New Zealand is aiming to adopt a wellbeing economy approach in its economic policy. The Government, for example, presented the world’s first Wellbeing Budget to Parliament on 30 May 2019.

Against that background, Paul Dalziel and Caroline Saunders prepared a Research Briefing in September 2020. It summarises lessons learned in the initial New Zealand experience with the wellbeing economy approach. The authors are the Deputy Director and Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University, New Zealand.

You can access the Research Briefing from the Lincoln University archive here.

Today, we’re publishing our latest report, “Business and a Wellbeing Economy: Creating Thriving Businesses and a Thriving Scotland”, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Co-operative Development Scotland.



Keep reading to see what Jimmy Paul, Director of WEAll Scotland, had to say about this report, business’s role in a wellbeing economy, and the exciting opportunities ahead of Scotland:

“The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) was created from a belief in the power of collaboration. This report gave WEAll Scotland the opportunity to work with Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scottish Enterprise that supports employee ownership and co-operative business models. CDS believes these inclusive business models are a fairer, stronger and more democratic way of doing business that helps create a wellbeing economy.

“My biggest drive, both personally and professionally, is to see a world where all people flourish. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance works alongside a beautifully diverse group of organisations to ensure people are at the forefront of change. This is what attracted me to apply for the role of director of WEAll Scotland, earlier this year.

“As I settle into this new role, I look forward to meeting bold businesses who are making strides to realise social justice on a healthy planet. Businesses play a vital role in building a thriving Scotland: a Scotland where all people flourish and which cherishes our natural home.

“The assumptions upon which our current economic system rests no longer hold true. Economic growth cannot be assumed to automatically deliver a decent standard of living for enough people. With scientists warning of the sixth mass extinction and catastrophic climate change, 20th century systems of production and consumption need to be transformed, and we must be impatient for change.

“In the past, greed at an individual level was the predominant motivator shaping economic policies. However, the way communities across Scotland responded to Covid-19 is one of many recent examples of societal cooperation, empathy, and solidarity.

“Back in 1942, William Beveridge wrote that ‘A revolutionary moment in the world’s history is time for revolutions, not for patching’. Covid-19 has clearly presented us with a revolutionary moment. The question is, will we harness it to work together and build an economy that better meets the needs of people and planet than the one we had going into the pandemic? We hope that this partnership will be the first of many more.”



Following the 2009 global recession, Barcelona developed a technological platform to increase citizens input on economic recovery efforts. Dedicim Barcelona is a web-based platform where citizens can submit policy proposals and help to design and monitor the participatory process of selection. The platform promotes exists to enable free open-source participatory democracy for cities and organizations.

From 2015-2016, over 220,000 interactions took place with citizens submitting proposals for economic recovery and also commenting, debating, and voting on the proposals of others. The city council evaluated every policy proposal using technical and qualitative criteria, whereby they did not only consider the number of votes a proposal received but also the number of neighbourhoods who discussed the proposal and number of organizations who supported it.

As a result of this participatory processes, Barcelona implemented a wide range of policy reforms with a key shift towards re-municipalisation and localisation of resources and economic assets through the promotion of cooperation business models and the use of public procurement to shift local economies in this direction.

Find out more:
https://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/digital/en/digital-empowerment/democracy-and-digital-rights/decidim-barcelona
https://decidim.org/

In 1986, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) was established by a number of municipalities in the UK. Through research and analysis, CLES identified challenges undermining local economic development. The first was local economy initiatives relied on subsidies or “transfer payments” from the central government which alleviate the symptoms of underdevelopment without addressing their root causes. The second major issue was that local development funds were often used to attract external investors who would set up operations that had little connection to the local economy and whose profits would be sent back to company headquarters with minimal local benefits.

Beginning in 2006, CLES began working with dozens of local governments to assess how policies and spending was impacting local businesses, jobs and community wealth generation. They realised early on that in order to be successful, they had to work with what they called “anchor institutions” which were institutions that employed large amounts of people, bought from other local businesses and were unlikely to leave the community (such as hospitals, schools, housing associations, local authorities, etc.)

