also support key voices from within the core team and network to be heard at external events and in the media.

You will lead WEAll Scotland’s development as an organisation, developing its strategy, team, fundraising and ensuring its culture and operational practices create an inclusive environment for a diverse team. One of your first priorities will be hiring the next two roles for the team: a Collaboration and Research Officer and a Communications Officer. 

PLEASE NOTE: We are no longer accepting applications for this role; the application window has now closed. Thank you for your interest.

The closing date for applications is 09.00am 18th January 2021.

First interviews will take place on w/c 25th January 2021 with second interviews on w/c 8th February 2021.

To find out more and apply for this role, please download the application pack and application form. If you have any queries, or if you feel you could succeed in this role but don’t have all the characteristics we’re looking for, please get in touch with Charlotte Millar, WEAll Scotland Trustee on charlotte@scotland.weall.org 

We are committed to providing equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background. We believe this is crucial to ensuring the legitimacy and effectiveness of our work. We acknowledge that people from a number of communities are underrepresented in our team and in the wider movement of those seeking systemic economic change and the charity sector in general, and we’re committed to addressing this. If you believe you would bring greater diversity to our team, we’re keen to hear from you. We are open to assisting with childcare or other duties that may prevent candidates from attending an interview. 

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.

References

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
https://pure.hud.ac.uk/en/publications/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
https://www.includem.org/resources/Poverty-and-the-Impact-of-Coronavirus-on-Young-People-and-Families—Includem—Oct-2020.pdf

Includem (2020) Staying Connected: Assessing digital inclusion during the coronavirus pandemic
https://www.includem.org/resources/staying-connected-includem-digital-inclusion-report-may-2020.pdf

The Poverty Alliance Get Heard Scotland
https://www.povertyalliance.org/get-involved/get-heard-scotland/

The Promise
https://www.thepromise.scot/

Staf and The Children’s and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) Youth Justice Voices
https://www.staf.scot/blogs/blogs/category/youth-justice-voices Webb, C (2020) Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality
https://socstudiesresearch.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/child-protection-and-removal-the-hidden-inequality/

Webb, C (2020) Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality
https://socstudiesresearch.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/child-protection-and-removal-the-hidden-inequality/


For further information on Includem’s policy and research work, including government consultation submissions, please see: https://www.includem.org/about-policy-research/

On Wednesday, 28th October, Holyrood and the RSA held their online conference, “Scotland: The Recovery”. Chaired by WEAll Scotland trustee Sarah Deas, the event provided an opportunity for the public, private, and third sectors to gather and discuss how Scotland can move forward and build a post-pandemic society that works for everyone.

After initial remarks from Sarah, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister, opened the event by sharing her aspirations for a wellbeing economy. Acknowledging that economic policy should be “a means, not an end”, the First Minister called for the people of Scotland to work together to deliver an economy that places “wellbeing alongside wealth”—not just as an afterthought, but as a vital part of Scotland’s post-pandemic economy.

Also speaking by video address was Rt. Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK Government. The Minister also emphasised his commitment for a green recovery.

In other words, now is the moment for a wellbeing economy.

Throughout the day, there were numerous discussions, panels, and guest speakers (including WEAll’s Advocacy and Influencing Lead, Katherine Trebeck). The dominant theme was everyone’s shared commitment to taking wellbeing economy ideas and discussing how best to turn them into permanent, lasting reforms.

Sarah explained the shared vision of a wellbeing economy in her opening remarks:

“With nations across the world taking unprecedented steps to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for the global economy and society is bleak, with many challenges ahead. It’s also widely acknowledged that climate change poses a major threat, placing further crises on the horizon. So, as we seek to build back better, we must do so in a manner that builds resilience and addresses what’s not working in the current economic paradigm.

“It requires us to ask fundamental questions and explore ‘radical’ solutions. How do we design a recovery that doesn’t embed inequality? How do we move to a regenerative economy, rather than one that is ecologically destructive?

How do we design a recovery that doesn’t embed inequality? How do we move to a regenerative economy, rather than one that is ecologically destructive?

“In other words, how do we build a ‘wellbeing economy’, transforming our economic system so that it delivers social justice on a healthy planet—the first time round.

