How do you bring people into the conversation about economic systems change? How do you make it relevant? Interesting? Or, as we called it at our event yesterday, “cool”?
Our hypothesis was that by creating metaphors about our economic system, we could hopefully open up the conversation to a wide range of audiences- inviting more people to think critically about our current economic system and empowering them to take action to change it.
During the 90-minute session, we crafted a few compelling metaphors for our economic system.
Humanity is an organism. Right now we belong to this organism, but it’s sick. There is no solidarity, communication or support within the organism. And in order for it to move so we can flourish together, we need a new organism where every cell is cooperating with and sustaining each other.
The economy is like a game with many players involved. However some players are running in sandals, or barefeet, while others are running in Nike’s. It’s not a level playing field for all – and therefore the odds are stacked against those that don’t have Nike running sneakers.
It is typical for aliens to arrive on planets, ravage the resources of the planet and move onto the next one. We haven’t learned their technique. Instead, we ravage our planet, take all it’s resources, and still believe we can survive on it. We’re locked where we are. Unless you’re a mega-millionaire who can afford to leave the planet – and the damage behind.
The economy is like glass that is made from sand. Each sand particle represents all lives (animal, human and ecological). You can use the glass that we have now, but it’s fragile and broken. The edges are sharp and people are getting hurt drinking from it. We need to re-shape the glass from the sand, and ensure that the glass will work properly for all lives. We need to make sure the glass is clear, and has smooth edges so everyone can sip from it. We need a glass that can be passed on for generations to come; one that is resilient.
It was beautiful to see the many different metaphors that came from each group- and the vast differences in each of them. One participant made a comment, however, that broad metaphors lack a stickiness that’s needed.
This shifted the conversation toward identifying what exactly is needed. Many agreed that a major obstacle to ensuring the Wellbeing Economy flourishes, is shifting the stuck thinking of “well that’s just how the world works.” Many people are attached to the ‘normal’ so much so, that they cannot possibly imagine an alternative way of being.
So how can we ensure that our metaphors inspire audiences to think bigger, whilst also disentangling them from the current narrative that is so pervasive?
One key element here is to make sure that our metaphors are contextualized locally. We don’t need to universalize our metaphors – but rather create targeted metaphors for specific locations – that speak directly to the audiences they’re intended to resonate with. This emphasizes the importance of the audience, most importantly those that don’t have the conscious space to think of these things as more pressing issues take priority, such as putting food on the table.
Next time we run this session, we hope to invite artists and other visual thinkers that can illustrate our verbal metaphors into pieces of art that can visually convey the messages. We hope you’ll stay tuned for the next session – as this last session was such a fantastic way for our network to co-create something together.
Lastly, at the end of the session, we asked the participants to share one of their key takeaways, you can read the list below.
Metaphors can open up possibilities for individual engagement & action
We haven’t asked what metaphors ‘ordinary people might use
We need to break out of old toxic paradigms
We need more events like this with many many artists to be in them!!! 🙂
Community is important to create a healthy earth system
It is hard to keep a metaphor inclusive
The big interest in thinking about the economy
The economy can be many things, depending on whom you ask
The power of a metaphor is one thing, but to discuss metaphors in a group is even more inspiring than I thought…
The economy surrounds us
Some people are playing to play and some are playing to survive
We had a very wide-ranging conversion which was quite free-wheeling and creative. That was a good reminder of the value of multiple viewpoints from all around the world.
There’s so many different ways you can spin a metaphor- a great group helps with that!
I’m thinking lots on how to get ourselves out of the spaceships and land and connect with the planet and the rest of humanity
We have become aliens living in spaceships and need to land on earth and become human again
The economy is a metaphor itself for the way all beings relate
TO keep taking the metaphor economy to the next generation
https://weall.org/wp-content/uploads/How-Do-We-Make-The-Economy-Cool-1352-x-698-px-e1636036959842.png5911352WEAllhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngWEAll2021-11-04 14:40:302021-11-04 14:43:27How Do We Make the Economy Cool? Event Recap
The paper showcases a number of these case studies that marry these two ideas – proving that we don’t have to choose between just focusing on environmental benefits or only focusing on health benefits. ather, there are ways in which we can develop policies that support both of these objectives simultaneously.
On June 28th, WEAll hosted with the authors of this paper, a panel that brought together speakers from around the world implementing these practices in their local communities.
