Posts

By Alexandra Berendes

I´m from the very north of Germany. People say that we northerners tend to not speak much – as for me, that definitely isn´t true, which is also a reason why I really enjoyed writing this blogpost and I hope you’ll enjoy it too! 

Let’s start with a bit about my personal context: After having worked in the economy and big corporations for a few years, I decided to change the path of my career drastically last year. I quit my job and moved to Spain to study a Master in Sustainable Business & Innovation. 

In this Master where we talked a lot about the role of companies in regards of shaping the future, the new business paradigm and the triple bottom line. I began to see the economy in very different way. During this time I heard of the Wellbeing Economy for the first time.

One of my classmates, Helene, was deeply involved with WEAll Youth and we began to talk about it, when – be it coincidence or not – they were looking for a community manager in the organizational team. I decided to apply for the role and just shortly after, started to get to know the team and the members.

WEAll Youth started in 2018 – now, three years later, we felt like something went off track.

The initial objective, the strategy and really the overall path had gone missing and we wanted to find it again.

We knew that hosting community calls, talking to members, being connected with WEAll Global – was helping the cause of building a Wellbeing Economy, but we couldn’t help but feel a bit lost once in a while.  

We started to ask ourselves the BIG questions: 

  • Why are we doing this?
  • Who are we doing it for?
  • Where do we want to go?

It became clear that we needed something to guide us. 

Something to help us make decisions, something to help not to lose sight of what we really want to achieve.

In our organisational team of six we began a series of workshops in which we discussed what we’ve done so far, why things worked out and why they didn´t. 

At first we wondered where to start – we decided to start with the mission of The Wellbeing Economy Alliance and broke it into smaller pieces to make it easier to digest: 

  • 10 year project and global movement
  • bring together organisations and individuals (reach a critical mass)
  • Focus on system change
  • by linking and coordinating activities that contribute to a Wellbeing Economy

The question remained – what is WEAll Youth doing then?

For this, let’s look at the “WHY” and “WHO” are we doing this for. (Spoiler – it´s young people ;).)

  1. We found that some consequences of the current situation that we all feel, were:
  • A notion of “Without extensive economic knowledge I have nothing to contribute to the discussion” or “I don´t know enough about it to make a point”
  • Young people feeling excluded or not being taken seriously when trying to give input in economic decision making processes
  • Lack of confidence to stand up for your own ideas of a future because you feel like you’re alone and lost (I don´t even know where to start)
  • Feeling uninspired and unable to see an alternative to current reality
  1. The root causes of these consequences seemed to be on the other hand:
  • The education system doesn’t focus on the “what can be?” but on the “what is”
  • Hard to find engaging content and a community where we can exchange ideas
  • We feel like they don´t speak our language
  • The economy feels like a pretty boring topic
  • Getting involved isn’t fun but really difficult and you´re a bit of a weirdo

From there we talked about how we can change this and looked at our main questions.

  • Why are we doing this?
    • Economics is always shown as this abstract and super difficult subject to understand. It seemed a bit like a strategy from “above” to make the economic system seem so difficult that people don´t want to get involved in the first place.
    • But when it comes to other complex topics, we still have opinions on them and know what we are for or against: e.g. when it comes to migration, renewable energy, equality, etc.
    • The key to a more equal future is system change – You might ask: “What is this again?” – It´s less complicated than it might sound and does what it says on the box →  “Changing the current system” – meaning we need to rethink the ways we were thinking before and find new ways and solutions for current problems. For example we do have enough food globally to feed everyone, but it’s unequally distributed. We live in a system that is not just and we need to change this!
    • We want to make it easier for young people to participate and understand what system change means.We feel like there was a need for the information we personally would love to have and we want to fill that gap and create a safe space for people our age to ask all the questions they have about the economy, chat about things that interest them and make up crazy ideas for a future full of wellbeing. 
    • We want to empower them, connect them, and help them overcome the fear of not being able to participate in this discussion. 
  • Who are we doing it for?
    • Especially young people: firstly, because we all are part of this group of 16 to 30 year olds (age limits are not strict though, don´t worry 😉 ) and we are able to relate the questions this group has – because these are our questions, too. We empathise with them, speak their language, ask their questions and feel their fears, because we are part of this group. 
  • Where do we want to go?
    • The future will always be abstract – no one knows exactly what it will look like: not us, not the politicians, not even Elon Musk. There is always an element of uncertainty, which can be seen as a negative thing, but even more so, it can also be an amazing opportunity! If you don’t know what something is going to be like, you have the possibility to dream about how it could be. You can use your imagination to come up with an idea of a possible future and with this dream of yours, you can take action. You can make decisions, when it comes to the career path you choose, the actions you support, things and people that you spend your time on and time with.