These anchor institutions ended up playing a critical role in leading local development efforts with for example, a multi-million-pound renovation of the City of Preston’s Covered Market being led by Conlon Construction, a family business that used local contractors to build the infrastructure for local enterprises. Manchester’s city council now spends 75% of their public procurement on anchor institutions which ended up generating 8,000 local jobs over 10 years. Islington has been exploring how to reduce the extractive and speculative nature of their land and property markets by empowering their anchor institutions.

The major realisation by CLES was that there was no single model or policy approach across these various towns and cities and that effective policy reforms and implementation required working with each community and core partners to better understand their needs, strengths and contexts.

Find out more here.

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In order to measure and manage social and environmental performance in a similar way to financial performance, businesses must consider their own operations as well as the full supply chain and product life cycle.

Tony’s Chocolonely was founded by journalist Teun van de Keuken, who was shocked to discover that much of the chocolate sold in supermarkets was made by people, especially children, working in slave like, illegal, and dangerous conditions. When he tried to discuss the situation with chocolate makers, many declined to discuss the issue.

“Malpractices in the cacao industry drove me to set up Tony’s. Many plantations in Western Africa practice slavery and child labour even today. That’s what we want to help to prevent.”

From the outset, it was clear that a mission to eradicate modern slavery from all chocolate production went way beyond measuring Tony’s direct impact.

“Alone we make slave-free chocolate, together we make all chocolate 100% slave-free. One of the main things we’ve learnt along the way is how difficult it is to change an industry. After 11 years we’re not there yet. We’re actively seeking partners who apply our model.”

Tony’s strategy roadmap to achieve the goal of 100% slave-free chocolate production consists of 3 pillars: createing awareness, leading by example, and inspiring others to act. It is these three pillars that form the measurable impact of Tony’s Chocolonely. The company also follows the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines for sustainable reporting as well as the usual financial accounting metrics.

13 metrics relating to their roadmap and three pillars, are used to track impact and success. The newest of these metrics is linked to the third pillar and is all about the start of Tony’s Open Chain, an open source platform where chocolate companies can access the necessary knowledge and tools to improve their supply chain.

The company also follows the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines for sustainable reporting as well as the usual financial accounting metrics. The company has also created an open source platform where chocolate companies can access knowledge and tools to improve their supply chain.

“On its own, a certification label does not enable farmers to live above the poverty line and provide a decent income for their families. The way we see it, chocolate makers are responsible for their chocolate supply chain – not the certification inspector.”

Find out more here.

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Beginning in 2005, La Pax began an innovative program called “Real Neighborhoods for La Paz” (PBCV) with the aim of empowering and improving the quality of life for poor urban communities. The program is based on the Law of Popular Participation, which encourages neighbours to commit themselves to the development of their community by volunteering to be part of a “Neighbourhood Committee”.

The first step of the program was therefore to have communities discuss and put forth a strategy for infrastructure and community development. These plans included road development, school improvements, public safety initiatives, recreation (green space, parks and community centres), community housing, legal reforms to allow ownership of property, and basic services. These programs were put forth with the understanding that the Neighbourhood Committees would ultimately be responsible for allocating public resources and overseeing the implementation of these projects.

Throughout the implementation and execution of these projects, Neighbourhood Committees monitor the process, identify any “deviations”, and propose solutions when any difficulties or unseen challenges arise. Through their local Annual Operative Plan, Neighbourhood Committees are also tasked with allocating additional resources when new complementary projects are identified that were not part of the initial strategy. Once projects are finalised, Neighbourhood Committees work to ensure effective maintenance (e.g. recycling, cleaning campaigns, waste reduction, etc.) and sustainability of the projects through community governance mechanisms.

The incredible results of this program on poverty reduction, sanitation, education, health, environmental sustainability, and many other dimensions of wellbeing for over 111,000 people has inspired development agencies and other neighbouring countries to explore more empowering approaches to poverty reduction strategy design and implementation.

