This piece was originally published by UN Association 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) speak to an agenda that is familiar the world over, even though different terms might be used to describe the key ideas: quality of life, flourishing for all people and sustainability for the planet. These ideas are increasingly coalescing around the notion of wellbeing, in all its dimensions.

This shared vision for a better way of doing things can be found across a range of sources. It is embedded in the scripts of many religions. It is contained in the world views of First Nations communities. It can be read in the scholarship of development experts and in research findings about what makes people content. This vision echoes in evidence from psychology about human needs and from neuroscience about what makes our brains react. Perhaps most importantly, it can be heard loud and clear in deliberative conversations with people all over the world about what really matters to them. It is set out in the 17 SDGs, and perhaps is best captured by the overriding mantra of ‘leave no one behind’.

An economy that leaves people behind
This is a call to ensure that everyone is included, that no one is marginalised. ‘Leave no one behind’ implies that it is the system, our collective institutions and their interactions, which does the ‘leaving’ – not that it is those left behind who are to blame. Taking this system-wide viewpoint enables a conversation about the interconnected nature of people’s opportunities and conceptualisations of development, how they interact with the environment, and how shifts in one sphere have consequences in the other. In the worst-case scenario, these interactions can spark spirals that devastate lives, threaten human rights and undermine peace.

The systemic nature of these processes means that it is inadequate to keep plastering over “wounds caused by inequality by building more prisons, hiring more police and prescribing more drugs” (as Danny Dorling puts it in his book Injustice: Why Social Inequality Still Persists). Expenditure on such items is a grave testament to the failure to help people flourish and enjoy quality of life. This tally is even higher when one looks at the expenditure necessitated by environmental breakdown – cleaning up after climate-change-induced flooding or storms, treating asthma exacerbated by toxic particles in the air, and buying bottled water when rivers and streams are polluted.

Of course, such expenditures are the preserve of those fortunate enough to have the resources to spend. Environmental breakdown hits those without such resources the hardest due to their increased vulnerability. People’s ability to escape from sources of toxicity and risk is determined by whether they can command access to uncontaminated, safer land and food sources, or if they are among the great numbers of those who must make do with what is left.

The vulnerability of those who are least to blame reflects the unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunity: economic resources are as unequally shared as the impact resulting from plunder of natural ones.

An unequally shared harvest
One of the best-regarded authorities on economic inequality is the World Inequality Report. The 2018 publication revealed that in recent decades income inequality, measured by the top 10 per cent’s share of income, is getting worse in almost all parts of the world. Statistics compiled by Credit Suisse show that the richest one per cent own as much wealth as the rest of the world. The gap between the real incomes of people in the Global North compared to those in the Global South has expanded by approximately three times since 1960. Taking the broader definition of poverty adopted by Peter Edward’s ‘ethical poverty line’ (identifying the income threshold below which life expectancy rapidly falls, currently $7.40 a day) as many as 4.3 billion people live in poverty.

Those GDP-rich economies that most epitomise the current economic model provide some of the starkest evidence that the prevailing system distributes inadequately. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that 81 per cent of the US population is in an income bracket which experienced flat or declining income over the last decade. The figure is 97 per cent in Italy, 70 per cent in Britain and 63 per cent in France. People living in GDP-rich countries are struggling to get by. In the UK, for example, the use of food banks has risen dramatically in recent years.

Those who reap most of the rewards of this system are also those putting the planet in most danger. On climate change, figures published by Our World In Data show that the richest countries (high and upper–middle income countries) emit 86 per cent of global CO2 emissions. In the UK, emissions are strongly correlated with income, while in the US, the richest 10 per cent have a carbon footprint three times that of people in the poorest 10 per cent of incomes.

Rebuilding the system
It is not unusual to hear people who are concerned about the state of the world pointing to the levels of inequality. They cite the lack of sufficient job quality, bemoan the plunder of the planet and declare that the economic system is ‘broken’.

But if one peers beneath the symptoms, it becomes apparent that the root cause of so much of this is directly due to how the economy is currently and proactively designed. Our economic system does not sufficiently account for nature, is blind to distribution of resources, and elevates measures of progress that encompass perverse incentives (such as short-term profit and GDP at the expense of human wellbeing).