“This requires us to consider questions like, what kind of growth? And for whom? Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.

What kind of growth? And for whom? Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.

“It’s recognised that greater emphasis needs to be placed on the root causes of societal problems—leading to ‘upstream’ preventative measures—rather than focusing mainly on ‘downstream’ measures, which involve cleaning up and redistributing after the fact. Whilst the latter are also important in the short term, we won’t escape the downward spiral by patching up after the event. Instead, we need upstream systems change.

“As a founding member of the WEGo partnership, alongside Iceland and New Zealand, Scotland is already at the forefront of global efforts to build a new, inclusive economy focused on societal and environmental wellbeing. 

“So how do we do it? Today’s Holyrood event, in partnership with the RSA, brings together policymakers and thought leaders to explore that key question.”

As the conference came to an end, the closing keynote came from Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, The Scottish Government. She spoke to Holyrood back in August about Scotland’s desire “to create a strong, resilient wellbeing economy”, and the need is just as prevalent today.

There’s still lots of work to do, but it truly is promising to see the wave of support for economic systems change that benefits everyone—including the key workers on whom we’ve relied so greatly this year.

Now is the moment to make it happen.

We asked Stephanie Mander, Senior Project Officer at Nourish Scotland and Co-ordinator of Scottish Food Coalition, to speak to WEAll about food insecurity and how it relates to Scotland’s wellbeing – both before and during the pandemic. Here’s what she had to say:


We’re fortunate to live in Scotland, a country where the leadership not only recognises the shortcomings of GDP as the measure of a country’s economic progress, but also actively seeks to position national success as directly tied to the wellbeing of the population.

Earlier this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “Scotland is redefining what it means to be a successful nation by focusing on the broader wellbeing of the population as well as the GDP of the country. The goal and objective of all economic policy should be collective wellbeing… Putting wellbeing at the heart of our approach means we can focus on a wider set of measures which reflect on things like the health and happiness of citizens.”

This is an inspiring vision, and in line with the goals of the Scottish Food Coalition[1] – who would love nothing more than to see the health and happiness of Scotland’s citizens be the impetus behind the governance of our food system. Access to a healthy, sustainable diet is a human right, and that right is not being realised by too many in Scotland. We’ve been pushing for a proper look at the food system, and a bit of oomph behind the political will to address the many challenges it is facing – i.e. diet-related illnesses, food waste, climate change, biodiversity loss, food insecurity, neglect for workers’ rights and poor animal welfare.

Unfortunately, oomph has seldom characterised the Government’s work in this area. They have persisted with taking a siloed approach, trying to address these interconnected challenges in isolation. This has led to different Government departments creating separate and sometimes contradictory strategies according to disparate policy goals. Scottish Government has recognised that we need a more coherent, and joined-up approach, yet despite multiple commitments to a Bill to reform the food system (the Good Food Nation Bill), there have been years of delays, back-tracking, and watered-down policy commitments. Pressure from our Coalition, opposition parties, the public and many other stakeholders in the food system helped to bring the Bill back to the table.

The Bill was finally due to be introduced in Spring 2020 when the Government, understandably, took the decision to prioritise bills essential to coping with the pandemic. However, there remains a cruel irony that COVID-19 led to a delay in a Bill, which – as a result of the outbreak’s impact on our food system – is now needed more than ever.

Jobs: Food workers have suffered during this pandemic; those in the hospitality sector have taken a huge economic hit, with a higher proportion of furloughed staff (and expected redundancies) than any other profession. Additionally, they face great risk; workers in the food production and retail sectors have suffered some of the highest death rates from COVID-19.[2] Even before the pandemic, people working in the food and drink industry are amongst the most likely to face insecure employment; in-work poverty with zero-hours contracts is pervasive across the food sector.

