Posts

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria

Resources

In 2015, the German government instigated a national dialogue to better understand what mattered for people’s wellbeing. In order to ensure diversity and hear as many opinions as possible, the German government asked for help from a large number of social groups (such as workers associations, adult education centers, chambers of commerce, women’s agricultural association, etc.).

Over a period of six months, they hosted over 200 national dialogue events in every region of Germany, with the Chancellor and first ministers being invited to 50 of the events to engage in wellbeing discussions. Those who were not able to attend these in-person events were invited to participate online or by returning a postcard that had been sent to all residents. A total of 15,750 participants took part in the national dialogue. Over 400 different topics and areas important for wellbeing were identified during the national dialogue, with the following aspects being mentioned particularly often:

Through this public consultation people expressed a mix of values, processes, and outcomes as being important for their wellbeing. The results revealed the following priorities: values such as freedom, equity, helpfulness; democratic processes such as civic engagement, political participation, and a functioning state; outcomes such as healthcare, education and unspoiled nature.

These priorities were then organised into 3 broad categories with 12 dimensions:

1) “Our life” describes five dimensions of our current lives: health, work, education, income, and the time we have available for our work, family, and leisure.

2) “Our surroundings” covers three dimensions of our lives: where we live, infrastructure and mobility in our cities and rural areas, security, and social cohesion.

And 3) “our country” form the national and international framework. They relate to the economy and environment, being able to live in freedom and equality, and the concerns of citizens about peace and Germany’s responsibilities in the world.

Find out more here and here.

Find out more:

Finland ran Europe’s first national, government-backed basic income experiment.

Finland’s two-year scheme, which ran in 2017 and 2018 and attracted widespread international interest, paid 2,000 randomly selected unemployed people across the country a regular monthly income of €560 (£490), with no obligation to seek a job and no reduction in their payment if they accepted one.

Aimed primarily at seeing whether a guaranteed income might encourage people to take up often low-paid or temporary work without fear of losing benefits, the scheme was not strictly speaking a universal basic income trial because the recipients came from a restricted group and the payments were not enough to live on.

Ran Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot – led to people building startups and staying ‘productive’, instead of passive consumers. So, guaranteeing basic necessities is not about ‘not working’. It frees up time for people to pursue what they care about.

“The basic income recipients were more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain than the control group,” the study, by researchers at Helsinki University, concluded. “They also had a more positive perception of their economic welfare.”

The researchers also noted a mild positive effect on employment, particularly in certain categories, such as families with children, adding that participants also tended to score better on other measures of wellbeing, including greater feelings of autonomy, financial security, and confidence in the future.

“Some people said the basic income had zero effect on their productivity, as there were still no jobs in the area they were trained for,” said Prof Helena Blomberg-Kroll, who led the study. “But others said that with the basic income they were prepared to take low-paying jobs they would otherwise have avoided.

“Some said the basic income allowed them to go back to the life they had before they became unemployed, while others said it gave them the power to say no to low-paid insecure jobs, and thus increased their sense of autonomy.”

The scheme also gave some participants “the possibility to try and live their dreams”, Blomberg-Kroll said. “Freelancers and artists and entrepreneurs had more positive views on the effects of the basic income, which some felt had created opportunities for them to start businesses.”

It also encouraged some participants to get more involved in society, by undertaking voluntary work, for example. “Some found the guaranteed income increased the possibility for them to do things like providing informal care for their family or their neighbours,” said one of the researchers, Christian Kroll.

“The security of the basic income allowed them to do more meaningful things, as they felt it legitimised this kind of care work. Many of the people who performed such unpaid activities during the two-year period referred to it as work.”

Kroll said the results of the study could support arguments both for and against basic income. “But as we’ve all learned in the early part of 2020, insecurity is not a good way to live,” he said.

“While basic income can’t solve all our health and societal problems, there is certainly a discussion to be had that it could be part of the solution in times of economic hardship.”

Find out more here.

Find out more:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/07/finnish-basic-income-pilot-improved-wellbeing-study-finds-coronavirus

Finland and the ‘Economy of Wellbeing’

In July 2019, Finland’s focus in the health and social sector when holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union was the ‘economy of wellbeing’.