The system is not broken: it is doing what it was set up to do. The roots of inequality and environmental breakdown are found in a heady mix of institutions, processes and power relations that shape allocation of risk and reward. Decisions taken over many years by successive governments have resulted in: inadequate minimum wage levels and inadequate social protection; different rates of tax on income compared to capital; relatively low rates of top income tax (particularly in the UK and US compared to other OECD countries, and compared to previous levels); loopholes inserted in legislation that enabled tax avoidance; undermining of unions’ scope to collectively bargain and fight for workers’ pay and conditions; narrow ownership of many firms; and corporate governance that fixates on short-term profit.

The same system dynamics are seen in the links between inequality and environmental impact. These links arise through: the pressure to consume status items to maintain the appearance of wealth; the consumption patterns of the richest; the way inequality undermines collective efforts to protect environmental commons; and the break that inequality exerts on pro-environmental policies. These structures are deliberate, even though the side effects may not be. Although they stretch back many decades (centuries even), they can be dismantled and designed differently.

Building a wellbeing economy
The patterns highlighted above suggest that while the vision might be to leave no one behind, today’s reality is that some might be too far ahead – hoarding economic resources and doing much damage to natural ones. This arrangement is a construct that reflects political decisions and choices by enterprises.

A wellbeing economy can be built that would deliver good lives for people from the beginning, rather than requiring so much effort to patch things up, to cope and recover after the damage is done, and to redistribute what is unevenly shared. A wellbeing economy can be achieved by reorienting goals and expectations for business, politics and society.

A wellbeing economy is one that is regenerative, that is cooperative and collaborative, and that is purposeful. It will have equal opportunity at its core: not simply by meekly redistributing as best one can the outcomes from an unequal economic system, but by structuring the economy so that better sharing of resources, wealth and power is built in. For example, it would entail:

  • regenerated ecosystems and extended global commons;
  • a circular economy serving needs rather than driving consumption from production;
  • people feeling safe and healthy in their communities, mitigating the need for vast expenditure on treating, healing and fixing;
  • switching to renewables, generated by local communities or public agencies wherever possible;
  • democratic economic management (in terms of power, scale and ownership);
  • participatory, deliberative democracy with governments responsive to citizens;
  • purpose-driven businesses with social and environmental aims in their DNA, using true-cost accounting;
  • economic security for all, and wealth, income, time and power fairly distributed, rather than relying on redistribution;
  • jobs that deliver meaning and purpose and means for a decent livelihood;
  • recognising and valuing care, health and education in the ‘core’ economy outside the market; and
  • focusing on measures of progress that reflect real value creation.

A growing movement is forming around the idea of such an economy. It comprises academics laying out the evidence base, businesses harnessing commercial activities to deliver on social and environmental goals, and communities working together not for monetary reward, but following the innate human instincts to be together, to cooperate and collaborate. Such efforts will be made so much easier as pioneering policymakers are emboldened to step away from the constraints imposed by a 20th century vision of ‘development as GDP’. Instead, they must embrace a new agenda for the 21st century – an economy geared up to deliver human and ecological wellbeing. This work bodes well for the creation of a world in which no one is left behind.

Last week’s edition of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’, the podcast about ideas by Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd, focused on building wellbeing economies.

Looking at New Zealand’s recent wellbeing budget as well as what might be possible in the UK and elsewhere, the podcast included interviews with: New Zealand Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Annie Quick of the New Economics Foundation (NEF), academic Bronwyn Hayward and former UK Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell. Annie and Bronwyn are both members of WEAll, and all contributors to the podcast give in-depth analyses of what’s needed to build a wellbeing economy. There’s an important discussion too about the need to distinguish between subjective and collective wellbeing, with Annie Quick in particular making a great case for system change and looking at root causes in all their complexity (we agree Annie!)

Listen here now (56 mins): https://play.acast.com/s/reasonstobecheerful/b9dd227d-a3f1-4f3a-b242-d4125bf7ebeb

WEAll’s Chair Stewart Wallis is a proud signatory of an open letter this week in The Guardian, calling for the next Bank of England Governor to serve the whole of society.

Stewart’s endorsement comes alongside that of 94 other leaders inlcuding many WEAll members, Ambassadors and friends.

See the whole letter below and in the Guardian here.