Imagination is such a powerful tool that can literally move mountains. But it’s also not always easy. How can you dream of something that you don’t know, when you have nothing that stimulates you to think in new ways? We often felt like that we can’t possibly dream of something new, because we often focus too much on the present and the given structures we know

“A job needs to be from Monday to Friday, companies are there to make money and produce things you can buy, there has always been a divide between the rich and the poor, the glass ceiling for women is just there” – the list goes on and on.

But whenever we got a little nudge from someone, a little piece of information, that made us question the status quo, it helped us think differently.

“So you´re saying that this company uses all of their waste products internally again and uses them for other products and has hardly anything they need to actually throw away? I see…maybe then…I can dream of a world, where all of the companies reduce their waste output to an absolute minimum and we could live in a totally circular world…that would be incredible! In my first job, I want to question what currently happens with the waste in my company and ask if there isn’t something else we could do with it.” 

This is what we call a “spark” – we want to ignite this train of thoughts and help young people to think big, think differently, think bold, think crazy, think like they can make a difference – because they can.

 So we phrased our North Star like this:

“Every young person can see an alternative to the current economic system and envision a future of social and environmental wellbeing.”

Finding this North Star and most importantly having intensively discussed the topic and finally have come to a conclusion was super helpful for us. It might not seem like rocket science, but this process helped us reveal many questions we still had, enriched our discussion, brought us closer together as a team and most importantly gave us the direction that we were looking for.

From our North Star, we came up with a list of activities that will help us reach it and boiled it down to a simple equation to make it easy to communicate what we do:

With all of this in mind, we stopped doing certain activities, we changed the frequencies of meetings and community calls, we started trying new things like a different way of reaching people via social media through more diverse content and engaging with other networks to put us on the agenda of other organisations.

All of this goes to show how beneficial it is to go into the introspective from time to time and challenge the status quo. 

It’s just too easy to lose sight of the overall goal, when you’re busy dealing with operational issues and short-term needs.

We´re curious to hear what you think of our journey to our North Star and happy to exchange thoughts!

A quick shout-out to our fellow enthusiasts:

To our WEAll Youth members – with a renewed direction as a team, we would love to work closely with our community to bring content that matters and create value together.

To individuals interested in understanding the Wellbeing Economy – do connect with us via LinkedIn/ Facebook or Instagram for a introduction to our alliance, local hubs near you and what the wellbeing economy is all about

To members of WEAll: Looking forward to integrating our youth community closely with you to bring the expertise of policy makers/ business/ community leaders closer to the voices and actions of the youth!

We are hopeful that our North Star will guide us in the future.

Short Bio:

Natalia Marsellés is a 23-year old Master’s student in Sustainable Business and Innovation in Barcelona, Spain, and a member of the social media team of WEAll Youth. 

Have you ever thought about where your clothes come from? Who made them? What is the real cost of your wardrobe, not only economically speaking but its social and environmental impact?

Fashion Revolution Week is a time when we come together as a global community to think about the fashion industry practices and raise awareness to demand a better fashion industry.

In 2013 we saw one of the worst industrial disasters in history following the collapse of the Rana Plaza Building in Bangladesh. Sadly, more than 1100 people died and another 2500 were injured. This is when Fashion Revolution was born, quickly becoming the largest fashion activism movement in the world. Fashion Revolution envisions a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.