Health: Diet-related illness have been definitively linked with vulnerability to COVID-19 – people with type 2 diabetes are 81% more likely to die from it. Obese people are 150% more likely to be admitted to intensive care, and severely obese people over 300% more likely. Even before the pandemic, poor diet was responsible for one in seven deaths in the UK – 90,000 a year – almost as fatal as smoking, which is responsible for 95,000 deaths a year.[3]

Food insecurity: In April 2020, the Food Foundation reported that in mid-April 2020, over 600,000 adults in Scotland were facing food insecurity.[4] This means that around 14% of the adult Scottish population are either skipping meals, having one meal a day, or being unable to eat for a whole day.[5]  Prior to the pandemic, Scotland was seeing rising numbers of food insecurity:  between April 2018 & September 2019, food banks in Scotland were giving out more than 1000 emergency food parcels on average every day.[6]

If current patterns continue, Trussell Trust has warned this could go up to food banks giving out six emergency food parcels per minute.[7] COVID–19 has not only worsened food security for those on low incomes; it has also created new vulnerabilities for people with previously secure incomes. 

While arguments around resilience in our food chain hit new heights on the political agenda following this year’s well-publicised supply issues, the need for a new approach has never been more apparent.

The Scottish Government has prioritised wellbeing throughout its navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic – demonstrated by the £120 million investment to support people facing barriers to accessing food. But the underlying issues facing the food system existed before the pandemic; they are deeply entrenched. Stronger policy levers are desperately needed to galvanise systemic change.

However, this crisis has also shown what a new system could look like. We’ve seen some great stories of adaptation, and a renewed appreciation in the positive offerings of the food system. The pervasive disruption has jolted consumers into shifting their attitudes – with many thinking beyond their weekly supermarket shop. The pandemic has spurred a surge in demand for food boxes, community deliveries from local producers, and a perceived move to healthier and more sustainable buying. People are thinking more about where their food comes from.

We’ve been having conversations with people from across Scotland and hearing their thoughts on what the pandemic has revealed about our food system.

“Before COVID-19, Beach House Café in Portobello was a café we liked to visit. Since COVID-19, it has become our main grocery shop. A shop that knows our name, will flex to our diaries and work commitments and has shown us great care, energy, and commitment throughout. They are a shining example of what COVID-19 has taught me: cherish our local food producers, businesses, and organisations, as they truly are key workers that deliver so much more than our cupboard basics.”

We’ve seen communities come together, recognising that food is about more than calories – it’s about mental as well as physical wellbeing:

“I was so grateful for fresh fruit and some food each week from Blackhill’s growing group. I was having panic attacks at the thought of having to go to the shops…. standing 2 metres apart for 30/40 minutes just to get into the shop was pretty stressful for me. I am able to face shops a bit easier now. The friendly faces and chats from the folk delivering these food packages was also so appreciated.”

“What COVID-19 has taught me is that growing your own food is as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health…  and with Brexit looming, increasingly my allotment has also signified food security.”

But there remains a recognition of the disconnect between the food system and the wellbeing of the population:

Stirling is surrounded by farmland. Farmland is a 10-minute walk away from anywhere in the city centre – yet despite great need, we were unable to source Stirling-grown fruit or vegetables throughout all of lockdown.”

Frustratingly, there is not enough time before the next Scottish election to introduce the Good Food Nation Bill. But COVID-19 has shown us beyond a doubt that reform is needed.

The Scottish Food Coalition will continue to call for the introduction of the Good Food Nation Bill, with human rights at its heart.

More people are at the sharp end of systemic inequalities and inadequacies in our food system and the shortcomings in its governance. They should not have to continue to bear this burden. Legislators must learn lessons from COVID-19 that they have consistently failed to learn before this crisis. The Government must act now to ensure we realise our human right to food.

All we are saying is: give wellbeing a chance.


[1] The Scottish Food Coalitionis an alliance of small-scale farmers and growers, academics, workers’ unions, and charities focused on the environment, health, poverty, and animal welfare. The coalition has over 35 members including RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland, STUC, UNISON Scotland, Unite, Nourish Scotland, Trussell Trust, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, Obesity Action Scotland, Scottish Care and Leith Crops in Pots. http://www.foodcoalition.scot

[2] https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/partone/

[3] ibid

[4] https://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Report_COVID19FoodInsecurity-final.pdf

[5] ibid

[6] https://news.stv.tv/scotland/crisis-warning-as-1000-food-parcels-handed-out-every-day?top

[7] https://www.bigissue.com/latest/foodbanks-could-give-out-six-food-parcels-every-minute-this-winter/