“94 academics and representatives of civil society organisations call for Mark Carney’s successor to be someone who will foster a pluralistic policymaking culture
Mark Carney
 ‘The next governor must build on Mark Carney’s legacy,’ say the signatories to this letter. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Eleven o’clock on Wednesday evening is the deadline for applicants to put themselves forward to be the next governor of the Bank of England. Candidates are asked to commit to an eight-year term lasting until 2028. By then the world will be a very different place. Three key trends will shape their time in post.

First, environmental breakdown is the biggest threat facing the planet. The next governor must build on Mark Carney’s legacy, and go even further to act on the Bank’s warnings by accelerating the transition of finance away from risky fossil fuels. Second, rising inequality, fuelled to a significant extent by monetary policy, has contributed to a crisis of trust in our institutions. The next governor must be open and honest about the trade-offs the Bank is forced to make, and take a critical view of how its policies impact on wider society. Third, the UK economy is increasingly unbalanced and skewed towards asset price inflation. Banks pour money into bidding up the value of pre-existing assets, with only £1 in every £10 they lend supporting non-financial firms. The next governor must seriously consider introducing measures to guide credit away from speculation towards productive activities.

As the world around it changes, the function of the Bank itself must evolve. Its current mandate and tools are increasingly coming into question, and a future government may assign the Bank with a new mission. The next governor must meet this with an open mind, not seek to preserve the status quo. To equip the Bank to meet the challenges of the future, the new governor will also need to ensure it benefits from a greater diversity of backgrounds, experience and perspectives throughout the organisation. The Bank of England’s own stated purpose is to promote the good of the people. We need a governor genuinely committed to serving the whole of society, not just financial markets.

Fran Boait Positive Money
Josh Ryan-Collins UCL IIPP
John Sauven Greenpeace UK
Tom Kibasi IPPR
Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)
Will Hutton Author and academic
Patrick Allen Progressive Economy Forum
Faiza Shaheen Class
Ann Pettifor Prime Economics
Kate Raworth University of Oxford
Christopher Pissarides London School of Economics
Yanis Varoufakis University of Athens
Prem Sikka University of Sheffield
Danny Dorling University of Oxford
Asad Rehman War on Want
Guy Standing Soas
David Hillman Stamp Out Poverty
Catherine Howarth ShareAction
Maeve Cohen Rethinking Economics
Jonathan Michie University of Oxford
Natalie Sharples Health Poverty Action
Joe Guinan The Democracy Collaborative
Nick Dearden Global Justice Now
Steve Keen UCL Institute for Strategy, Resilience & Security
Jason Hickel Goldsmiths, University of London
Tony Greenham Royal Society of Arts
Johnna Montgomerie Kings College London
John Weeks Soas
Frances Coppola Financial commentator and author
Dimitri Zenghelis Cambridge University
Rick Van Der Ploeg University of Oxford
Molly Scott Cato University of Roehampton
Ben Carpenter Social Value UK
Philippe Aghion London School of Economics
Felix Fitzroy St Andrews
Marianne Sensier University of Manchester
Christine Cooper University of Edinburgh
Elisa Van Waeyenberge Soas
Roberto Veneziani Queen Mary University of London
Andrew Denis City University
Stewart Lansley University of Bristol
Dimitris Sotiropoulos Open University UK
Ulrich Volz Soas
Panicos Demetriades University of Leicester
Maria Nikolaidi University of Greenwich
Julia Steinberger University of Leeds
Sue Konzelmann Birkbeck University
Roger Seifert Wolverhampton Business School
Ozlem Onaran University of Greenwich
Neil Lancastle De Monfort University
Yannis Dafermos University of the West of England
Alberto Botta University of Greenwich
David Tyfield Lancaster University
Kate Pickett University of York
Philip Haynes University of Brighton
Richard Wilkinson University of Nottingham
Peter Sweatman Climate Strategy & Partners
David Graeber LSE
Richard Murphy City University
John Christensen Tax Justice UK
Anna Laycock Finance Innovation Lab
Colin Hines Green New Deal Group
Sarah-Jayne Clifton Jubilee Debt Campaign
Line Christensen Jubilee Scotland
Stewart Wallis Wellbeing Economy Alliance
Benjamin Braun Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG)
Fiona Dove The Transnational Institute
Annelise Riles Buffett Institute for Global Studies
Ellen Brown Public Banking Institute
Johan Frijns Banktrack
Benoît Lallemand Finance Watch
Joshua Farley International Society for Ecological Economics
Ole Bjerg Copenhagen Business School
Stephany Griffith-Jones Columbia University
David Boyle The New Weather Institute
Mark Blyth Brown University
Bernard Barthalay Université Lumière (Lyon)
Giorgos Kallis Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Jean-Marc Ferry Alliance Europa
Joseph Huber Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
Ladislau Dowbor Catholic University of São Paulo
Livio Di Matteo Lakehead University
Marc Lavoie University of Ottawa
Mark Sanders Utrecht University
Sergio Rossi University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Michel Lepetit The Shift Project
Dirk Ehnts Technical University of Chemnitz
Johann Walter Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen
Steven Hail University of Adelaide
Ludovic Desmedt University of Burgundy
Terrence McDonough National University of Ireland Galway
Rodrigo Fernandez Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)
Jean Luc de Meulemeester The Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management”