Find out more:
https://www.urbanagendaplatform.org/best-practice/real-neighborhoods-la-paz

Financial markets need clear, comprehensive, high-quality information on the impacts of climate change. This includes the risks and opportunities presented by rising temperatures, climate-related policy, and emerging technologies in our changing world. Increasing the amount of reliable information on financial institutions’ exposure to climate-related risks and opportunities will strengthen the stability of the financial system, contribute to greater understanding of climate risks and facilitate financing the transition to a more stable and sustainable economy.

The Financial Stability Board created the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial information. The TCFD framework enables consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies, banks, and investors in providing information to stakeholders.

This framework requires businesses to report the climate-related impacts of their operations, thus providing an accounting mechanism that clarifies progress toward wellbeing goals.

To date, many investment companies have signed up to the framework to guide their investment decisions, including Black Rock, the world’s largest fund manager.

Find out more here.

In 2012, the City of Santa Monica, California set out to rethink what a community needs to thrive. City leaders recognised that economic growth alone does not determine a community’s success, and they sought measures of progress that take into account the wellbeing of people. Within a year, the city had won a competitive government innovation prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies to create a local Wellbeing Index. In 2014, the city launched the Santa Monica Wellbeing Project.

The Wellbeing Project partnered with the RAND Corporation, the New Economics Foundation, and a panel of international experts to develop the Wellbeing Index. Project leaders studied the factors that make a city thrive and the best ways to measure those factors. They gathered data from across city departments and mined social media. They built a multi-dimensional picture of how people in the city were doing and created an index that could serve as a baseline for progress.

The index focuses on six key areas: community, place and planet, learning, health, economic opportunity, and personal outlook. Measuring progress in these areas became a foundation of Santa Monica city government, which published a new Wellbeing Index in 2015, 2017, and 2019. The data, and the innovative research and development that led to its creation, are available to the public, including discussions of project design and research methodology, a wellbeing literature review, and in-depth analyses of index findings.

In 2017, the city’s Office of Civic Wellbeing was established to embed wellbeing measurement and action across city departments. This office led city efforts on racial equity, created community partnerships, and established the Wellbeing Microgrants program. In November 2019, the Office of Civic Wellbeing joined Santa Monica College’s Center for Media Design to produce the first Wellbeing Summit, a community festival of wellbeing actions and ideas.

The Office of Civic Wellbeing closed in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. Its efforts continue in the form of the non-governmental organisation, Civic Wellbeing Partners. The Wellbeing Index remains a dynamic tool for the City of Santa Monica and an example for others. In the wake of the destruction wrought by COVID-19, it is more urgent than ever for cities to look beyond economic growth to measure wellbeing and use that information to improve people’s lives.

Find out more here, here, and here.

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Public services play a critical role in the economy. Education, training, labour market programmes health and social care, early years childcare, and community development, develop the capabilities and social resources that enable people to participate meaningfully in the economy.
An inclusive economy also serves the goals of the public sector. Economic improvements leading to reductions in poverty and inequality have social and financial benefits for public services. They tend to improve social outcomes, while also reducing the demand for expensive services. (e.g. dealing with the effects of poverty costs £79bn per year in the UK).


Despite the interdependencies between the economy and public services, and economic and social policy tend to operate in isolation from one another. Social policy has become a compensatory tool for those that have lost out from the market.


It is for this reason that Barking and Dagenham’s public service transformation programme, Community Solutions, is so compelling.
The residents of Barking and Dagenham, a borough of London, has a number of “wicked and complex challenges” facing its residents: lack of opportunity, economic precarity, housing insecurity and homelessness, high rates of domestic violence, and significantly higher levels of deprivation and unemployment than almost every other part of London.
The long-term economic decline of the borough heaped considerable pressure onto its public services, which was amplified by severe cuts to local government budgets since 2010. As Mark Fowler, Director of Community Solutions and Damien Cole, Head of Service Development note,

“the perfect storm of austerity and economic precarity hardened local leaders’ convictions that the way public services were organised was also part of the problem. A culture of silo working prevailed, and local residents came to rely heavily on expensive and acute council services. The council’s ‘paternalistic’ relationship with citizens contributed to this, as did a limited and fragmented approach to prevention.”
The borough’s leaders began rethinking the form and purpose of local services. Whereas previously, services were compensatory (focused narrowly on meeting acute need), services are now increasingly becoming preventative, with the ultimate aim of supporting self-sufficiency and economic and social participation.