During the Fashion Revolution Week, a clear and decisive message is launched, with hashtags that have now become a symbol of revindication and the confrontation against fast fashion: #WhoMadeMyClothes #WhoMadeYourClothes

This year’s Fashion Revolution Week theme “Rights, Relationships, and Revolution” promotes the connection between human rights and the natural world. The campaign aims to amplify unheard voices within the fashion industry while exploring innovative solutions to promote sustainability. 

——————

To delve into the meaning of Fashion Revolution week and learn more about sustainable fashion, I sat down with Dr. Federica Massa Saluzzo. Dr Saluzzo holds a Ph.D. in Strategic Management from IESE Business School, a post-doc from the University of Bologna, and teaches strategic management at EADA Business School. 

Her research interests include social value creation, sustainable fashion, and social innovation, and shared with WEALL Youth her thoughts on the fashion industry. 

1. What does fashion mean to you?

For me, it is a way to express your authentic identity, your culture, and your values. Just like your language or the design of your home, for me, fashion is a language that speaks up for you and who you are. 

2. What are your views on fast fashion?

Ah! I am not fast in general! see the benefits of enabling a large number of people to access “some” kind of fashion, but since for me fashion is a means to communicate your culture and authenticity, nothing fast can convey culture and authenticity effectively. Fast fashion may provide the illusion of being fashionable but it does not truly sell fashion. What is sold through fast fashion is something else:  it does not sell authenticity, because a lot of the trends are copied from smaller brands,  it does not sell quality, because anyone who does not pay a decent salary to any of the actors of the supply chain cannot speak of high quality, and it does not sell uniqueness, because no matter how quick you are, there are thousands of copies of the same garments. 

3. What does sustainability mean for you?

If I avoid citing all the literature defining sustainability and only speak my mind, sustainability means caring. Caring for the people whose work makes my life so easy, and caring for the planet that offers us everything a human being needs.

4. Is fast fashion sustainable? Can it be sustainable?

Well, no! 

5. What is the future of fast fashion? In spite of the growing demand for eco-friendly clothing, most consumers don’t want to pay more for it. So, what’s the solution?

I work in education, so I believe that education is the way. Through the Asociacion Moda Sostenible Barcelona, a great effort in educating the Spanish market is in place.  They have organized the MODS (Moda + Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS)), short and cheap podcasts for whoever feels they can make a change through sustainable fashion, they also have a sustainability dictionary initiative in their social networks, where they explain the real meaning of some of the key buzzwords in sustainable fashion, and they constantly strive to sum efforts to make sustainable fashion relevant. 

6. What can we, as consumers, do to change this trend?

Reuse, recycle, reduce, restyle.  When you are about to buy something ask “where does it come from? Where will it go?” And then decide, maybe you can look for something more sustainable, maybe you don’t need to buy, maybe you can learn to stitch or maybe you can just add a unique detail to something you already own…and make it truly yours. 

————

This week, WEAll Youth joins the Fashion Revolution movement by sharing our members’ thoughts on fast fashion and the transition towards a more ethical and sustainable garment industry for all of us. 

What do you think about fast fashion? Share your ideas with us and join the revolution! 

#WhoMadeMyClothes #WhoMadeYourClothes

#theworldyouwant #fashionrevolution #slowfashion #weall #weallyouth #wellbeingeconomy #peopleandplanet #peoplebeforeprofit #planetbeforeprofit #neweconomy #circulareconomy #youth #changemakers #makeachange #ethical #sustainable #fair

By: Nikita Asnani

اقتصاد الرفاهية (wellbeing economy)

اقتصاد السعادة (economy of happiness)

Arabic

I belong to the land of dates – no, not that kind, the edible ones…

This horse (shaped) peninsula, engulfed by the pearl-laden Arabian waters, refuses to slow down its speedy gait, be it in technology, science, commerce arts and culture. 

What could a ‘wellbeing economy’ possibly mean in the country that has already garnered global recognition for its feat in ranking first, globally, for the categories: ‘Availability of Quality Healthcare’, ‘Access to Mobile Phones’ and the ‘Feeling Safe’ Index?