New Zealand has been making headlines this week after announcing its new Wellbeing Budget.

The government of New Zealand says it is “is committed to putting people’s wellbeing and the environment at the heart of its policies, including reporting against a wider set of wellbeing indicators in future Budgets.”

The official website of the New Zealand Government goes on to state:

“The Budget provides an annual opportunity to review New Zealand’s performance across some high-level indicators, place the Government’s programme within the context of the economic and fiscal outlook, set out the Government’s strategy for the future and draw links to specific actions that have been, or will be, taken.

Budget 2019: The Wellbeing Budget, will broaden the Budget’s focus beyond economic and fiscal policy by using the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework to inform the Government’s investment priorities and funding decisions. The Government will measure and report against a broader set of indicators to show a more rounded measure of success, as a country and as a Government. This will be supported by Budget processes that facilitate evidence-based decisions and deliver the Government’s objectives in a cost-effective way. The Wellbeing Budget represents an important step towards embedding wellbeing in New Zealand’s public policy.”

Find out more about the budget on the website here.

Read The Guardian article about the new budget here.

New Zealand is one of the founding members of the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative, alongside Scotland and Iceland.

Major international news outlets Reuters and The New York Times are today running a story looking at the new economy movement, including perspectives from WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck and a number of other leaders in the wellbeing economy movement.

“The science is in: the endless pursuit of economic growth is devouring the foundations of life on Earth, and no country – rich or poor – can expect to escape dire consequences if things go on as they are. So how might the world change course?” asks journalist Matthew Green in the groundbreaking piece.

Read the full article on Reuters and New York Times.

This Europe Day, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance is proud to support a pan-European campaign for a Sustainability and Wellbeing Pact, led by our member the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

An open letter (click to download PDF – full text also below), demanding that the EU prioritises wellbeing over growth, has been signed by over 200 experts across the continent and received media coverage in 16 countries today.

WEAll members and Ambassadors are amongst the signatories, including WEAll co-founder and Ambassador Professor Kate Pickett, who says: “Nothing is more important for Europe than system change to make sustainable wellbeing our number one priority – it’s time to act and make the transition we all so badly need.”

Coverage in: The Ecologist, The National

The full text of the open letter:

What Europe needs is a Sustainability and Wellbeing Pact

The echo from the streets of Europe and beyond is ‘system change, not climate change’. When climate activist Greta Thunberg met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, she told him to talk to the experts, but what should they say?

We, system change experts from academia, civil society and cities, have some answers. Last autumn, a group of 238 scientists and 90.000 citizens asked for an end to Europe’s growth dependency and at a Growth in Transition conference in Vienna we made this more concrete. We look beyond increasing GDP towards a positive plan for a post-growth economy.

Our three key leverage points on HOW to launch a transition towards a thriving society within planetary boundaries advise policy-makers at European, national, regional and municipal levels on ways to confront the still worsening triple crisis of climate change, mass extinction and inequality.

Let’s be honest. Neither the Paris Agreement nor the Aichi Biodiversity Targets nor the current tax regimes are capable of dealing with these existential threats. As a group of scientists just wrote in Science: “The current measures for protecting the climate and biosphere are deeply inadequate”.

Deep changes are not only needed, but also wanted. A recent and massive poll taken all over Europe showed that a majority of Europeans now consider that the environment should be a priority even at the expense of growth.

Broad agreement was found on three major systemic changes. These three leaps are not excluding other solutions, but they all three are urgent, possible, needed, wanted and game-changing. They do require a visionary mindset and a can-do attitude. They require a mindshift away from incremental thinking, the mindset that has brought us to this point of crisis.