Finland’s objectives during the Presidency were:

  • To stimulate an open European debate on the ‘economy of wellbeing’ and improve policy-level understanding of the fact that wellbeing is a prerequisite for economic growth and social and economic stability*; on the other hand, economic growth also creates more opportunities to improve wellbeing in the population.
  • To have the Council of the EU adopt conclusions on the ‘economy of wellbeing’. These include recommendations for measures to be taken by EU member states and the EU Commission.

Following a high-level conference in Helsinki, the Employment, Social Policy, Health, and Consumer Affairs Council adopted the conclusions on the ‘economy of wellbeing’. In its conclusions, the Council acknowledged that the ‘economy of wellbeing’ places people and their wellbeing at the centre of policy and decision-making and works to achieve equal opportunities, gender equality, and social inclusion.

The Council recognised a need for the coordination of EU and Member States’ powers to focus on the key drivers of wellbeing. Highlighting that GDP alone cannot measure the different dimensions of people’s wellbeing, the Council called the EU Member States for a cross-sectoral collaboration to improve existing instruments and implement a horizontal ‘economy of wellbeing’ perspective into national and European policy design.

In addition to its actions during the EU Council Presidency, Finland also demonstrated its focus on wellbeing through its government programme ‘Inclusive and competent Finland – a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society’. The government sought to pursue a preventative approach by investing in measures that improve people’s health and wellbeing and take into consideration the long-term effect of their policies and decisions. Indicators about the economic, social, and ecological wellbeing will be used alongside the current economic indicators.

With the vision to transform Finland into a socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable society by 2030, the government’s key economic policy objectives include:

  • The government’s decisions will decrease inequality and narrow the income gaps.
  • The government’s decisions will put Finland on a path towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2035.
  • The aim of economic policy is to increase wellbeing and prosperity. This means ecologically and socially sustainable economic growth, high levels of employment, sustainable public finances, and stability in the economy, all of which help avoid unforeseen negative impacts on people’s wellbeing.

As the Finnish government stated in their programme, ‘In a Nordic welfare state, the economy is managed for the people, not the other way round’.

* This is a different framing to a Wellbeing Economy, which downplays the economy as a goal in and of itself, and focuses on what sort of economy is needed to deliver the goal of social justice on a healthy planet.

Finland – Universal Basic Income pilot’ tags=’Wellbeing Policy Design’ custom_id=’How do we design a Wellbeing Economy’ av_uid=’av-6himp8f’]
Finland ran Europe’s first national, government-backed basic income experiment.

Finland’s two-year scheme, which ran in 2017 and 2018 and attracted widespread international interest, paid 2,000 randomly selected unemployed people across the country a regular monthly income of €560 (£490), with no obligation to seek a job and no reduction in their payment if they accepted one.

Aimed primarily at seeing whether a guaranteed income might encourage people to take up often low-paid or temporary work without fear of losing benefits, the scheme was not strictly speaking a universal basic income trial because the recipients came from a restricted group and the payments were not enough to live on.

Ran Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot – led to people building startups and staying ‘productive’, instead of passive consumers. So, guaranteeing basic necessities is not about ‘not working’. It frees up time for people to pursue what they care about.

“The basic income recipients were more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain than the control group,” the study, by researchers at Helsinki University, concluded. “They also had a more positive perception of their economic welfare.”

The researchers also noted a mild positive effect on employment, particularly in certain categories, such as families with children, adding that participants also tended to score better on other measures of wellbeing, including greater feelings of autonomy, financial security, and confidence in the future.

“Some people said the basic income had zero effect on their productivity, as there were still no jobs in the area they were trained for,” said Prof Helena Blomberg-Kroll, who led the study. “But others said that with the basic income they were prepared to take low-paying jobs they would otherwise have avoided.

“Some said the basic income allowed them to go back to the life they had before they became unemployed, while others said it gave them the power to say no to low-paid insecure jobs, and thus increased their sense of autonomy.”

The scheme also gave some participants “the possibility to try and live their dreams”, Blomberg-Kroll said. “Freelancers and artists and entrepreneurs had more positive views on the effects of the basic income, which some felt had created opportunities for them to start businesses.”