Here are a few personal suggestions that might help accelerate the transition to a wellbeing economy:

1. Rethinking ‘Fast Streets’ 

The scorching heat and general dependency on private transport, as opposed to public transport, in most of the emirates, has led to almost every family owning one car, at the very least. 

Increasing connectivity and developing new, shared modes of transport are likely to dominate the landscape of urban mobility in a more sustainable Dubai. I am also of the opinion that encouraging walking and running to short distances, coupled with the usage of traditional dhows or abras (ferries), is likely to contribute to public health as well as economic development at the local level. 

2. Embracing Slow Fashion

‘Shop, till we drop’ is a popular slogan used to promote shopping festivals in Dubai. Do we know what the real impact we have, particularly as consumers, of fast fashion? Even if you question ‘who made my clothes, and how?’, you’ll often find condescending labels that read ‘100% organic’.

But, as we all know, multiple fast fashion brands are guilty of ‘greenwashing’. I believe it is high time we unmask the true impact of fast fashion in a country known, in part, for ‘great shopping’ – and pave the way for local brands selling regenerative fashion. 

3. Saying NO to plastic

The number of plastic bags being used on a daily basis in the UAE is staggering. Financial incentives to reduce the dependency single-use plastics along with behavioural change campaigns to switch to cloth bags (no, even paper is not good enough!) will go a long way in changing the face of the economy. 

4. Keeping the culture alive 

In a recent blog on www.greenfootprint.com, Abdul Rahman highlights how our ancestors heavily relied on date palms to meet their day to day needs, from construction of houses and boats to weaving brooms, food covers, mats, air fans, dates sachets, bedding, and so on. 

low angle photo of palm trees
Photo by Cassie Burt on Unsplash

“The scarcity of natural resources and harsh environment pushed people to live within their means. Despite the harsh environment, the uniqueness of the date palm lies in managing to grow fruit even during the summer season. It pushed them to be creative and work within their natural means. The date palm was definitely a more sustainable option since it is a biodegradable material.” 

(Abdul Rahman, 2020)

It seems to me that by revisiting our history, through storytelling in schools, for example, we can help the UAE honour our cultural heritage – while also contributing to improved environmental sustainability. 

“My wealth is the happiness of my people” 

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Founding Father of the United Arab Emirates)

People are, in the 21st century, what Oil was to the UAE, in the 18th Century. 

The UAE’s real wealth lies in its people, and a wellbeing economy would dig right where the real gold lies. 

Nikita Asnani is a 19-year old student based in Dubai. She is passionate about design thinking and systems change for a circular economy. She joined WEAll because it offered her hope in the ability of young people to catalyse a new economic system, by harnessing the real power of people

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

 

Blog by  Esther Snijder – WEAll Youth

 

 

All around the world, young people have come together to strike on behalf of the climate. They want the world leaders to start acting on their words and take a stand  for better climate policies. WEAll Youth joined them on the 7th of February in the Hague, the Netherlands and on the 10th of March in Amsterdam where more than 40.000  people joined the demonstration.

We started at Zwolle station, where there were already people  on the train carrying signs. It was so busy that we had to stand. The whole way there more people boarded the train and at the last stop, before the Hague, it was so busy that the train had to keep going because it could not fit any more people.   At the Malieveld, where the strike started, a speech was held by Youth For Climate. Youth For Climate is an organisation that initiates and supports   many of the climate strikes around Europe. Once we started walking through the street 10,000 students chanted: “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? NOW!”. We walked past the parliament building and afterwards we came back to the Malieveld again. It was very empowering to walk among so many people who were also standing up for their future.

The climate strikes started with Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish girl. She started in September, and has been striking every Friday since. Fridays For Future has since grown into an enormous movement of young people striking everyFriday and even on some  Thursday’s. Strikes have been held in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland & the US.

On the 15th of March is the global Friday for future strike.

What can you do? Join them!

Even if you are not a student.  Time to get out some paper and start making your sign!

Find out here if there is a strike near you: https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/events/list?fbclid=IwAR0dA0C-KSFqpJve0BKWunAhS1O1Bfk0kcYU4gkTpm8qKfrBEWEgONuZmNE