Community Solutions: Shifting from Reaction to Prevention
At the root of the borough’s reforms is an effort to understand the nature and pattern of demand for public services, especially those at the acute end. By better understanding the trajectory of residents’ lives, including the nature of their interaction with local services at different moments of their lives, the council came to realise that large swaths of the population were not being supported early enough.


Owing to reducing budgets, public services tended to focus on people with the most acute need, for whom it is more difficult, if not too late, to assist. Meanwhile, those that faced less severe, but still significant challenges in their lives (for example, job loss or low paid and insecure work, and unaffordable high rent) were off the council’s radar. This was a problem because in the absence of any support, some of these residents would go on to face more significant problems, such as homelessness, as their needs escalated. This ultimately would increase demand for expensive services. It was unsustainable.


The Community Solutions service was introduced in 2017, to tackle the root causes of the multiple problems associated with poverty and economic precarity. It reorients services towards early intervention and focuses on promoting self-sufficiency, including by supporting people into reliable employment. The service brings together multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams that work together with public and voluntary sector partners to provide preventative support to residents.

The service is available to a much wider pool of residents, who didn’t previously meet the eligibility criteria for council support.
“For not only those living catastrophic lives, but also those living unfulfilled and unhappy lives, those at risk of tipping over.”

Root Cause Analysis
Community Solutions acts as a front door for all people-supporting services, identifying the root causes of problems and helping individuals or families to resolve them before they escalate. Organising the service relies on a form of population triage, or recognising that different types of residents will require different forms of support”
For individuals and households that are deemed to be self-sufficient, the focus is on light-touch information and advice and signposting to appropriate resources.
For residents that are risk of ‘tipping over’, there is an additional focus on early action services, such as outreach and skills, employment and housing support.
For groups that have multiple and significant needs, there is more substantial support managed by multi-agency teams.
Impact to Date


Community Solutions is a relatively new service and therefore, its impact can’t yet be fully realised and understood. However, some positive changes have already been observed. One of the most dramatic is a notable reduction in the number of people in temporary accommodation, although legislative changes have also played a role in this. The number went down from around 1,960 in October 2017 to just over 1,700 by August 2018, owing to the council’s holistic support that enabled more people in need to find secure housing. Rather than simply directing those in need to temporary accommodation, people who could not afford private renting due to unemployment or financial precarity were supported to find reliable employment.


Similarly, some emerging evidence suggests that there has been a reduction — from 34 percent to 24 percent — in the number of people moving through the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), who require high-intensity care and support services. The service and staffing structure of Community Solutions itself is having a positive effect on easing recruitment and retention challenges, which have escalated due to austerity. Mark Fowler and Damien Cole suggest that hard-to-fill roles are increasingly being filled by permanent staff instead of agency workers, because people are seeing the organisation as a good place to work. Although difficult to attribute to Community Solutions alone, volunteering with the council has also increased — rising from 89 people in 2017 to 259 in 2018. Volunteers play an active role in supporting the vision for early intervention, active citizenship, and self-sufficiency.

Find out more:
https://www.lbbd.gov.uk/community-solutions

The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) is the first mayor-led guaranteed income demonstration in the United States. A collaboration between the Office of Mayor Michael Tubbs, the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, the Economic Security Project, and the residents of Stockton, California, SEED is demonstrating a simple but innovative policy solution to poverty and inequality.

