In August 2020, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and North Ayrshire Council became the first two local authorities to join the Wellbeing Economy Alliance as members. Both councils have shown leadership with their leading “build back better” campaigns, which seek to revitalize their local economies through a green, sustainable recovery.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

(Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region)

The announcement of Liverpool City Region’s membership follows the release of its economic recovery plan, Building Back Better. The plan provides a blueprint for how the City Region will recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic by building an economy that is globally competitive, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive.

The plan has four key themes—the business ecosystem, people-focused recovery, place, and a green recovery—and includes proposals for a £1.4bn investment from Government that would unlock £8.8bn worth of projects and create more than 120,000 jobs. This includes the Mersey Tidal Power project, which can contribute to the UK’s long-term sustainable energy mix, while creating employment for thousands.

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “When I said that there was no going back to normal after the crisis, I meant it. That means building a society that focuses on the five Es: employment, the environment, the eco system, the economy and essential workers.

“I want the Liverpool City Region to be the most inclusive, fair and socially just economy in the country. Our economic recovery plan lays out how we’ll do that and I’m proud that we are is the first governmental body in the world to join the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). I look forward to working with them, sharing ideas from all over the world and making Liverpool City Region a model of how we can make the economy work for people, and not the other way round.”

North Ayrshire Council

(The North Ayrshire Council Building at Cunninghame House in Irvine)

When North Ayrshire Council became the first Scottish local authority to join WEAll, the council had already introduced its pioneering green recovery plan, based on community wealth building (CWB). CWB involves spending public money locally, keeping wealth generated within the local area, encouraging community ownership and using land and property in a socially just way to boost the local economy and tackle poverty and inequality.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council and Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with WEAll and look forward to speaking to a range of influential thinkers who can help inspire us as we look to radically overhaul what we are doing here in North Ayrshire.

“We are in the midst of a global recession and now is the time to be bold, think differently and build a new economy. That new economy must work for the benefit of people and planet, ending decades of an extractive economic model that has worked for neither and has saw inequality soar to record levels.

“That’s what we want to achieve through our Community Wealth Building strategy which, post-COVID, will help us build back better, fairer and greener…

“WEAll are leading the case for an economy that values the wellbeing of people and planet and I am excited by the opportunity to work with them to realise our joint ambitions for a fairer future.”

Some Thoughts from the WEAll Team

Katherine Trebeck, Advocacy and Influencing Lead at WEAll, said of Liverpool’s joining: “The role of government in transforming how our economies operate cannot be underestimated. So governments at all levels are natural partners for the wellbeing economy movement. WEAll is thrilled to welcome the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as a member of our diverse network. WEAll is excited to learn from them, connect them with our members, and amplify their pioneering work, which demonstrates that a wellbeing economy is not just what is needed, but with political will, it is entirely possible.”

Sarah Deas, trustee at WEAll Scotland and chair of North Ayrshire’s expert advisory group on Community Wealth Building, said: “North Ayrshire Council was the first Scottish local authority to commit to Community Wealth Building and is now the first to join the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). The Council appreciates that direct local action can achieve systems change, enabling the economy to deliver human and ecological wellbeing.

“Through participating in the WEAll network, the Councils will inspire others to adopt similar pioneering approaches while benefiting from ideas and innovations from across the world.”

WEAll Scotland has joined over 70 other Scottish organisations calling on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the government to commit to a “just and green recovery” after covid-19.

The #BuildBackBetterScot campaign, coordinated by Friends of the Earth Scotland, has written today to the First Minister setting out five principles for recovery and offering to support the process as Scotland moves forward.

The full text of the letter is below:

“Dear First Minister,

Scotland’s Just and Green Recovery from COVID-19

Representing a broad range of Scotland’s civil society, our organisations wish to meet with you to discuss our emerging vision of how Scotland can lead a radical response to the double crises of climate change and Coronavirus.

Across the world, communities, institutions and governments are engaged in an unprecedented global effort to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.

As Coronavirus and climate chaos tear apart people’s lives globally we are seeing pre- existing inequalities laid bare and exacerbated, as the poorest suffer worst.

Massive upheaval to people’s daily lives is our present reality and immediate future. Yet a simple return to business as usual is both unrealistic and undesirable.

As Scotland moves past a peak of infections our attention is turning to what comes next.

You have stated the need for a recovery that cuts climate emissions by “building a fairer, greener and more equal society”, an aim that we strongly agree with.

The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare how inequality is lethal to human life, but it has also shone a light on acts of solidarity and cooperation and centred the vital role of public services, key workers and unpaid carers. Amidst a global threat to human rights and democracy, this crisis has also brought forward the possibility of an economic revival that ensures resilience to future crises, including the climate emergency.

The recovery from Coronavirus is a rare chance to markedly accelerate the repurposing of government away from the prioritisation of economic growth and towards goals of wellbeing and sustainability, ending inequality and environmental destruction. This is a time for system change.

These are the steps we believe must be followed to deliver a just and green recovery:

1. Provide essential public services for people, not profit. Expand public ownership of public services and boost investment, including in social care, strengthen the NHS and cradle-to-grave education, and create zero-carbon social and cooperative housing instead of buy-to-let.

The First Minister The Scottish Government St Andrew’s House Regent Road Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Friday 29th May 2020

  1. Protect marginalised people and those on low incomes by redistributing wealth. Provide adequate incomes for all instead of bailouts for shareholders, significantly raise taxes on the wealthy, ensure all public workers receive at least the real Living Wage and strengthen health, safety and workers’ rights, including access to flexible home working. Investigate and mitigate the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and social distancing on women, children and young people, disabled people, LGBTI people, people of colour, key workers, unpaid carers, private renters, and those on lower incomes.
  2. Provide new funds to transform our society and economy to meet Scotland’s Fair Share of climate emissions cuts and greatly enhance biodiversity. Create and protect jobs in sustainable travel, renewable heat, affordable local food and energy efficiency, with ambitious green employment opportunities for young people and support for retraining where whole industries are affected. Put measures in place to ensure all government programmes tackle inequality, public health and the just transition away from fossil fuels, excluding rogue employers, tax avoiders, major polluters and arms manufacturers from bailouts.
  3. Strengthen democracy and human rights during these crises. Withdraw new police powers, surveillance measures and restrictions on protest as soon as possible. Enable full scrutiny of planning and policy decisions. Create an independent Recovery Commission founded on participatory democracy to engage and empower communities, trade unions and civil society. Introduce fundamental human rights into Scots law so that safety nets are always in place for the most vulnerable.
  4. Offer solidarity across borders by proactively supporting an international Coronavirus and climate emergency response that challenges the scapegoating of migrants, centres on the worst affected, bolsters global public health, development and environmental bodies, and ensures equitable access to COVID-19 treatment. Use the UN climate talks in Glasgow to push for robust implementation of the Paris deal, platforming the voices of indigenous and frontline communities and advancing climate finance and global debt cancellation. Ensure coherence between all domestic policy and global sustainable development outcomes.

Decisions made in times of crisis have long-lasting consequences. After the 2008 financial crisis, inequality grew and climate emissions spiralled. We want to see this moment seized for the common good, not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Civil society has a central role to play in helping to shape Scotland’s future in this unprecedented time. We look forward to meeting with you to address how we can realise a truly just and green recovery.”

Members of the public can support the call by signing this petition.

Organisations can add their support via this form.

BBC Radio Scotland has aired an in-depth feature exploring wellbeing economics, community wealth building and how Scotland can build back better post-covid.

Featuring interviews with WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck and WEAll member Sarah McKinley of the Democracy Collaborative, the report by BBC Scotland Economics Editor Douglas Fraser explores the need to reconsider our approach the economy.

Katherine  says: “Our economy wasn’t delivering for enough people. Covid has shone a very harsh light on the economic system we had prior to the pandemic. It has created a necessity to look for different ways of doing things”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is also quoted, speaking in her 2019 TED Talk about the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership.

There is also a spotlight on the new Community Wealth Building strategy of North Ayrshire Council, an economic development approach which focuses on the needs of communities and building thriving local economies. WEAll Scotland’s Sarah Deas was this week named as Chair of the expert panel advising North Ayrshire’s approach – read more here.

Listen to the BBC Radio Scotland feature here (from 1:32:15).

Today, two members of the WEAll Scotland team have been appointed to influential economic advisory roles in Scotland.

Dr Katherine Trebeck has been appointed to the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Renewal Advisory Group, and Sarah Deas is chairing the economic advisory panel for North Ayrshire Council’s pioneering Community Wealth Building Strategy.

The Sustainable Renewal Advisory Group is chaired by Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunninghame. It has been tasked with identifying opportunities to embed sustainability in Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 and with exploring the new challenges and opportunities we face in achieving a 75% reduction in emissions within a decade.

Ms. Cunninghame said: “In anticipation of a ‘new normal’, we have a chance to re-imagine the Scotland around us, and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy. Our starting point has most definitely changed but our ambitions need not and I remain deeply committed to our ambition to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045. ”

Joining Katherine on the panel are MSPs from all parties at Holyrood, and other expert leaders from across academia, industry, business, trades union and environmental organisations.

North Ayrshire Council launched their bold Community Wealth Building Strategy last Thursday – becoming the first in Scotland to adopt this economic approach – as they set out their radical new vision for shaping the economy now and post Covid-19.

The strategy sets out how the Council and other ‘anchor’ organisations – including NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Ayrshire College and wider partners – will work in partnership with communities and businesses to build a strong local economy which supports fair work, encourages local spend and uses the land and property we own for the common good.

And with such a new, different ‘take’ on how to galvanise and overhaul the local economy, the Council has enlisted the support of some important and well respected economic thinkers who lead in aspects of Community Wealth Building from across the globe.

Leading the Expert Panel will be  WEAll Scotland trustee Sarah Deas.

Sarah said: “The vital work that North Ayrshire is doing in pioneering local economic development is even more important in these challenging times. I’m delighted to chair this expert advisory panel which will act as a critical friend in developing a model that spreads wealth within the community.”

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said:

“This is one of the most progressive panels of economic experts that has been put together anywhere and we will tap into all their knowledge to put our CWB ambitions into action to deliver our new economic model. The knowledge, perspectives and ideas they bring will be important and timely given the economic crisis we are currently facing, and the climate crisis we’ll face moving forward”

Joining Sarah on the Expert Panel are: Miriam Brett, Common Wealth, Joe Guinan, The Democracy Collaborative,  Laurie Macfarlane Economics Editor at openDemocracy,  Ian Mitchell, Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS), Jess Thomas,  Co-operatives UK,  Roz Foyer,  Scottish Trade Union Council, Sarah McKinley, The Democracy Collaborative and the  Next System Project and Neil McInroy, the Centre for Economic Strategies.

The impacts of COVID19 on the economy show that the way we do business today is economically unsustainable. Business owners and decision makers are in crucial need of alternatives to business-as-usual in order to create resilience for crises to come and to become part of the solution rather than the problem.

WEAll, Sistema BWorld Fair Trade Organisation and SenseTribe therefore invite business owners, decision makers and other stakeholders to commit to seeking out ways to contribute to an economy that is not only economically viable but also socially and environmentally resilient:

  • Business resilience: We commit to give as much importance to resilience as to efficiency in our business model and value proposition. We commit to building resilient business structures, allowing us to respond to a changing environment and to build capacity to deal with crises effectively.
  • Human wellbeing: We commit to building balanced stakeholder relationships, so there is trust and commitment to one another. An important basis for building capacity for effective collaboration in moments of crisis.
  • Environmental wellbeing: We commit to re-evaluating how our business can make a positive contribution to our current  environmental crisis, making our business part of the environmental solution, not the problem.

Download the full Pledge

 

Sign the Pledge Now

Business owners and decision makers can also find out more and get involved in the Build Business Back Better community through events on 26 May and 25 June. The sessions will delve into the rich resources available in the Business of Wellbeing Guide and will highlight which options can help you navigate the alternatives and will give you inspiration on how to build businesses back better.

Join us on 26 May (6.30pm UK time)

The covid-19 pandemic has made the inequalities and absurdities of our current economic systems clearer than ever. Economic policies are oriented towards emergency response and meeting basic needs, and there is no longer an economic status quo available to us.

This provides an opportunity to advance the vision of a wellbeing economy, with even more urgency than before the crisis. It has never been more crucial that we focus our systems on delivering wellbeing for all.

Ten Principles to Build Back Better

The COVID-19 pandemic is having devastating effects on vulnerable communities around the world but we are also seeing glimpses of hope, where societies are working to “build back better” by ensuring basic needs and protecting our natural environment.

In a new WEAll briefing paper published today, we outline a set of ten principles for “building back better” toward a wellbeing economy. “Wellbeing economics for the covid-19 recovery”, by Milena Buchs et al, showcases examples of inspiring actions around the world that are moving us towards a wellbeing economy, along with examples of actions that are moving us away from this vision.

 

1. New goals: ecologically safe and environmentally just

Prioritise long-term human wellbeing and ecological stability in all decision-making; degrow and divest from economic sectors that do not contribute to ecological and wellbeing goals; invest in those that do; facilitate a just transition for all that creates jobs in and reskills for environmentally friendly and wellbeing focused sectors.

2. Protecting environmental standards

Protect all existing climate policy and emission reduction targets, environmental regulations and other environmental policies in all COVID-19 responses.

3. Green infrastructure and provisioning

Develop new green infrastructure and provisioning, and sustainable social practices as part of the COVID-19 recovery. For instance, transform urban space towards active travel and away from car use; scale up public transport, green energy, environmentally sustainable food production, low carbon housing; attach environmental conditionality to bailouts of high carbon industries.

4. Universal basic services

Guarantee needs satisfaction for everyone, including through health care coverage for the whole population free of charge at point of access; universal free provision or vouchers for basic levels of water, electricity, gas, housing, food, mobility, education.

5. Guaranteed livelihoods

Ensure everyone has the means for decent living, for instance through income and/or job guarantees, redistribution of employment through working-time reduction.

6. Fair distribution

Create more equal societies nationally and globally through a fair distribution of resources and opportunities. E.g. more progressive and environmentally orientated income and wealth taxation; public/common ownership of key resources and infrastructure.

7. Better democracy

Ensure effective, transparent and inclusive democratic processes at all levels; end regulatory capture from corporate interests and corruption.

8. Wellbeing economics organisations

Prioritise in all businesses and organisations social and ecological goals; implement circular economy principles to minimise resource use and waste; ensure economic and organisational democracy.

9. Cooperation

Ensure cooperation and solidarity at all levels, including in international politics and the global economy; across industrial sectors and government ministries; across scales (global, national, regional, local).

10. Public control of money

Introduce public and democratic control of money creation. Spend newly created money on investments that promote social and environmental goals and avoid post-recovery austerity.

What does building back better look like in practice?

There are already great examples around the world of governments starting to employ these principles.

The city of Amsterdam has sped up the adoption of a doughnut economics framework in response to COVID-19 to guide decision making.

New Zealand, Iceland and Scotland are already implementing wellbeing economics principles, through the formation of the Wellbeing Economy Government group, and wellbeing budgets and decision-making frameworks. These countries have also achieved better outcomes in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

Of course, other decision makers are opting for business-as-usual, what the WEAll Briefing paper calls a “back to worse” approach. Notably, several governments, including in the US, UK, Australia, Sweden and Denmark have bailed out airlines, without environmental conditions in response to COVID-19.

Download and read the paper for more examples under each of the ten principles of Build Back Better and Back To Worse approaches.

“Building back better” will require great creativity and coordination. Concerted effort is needed to truly value wellbeing and ecological sustainability simultaneously and for all.

New ideas are a crucial ingredient for such an endeavour. We’ve suggested the ten principles above for responding to COVID-19 – and we recognise that this is a unique moment of change. So, we invite you to engage in this discussion as we work to build back better together. Comment below with further suggestions of principles and examples for what this means where you are.

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance and the Poverty Alliance have today written to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to task the recently appointed Advisory Group on Economic Recovery with putting social justice at the heart of their work.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear First Minister,

Economic Recovery and Covid-19

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we have witnessed in action the values that we all share. We have seen the compassion, kindness and solidarity that will be required to make it through this crisis.

But we have also seen that our economy is failing to live up to these values. Our social security system and labour market have failed to protect too many of us: particularly women, disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic communities.

It is clear that as we move through and beyond the current phase of the crisis, we must commit to redesigning our economy and systems to better reflect our shared values of compassion and justice. Instead of returning to the economy we had going into the Covid-19 crisis, we must build back better by creating a wellbeing economy that puts our collective wellbeing first.

We therefore welcome that the Scottish Government’s Covid-19: framework for decision making recognises the need to look at the “social and economic reforms necessary to achieve the best future for Scotland” and commits not to repeat the mistakes of austerity. This commitment is most welcome but must be made real. In the months ahead we urge you to maintain your ambitious climate agenda to ensure the post-Covid-19 economy is a sustainable one, and to ensure it is socially just we urge you to prioritise:

  • Building a labour market that works for everyone: Too many people, particularly women and younger people, are trapped in poverty by low-paid and insecure work. Fair Work has been central to the Scottish Government’s approach to labour market policy, but more must be done to make it a reality for workers in Scotland.
  • Designing a more just taxation system: While this crisis is impacting every person across the country, the disproportionate impact on people on low incomes has highlighted the very real consequences of our deeply unequal society. It cannot be right that the wealthiest 1% of households in Scotland own more wealth than the poorest 50% at a time when almost 1 in 4 children are living in poverty. We must inject justice and fairness into our taxation system.
  • Securing adequate incomes for all: We have seen positive steps taken by the Scottish Government as it has started to deliver social security assistance. However, Covid-19 has highlighted that this support must not only be dignified, but should help deliver an adequate income too. The Scottish Government must use its powers creatively and to their fullest extent to ensure that our social security system can keep any one of us afloat during difficult times.

Even at this moment of crisis we must begin the task of investing in a better future, to ‘build back better’, with every policy decision we make helping us move towards a just society that’s in step with our values.

We must not return to the pre-Covid 19 economy that locked so many people into poverty.

The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery must not, therefore, simply seek to replicate the unsustainable and unjust economy that went before. Instead, it must focus on the steps we can take to create an environmentally sustainable economy that ensures a just distribution of income and wealth. We urge you to task the recently appointed Advisory Group on Economic Recovery with putting social justice at the heart of their work. In doing so the Advisory Group should liaise with the Poverty and Inequality Commission and the Just Transition Commission and collaborate with existing Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partners to show leadership in creating a wellbeing economy.

This time calls on us to reflect on the kind of country we want to live in. We believe in a Scotland in which wealth is justly distributed, our life chances are not determined by how much we earn, where our labour market guarantees Fair Work for every worker, and where everyone has enough money to get by. We hope you share this vision and will take the decisions in the weeks and months ahead to make it a reality.

We would welcome an early discussion with you regarding the role of the Advisory Group, as well as the broader concerns of our members regarding the long-term social and economic reforms we require.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Kelly, The Poverty Alliance
Dr Katherine Trebeck, Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Last week, Yannick Beaudoin spoke on Metro Morning in Toronto. He discusses the wellbeing economy and how we can #BuildBackBetter in the time of COVID19. Have a listen to his segment below.

 

Yannick is the General Director in Ontario and Northern Canada for the David Suzuki Foundation.

You can follow him on Twitter here: @ycbeau

Originally published by Open Democracy 

Written by: Amanda Janoo and Gemma Bone Dodds

_________

As world leaders scramble to limit the spread of COVID-19 and save millions of lives, we are increasingly hearing concerns regarding how social distancing and lockdown measures will impact the economy.

Governments and economic commentators fear a “stock market crash” and a “recession worse than 2009”, and are developing economic stimulus plans accordingly. But using GDP and stock market values as a barometer of economic health is misguided. The existing policy landscape is constrained by economic ideas and tools built for another time.

In this moment, our economic policies must be oriented towards meeting basic needs, promoting essential activities and facilitating a ‘Great Pause’ while we figure out to overcome this global pandemic. There is no longer an economic status quo available to us. What does this mean in practice?

1. The stock market is not a reflection of our economic reality

Stock market values are often used as a measure of economic vitality because they are meant to anticipate future monetary values. The problem of course is that no one knows what the future will look like. Therefore, now more than ever, the stock market has only the narrowest ability to reflect the real world and is therefore not a good guide for us in these times. If policy makers want to avoid a financial collapse, they should seriously consider shutting down the stock market for a period to limit run-away, anxiety-ridden trading. Or at least ensure that any Quantitative Easing or liquidity injections are based on a quid pro quo that cancels debts for businesses and citizens.

2. We will enter a recession – and that’s okay

When you hear policy markers fearing a recession, this means they are fearing that GDP will fall for at least two consecutive quarters. As the economist Frances Coppola has argued, “recession is the wrong word, because it implies this is bad. Better to call it ‘protective contraction’. We need a huge drop in GDP”.

If we learn one thing in all of this, it is that we are the economy. As we take a moment to stand still, the economy equally becomes more still. Our tendency to move, gather and work together are fundamental drivers of the economy. As millions stay at home to protect themselves and others, the economy will contract. Doing anything other than reducing economic activity right now would be putting our collective wellbeing in danger. GDP will drop during this time, and that’s okay.

And remember: just because the economy is not growing does not mean that we cannot ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met. Now more than ever we need to recognise that the economy is the system by which we provide for one another. A system that can and should provide for what our families and societies need most.

3. Economic policies for a ‘Great Pause’

During this period of crisis, we must abandon the old metrics of economic progress and listen to what people need. Economic policy responses must be swift and strategic and focus on meeting everyone’s basic needs and safeguarding essential parts of the economy. Combined, policies must enable a ‘Great Pause’: allowing us to bunker down, buy time, and keep ourselves and others safe while we focus on ensuring equitable access to health, food, housing, income, while enabling businesses (especially SMEs) to pause their operations until we have a handle on COVID-19.

Make no mistake, such policies will require significant public expenditures and we must implement strategies now to ensure that the economic costs are paid by those who are able to afford it. We cannot repeat the mistakes made following the 2009 economic recession and allow for governments to balance budgets through toxic austerity measures.

This is a unique moment for global solidarity, as only a globally coordinated response can combat this pandemic. Now is the time to go into offshore bank accounts, to close tax loopholes and to generate a global relief fund so that we do not allow this crisis to further consolidate wealth into the hands of the few. As we work to protect those closest to home, we must not forget that no country alone can combat a pandemic. We are all in this together.

4. Building back better

As we secure lives and livelihoods, we can take the opportunity of this ‘Great Pause’ to learn and reflect on what is truly important to us. And instead of rebuilding a broken system, we must consider the policies required to build back better so that our economy delivers social and ecological wellbeing.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn from the complete disruption of the economic status quo. We have known for some time that the 21st century obsession with growth creates extreme inequality and environmental degradation, but we haven’t yet found a way to create a path to something different.

This is a time to ask important questions – what is important to us when our very lives are under threat? What have we found that actually, we can live without? Where have we found meaning, and connection? What do we realise we have taken for granted and what can live without? What do we need our economy to deliver so that we can all live meaningful and fulfilling lives?

We have already seen how many of the workers who have been kept in poverty wages and economic precarity are actually the most critical for our collective wellbeing. Healthcare workers, farmers, grocery clerks, delivery drivers and caregivers have become the heroes of our day. Meanwhile, this moment of pause has brought increasing clarity to the things we value most, we now see how valuable (in every sense of the world) food, health, income security, education, mobility, access to nature, social connection and public services are to us.

This Great Pause gives us the time to consider how we can build an economy on these foundations. We must not return to business as usual, looking to financial markets and GDP growth figures for guidance. Economic policies must be oriented towards protecting and promoting the economic activities that are essential for social and environmental wellbeing. We have an opportunity to build back better.

The shape of the new economy is not a distant, dry set of policies. It is something we are living in and exploring right now. Let’s be present, move forward with compassion and explore the shape of things to come.

We invite interested people to engage in the conversation at WellbeingEconomy.org.

The BBC has done an in-depth report on Iceland’s ambitions to build a wellbeing economy as part of the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative (alongside Scotland and New Zealand).

Watch the report here to learn some lessons from Iceland on how we can move forward:

Photo by Matt Hardy from Pexels

 

This is an event report from the first in-person workshop of the ‘What’s the Story?’ project, held in London (UK) on Friday 6 March 2020.

‘What’s the Story?’ emerged as a collaborative effort instigated by WEAll and our members the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), and executed by The Spaceship Earth. Its goal is to create the space for new economy stories to spur the co-design of a wellbeing economy. The event in London on March 6 was the first ‘creative design sprint’ in this story crafting process.

By Anna Chrysopoulou

‘What’s the story?’ by Friday Future Love was an innovative, challenge-based experience to turn thinking into ideas with the participation of a diverse audience including artists, photographers, graphic designers, ad creatives, TV producers and marketers.

As outlined on the day, current issues such as climate and ecological emergency, and rising inequalities are linked by “old stories about our economy, which have given us absurd beliefs, deeply rooted on our culture, that demand unfit policies which sustain those stories”.

So, our economic system on its present form is a real Catch-22. It is urgent, therefore, to have a new approach by “creating new stories, that gives us good beliefs, so we demand proper policies and design a better economy for all life”.

It’s now time to reflect:

  • How do we relate to nature?
  • What is our economy’s priority?
  • How should we measure success?

These questions were thoroughly discussed by the attendees who all agreed on the importance of reconnecting with our natural environment, recognising that not only are humans part of nature, but nature is also part of us. It was suggested we should change the rewards mechanisms and find alternatives to our perception of success. For instance, success could be considered to reduce the use of materials, costs and time, to have a 6-hour working day, or achieve building a more local economy.

This discussion led to the next challenge: find new concepts and explore more deeply how these could be formed and communicated.

What would the outcome of this challenge be when creative people are in the same room? New stories, of course!

Imagine a new sci-fi series showing humans connecting with each other and nature by using a chip; a ‘Good Ancestor Fund’, where part of one’s salary could go to converting land into a forest for the benefit of future generations. Think of ‘reclaiming the bank holiday’ when families could spend time together planting trees; the introduction of a parallel pricing system showing the monetary worth of the true value of a product taking into consideration the loss of natural resources. An exhibition where the audience could look back on what went wrong in order to avoid the same actions in the future; a new myth where the tooth fairy does not replace the lost tooth with money, but the tooth has to be planted. Finally, think of a concept when we should ensure that everyone has enough of what is needed, or a dinner where guests represent a certain percentage of the population in terms of economic worth and meals are served proportionately.

All these ideas expressed by this brilliant audience lead to the conclusion that a gathering of like-minded individuals can create fantastic new stories, and Fridays are indeed for people and the planet!

The government of Canberra in Australia has introduced a new 12-point wellbeing framework in order to “make Canberra an even more liveable city where our entire community can thrive.”

This encouraging step towards building a wellbeing economy is based on a broad understanding of wellbeing. The official government website act.gov.au/wellbeing explains the plans as follows:

“Definitions of wellbeing are typically broad and diverse, encompassing a wide range of areas that impact on an individual’s quality of life. Generally, having the opportunity and ability to lead lives of personal and community value – with qualities such as good health, time to enjoy the things in life that matter, in an environment that promotes personal growth – are at the heart of wellbeing.

When talking about individual wellbeing, we often speak to a person’s physical and mental health, the strength of connections they share with people around them, or their financial position. More expansive indicators of wellbeing can be a person’s relationship to their surroundings, such as their safety, their capacity to enjoy and live in harmony with the natural and built environment, or their ability to be mobile in their community. These aspects of wellbeing are not independent of each other. They operate together and influence one another, creating complex relationships that are in turn shaped by an individual’s lived experience.

Our vitality as a city is the result of the various lived experiences across the community. Ultimately, feeling healthy and happy will mean different things to different people. Capturing all these aspects of a person’s lived experience can be inherently complex. Before attempting to measure the wellbeing of our community, we have spoken with and heard from thousands of Canberrans about what they feel is most important to their own, their family’s, and their community’s quality of life.”

Wellbeing flower

Find out more on the ACT government website here.

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is thrilled to welcome three new members to the amp team this week. Anna Chrysopoulou and Usman Tufail will be based in Glasgow along with many of the other team members, and Amanda Janoo will be based in Vermont (after spending her first few weeks with the team in Glasgow too!)

We asked them to tell us a bit more about themselves and why they’re excited to work with WEAll:

Anna Chrysopoulou, Advocacy Officer

“I was studying Economics at the University of Athens when my first questions about our current economic system and its impact on the environment arose for me.

I moved from Greece to Edinburgh, UK to study Ecological Economics, trying to find those answers. My interest in political ecology, community empowerment, and exercising practices that place people and the planet ahead of profit makes me passionate about working with WEALL. I’ve been volunteering with WEAll Scotland for several months now, it’s been a fantastic way to get actively involved in building a wellbeing economy.

Being surrounded by like-minded team members is inspiring – more than ever I’m convinced that not only is system change urgent, but also feasible! ”

 

Amanda Janoo, Knowledge and Policy Lead

“I just got my dream job! Much of my life has been spent searching for ways to progressively change our global economy.
I see the world as a giant Venn diagram, with a thousand intertwined parts but towards the centre sits the economy, with its influence rippling throughout the material and spiritual dimensions of our lives. I worked in the sphere of international development for a long time now, trying to reduce the absurd inequality between countries by supporting governments to design transformative economic policies.
The problem was that nearly every government was trying to emulate an American economic development model that is fundamentally unjust and unsustainable.
I am so excited to work with the WEALL community to fundamentally change the way we approach economic policy and systems. I always knew that change comes from a group of committed individuals. I’m super pumped that I found my group and that they believe in me to promote their knowledge and policy work!”

 

Usman Tufail, Digital Lead
“I’ve worked in the creative technology space for over 15 years, most recently working on the use of technology for social good through projects with charities, social enterprises and the Scottish Government.
I’m passionate about the use of technology for work that has a positive social and environmental impact.
WEAll’s work is aligned with that and I’m excited about the part I can play in driving our ambition for a wellbeing economy that benefits all.”

 

A new report from the Global Solutions Initiative strongly urges G20 countries to assess wellbeing and environmental metrics alongside GDP.

The organisation is a key advisor to the G20, and it has also developed a new Recoupling Dashboard which is intended to offer a new measurement of wellbeing beyond GDP.

The report state that there is an urgent need for all nations to use the dashboard to dramatically increase their focus on social prosperity, as a key tool in the fightback against growing political extremism across advanced economies.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian to mark the launch of the report, Dennis Snower (President of Global Solutions Initiative) said: “The financial crisis of 2008 made all these issues much more salient. Lots of people are now saying ‘I’m sorry but this system sucks’.

“In addition to being materially prosperous, we need empowerment and agency – that is the ability to shape our destiny through our own efforts – and we need solidarity – that is we need to be embedded within our social circles.”

The new dashboard finds that Wellbeing Economy Government (WEGo) countries Iceland and New Zealand perform well, as does Finland. India, China and Mexico are among the worst performers, but the USA “dramatically underperforms its levels of GDP per capita”, according to the Guardian.

Its creators say that the dashboard “sheds light on the decoupling of societies and provides an empirical basis for mobilizing action in government, business and civil society to promote a recoupling of economic and social progress.”

 

Please see exclusive Guardian coverage of the report launch here

Find out more about the dashboard and report here

The Edelman Trust Barometer has been measuring public trust in institutions for over 20 years. Its new 2020 report reveals that a “sense of unfairness in the system” is driving lack of trust in governments, businesses, NGOs and the media.

More than half of respondents globally believe that capitalism in its current form is now doing more harm than good in the world.

Edelman describes a mood of fear over hope, with 83 percent of employees saying they fear losing their job.

The barometer also found that “trust is undeniably linked to doing what is right.” Edelman said:  “After tracking 40 global companies over the past year through our Edelman Trust Management framework, we’ve learned that ethical drivers such as integrity, dependability and purpose drive 76 percent of the trust capital of business, while competence accounts for only 24 percent.”

These responses send a clear message that the current economic system is not working for people. It’s time for a wellbeing economy: these latest Edelman Trust Barometer findings simply underscore the urgency of the need for change.

Find out more on the Edelman site here.

From NHS Health Scotland website

NHS Health Scotland welcomes the First Minister’s move to prioritise a wellbeing approach to Scotland’s economy.

The economy plays an important role in our health and wellbeing because we know that poverty and income inequalities are major causes of health inequalities. Redesigning the economy with equality of outcomes for all, to ensure everyone is able to participate fully in society, is fundamental to improving health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities.

NHS Health Scotland therefore supports the new Public Health Priorities, including the development of a sustainable and inclusive economy which puts the health and welfare of people and communities first. This work will continue in Scotland’s new lead agency for improving and protecting health and wellbeing, Public Health Scotland, from the 1st of April.

Gerry McCartney, Head of the Scottish Public Health Observatory, NHS Health Scotland said:

“Public health isn’t often the first thing you thing you think of when talking about the economy. But, public health in Scotland is changing and we must do things differently across all the factors that have an influence on our health.

“Living in poverty is hard and damaging to our health. Having sufficient money is one of the many things that matters to health, along with being socially connected, feeling safe and secure, living comfortably and access to sustainable services. All of these are at the centre of a wellbeing economy and are part of the inclusive right to health.

“Moving towards a wellbeing economy where health, wellbeing and people-led outcomes are the drivers for all policies is a needed shift for everyone to have a fair chance to thrive. It’s a welcome change that puts the wellbeing of people in Scotland first and GDP second. When people are well and thriving, so will the economy. ”

Sarah Deas, Trustee, Wellbeing Economy Alliance (Scotland) said:

“A wellbeing economy is one that delivers for people and planet. Our current economic system is not doing this – it is creating physical and mental health issues. We have designed the economy this way, so we can redesign it with a different purpose; that of collective wellbeing.  We welcome NHS Health Scotland’s support for systems change such that the economy delivers good lives for people first-time around, rather than requiring so much effort to patch things up.”

WEAll Scotland’s Wealth of Nations 2.0 event, held in Edinburgh last week, didn’t just energise the packed out room – it generated buzz across Scotland and beyond about wellbeing economy ideas.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered a groundbreaking speech where she declared that Scotland must “redefine what success means as a nation”, and endorsed the approach of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. Along with Iceland and New Zealand, Scotland is leading the pioneering Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative. You can read the full text of her speech here.

Sturgeon’s words, and the messages of the conference, generated extensive media interest. Here’s a roundup of the coverage so far:

Have we missed some coverage? Share links in the comments below!

Photo by brotiN biswaS from Pexels

 

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) today overwhelmingly adopted an ‘own-initiative opinion’ on the sustainable and inclusive wellbeing economy that Europe needs. It calls on the EU ‘for a new vision of prosperity’, developed in close collaboration with WEAll Ambassador and CUSP director Tim Jackson as Expert to the Rapporteur.

See more from the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP)

Wellbeing economy language and ideas are central to the opinion, which called for a ‘new vision of prosperity for people and planet based on the principles of environmental sustainability, the right to a decent life and the protection of social values’.

Professor  Tim Jackson has worked closely with the EESC over the last year to help craft the opinion. He was appointed by the Committee as expert to the rapporteur early last year and took a lead role on drafting (and re-drafting) the opinion in the intervening months.

“I’m absolutely delighted by today’s vote,” said Prof Jackson. “It lays the foundations for a far-reaching transformation of Europe’s economic vision for the future.”

The Committee highlighted that building the wellbeing economy must start by adopting ‘a precautionary approach in which macroeconomic stability does not depend on GDP growth’ and proposed the development of new indicators of economic performance and social progress.

Its detailed proposals include a review of the EU’s fiscal and monetary rules, an end to perverse subsidies and action ‘to address hyper-consumerism’ across Europe. It also proposed the adoption of a Living Standards Framework and the introduction of a Wellbeing Budget for the EU.

What does the ‘opinion’ call for?

  • The EESC underlines that the European Union (EU) has fully committed itself to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To guarantee their proper implementation the EU urgently needs to develop the foundations for a sustainable and inclusive wellbeing economy that works for everyone.
  • The vision of social progress only relying on the pursuit of growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ignores important elements of individual and social wellbeing and fails to account properly for environmental and social considerations.
  • The EESC calls for the EU to propose a new vision of prosperity for people and planet based on the principles of environmental sustainability, the right to a decent life and the protection of social values. The economy is an enabler for this vision.
  • The wellbeing economy should protect ecosystems, conserve biodiversity and deliver a just transition to a climate neutral way of life across the EU and foster sustainable entrepreneurship. Educational systems across the EU will play a key role in promoting such concepts across society, thus inscribing in them the way of thinking of the decision-makers and leaders of tomorrow.
  • To achieve this goal, the EESC recognises the need to support the fundamental changes that have already begun to emerge in the nature of enterprise, the organisation of work, the role of investment and the structure of the money system.
  • The EESC highlights that building the wellbeing economy must start by adopting a precautionary approach in which macroeconomic stability does not depend on GDP growth. It proposes the development of new indicators of economic performance and social progress beyond GDP.
  • The EESC proposes the adoption of a Living Standards Framework and the introduction of a Wellbeing Budget for the EU, modelled on approaches already adopted elsewhere.
  • The EESC calls for an end to perverse subsidies and for the alignment of all public sector spending across the EU and its Member States with the goal of achieving climate neutrality.
  • The EESC calls for a European Green and Social Deal to deliver the large-scale investment needed for a just transition to a climate neutral economy and to provide quality jobs in every community.
  • The EESC calls on the Commission and the Member States to carry out green fiscal reform to help align taxation, subsidies and pre-distributive policies with the goal of achieving a just transition to a wellbeing economy, in particular by enforcing existing legislation.
  • The EESC proposes a review of the growth dependency of the EU Member States and a strategy to focus on sustainable and inclusive wellbeing in the EU economy. It also recommends a review of the EU’s fiscal and monetary rules to ensure they are fit for purpose in achieving the transition to a climate-neutral economy.
  • The EESC calls for all existing EU policy and budgetary/financial frameworks and tools (such as the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the European Semester and Better Regulation) to be urgently aligned with a just transition to a wellbeing economy.
  • The EESC proposes the adaptation of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Annual Growth Survey to ensure that the wellbeing economy is fully consistent with the SDGs and the European Pillar of Social Rights.

See the full text and find out more here

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

WEAll Scotland hosts its second large scale event – Wealth of Nations 2.0 – in Edinburgh today.

The conference will be addressed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and attended by experts and practitioners working to transform the economic system from across Scotland.

Ahead of her speech, Nicola Sturgeon has issued a clear statement that “wellbeing is as important as economic growth” and that Scotland must “redefine what success means”. Read about her commitment to building a wellbeing economy in this BBC coverage.

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck has written in today’s Herald newspaper about the significance of the conference and the urgent need for governments and all of us to take action in order to transform the economic system. She says that “Scotland also has a role to play on the world stage, demonstrating that humanity can determine economics instead of the other way around.”

In The Times, Head of Oxfam Scotland Jamie Livingstone writes about the injustice of unpaid care, and why valuing caregivers should be a litmus test of whether we are succeeding in building a wellbeing economy. Oxfam Scotland is one of the key partners and sponsors of the Wealth of Nations 2.0 event. Earlier this week they launched important new research into the value of unpaid care in Scotland.

Keep up with the Wealth of Nations 2.0 event as it happens by following @WEAllScotland on Twitter. This page will be updated with further media coverage as it emerges.

 

What exactly is a wellbeing economy and how can we put it into practice?

What are the options and what is the path that makes sense in each particular business context?

‘The Business of Wellbeing: a guide to the alternatives to business as usual’ is a new publication launched today by WEAll. It aims to answer these questions, and to inspire decision makers at small- to mid-sized organisations to explore the wellbeing economy space.

It includes:

  • Analysis of the dimensions businesses need to deal with when trying to contribute to building a wellbeing economy, from leadership to accounting for impact;
  • Case studies of pioneering businesses to inspire what’s possible;
  • Expert views on how to navigate transformation;
  • A self-assessment tool to help decision makers plan their next steps.

The guide was created through a participatory process, with a steering group of business and wellbeing economy experts.

Ten stakeholder interviews were carried out to gather input from different solutions providers and to give us insights on challenges facing decision makers.

The guide doesn’t aim to give a complete overview of solutions – but it does shine a spotlight on a selection of those we believe could be useful on your journey.

The guide was facilitated and co-designed with SenseTribe Consulting.

Download the PDF guide here – or explore extracts in our dedicated Business of Wellbeing web portal.