The case studies show that multiple objectives can be achieved if thought of holistically. Social cooperation, food security, health, climate change – all of these can be tackled simultaneously to build a Wellbeing Economy.
The first case study was Emma Whitman from Moo Foods. Based in the Scottish Highlands, Moo Food works to build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge and confidence.
“Everything we do at MOO Food is based on these three words; Growing Our Future.”
They do this by supporting a multitude of agriculture projects in their community. From planting orchards to building growing spaces, to instigating school partnerships, Moo Foods reaches a wide range of the community – all centering around food security. This method of practice centers food security while also strengthening community.
The webinar then learns from Piedad Viteri from Johannes Kepler school in Ecuador. This school integrates regenerative design into all aspects of their curriculum. They’ve taken the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the framework to further develop their strategy. They even went as far to declare their school as an ‘SDG Territory’.
“We have to get together, in order to change things, in order to also regenerate.”
One of the highlights of their program was the decision to move all the classrooms outside. This furthered the education of the students at their school to not only understand the core pieces of their curriculum, but also foster a deeper connection to the earth and to each other.
Lastly, the webinar introduced Zeenath Hasan who works at Rude Foods in Malmo, Sweden. In Sweden there is an activist culture around food rescue. Rude Foods saw this and thought they could make food rescue a part of the mainstream.
“Most of the economic activities that are hidden, is mainly what makes up the economy.”
With this in mind, they’ve built a strategy to rescue food and resell it to the community. This practice they refer to as a ‘food rescuing catering service’. In this practice, they’re able to reduce food waste and blur the lines between the eater as an activist or the activist as someone who is food insecure.
These case studies show the creativity involved to develop co-beneficial approaches to achieving both health and environment objectives. If you’re curious to learn more, please read the paper here.
https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1625691407041-bfeed8919bdd?ixid=MnwxNTM4NDN8MHwxfGFsbHx8fHx8fHx8fDE2MjYxOTU0MDk&ixlib=rb-1.2.1&fm=jpg&q=85&fit=crop&w=2560&h=170717072560WEAllhttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngWEAll2021-07-13 16:44:492021-07-13 16:58:41Real world stories of Health and Environment co-benefits in action
Positive and empowering messaging around a Wellbeing Economy is incredibly important and a vital part of our work in catalysing the transition toward a different economic system. On January 20, Positive Money, NEON, PIRC and WEAll, hosted a webinar to present findings on the ‘howto’ of effective messaging around a Wellbeing Economy to a diverse audience. The discussion officially launched the new Wellbeing Economy Messaging guide, which you can find here.
Dora (NEON) introduced the guide and provided 4 key messaging tips from the guide:
Relating to the first point, shared value is a key tenant to beginning conversations around changing our economic system. What values can we agree on that can underpin our economy? WEAll and its members created the 5 WEAll Needs that showcase the values we believe to represent a Wellbeing Economy:
Dora spoke about how it is key to ensure that people know that they are a part of the economy and can contribute to its development. Most people continue to believe that the economy = money. However, we are the economy and therefore, have the ability to change it.
A feature of the guide that is incredibly useful is a list of Messaging Do’s and Don’ts:
During the webinar, we discussed the importance of shared language. This list above provides the language that we suggest using in order to shape people’s understanding of a Wellbeing Economy and how people can contribute to its development.
After Dora’s presentation, we ended the call with a rich discussion with the audience; we’re sharing some of the key questions, comments, and resources discussed. Watch the webinar to learn the answers to the questions asked below. Questions that were not answered on the call, are answered in italic. For privacy, we’ve removed last names.
From Robert : How do you deal with words like ‘capitalism’? Do you actively avoid them?
From Madis : Instead of capitalism, some suggest to use the term “growthism”, which sounds more neutral. What are your thoughts?
From Rhiannon : Can you give any more examples of that common ground starting point? What shared values should we lead with?
From JOANNA : How much does the word ‘wellbeing’ resonate with people? Is it understood what it means?
From jo : Absolutely don’t problematise, but if we are trying to say the economy as it is, harms people, many people will think ‘really?’ as they live very comfortable lifestyles. How do we persuade them this is not so?
From Morven (she/her) – Sustain : Question – what about communicating to people we know are quite opposed to our ideas? i.e. to national govt, or specific Tory politicians. When someone has ideological preconceptions, they will turn off to certain messaging but listen up when they hear things like ‘jobs creation’.
From Roger: GDP is a measure of income. How do we talk about GDP without addressing people’s incomes?
From Juliet (she/her):
1. Can you share some do/donts on avoiding the elidiing the goals of a wellbeing economy with a wellness/yoga/healthy eating frame?
2. Are there good ways of responding to the attack ‘but the economy does currently depend on growth?’
From Hayley : Have you explored any messaging with ‘ordinary people’ / people outside our ‘bubbles’?
From Bridget: ECG : How can we collaborate more between our networks to use case study examples of practical tools, models and approaches of what is working now in practice to create wellbeing economies locally and regionally?
From jack : Thanks so much for that Dora. How do we try to make this seem less radical/revolutionary and more common sense, given that we don’t hear much on this from the likes of Labour?
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : I agree with Joanna on jargon
From Rhiannon : I think people can connect and understand the word wellbeing a lot more than other economic concepts
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Whose « wellbeing » is the immédiate question.
From Alice, Equally Ours (she/her) : And on top of if people understand ‘wellbeing economy’, do they see it as a legitimate and important goal or as an unrealistic ‘nice-to-have’?
ANSWER: It depends on the audience. It seems the reasons why a Wellbeing Economy is important are becoming ever clearer. Our current economy is incredibly fragile as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. This is obvious to many. There are still the die-hards that are not going to accept a change in the system as they may be benefiting hugely from it. The WEGo partnership shows that there are a number of countries that are serious about undertaking efforts to shift towards a Wellbeing Economy, which is positive for the movement as a whole.
From Auska : Do you think this messaging should also translate into changes in visual communication and graphic design?
ANSWER: Absolutely. If you know of anyone that would be willing to do some of this work on a volunteer basis, please let Isabel know.
From James : On the “wellbeing economy” point being jargon… I suspect I’ll immediately turn people off with this one without a lot of further information. “Get with the real world” 🙂
From Sally she/her : yes me too – ditto to Juliet’s question 1) re ensuring we don’t end up leading people to be thinking we’re talking about individual wellbeing/wellness
From Peter : The trick is to be short and snappy, and to realise that we are trying to put across what seems like incredibly complex issues for people, and questions such as ‘who’s going to pay for this?’ will almost inevitably surface.
From Mila P’s : true. one word has different meanings for different people. meeting people where they are at kind of mindset. And that comes to mind, who is the audience ?
From francine : I’ve read that Scot Gov is quite into the wellbeing economy, as are some other smaller country govs like new zealand and denmark…is your wellbeing economy promotion today all part of this same thing?
From Peter : I would urge that we all get acquainted with the basics – at least – of Modern Monetary Theory
From Jon : I like wellbeing as you can link it to people (the meaningful and fulfilling journey/ destination) and the planet (the outer ring of the doughnut). I agree with Rachel it is wide umbrella.
From francine : In recent years, before wellbeing was linked to wellbeing economy, the word wellbeing has always been linked to mental health…
From Siddhartha (Medact) : I Organise healthcare workers to call for economic change. this guide is super helpful. we are working right now to call for financial support for people to self isolate. we are planning to also campaign on liveable incomes (wages and benefits) and secure housing as well. what advice would you have of communicating theses specific issues that fall under the need for a wellbeing economy
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Isn’t it about a whole social-political-system rather than just ‘economy’.
ANSWER: Absolutely yes. One may argue that the economy IS the whole social-political system.
From martin: In relation to growth, is there anything to be gained from redefining what we commonly mean by “economic activity” to embrace activities that create wellbeing?
ANSWER: This is a great idea. When you think about it, ‘economic activity’ is rather vague. Curious what these activities could be defined as..
From Tabea : In Wales we have a “wellbeing of future generations act”, and “wellbeing goals” set in law – it does seem to resonate with the public as well as politicians (…although someone will always try and redefine it to suit themselves….)
From jack. : Talking about a fairer economy can work quite well as right? As fairness resonates with people.
From Mila: There are at least 81 types of new economies, how does wellbeing economy collaborate either these others?
From Tamsyn (FrameWorks Institute) : @Jack: fairness is a tricky values frame. It can trigger zero sum thinking, or an evaluation of individual deservingness. We need to think beyond resonance, to ‘where does this particular value take people’?