In January 2019, SEED began providing 125 residents with a guaranteed income of $500 per month for a planned period of 18 months. The income is unconditional, with no work requirements and no restrictions on how the money can be spent. Payments were scheduled to stop in the summer of 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic had compounded residents’ economic struggles. With a large donation from the philanthropist Carol Tolan, the city extended the demonstration until January 2021.

The recipient selection process was led by two independent researchers, Dr. Stacia West of the University of Tennessee and Dr. Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania. Based on community feedback, West and Baker developed a recipient selection strategy that maximizes the project’s usefulness as a study while prioritizing fairness and inclusivity.

While the demonstration is underway, researchers conduct regular check-ins with the recipients to understand and measure how the additional income affects a variety of outcomes, including financial security, civic engagement, and health and wellness. The researchers’ findings so far indicate that universal basic income (UBI) can be a significant source of stability in meeting basic needs. Recipients report using the income to pay for dental work, utilities, and groceries, among other things.

Mayor Tubbs and other leaders of SEED have spoken with state, local, and US federal policymakers about how to design UBI initiatives. Their efforts are part of a larger UBI movement in the United States, notably championed by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

SEED seeks to confront and solve some of the most pressing and pernicious problems facing modern cities: poverty, inequality, and widespread financial insecurity. The initiative is ongoing.

Find out more here, here, and here.

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Since 2013, an annual report is produced to measure Italy’s performance on twelve Wellbeing Domains including education, work and life balance, security, health, environment, landscape and cultural heritage and economic wellbeing (e.g. disposable income inequality, absolute poverty, including between regions). These Wellbeing Domains are measured by 130 Equitable Sustainable Wellbeing Indicators.

This report is used to inform the government’s budget decisions. The 2016 Budget Reform Law now requires that ministries outline how each budget line item will impact wellbeing indicators.

The Italian government has also implemented wellbeing forecasting and scenario planning measures in annual budgeting:

A pilot to classify budget expenditures according to their impact on men, women, and on gender equality overall.
An experimental 3-year forecasting exercise to compare the impact on four wellbeing indicators (household disposable income; the inter-quintile income share; labour underutilisation; and emissions of greenhouse gases) in a scenario of no policy changes versus the predicted impact of proposed new policies.

While the techniques and data are still evolving, civil society is able to assess and debate the annual report and explore policy scenarios and their impacts on wellbeing indicators.

Find out more:
https://www.oecd.org/gov/budgeting/designing-and-implementing-gender-budgeting-a-path-to-action.pdf..

Introduced a nationwide Living Minimum Income (IMV – acronym in Spanish), a non-contributory cash benefit. This means it is not attached to previous employment history, addressed to households who, depending on their composition, are below a determined income threshold. It is estimated that the IMV would support 850,000 households and a total of 2.3 million people.

The Spanish social security institution has calculated that most of these households (around 550.000) live in extreme poverty, that is, with less than 230 € per month.

The IMV should improve the lives of around 80% of those households living in extreme poverty.

Although its approval has been accelerated to tackle the social and economic consequences of the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the IMV had already been approved in the coalition government’s agreement between the Spanish socialist party, PSOE, and Podemos.

Find out more here.

Austria has integrated gender equality goals within its Performance Budgeting Framework, which it uses to assess new budget proposals.
Austria’s Parliamentary Budget Office was established in 2012 to analyse budget materials according to gender (assessing the quality of information provided and gender disaggregation, the ambition of objectives, the suitability of relevant indicators, and levels of coordination between ministries) and then offer proposals for improvements. An expert panel looks at 30 relevant indicators and appraises performance.
Austria’s Court of Audit also looks at gender issues in its performance audit. Under the Federal Budget Law 2013, objectives for programming from each ministry must include at least one objective related to gender equality, as must the global budgets and detailed budgets.

Find out more:
https://www.oecd.org/gov/budgeting/designing-and-implementing-gender-budgeting-a-path-to-action.pd

An increasing number of local and national governments are using participatory budgeting to help identify policy priorities and new context-appropriate policy initiatives.

In 2018, South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance began a National Participatory Budgeting initiative called “My Budget”. Citizens were asked to submit project ideas which are then reviewed by all Ministries before being sent to a citizens committee (composed of 400 representatives) for discussion and review. The citizens committee then voted alongside 2000 online participants for the project proposals they wanted to have submitted to the National Assembly.

Due to the success of this initiative, the government increased the participatory budget allocation for 2020 by 70% to 224 million dollars and approved 38 projects for the final 2020 budget (out of the 1399 projects received) which focused on the areas of youth unemployment and support for childcare, small businesses, and socially marginalised communities. Policy initiatives ranged from city forest development and ocean trash drone surveillance to counselling centres for sexual assault victims.

Find out more here.

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In 2015, the Welsh Government, launched the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, with the aim to “improve the way in which decisions are made across specified public bodies in Wales” towards the achievement of the seven wellbeing goals. The Act is embedded in the Welsh Constitution. Public bodies are mandated to consider the long-term impact of their policy decisions and work with communities and with each other, to ensure their actions are complementary, and the people and communities involved are reflecting the diversity of the population that the particular bodies serve.

After the country’s biggest National Conversation on ‘The Wales We Want’, the Welsh Government (2015) identified a wellbeing framework, organised into seven core wellbeing goals: prosperous, more equal, globally responsible, resilient, healthier, cohesive communities, vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.

Measuring the Right Thing in the Right Way

It is also mandated that all public bodies design and publish ‘wellbeing objectives’ that maximise their contribution to achieving all seven of the defined wellbeing goals, publish statements about their set objectives, and report annually on their progress in a Wellbeing Report. In order to measure progress against these goals, a range of 46 national indicators have been identified. The emphasis was placed on identifying indicators that could be easily communicated to the general public and that reflect public priorities.

Public bodies are called to set ‘milestones’ to present their expectations for performance on the indicators in the future, in accordance with principles for “measuring the right thing” and “measuring the right way”. Both quantitative and qualitative e.g., survey-based data is gathered and published annually.

Ways of Working

To normalise a preventative policy making approach, the Welsh Government (2015) introduced guidance on five ways of working: employing long term thinking; taking an integrated approach so that public bodies look at all the wellbeing goals when deciding on their wellbeing objectives; involving a diversity of the population in decisions that affect them; working collaboratively to find solutions; and understanding the root causes of issues to prevent them from occurring.

Sustainable Development Principle

As the legislation has a particular focus on sustainability, a ‘Sustainable Development Principle’ has been defined, highlighting that the wellbeing of future generations should not be compromised by decisions which aim only to meet current needs. In order to ensure that the ‘Sustainable Development Principle’ is being promoted, the role of a Future Generations Commissioner has been introduced. The Commissioner acts as a guardian of future generations, supports and encourages public bodies to consider the long-term impact of their decisions, provides advice and assistance in relation to wellbeing objectives, and has the power to conduct a review into the extent to which public bodies are safeguarding future generations’ needs.

Find out more here and here.

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In the 1990s, the state government in Utah, USA was concerned by the negative consequences of rapid economic growth on their people and natural environment. In 1997, it launched the ‘Envision Utah’ initiative, with the first task being to gain a better understanding of what people valued about living in Utah and what quality of life and wellbeing really meant to them.

Initially, the Government faced resistance by the various regions, towns, and districts who all saw themselves as responsible for managing growth and by other powerful stakeholders, who were sceptical of involving residents in the strategy design process, because of paternalistic assumptions regarding what citizens wanted and what was good for them. However, it made some strategic choices that allowed ‘Envision Utah’ to develop as a participatory economic strategy design process:

1) The first was to regard the pursuit of an inclusive and sustainable economy as a long-term endeavour, not one that would be managed within the confines of political or administrative cycles.

2) The second was to frame Envision Utah’s work as visioning rather than ‘planning,’ which is generally associated with narrow, technically managed processes.

3) The third was to see the visioning as a continuous process, not a project. This ensured that stewardship of Utah’s economic development was not a short-term, managerially-driven exercise that was restricted to isolated, time limited projects.

With widespread public buy-in for the project, the Government commissioned the ‘Values Survey’, which asked residents a series of building questions to gain a better understanding of what people valued about living in Utah and why they valued it. Upon completion of the Values Survey, the Government developed a model of what Utah would look like if economic growth continued unabated. This study was extremely time intensive as the state had never gathered or coordinated local information at this scale. More than 140 public and private agencies provided information on land-use data, air quality, water, transportation, infrastructure, housing, business, economic development, open air and critical lands and neighbourhood demographics. This baseline model was released to the public in 1997 and was a big wake up call for residents of the potential damages of uncontrolled economic growth.

The government undertook a massive media and information campaign to educate residents on the potential challenges of growth, to raise awareness of the ‘Envision Utah’ initiative, and to motivate them to participate in future surveys and meetings. Community meetings were used to develop the ‘Quality Growth Strategy’ with participants, which involved building their ideal neighbourhoods by placing chips on a map to represent green spaces, residential buildings, mixed-use buildings, employment centres, cultural or civil centres, and retail space. These community discussions also provided space for communities to express their desired form of government intervention; they revealed that residents clearly preferring incentives over regulations. Communities also wanted to ensure that these strategies were tailored to each community’s unique character and needs and did not add additional layers of bureaucracy, but rather helped communities and decision-makers to consider a variety of choices.

After years of exhaustive involvement of the public, local, and state elected officials, business, civic, and religious communities, and other key stakeholders, ‘Envision Utah’ successfully developed a publicly supported ‘Quality Growth Strategy’, which outlined 6 primary goals to help protect the environment, maintain economic vitality, and promote quality of life:

  1. Enhance air quality;
  2. Increase mobility and transportation choices;
  3. Preserve critical lands, including agricultural, sensitive and strategic open lands;
  4. Conserve and maintain availability of water resources;
  5. Provide housing opportunities for a range of family and income types; and
  6. Maximise efficiency in public and infrastructure investments to promote other goals.

The achievements of ‘Envision Utah’ have been impressive, from reduced carbon emissions to smarter land-use. However, one of the major successes cited by its leaders was a regional transportation policy. In 1990, voters rejected a proposal to expand Utah’s public transportation system, as many residents held conservative values which made them sceptical of tax increases and government planning. However, in 2000, as a result of awareness raising and public debate facilitated through the ‘Envision Utah’ initiative, all three counties in the state passed the measure. This illustrates how participatory strategy design processes can help policy makers overcome political hurdles and create opportunities for transformative change.

Find out more here and here.

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Unusual Rigging is UK’s most experienced provider of rigging and stage engineering solutions. The company is working towards a fully circular business model, with a goal is to become effective at closing material loops. It does this by prolonging the life of their products, designing products for disassembly and resource recovery, and offering products as a service. Unusual reuses 50 tonnes of steel during the course of a year, saving thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions. Through collaboration and sharing with their community of suppliers and customers, they are demystifying innovations in the circular economy and showing that it is not just achievable but optimal for medium size businesses to also embark on that journey.

Find out more here.

In 2020, the City of Amsterdam decided to abandon traditional economic indicators to guide their post-COVID recovery and officially adopted the “doughnut” economic framework. The Doughnut model comes from Kate Raworth’s pioneering book, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, where she presents a visual framework for sustainable development which balances social and ecological wellbeing. The framework proposed a way of measuring economic performance by its ability to meet people’s core needs without overshooting the earth’s ecological boundaries.

The inner ring of the doughnut represents ‘minimum standards of living’, based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This entails the basic essentials everyone needs for wellbeing, from food and clean water to gender equality and a political voice. The outer ring of the doughnut represents the ecological limits of the planet, from biodiversity loss to air pollution.

Amsterdam aims to develop an economic recovery plan that keeps the city in “the safe and just space for humanity”. Through a series of multi-stakeholder workshops, the City has been assessing their performance using the Doughnut Economy framework. Housing, for example, is a major social issue as high rental costs in the city means that nearly 20% of tenants can’t afford to pay for other bills after paying rent. However, as the City considers building more housing to reduce costs, it must also consider the pollution and health impacts of this additional construction.

By embracing a multi-dimensional framework of the economy that measures success in terms of social and ecological outcomes, the city has been able to identify potential synergies and trade-offs between different goals.

The indicators outlined in the Donut Economic Framework have been used to assess the city’s current performance and are helping to inform decisions about the type of policy interventions needed to help Amsterdam can build back better towards a wellbeing economy.

Find out more here.

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There is an emerging local mutual banking movement in the UK. Ethical banks include Credit Unions, Triodos, Abundance Generation and Ecology Building Society are working to make finance and banking channels for socially and ecologically regenerative investments.

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The city of Canoas is part of the metropolitan area of Porto Alegre, Brazil. Canoas has become a leading example of citizen participation and transparency in public management. Beginning in 2009, local authorities began to experiment and innovate with participatory approaches to policy design and implementation in order to find solutions to the challenges of a rapidly growing city.
The City has created the System of Popular Citizen Participation, which now includes a wide variety of tools to connect policy makers directly with citizens throughout the policy design process. Examples of these tools include:
Visioning and Strategy Tools:
– Congress of the City of Canoas 2011-2021: This City Congress engaged in a year-long discussion, during which citizens proposed and discussed the future of the city. This process ended with a conference with over 600 delegates, where a strategic vision for the city for the next 10 years was developed.
-Participatory Multi-Year Plan Meetings: In each neighbourhood, open community meetings are organised to hear what residents suggest as priority policies and programs for the next four years.
– Sectorial Plans: In order to develop strategies for particular wellbeing goals such as health, safety, education, or sanitation, a series of community discussions take place to determine priorities and the structure for delivering these services.

Policy Tools:
– Participatory Budgeting: Citizens determine priority policies and services for the neighbourhoods through an annual vote. The City allocates a third of its budget annually for citizens to direct and determine spending.
– Better Neighbourhood: Citizens can decide where to allocate the 50% of the IPTU (Tax on Predial Property and Urban Territory) for local projects and initiatives. 20% of the project costs for each project are required to be covered by volunteer work and/or donations of materials or services.
– Business Engagement: Semi-annual meetings are organised in which all private companies are invited to participate, and where worker and business representatives discuss challenges and policy proposals.
– Council for Economic and Social Development: This council brings together 50 professionals from different policy areas in a transparent and collaborative dialogue to assess and review the public policies of the municipality. Meetings are organised every two months, to discuss the main projects to be implemented in the city.

Implementation and Coordination Tools:
– A Plenary of Public Services: A Plenary meeting is conducted every quarter for each quadrant of the city, where the local government presents the status of various policies and programmes and are held accountable for achieving their goals with citizens being able to provide feedback and suggestions to the major and other local policy makers.
– Policy makers on the Street: Every Saturday, the Mayor, Vice Mayor, and municipal secretaries set up a street stall where citizens can come and discuss any priorities and grievances.
– Mayor in the Station: Every Thursday, during peak rush hour, the Mayor opens a space for public dialogue in one of the subway stations in the city, where anyone can come and discuss their priorities or issues with current policies or programs.
– Public Hearings: Every Monday, the city holds public hearings with 20 citizens where they can discuss challenges or proposals with the Mayor and his Cabinet.
– Agora in Rede: This is a virtual tool that allows online dialogue between the population, the Mayor, and the Municipal secretaries weekly. The platform allows access to videos, among other multimedia possibilities for interaction on policy issues.
– House of the Councils: A space that brings together 33 municipal councils and provides human resources and necessary materials so that the work of the various local agencies can be coordinated more effectively.
– In seven years of the current municipal administration, more than 170 thousand people participated through the tools of the System of Popular and Citizen Participation.

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