It also encouraged some participants to get more involved in society, by undertaking voluntary work, for example. “Some found the guaranteed income increased the possibility for them to do things like providing informal care for their family or their neighbours,” said one of the researchers, Christian Kroll.

“The security of the basic income allowed them to do more meaningful things, as they felt it legitimised this kind of care work. Many of the people who performed such unpaid activities during the two-year period referred to it as work.”

Kroll said the results of the study could support arguments both for and against basic income. “But as we’ve all learned in the early part of 2020, insecurity is not a good way to live,” he said.

“While basic income can’t solve all our health and societal problems, there is certainly a discussion to be had that it could be part of the solution in times of economic hardship.”

Find out more here.

Find out more:

The Edmonton Well-being Index (or GPIs: Genuine Progress Indicators) was commissioned by the chief economist of the City of Edmonton, Canada in 2008 as A system of measuring the progress of the City relative to its 10-year strategic plan (The Way Ahead). The other desired purpose of the GPIs was to inform and guide annual budgeting by the City of Edmonton. The 2008 report was updated for a second time in 2009.

The Edmonton Well-being Index analysis is a replication of the 2001 Alberta GPI (Genuine Progress Indicators) study by the Anielski et. al. of the Pembina Institute; the Alberta GPI was a prototype sustainable well-being accounting system piloted for Alberta using 50 indicators of well-being analyzed over a 40-year study period (1961 to 1999).

The purpose of the Edmonton Wellbeing Index and wellbeing assessment was to answer the following question: Is Edmonton’s economic progress sustainable in terms of other quality of life and well-being conditions?

To help answer this question, the GPI analysis examined the trends and interrelationships of economic growth (measured in terms of real GDP per capita) with 47 other indicators of well-being (see table). The result is a state of well-being account for the City of Edmonton. The 2009 Edmonton GPI accounts of well-being shows a mixture of both positive and negative trends in Edmonton’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing.

Edmonton Genuine Progress Indicators

Economic Social Environmental
Economic growth (real GDP per capita)

Economic diversity

Trade balance

Family median after-tax income

Weekly wage rate

Personal consumption expenditures

Transportation expenditures

Income taxes

Savings rate

Household debt

Value of public infrastructure

Value of household infrastructure

Poverty rate

Income inequality

Unemployment

Underemployment

Paid work time

Unpaid work time

Leisure time

Volunteer time

Commuting time

Life expectancy

Infant mortality

Obesity

Suicide

Youth drug use offences

Auto crashes

Family disputes

Crime rate

Problem gambling

Voter participation

Educational attainment

Conventional crude oil and natural gas reserve life

Oilsands reserve life

Natural gas energy use

Electricity energy use

Agricultural land

Timber sustainability index

Forest fragmentation

Green space

Wetlands

Water quality index

Air quality index

Greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon budget

Hazardous waste

Landfill waste

Ecological footprint

The overall results of the Edmonton GPIs for a single year are set up using a 1-100 index system, so that 48 wellbeing indicators can be compared to each other and across time, indexed based on a base year (1981) or an optimum wellbeing condition for each indicator over time.

The analysis also contrasts Edmonton’s real GDP per capita with a composite Edmonton Wellbeing Index – comprising all 48 economic, social and environmental indicators — as well as the sub-aggregated Economic, Social, Environmental Indices.

The results showed that between 1981 and 2008, Edmonton’s real GDP per capita has risen, albeit irregularly, while the Edmonton Wellbeing Index rose slightly in the early mid-1980s above the 1981 benchmark year, peaked in 1983 then declined steadily hitting a low in 1998. Since 1998, the overall Edmonton Wellbeing Index has been steadily increasing though has not yet reached the 1981 benchmark-year level.

The strategic planning department along with the Chief Economist, found the GPIs/Wellbeing Index very useful for tracking overall economic, social, health and environmental well-being conditions and trends providing decision makers with a high-level overview of well-being of the city providing important context to policy and budgetary decisions and providing citizens with a high-level wellbeing profile. Another key feature of the GPIs was that it provided City strategic planners and analysts the capacity to assess the interrelationships and correlations between key economic indicators and social, health and environmental indicators of well-being. This provided decision makers to conduct ‘what-if’ future projections of well-being. Ultimately it was possible to link well-being indices to municipal programs and services to ascertain impacts and value for municipal capital and operating spending.