From Lisa : @Tabea – there is a Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) hub emerging in Wales and Wales is a member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership. More info on WEAll Cymru here if you’re interested in connecting with them https://wellbeingeconomy.org/cymru-wales. Email email@example.com if you want the details
From francine H (Melrose) : I like the idea of new language and words. You gave a few examples – THIS gov rather than THE gov…words like fulfillment and meaningful lives…and the positive concept that everything human ddesigned can be redesigned. Could be useful to publish a whole list of ‘replacement’ words/ vocabulary that can quickly become mainstream and alter our way of thinking?
ANSWER: Yes. The start of this work is in the guide itself. Will note to continue as it’s useful 🙂
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : A system that dépends on growth is doomed to failure in a ‘spaceship earth’.
From Donald : This is all very well for academics and activists, but where exactly does the debate about wellbeing happen with ordinary people at the grassroots?
ANSWER: In short, it starts with small conversations amongst each other about what we want to see in our futures. Back to shared values. What values do you have with your neighbor who may be of an opposing party. Can you agree on some? This begins to shift our framework away from just economy = money = good to economy = people flourishing = good.
From Lisa : A clear distinction is that the wellbeing economy is about shared, societal wellbeing rather than individual wellbeing
From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Is the phrase « the common good’ a useful one?
From Peter : it often seems to me that current mainstream capitalist economics is based on a kind of quasi-religious concepts, like ‘balancing the books’, ‘staying on top of debt’, ‘living within your means’, etc. which lead to the ‘wrong conversation’. it’s finding the punchy messages that take us ‘through’ these quasi-religious concepts, and makes our points.
From Laura : Just a fyi as a small real life example or what works with current govt audiences, we tweaked the second sentence of this EDM on Carnegie’s report on Gross Domestic Wellbeing in order to get Tracy Crouch as a sponsor. Before it said something like: “gdp growth is a poor measure of progress” as you’ll see it’s a bit softer now: https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57830/gross-domestic-wellbeing (leaving aside the ridiculousness of EDMs as a format for communicating anything…)
From Juliet (she/her) : Great answers, thank you! Really love the ‘which bits of the garden’ metaphor
From Lisa : @Donald – we’ve run some fantastic community sessions on a wellbeing economy in Scotland where people were very energised in design sessions for what a wellbeing economy would mean where they are. People know what is needed locally, you’re absolutely right that the conversation needs to be out of the bubble!
From Mila: if it’s not growth as measurement criteria, what about collaborating with the living system economy folks? Align economy to how it impacts all life forms , focussing on shared prosperity?
ANSWER: This is a part of the goal, yes. Shared prosperity, human flourishing, these are the terms to use to shift the metrics we use to measure ‘success’.
From Bridget: ECG : Economy for the Common Good has the concept of the Common Good Product as an alternative to GDP ecogood.org
From Peter : I think often an essential concept to get across is that a household/individual’s budget is not the same as a State/Governments’ budget.
From Laura : Not a very important Q, but wonder whether there are any good examples of business comms on wellbeing economy or closely related that we can also draw on? This springs to mind: https://www.imperative21.co/
From Hayley : Would love to connect with PIRC as they are also based in Wales
From David Thomas : Partly related and may be of some interest, we at Social Value International are supporting and championing a UK campaign called ‘How Do Companies Act’ looking to reform company law and regulation to better protect people and planet, and also looking to replicate this in other countries. www.howdocompaniesact.org
From Mila : yes collaboration 🙂 .. there are already 81 new types of economies… why work in silos?
From Lisa Hough-Stewart : Bridget, let’s continue that conversation…the idea of having a shared international PR person perhaps across orgs could be very exciting (I’m comms lead at WEAll, just back from mat leave) – firstname.lastname@example.org
From Mila : the only part of collaboration to may be mindful is about focussing on the best interest of the whole rather than the self-interest of one,like living systems naturally do .. ie trees in forests, bees, ants etc
From francine H (Melrose) : @david – great point – make it legal – in the same way as there’s a campaign to make ecocide illegal!
From Caroline she/her : feasta.org (Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) very happy to network too – global focus, and some focus on Ireland too
From David : @Francine, thank you! Will look into the ecocide campaign!
From David, SCCAN : Such rich ideas – hopefully helping all our social justice and global justice and climate justice and racial justice movements to achieve engaging, ways of hooking citizens into a different narrative which looks forward to the future we all seek. Great collaboration. Thank you from someone involved in grassroots climate campaigns – look out for Transition – Bounce Forward Summit that Transition Network and ControlShift are running 3-20 March
From safia minney : Why not “New Economics” rather than Well being economy.
ANSWER: A ‘new’ economy infers that this has never been done before. When in fact, these economies may exist in other culturesor have existed before our time. A Wellbeing Economy also embedded int he name, sets a clear focus.
Towards the end of the 2020, WEAll hosted a series of webinars through the WEAll Citizens platform in partnership with our members and fellow citizens. The 3-part series was designed to dive deep into the various aspects of narrative development, to support our ability to create narratives around a Wellbeing Economy that are feasible and desirable.
Our three brilliant hosts demonstrated just how complex narrative can get. The major takeaways for me were:
Bring it back to the values. Values underpin our decision making, how we think, react, and communicate with each other. These values can underpin a society and therefore, underpin the way in which we communicate the change that we want to see in the world.
Narratives are constant. There is not A narrative. There are many narratives, which are developed and re-developed all of the time. The key is to allow for emergence of new stories that can speak to the overarching narrative you’re hoping to change.
Don’t give up on people. People are hypocritical and stubborn and incredibly complex. As soon as we give up on supporting other people’s journeys to deeper understanding, we lose. We need to make sure that we are patient, kind, and understanding as perspectives transform and shift. Avoid shaming people into believing!
It’s here – we just need more of it. A Wellbeing Economy does exist. It starts with highlighting what already exists, and replicating these inittaives over and over again. This builds the powerbase that can then shift the real power at the top. People are agile and able to create significant change swiftly and effectively, as we’ve seen with some of the response to COVID-19.
Here’s a summary of each webinar in the Narratives series:
1. “How Narratives Facilitate Change”
Rina Tsubaki from the European Forest Institute (EFI) hosted this launch session. The EFI are working on a digital media analysis project around the Amazon fires in 2019. Rina used this research to explore narratives, how they are spread around the world, and how they can be used to facilitate change.
There were a few points that were particularly interesting about her research:
Hashtags. When a movement is being created, the use of hashtags is incredibly important. They shift and change and there is always an ‘end of life’ to the use and viral nature of these terms. To learn more, see (21:00).
Narratives evolve. This is shown when an initial issue is discussed (e.g. Amazon fires) and connected to and used to restart the conversation on another issue that was dormant (e.g. Indegenous cultures fight for life). To learn more, see (26:00).
Influencers. Rina’s research showed that images that were most popular in the Amazon fires movement were popularised first by more famous accounts and influencers of the public. See her example of Emanuel Macron at (37:00).
One of Rina’s most striking research insights was that the classic ‘Hero’s Journey’ (see image) story structure or template, no longer applies in today’s world.
We now live in a world where there is no single structure that fits all narratives. This dramatically shifts the ways we communicate with each other. In our ever-changing society, it is no longer about sharing the ‘single most beautiful story’ but rather, focusing on the change that we want and mobilising around that vision.
Rina asks us to imagine what our ultimate dream scenario for the future can be, then work backwards from there, rather than start with the immediate changes needed. See image below:
She also introduced the “Iceberg” model, which can also be useful to identify the change that is needed to build a Wellbeing Economy. We need to think closely about the substance underneath the surface of the story that we’re trying to share.
Lastly, Rina introduced a beautiful illustration of the ‘types’ of narratives that can exist in today’s world. There are three types of stories.
Story as a light: Which makes previous stories that were invisible, visible.
Story as glue: Which supports community building, creates movements, connects people, and introduces a shared language to create a shared understanding.
Story as a web: constructed with a diverse set of narratives based on common themes. They recognise the depths and interconnectedness of the movement as a whole.
Rina’s presentation paved the way for the second webinar in the Narratives series…
2. “How do We Shift Our Internal Narratives?”
In November, Jackie Thoms from Fraendi shared research to help us better understand how we, as individuals, see the world, understand complexity, and shift our internal thinking and behaviour as a starting point to change society.
This webinar was particularly informative around human behavior, how we think, what appeals to us, and what the process is for transforming our internal thinking and perspectives (which is key to narrative formation).
The main points Jackie touches on are the three dimensions of adult development that are integral to understanding how our worldviews are created.
At 15:00, Jackie dives deep into the social- emotional piece of adult development:
Social-Emotional: This aspect of human development is where we develop maturity and wisdom. It is how we take decisions and is often crisis-led. There are five stages to this.
Stage 1: Our social-emotional learning as we develop from birth.
Stage 2: A stage of cognitive development but with a low social and emotional capacity.This may be someone who is unwilling to go beyond themselves.
Stage 3: Is the stage that most of society is at. This is mainly about belonging. Once someone sees that they may not align with a community, they shift to the next stage. This stage can feel risky as individuals are leaving the comfort of their family of origin. Or, they may be changing their relationships or community.
Stage 4: This stage is embodying the values that we hold dear and the principles that we want to lead our lives by.
Stage 5: This final stage is where people begin to consider other people’s perspectives more critically. This is where people may begin to experience the ‘other’ and not see one perspective as particularly dominant. This is someone who can hold a very broad view of life.
Jackie then turns to discussing the cognitive part of adult development (27:30)
Cognitive: This aspect of human development supports us in moving into a wider scope of responsibility and building the capacity to hold many different perspectives and thoughts.
Jackie then ran us through an exercise to discuss these thought-forms in a real-time example. You can check that out at (45:46).
Jackie wrote a recap blog here if you’re interested in learning more.
3. “How to move from Understanding to Action”
Mariana Mirabile hosted the final narratives webinar, a highly interactive session supporting the audience to understand how to move from understanding how narratives work, to developing narratives about a new economy in real life.
Mariana speaks to the importance of understanding the values that underpin the change that we want to see in the world from (from 2:15-15:00). She uses this graphic to explain how stories and narratives are generally created.
In the exercise that Mariana ran, she encouraged us to each think of an initiative that we are a part of in our daily life (i.e. a coop grocery store, bike share program etc.) – to illustrate the what we do – and then relate the initiative to one of the 5 WEAll Needs:
She was making the point that a Wellbeing Economy is happening every day. We are living certain aspects of it in our daily lives. And, to be able to change narrative, we need to understand what tangible initiatives we’re supporting that are already helping to build the world we want to create. As we continue to see and support these initiatives, it will transform our mental models and in turn, build a Wellbeing Economy.
If you’re interested in continuing to work on narratives for a Wellbeing Economy, please reach out to Isabel.
WEAll is developing a Policy Design Guide that is to be launched in January. In support of this, we hosted an event on November 5th to galvanize interest. Amanda Janoo led the discussion and in her presentation, she outlined the goals of the Guide and how it can be used by Policymakers around the globe. In particular, the Guide addresses the need for case studies that show how to transition toward a Wellbeing Economy.
After her short presentation, participants broke into breakout rooms to discuss the following questions:
Discuss your experiences designing policies to build a just and sustainable economy. What has worked and what hasn’t?
How could a global policymakers network and/or WEAll support governments to build a Wellbeing Economy? What would you hope to gain from a network such as this?
Some of the interesting questions that were raised are detailed below.
What is a Wellbeing Economy?
Definitions: What are the different definitions of wellbeing? How do we make these understood by global audiences?
Clarity: What is the definition of a Wellbeing Economy? How we get there is still unclear. The goals feel too general and are disconnected from what is happening on the ground. How can we provide better clarity?
Communication: Clear messaging around a Wellbeing Economy is important. How do you get more buy-in from colleagues? Some expressed the misconceptions around having to give something up to make progress on social or environmental issues. Do people have to choose between the economy and the environment? One suggestion for developing widespread understanding of a Wellbeing Economy was creating a forum for communication with people e.g. hosting Citizen Assemblies, as done in Scotland, for example.
Education: There must be a student-led movement and shift in school curriculums to educate about a need for a Wellbeing Economy and the necessary transitions to achieve it. In addition, there must be a shift in understanding that economic policy, environmental policy and social policy are not ‘separate’; these distinctions are unhelpful and efforts must be connected to each other to deliver desired wellbeing outcomes.
Data & Evidence
Evidence: Many people want to make the transition, but more measurements, case studies, research, indicators are needed.
Indicators and data: For the countries that have access to data on wellbeing indicators, questions lie in how to prioritise, how to apply the data and how to share it across various sectors of the economy. For those countries that don’t have access to the internet or systems to collect sound data, how can governments make informed decisions?