1) Dethrone King GDP, crown Queen WELLBEING

People want to thrive in a living world. Policies catering to GDP growth often sacrifice people and planet alike, while policies towards well-being help us heal.

Prosperity without growth is possible. Growth by over-exploitation of resources, safety shortcuts and pollution drive both people and planet to burnouts. Examples from Bhutan to New Zealand and Barcelona show that putting social and environmental progress before GDP really works.

Demands to the European Commission:

  • Turn the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) into a Sustainability and Wellbeing Pact (SWP).
  •  Change from “Jobs, growth and investment“ to “Wellbeing, jobs and sustainability“
  •  Establish a DG for Wellbeing and Future Generations led by the first vice-president

    Demands to countries, regions and municipalities:

  • Create a wellbeing and future generations portfolio at the heart of governance

2) From TAX HAVENS for the few to REDISTRIBUTION for the many

  • Tax wealth more and labour less. Tax pollution progressively and stop subsidizing it.
  • Two post-war decades of +-90% top income tax rates in US & UK became a rate (far) under 50% now. Most EU countries followed, leaving the rich off the hook. As a result, inequality has been rising steadily and a growing feeling of (tax) injustice has spilled into social unrest and populism. The Gilets Jaunes uprising in France showed that you can’t tax pollution without a fair taxation system. Subsidies supporting pollution and resource overuse need to end immediately and pollution/carbon taxes must be used to promote welfare for the poorest.

Demands:

  • Set top income tax rates above 80% for redistribution to low- & middle-income families.
  • Tax air travel for redistribution to better and low to zero-cost public transport1.
  • Launch progressive carbon and resource taxes at the source and redistribute.
  • Provide tax incentives for the use of recycled materials.

 

3) EFFICIENT products are good, SUFFICIENT solutions are great

Efficiency gains are important, but only the beginning of the solution

Social and cultural exclusion can undo efficiency gains. We don’t need to sell more products, we need sufficient solutions that are long-lasting. Some companies already sell the service of having light, instead of the product of a light bulb, reversing the incentive from planned obsolescence to long lasting products. Barcelona’s zero-waste strategy includes advanced separate waste collection systems with smart waste containers to identify users and reduce residual waste as well as boost biowaste catchment – going much further than awareness raising, prevention, and support for reuse.

Demands:

  • Support the development of better business models like the product-service economy.
  • Implement zero waste strategies at all governance levels following the waste management

    hierarchy for operations and extended producers’ responsibility schemes.

  • Decrease the VAT on labour-intensive services such as repairing.
  • Leap from efficiency to sufficiency policies to make sustainable lifestyles the default.

WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy lead Katherine Trebeck appeared on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday, 4 May, to debate economic and climate change issues.

The debate focused on the need to move away from growth-oriented economics.

Listen here (from 1:37:20)

Our friends @HappyCityUK have created the #ThrivingPlacesIndex to show what we need to make everywhere a fair, healthy and sustainable place to live. 

The Thriving Places Index is a new way to look at the strengths and challenges of the place where you live. It shows whether the conditions are in place for people to thrive – in a fair and sustainable way.

The Thriving Places Index asks:

Is this a fair and equal place to live?

Is it sustainable enough so that future generations can flourish?

Are the conditions present for everyone to do well?

 

Created by Happy City, the Thriving Places Index is designed to provide a robust reporting framework that shows the conditions for wellbeing at a local level. It radically challenges the current paradigm that defines progress by purely economic and financial means.

See the results at www.thrivingplacesindex.org/

From 30 April to 2 May, WEAll Scotland Director Una Bartley takes over popular Scottish news and opinion site Bella Caledonia as guest editor.

Una has curated a series of eight new blogs, all written by prominent women in Scotland, exploring the need for and path towards a wellbeing economy.

The links to all blogs will be available below as they go live:

An Economy For the 21st Century – Una Bartley

Financial Investments as if People and Planet Really Mattered – Pauline Hinchion

A Fintech Sector Where People Really Matter – Nicola Anderson

Economics as if Women Mattered  – Anne Meikle

Teaching Economics as if People and Planet Really Mattered – Lovisa Reiche

A Business Model as if People and Planet Really Mattered – Sarah Deas

A Social Policy as if People Really Mattered – Cleo Goodman

Community Energy as if People and Planet Really Mattered – Gillian Wilson

This article was first published by The Herald here.