Unfortunately, in April of 2012 the Mayor and Council, with recommendations by the City’s Chief Financial Officer, voted against maintaining the Edmonton Wellbeing Index indices for the purposes of informing annual budgeting. This was unfortunate since in 2012, Bhutan had recommended the adoption of a new economic paradigm based on well-being and happiness (The Gross National Happiness Index), to UN members and nations.

Is there a lasting legacy of the Edmonton GPI work?

While the formal Edmonton GPI work and updates to the indicator set ended in 2012, the lasting impact of measuring well-being impacts of policies, programs and services has taken on greater importance in Edmonton. Two examples include the End Poverty Edmonton initiative that resulted in a well-being impact evaluation framework developed for the City of Edmonton that would be the basis of measuring well-being impacts of the various poverty reduction strategies and actions.

A second example of well-being impact analysis is the development of a well-being assessment system for Edmonton’s Capital Region Housing Corporation, which provides affordable housing to 9,000 low-income Edmonton households. Well-being became central to CRHC’s mission statement. A well-being perceptional impact analysis survey was piloted by Anielski with a sample of CRHC residents providing a well-being baseline upon which to measure the future impacts of CRHC’s buildings and programs based on lived well-being experience and perceptions. So, well-being-based decision making has found life within policy portfolios and other programs of the City of Edmonton.

During the period of the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Edmonton and a new mayor and council, have expressed renewed interest in restoring the GPIs and are interested in exploring a new well-being accounting and reporting system. A suggestion has been made for the City to experiment with a combination of objective well-being indices complimented by a citizen well-being survey of subjective well-being to inform future decision making.

Find out more here.

Find out more:

After decades of civil war and instability, El Salvador was one of the poorest countries in Latin America. In 2009, President Funes was elected and pledged to support a collective, democratic and participatory development of a national health system.

The intention was to take a human rights approach; employ inter-sectoral work to address the social determinants of health; develop an equitable, efficient, fair and universal national health system funded by general revenues; and integrate the development of sub-regional and regional health policies.

Their wellbeing goal was to: ‘Guarantee the right to health of all Salvadoreans through a National Health System that steadily strengthens its public segments (including social security) and effectively regulates its private segments, and provides access to health promotion, prevention, care, and rehabilitation, and a healthy, safe environment, including (but not limited to) the creation and maintenance of an efficient health care system, with high problem-solving capacity and equitable access to quality services for all’

In order to achieve this goal, they identified several key intervention areas in the economy for the five-year policy period:

  1. Develop an integrated health services network, based on universal coverage, through which all people could access quality medical care
  2. Create a national medical emergency system to provide emergency medical services across the country
  3. Guarantee access to medical drugs and vaccines
  4. Create national health forums where communities and stakeholders could participate in policy decisions regarding the health sector
  5. Establish institute of health to conduct research on health challenges and social determinants of health
  6. Develop a unified health information system to analyze health data to support informed decision making at every level of the national healthcare system

Find out more here.

Find out more:

The term and cultural understandings of “wellbeing” vary across communities with Ecuador developing a wellbeing vision based on their indigenous concept of “buen vivir”. Buen Vivir (meaning “ living well together”) is a term used by the Quechua peoples (Sumak Kawsay) of the Andes to describe a way of doing things that is rooted in community, ecology, culture, and spiritual connection to the land. The concept of Buen Vivir was integrated into the Ecuadorian constitution in 2008 and the Bolivian constitution in 2009; it aims for a new form of development which goes beyond economic growth by focusing on people’s wellbeing and respect for nature.

The concept of Buen Vivir has also been integrated into Ecuador’s national development plans, with the Ministry of Planning (SENPLADES) expressing their wellbeing vision in 2018 as follows:

The Citizens revolution is committed to Buen Vivir , for everyone. We want a society in which people can satisfy their needs, live and die worthily with social equality and justice, free of violence or discrimination and achieving individual, social and natural harmony

https://www.planificacion.gob.ec/plan-nacional-de-desarrollo-2017-2021-toda-una-vida/

Painting of Buen Vivir
Along these lines, Ecuador has undertaken a series of constitutional and regulatory reforms to shift the direction of their development to achieve social and ecological wellbeing.