Participation: How do we bring people along with us on the journey towards a Wellbeing Economy? How can we engage them throughout the policy design process?
Diversity:. How do we ensure that we’re representing all communities? One comment suggested that the SDGs ignoring racial inequality as a core issue. We cannot achieve the SDGs without first tackling issues around race and racism.
Aligning Institutions: Most government departments still work in silos. How do we align government efforts to recognise and address the interconnections between social, environmental and economic dimensions? How can we illustrate these synergies?
Considerations for Prioritising Wellbeing
Adaptation: How can we adapt frameworks such as the SDGs or the OECD Wellbeing Framework to our national context? How can we select and prioritise the wellbeing goals that suit our unique context, challenges and culture?
Money: This is still the dominant bottom line in policy: allocate budgets to help the economy grow first and foremost, and people and planet as secondary considerations . If we are to shift toward a Wellbeing Economy, what kind of investment strategy would we need to address this issue?
Women: If we don’t lift up and empower women globally, how are we going to improve wellbeing? One interesting point was raised around finding out what women actually need. For example, a rural electrification project may want to support women, but is that the solution that is actually going to lift women out of poverty? How do we focus our efforts to address root causes?
Where do we go from here?
There are a lot of questions around transitioning to a Wellbeing Economy that need answers. These answers will not come from WEAll alone, but from all of us, as a collective. Together, we can share our knowledge and experience, connect the theoretical with the practical, identify the most useful indicators, and simplify language so that others may understand the vision of a Wellbeing Economy.
Please let us know if you are interested in joining a network of policymakers from around the globe to support and co-create Wellbeing Economy practices,by filling out this form.
Last month, Katherine Trebeck went on a virtual tour in Holland. With over 15 gigs and several media interviews, it was a busy week of influencing stakeholders to transition to a Wellbeing Economy.
While speaking of the urgent need to build an economy that prioritises environmental and social wellbeing, she stressed the why, how and what of the transition.
“We have all this growth, but people aren’t satisfied with their lives. We’re in an unsafe, unevenly shared economic system that is doing so much damage.”
Katherine explains the dangers of ‘growth’ as the predominant driver of our economic thinking. While growth-based initiatives in the past have encouraged greater social progress, we are now seeing diminishing returns from growth. In her book, Economics of Arrival, she points that many countries have in fact arrived. What these countries have is enough. Now those countries must re-focus: less on growing, and more on providing decent livelihoods for all of their people.
On a broader level, Katherine asked,
“What kind of growth do we need?”
She asked her audiences to think about what an economy may need more or less of.
For example, we need more community gardens, renewable energy, worker-owned cooperatives and less oil tankers, and jobs that overwork and underpay their employees.
As she put it,
“We urgently need to have a more sophisticated conversation about what we need more of less of and what goals we have for our economy.”
Instead of growing for growth’s sake, we need to look closer at the indicators that increase human and ecological wellbeing. To replace GDP as the indicator, and instead, find a suite of measures of success that come from conversations with communities to reflect their needs.
“How do we transition to a wellbeing economy?”
For the answer, Katherine suggested stakeholders first look around at where they see these initiatives in action – and to learn from them, replicate them and use them to illustrate to governments that transitioning to a Wellbeing Economy is possible.
She pointed to:
The Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership offers examples of countries that are developing new indicators and looking beyond GDP as measures of economic success.
Businesses that are redirecting investment toward businesses beyond just the financial bottom line, who are pushing for employee ownership and are redefining their purpose to better reflect their values. This includes examples highlighted in WEAll’s Business of Wellbeing Guide, like the Dutch chocolate brand, Tony’s Chocolonely, which is working to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate.
The pioneering implementation of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut framework at the city level in Amsterdam
These are existing solutions and answers to replace the existing economic system.
Ultimately, her talks in Holland addressed the many stakeholders that need to be involved in the transition toward a Wellbeing Economy. It will take all of us to make this transition – and must be driven by a new idea for the purpose of the economy.
We should not be in service to the economy. The economy should be in service to us; to life, to the environment.
To learn more from Katherine Trebeck, watch her talks here:
He understood that we need to have knowledge of the ecological, social and cultural factors of a place, in order to plan that place to meet peoples’ needs: dignity, nature, connection, fairness and participation.
During the lecture, Katherine shared ‘7 Tips for Designing a Wellbeing Economy’ that Sir Patrick Geddes would have shared himself, if he were alive today:
“See the whole”
“We need to look upstream… [to] see how things fit together… It’s about understanding the whole picture“
2. Beyond the era of “squirrel millionaires”
3. Local Context Matters
4. Community Involvement. Always.
“A wellbeing economy is about people feeling connected and in control.” – Katherine Trebeck
5. Beyond examinations: better measures
6. “Magnificent failures” are necessary boldness
7. Follow your heart – and live life in line with your passions
How can we use these tips to plan a wellbeing economy?
Katherine pointed to signs of hope in participatory processes that involve the community in ‘building back better’. One such model is the doughnut economics model introduced by Kate Raworth.
The ‘doughnut’ is a way of thinking about economics based on the priorities set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and balancing the needs of people and the environment.
The key aim is to ensure no one falls short on the essentials of life (in the doughnut’s hole) while also living with within ecological boundaries that aim to preserve the Earth’s resources (represented by the outside circle of the doughnut).
The doughnut shape left in-between those two circles is the sweet spot – where everyone on the planet has a good social foundation and the Earth’s resources aren’t being overexploited.
Striking this balance is key to ‘building back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.
(City) Life and the Doughnut
“Life is the underlying process that connects culture to nature.” – Sir Patrick Geddes
The Amsterdam City Doughnut takes the global concept of the Doughnut and turns it into a tool for transformative action, on the ground, in the city of Amsterdam. The tool asks:
Katherine discussed 4 interdependent questions used in the Amsterdam City Doughnut to help answer this question, to guide city planning:
Inspired by those who came before us and frameworks like the Doughnut, we have the tools to plan an economy that is designed to deliver social justice on a healthy planet – starting right at the community or city level.
https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1533137015-38dbe301e281?ixlib=rb-1.2.1&ixid=eyJhcHBfaWQiOjE1Mzg0M30&fm=jpg&q=85&fit=crop&w=2560&h=166816682560anahttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngana2020-10-07 19:26:332020-10-07 19:28:16Planning for Wellbeing … and Doughnuts
On September 23rd, you can support the WWF in making that a reality. WWF is hosting a webinar with WEAll’s Amanda Janoo, and Club of Rome member and WEAll Ambassador, Sandrine Dixson.
The ideals of a wellbeing economy were endorsed by the European Union (EU) in October 2019 and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in January 2020, adding to the growing number of governments that are interested in the co-creation of a wellbeing economy in their areas.
The WWF is now calling for the European Commission, European Parliament, and the Member states to take direct actions to implement a wellbeing economy, which are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
In its 22- page report to be released on September 23rd, the WWF outlines it recommendations on which new measures of progress are needed to guide a wellbeing approach.
With the SDGs as the guiding tool, the recommended Wellbeing Economy strategy would:
Balance the social, environmental and economic dimensions of the recovery from the current health and economic crisis
Respond to calls from the EU Council for a common EU approach to the economy of wellbeing
Provide an EU strategy for implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, five years after their international adoption
Learn more about what it will take for the EU to adopt a wellbeing economy at WWF’s upcoming webinar on September 23rd. Register here.
Guest speakers include:
Amanda Janoo, Knowledge and Policy. Lead, Wellbeing Economy Alliance
Estelle Goeger, Commissioner Gentiloni’s Cabinet, European Commission
Ester Asin, Director, WWF European Policy Office
Taru Koivisto, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland
https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1585290153640-b5ff07d5d887?ixlib=rb-1.2.1&ixid=eyJhcHBfaWQiOjE1Mzg0M30&fm=jpg&q=85&fit=crop&w=2560&h=170717072560anahttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngana2020-09-17 14:52:062020-10-02 16:20:29Imagine if the EU were able to catalyse a wellbeing economy?
WEALL member @r3dot0 held a one-hour webcast about the latest developments of r3.0, with a focus on getting participants an overview of the two forthcoming Blueprints on Sustainable Finance and Value Cycles, as well as an overview of the September 8-11 7th International r3.0 Conference.
As in earlier years the conference delivers a top-notch set of 16 keynote speakers in four plenary sessions as well as about 35 more speakers in breakout sessions and market-making sessions, covering eight important focus areas: science, behaviour, finance, growth, value, circularity, education and governance.