Building an economy that works for all – Katherine Trebeck, WEAll Knowledge and Policy lead

 

In 1983, Reagan declared that “there are no great limits to growth because there are no limits to human intelligence, imagination and wonder”.

When Reagan uttered those words, students were striking against nuclear weapons. Celebrities were singing that aid and charity from the west would “feed the world”. The scientific community was building an evidence base about hydrofluorocarbons, resulting in political agreement to eradicate their use in order to protect the ozone layer.

Today, students strike against inadequate political response to climate change. Celebrities (and companies) are being called out for tax evasion which undermines state budgets for health and education.

And scientists are not only warning against the 6th mass extinction, but building an evidence base that links between economic growth and environmental impact are real, with any decoupling a case of offshoring production, liable to rebound, and frankly – and unfortunately – just too slow to be a solution.

Community groups and scholars are also pointing to mounting evidence that economic growth and equality of opportunity are not, as was recently suggested on national radio, “two sides of the same coin”. How would that claim sound to communities in Scotland who haven’t seen many drips trickling down from Scotland’s GDP growth in recent decades? Or to people turning to food banks after a shift at work because the economic activity on offer isn’t enabling them to feed their families?

Yet, in spite of such realities, thinking from Reagan’s era lives on. Eleven months ago, a 354-page document was published on behalf of the SNP. The “Sustainable Growth Commission” and its recommendations will be voted on by SNP members at their conference this weekend.

The Commission’s report contains useful and progressive proposals – especially its framing of tax as an investment and welcoming the role of migrants in Scottish life.

But questions could be asked of its underlying premise: turning the pages reveals that it means “sustainable” in the “perpetual” sense of the term, not the “taking into account environmental limits and ensuring the economy regenerates the ecosystem” sense.

The latter doesn’t make for such a catchy title, but would chime better with Scotland’s role in pioneering a new way of understanding economic success. Scotland is already recognising the need to make the economy circular and businesses more inclusive. The Government is broadening the notion of national success away from GDP alone via the National Performance Framework and showing leadership in convening the new Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative.

The report also points to New Zealand’s economy of the last decade or so as something to emulate but turns a blind eye to New Zealand’s concerted efforts to move away from previous growth-ist orientation and instead build a wellbeing economy. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says:

“People look [at our GDP] and say ‘you’re doing OK’. But we have homelessness at staggering rates, ones of the highest rates of youth suicide in the OECD and our mental health and wellbeing is not what it should be. We need to address the societal wellbeing of our nation, not just the economic wellbeing.”

These words could apply to Scotland. We should accompany New Zealand in imagining and creating an economy suited to the environmental realities of our age and which ensures the economy works for all, not just the privileged few.

Perhaps the Growth Commission needs another volume, entitled: “From Growth Orientation to Wellbeing: Building an Economy Really Fit for Scotland’s Future”.Writing that would mean updating Reagan for the 21st Century and using our limitless imaginations, wonder, and human intelligence to build an economy that is better than growth.

‘A Finer Future: creating an economy in service to life’ has been awarded the Silver Nautilus Award in the Ecology & Environment category.

 

This book, by Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, Anders Wijkman and John Fullerton, was published in September 2018 and sets out a blueprint for an inspiring regenerative economy that avoids collapse and works for people and planet (a wellbeing economy!)

For two decades, Nautilus Book Awards has recognised books that transcend barriers of culture, gender, race, and class, and promote conscious living & green values, spiritual growth, wellness & vitality, and positive social change. Last year, Nautilus received entries from 36 US States, and from 12 other nations. Dedicated to excellence and high standards of both message and presentation, the Nautilus programme celebrates books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities and global citizens.

Nautilus Book Awards is held in particular high-regard for recognising and promoting outstanding print books in several dozen genres that nurture positive change to co-create a Better World.

Nautilus is one of the significant Book Award programs that welcomes entries from the full range of the print-publishing spectrum: Author Self-Published, Small Press (2 to 10 books annual & from multiple authors), Small Press-Hybrid, and from Large Publishers. All the books selected as Winners are potent seeds for the growth, coherence, and healing of our culture and world.

The Nautilus Mission is to recognize and celebrate a wide subject-range of Better Books for a Better World.

You can find out more about A Finer Future and order your copy here.

Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy, Carnegie UK Trust

 

One of the most puzzling and important questions for proponents of wellbeing economies is what arguments can we use to convince governments to change their ways? If we could understand their motivations then perhaps we could find a way to bring them closer to delivering on a better society for all? We have much evidence on what binds governments to the current model – electoral cycles and media hostility play significant parts here. But we know far less about what would support them to overcome these barriers and see the value of a wellbeing approach.

I am privileged in my role at Carnegie UK Trust to have been actively involved in wellbeing developments in two jurisdictions (Scotland and Northern Ireland), constituent parts of the UK that have significant devolved powers for primary legislation. Scotland began its journey in 2007 when it launched the National Performance Framework, which it subsequently put into legislation through the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The uninspiring name hides its intention to put wellbeing at the heart of government and move to a system that balances economic, social and environmental outcomes. Northern Ireland has a much newer system, put in place in 2016 but suffering from the current lack of government. But the intention is no less dramatic, to completely reframe the work of government as a system that aims to create wellbeing for all. The other devolved legislature of the UK, Wales, has also taken a wellbeing approach with its world class Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. For a naturally curious Scot, the coincidence was too much to go unnoticed: why would three small devolved governments embark upon an approach that other, larger governments are not willing to risk?

In exploring this question for my new book, Wellbeing and Devolution I found each of the UK’s devolved governments had a specific reason for wanting to put wellbeing at the heart of governance of public services. For Scotland, the problem that wellbeing speaks to is the need for more joined up, efficient public services. For Wales, it is a mechanism to embed sustainable development. For Northern Ireland, with its recent history of conflict, wellbeing is a mechanism for creating a shared vision of the future of the region that focuses on what people need and want for a good life. Only Wales was influenced by Beyond GDP arguments at the outset, though the other two have moved in this direction (with Scotland recently reimagining their framework to connect it to the Sustainable Development Goals).

Despite their different origin stories the three wellbeing frameworks have evolved to have very similar characteristics – each includes a statement of intent putting wellbeing at the heart of the purpose of government, each includes a set of outcomes that make up their vision for wellbeing and each includes a longer list of indicators for measuring progress towards the outcomes. The approaches are far reaching – they cover all government activity, in two cases they are embedded in legislation, in all cases they have been part of a much larger conversation about transforming the work of government to improve lives.

There are learning points here for the international wellbeing movement. The most compelling argument for a government may not be about the economics of growth but lie closer to the day-to-day delivery of public services and political tensions. But the stories from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also show that the origin story doesn’t matter as much as you might think. Regardless of why they were implemented, each wellbeing framework evolved into a much more fundamental shift to a wellbeing approach. Once the need for an overarching framework is established, the logic of balancing economic with social and environmental outcomes in decision making is inescapable. Building systems that prioritise prevention rather than mitigate harm becomes the order of the day. Programmes and activities that have multiple benefits across wellbeing domains begin to be prioritised, and where money flows culture change can follow.

It is still too early to say just how successful these wellbeing approaches will be in transforming systems in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These are generational shifts not short-term initiatives. The value of a wellbeing approach is only beginning to be understood throughout the system. But the early indications are positive and the story they tell about how to make change happen may just turn out to be inspirational.

Jennifer’s book Wellbeing and Devolution: Reframing the role of government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is available open access available via Springer Online.

 

 

This week, as the World Economic Forum gets underway in Davos, Oxfam has unveiled its latest report on the global inequality crisis. They revealed that just 26 people hold more wealth than  the poorest 3.8 billion people in the world.

These shocking figures have generated a buzz of global conversation around what we can do about the situation – and we’ve been part of it, making the case in the media for a wellbeing economy.

WEAll Knowledge and Policy lead Katherine Trebeck has given interviews and written op eds for a number of media outlets – check out the coverage at the links below:

HuffPost
BBC Radio Scotland 
The Herald
The National
Holyrood Magazine

Wellbeing Economy Alliance Launches in U.S.

Marking a decade after the financial crisis, group calls for transformation of economy

Sept. 20, 2018 – New York – A decade after the financial crisis, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) today announced its U.S. launch, with a commitment to transform the economic system in pursuit of sustainable wellbeing for people and the environment.

This new alliance will build on the long-term efforts of the new economy movement, amplifying existing and emerging work that demonstrates the feasibility of shifting the economic paradigm away from growth at all costs, towards collaboration and shared flourishing.

The launch will take place today at a Fordham University conference where participants will hear from a diverse range of speakers, including private business leaders, academics and financial specialists focused on developing a wellbeing economy.

“The 2008 crash was one of the clearest indicators that the system is broken,” said Diego Isabel, Strategy and Connections Lead for WEAll. “Global leaders did not take the opportunity ten years ago to transform the economic system to the benefit of all. A wellbeing economy recognizes that the economy is embedded in society and the rest of nature and that true success depends on creating a world where we all prosper and flourish.”

“Businesses have an essential role to play in this transformation, and we are pleased to be part of the dialogue WEAll has begun,” Tom Cripps, Board of Directors, Velcro Companies, said. “Velcro Companies was built on products that reflect nature’s genius, so we see sustainability as a must-have, not a nice-to-have, component of our economic model and ultimately a key driver of long-term success.  We are working with companies worldwide to lead a transformational change in the way business is done and embrace a larger social purpose that complements and enhances our traditional business goals.”

For immediate release – Film and photography opportunity available 14:00-15:00 EDT, Saturday 15 September, outside 745 7th Avenue, New York

 

14 September 2018

TEN YEARS after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the 2008 financial crash, campaigners are encouraging New Yorkers to rethink the economy and our relationship with money – by handing out free cash.

Campaigners from global networks the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) and Change Finance will hold signs saying “FREE MONEY” and distribute two one-dollar bills to anyone who wants them. The only stipulation is that people pass on half of the money to someone else.

This act of generosity in New York will be replicated across the world on the same day. Free Money Day campaigners will seek to highlight the problems with our current economic system, which has not changed for the benefit of ordinary people in ten years despite the dire warning of the 2008 crash.

By dishing out free cash, they hope to encourage people to rethink our collective relationship with money, and promote the idea of an economy based on sharing and collaboration.

“Free Money Day is an invitation for people to explore, in a liberating and fun way, what it might be like if our relationship to money was a little different”, said Diego Isabel, Strategy and Connections lead for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

“The 2008 crash was one of the clearest indicators we’ve had that the financial system is broken. Yet, global leaders did not take the opportunity ten years ago to transform the economy to the benefit of all: instead they entrenched the ‘business as usual’ approach”, Isabel continued.

“We’re asking people to imagine an economy that serves people and planet, that works for all of us. An economy that is based on sharing and collaboration.”

On behalf of Change Finance, Benoit Lallemand, Secretary General of Finance Watch, said: “We are facing urgent challenges: social, environmental, political. It all starts with freeing society from the grip of finance.”

“When planned effectively, the financial system has enormous potential to be a positive force. We need to reset the system,” Lallemand continued.

Donnie Maclurcan, Co-Founder of Free Money Day, added: “The hidden story of our current ‘economic boom’ is that debt has kept rising, because money keeps accumulating. We’re sleepwalking to collapse, with global debt having reached US$247 trillion. Free Money Day is a chance to remind people that debt is temporary when money constantly circulates.”

 

Notes to Editors

  • The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is a new non-profit alliance, which exists to help bring about a transformation of the economic system, of society and of institutions so that all actors prioritise shared wellbeing on a healthy planet. Born out of existing movements for system change, WEAll has more than 30 organisational members and seeks to amplify and connect the diverse movement for a wellbeing economy. Find out more at wellbeingeconomy.org
  • Free Money Day is a global event in which people hand out money to strangers in order to raise awareness and start conversations about the benefits of economies based on sharing. http://www.freemoneyday.org/
  • Finance Watch is an independent, non-profit  public interest association dedicated to making finance work for society. It was created in June 2011 to be a citizen’s counterweight to the lobbying of the financial industry and conducts technical and policy advocacy in favour of financial regulations that will make finance serve society. It now expands its mission to include work on campaigns that demand systemic change, and coordinates the Change Finance movement
  • The first campaign of Change Finance, #10yearson, has involved over 60 organisations to reimagine the financial system. Its demands are focused on a financial system that is serving people and the planet, that is democratically governed and that is stable.

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Contacts

Lisa Hough-Stewart, WEAll

lisa@wellbeingeconomy.org

+44 7470 411 531

Twitter: @WEAll_Alliance #WEAll

Facebook: @WEAllAlliance

 

Donnie Maclurcan, Free Money Day

media@freemoneyday.org

+1 541 631 8680

Twitter: @freemoneyday #freemoneyday