In Ecuador, nature is known as ‘Pachamama’. In 2008, the nation made history by becoming the first country in the world to ratify their constitution to include the right of nature. Article 71 of the revised constitution outlines that Pachamama has the right to exist and it’s “maintenance, regeneration of its life cycles, structures, functions and evolutionary processes” respected.

The rights of people and nature in Ecuador however was not only determined by national legislation, but was also strongly influenced by international agreements as well. Ecuador, like the majority of countries in the world, had signed trade and investment treaties which included a clause called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system. This clause provides foreign corporations with the right to sue governments for any change in policy that would infringe on their expected profits.

In 2006, following indigenous and citizen protests, the Ecuadorian government halted foreign oil exploration in the Amazon. As a result of ISDS, Occidental Petroleum was able to sue the Ecuadorian government for 1.4 billion dollars (equivalent to the country’s health budget) as a result of this policy reform. The ISDS allows corporations to sue governments but not vice versa, which Ecuador found out when they sued Chevron for dumping billions of gallons of toxic water into the Amazon and poisoning 30,000 indigenous residents. Chevron went to the ISDS tribunal and had them order Ecuador to make taxpayers pay for the clean-up and violate its own constitution.

The capacity of Ecuador to develop and uphold policies to promote social and ecological wellbeing was therefore constrained by external forces. So in 2013, the government established an audit commission of government officials, academics, lawyers and civil society groups to analyze the costs and benefits of the country’s ISDS treaties and make recommendations.

The commission report was made public and argued that the treaties failed to deliver on the promised foreign investment and had undermined the development objectives outlined In Ecuador’s constitution. In 2017, following the commission’s advice, the Ecuadorian government terminated all existing trade and investment treaties which included the ISDS clause.

In moving forward, Ecuador joined countries such as South Africa and Indonesia (who have also terminated treaties with ISDS) at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 2019, to advocate for reform of the ISDS so that it promotes sustainable development objectives, protects human rights and respects policy space and the rule of law.

In this way Ecuador has been undertaking a process of regulatory reform at home and abroad to redefine economic rights and responsibilities to achieve “buen vivir” for all.

Find out more here.

Find out more:

Costa Rica often stands out as a unique development story. It has somehow achieved high levels of wellbeing with a relatively low GDP and minimal pressures on the environment.

Costa Rica is ranked amongst the best performers on the Social Progress Index, with scores divided into three categories: basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunity.

Costa Rica’s success in wellbeing can, in part, be attributed to crucial policy decisions in the ’50s and ’60s, following a brutal civil war. During this time, the Constitution was revised to prioritise peace by abolishing the military and requiring the redirection of those resources to social spending on healthcare, education, and social security for the country. The redirection of defense spending to improve education, health care and a durable social safety net was done through policies covering social service (universal access to health and education, reforestation, ecosystem services and resource taxation (water tax).

Today, Costa Rica outperforms the United States on life expectancy (81.0 versus 79.1 years), democracy (a full democracy versus a flawed democracy), and population life evaluation (7.1 out of 10 versus 6.9), and has a social progress score far closer to that of the U.S. and other more developed countries than to many of its economic peers. Costa Rica also scores higher than the U.S. for health and wellness, environmental quality and personal rights. This is all despite having an average income more than three times smaller than in the United States.

On his global travels to learn about wellbeing, Christopher Boyce described the country’s national pride in living a simple, yet happy, relational lifestyle – referred to as the “pura vida”.

Costa Rica is a global leader for its environmental policies and accomplishments, which have helped the country build its Green Trademark. The pioneering Payments for Environmental Services (PES) program has been successful in promoting forest and biodiversity conservation; making Costa Rica the only tropical country in the world that has reversed deforestation.

The country has a National Decarbonisation Plan (2018-2050), which includes strategies for all sectors of the economy like public and private transport, energy industry, waste, and agriculture. It is notable that this plan is more ambitious than Costa Rica’s Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and 2050.

With a recent history of generating more than 95% of its domestic electricity from renewable energy, Costa Rica is committed to achieving 100% electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and fully decarbonising by 2050.

Find out more here.

Find out more: