The use of the term, ‘Wellbeing Economy’ has been increasing with Scotland being an official member and organiser of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership, WEGo.

On Thursday 27th August, 75+ economic development practitioners gathered at a Consultation hosted by the Economic Development Association Scotland (EDAS) and WEAll, to exchange ideas about how Scotland can further develop wellbeing economy policies and discuss the practical implementation of a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland.

Dr Robert Pollock, Managing Director, Regional Development Solutions and EDAS Board Member and Amanda Janoo, WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy Lead, introduced WEAll’s Policy Design Guidebook. The Guidebook aims to support policymakers looking to introduce wellbeing economy policies in their respective spheres, with a focus on the ‘how to’: presenting specific policymaking principles and processes to turn ideas into actions.

WEAll Scotland’s Gemma Bone Dodds, set the stage for the discussion of actualising a wellbeing economy in Scotland, by presenting the wellbeing economy policies that already exist in Scotland and where there are potential gaps. Breakout groups then explored possible next steps to move Scotland beyond a Wellbeing Economy framework and vision, and toward policy implementation.

Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser from the Scottish Government, closed by discussing the WEGo partnership and Scotland’s development of their national performance framework.

Get Involved

The input from the Consultation supports a participatory process that is vital to the Guidebook‘s creation. If you are a policy maker interested in reviewing or supporting with the guides development please contact Amanda Janoo, WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy Lead.

Submit a ‘Wellbeing Economy Case Study

As the Wellbeing Economy space is new, policies supporting the health of people and planet are often not recognised as “wellbeing economy policies”. In order to inspire policy makers on their journey to creating wellbeing economy policies, WEAll is looking for case studies from around the world — especially from the Global South –that are examples of wellbeing economy processes (e.g. participatory policy processes) and outcomes (e.g. bold wellbeing policies). Please share relevant case studies here by August 31st, 2020.

On 12th August 2020, the Office for National Statistics announced that the UK’s GDP had fallen 20.4% in the second quarter, putting the UK into its worst recession since records began. Following the UK’s prolonged lockdown, this drop in Gross Domestic Product is more severe than losses seen in the US and the Eurozone.

The impact of COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone, especially those who have become ill or lost loved ones. For many, it’s been a prompt to take stock of what really matters, placing a greater emphasis on individual and community wellbeing.

At WEAll, we’re passionate about advancing the wellbeing economy concept: an economic system purpose-built to deliver social justice on a healthy planet. Within a wellbeing economy, humanity determines economics, not the other way around.

So when we see figures like this—that GDP has fallen by 20.4%—it’s important to clarify what this data means and what it does (and doesn’t) tell us about the state of society.

No one should argue that these are not difficult times, with furloughs and redundancies widespread and social isolation still a reality for many people. In terms of the actual numbers we use to measure our country’s economic health, however, we propose that GDP is a skewed figure that reveals little about the wellbeing of the millions of people who keep the economy running, each and every day.

GDP doesn’t see the outpouring of community support, for example, and it neglects our country’s renewed focus on nature. It measures cash transactions, which include drug dealing, but ignores volunteer work and caring duties.

Find new oil? GDP goes up. Start a community garden? No impact.

Have to deal with flooding caused by global warming or medical treatment to cope with heatwaves? GDP will see that as a good thing. Spend more time with your family and friends? GDP isn’t interested.

Take your car into a congested city? GDP loves that. Jump on your bike and use one of the new cycle lanes? GDP doesn’t care.

The last few months have seen big hits to restaurants, education, the arts, public transport, and even healthcare—all sectors which are very important to the wellbeing economy, not to mention to their workers. However, even here the GDP statistics do not tell the full story. Childcare and education did not disappear. For better or for worse, it just happened at home. We are seeing our friends and family less than we would like to, but we still see them. It’s just that many of us now go for a walk in the park rather than for a meal in a restaurant. These activities still have value, but they are simply not captured by GDP.

We can all agree on the need to rebuild, but it’s imperative that we build back better instead of simply returning to the status quo, which works only for the few and often neglects the very key workers on whom we all rely. We are just not convinced that GDP is the most useful measure of how Scotland builds back better, renews, or recovers. See our recent response to comments made by Benny Higgins, the chairman of Nicola Sturgeon’s advisory group on economic recovery, to learn more about the myth of “green growth”.

Katherine Trebeck, Advocacy and Influencing Lead at WEAll and co-founder of WEAll Scotland, has long campaigned for alternative measures of progress to GDP. One such alternative to GDP she points to is to focus on things like the number of girls riding bikes to school. It might sound radical at first, says Katherine, but just think of the contextual factors that need to be in place in order for higher numbers of girls on bikes (and in education) to improve.

There are tough times behind us, and no doubt there will be tough times ahead. So moving forward, let’s build a stronger economy that works for all of us, not just those who benefit from outdated measures of success like GDP.

by Rabia Abrar

Recent comments made by Benny Higgins, the chairman of Nicola Sturgeon’s advisory group on economic recovery, have caused quite a stir. WEAll would like to address his claims about how growth is the best way to build a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland.

“A market economy is well capable of responding to environmental change and delivering wellbeing”.

The current state of the world is proof that this is not the case.

The economic model that dominates policy making has strangled our imaginations and our sense of possibility: the current economy is seen as the only kind of economy that we can have – and changing it would bring society to its knees. But, we’re already there.

Our world is facing multiple crises: rising inequality, accelerating climate breakdown and rapid biodiversity loss. These issues are interconnected and stem from the same core problem: our economies are structured, governed, and measured to promote short-term growth over long-term stability.

A focus on ‘growth’ is not supporting the wellbeing of society. That’s why we see widening economic inequalities; increasing levels of insecurity, despair and loneliness; and the emergence of coping mechanisms that turn people inwards or against each other – all while trust in institutions withers away.

A focus on ‘growth’ is not supporting the wellbeing of our planet. Our home is on the brink of the 6th mass extinction with the prospect of catastrophic climate breakdown getting closer and closer. In the last 40 years, humanity as a whole has gone from using one planet’s worth of natural resources each year, to using one and a half, and is on course to using three planets worth by 2050.

Governments have responded to both crises with a suite of (often inadequate) amelioration measures, such as:

  • Redistributing after the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest has opened up
  • Cleaning up after floods and storms caused by climate change
  • Providing respiratory medicines after peoples’ asthma is exacerbated by pollution

While these are vital measures to help people cope with today’s circumstances – they are reactive measures that could be avoided in a wellbeing economy, which attends to their root causes.

“The recovery for Scotland has to be green, it has to be fair and it needs to be inclusive, but it needs to have economic growth”.

We disagree that a wellbeing economy is about generating “strong economic growth”.

A wellbeing economy would ask: “What sort of growth – and for whom – is needed for collective wellbeing? What sort of lives do people want to live and what sort of economy can enable that?”

Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘green’ modifiers to ‘growth’ does not answer either of these vital questions.

In a true wellbeing economy approach, business, politics and economic activity would exist solely to deliver collective wellbeing – while being agnostic to economic growth, not dependent on it.

We are not against growth in GDP per se, but we are against the idea that GDP growth should be the top priority. We should only pursue growth in those areas of the economy that contribute to collective wellbeing and shrink those areas of the economy that damage it.

We do not need growth in GDP to achieve wellbeing.

What we need to be happy is security, comfort, social connections, a healthy environment and a feeling of belonging in our community(ies).

“A wellbeing economy needs growth to pay for itself”.

Growing GDP is incredibly expensive.

In our current economic system, growth in GDP is demanded as a means to pay for services that people need. But very often, these services are needed to fix the harm to people, communities and the environment that is created by a growth-driven economy. The costs of this ‘failure demand’ are enormous. For example, poverty in the UK alone, costs £78 billion every year.

A wellbeing economy would deliver good lives for people the first time around, and thus avoid having to deliver expensive down-stream interventions to fix the damage caused by growth-focused economies.

While avoiding these costs, wellbeing economy policies could also deliver benefits such as job creation in a growing renewables sector and the circular economy; improvements in health and economic and social resilience due to better environmental quality and equality.

Building a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland will require a different approach.

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 to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The recovery period following the COVID-19 pandemic is a window of opportunity for Scotland to lead the world in truly putting collective wellbeing at the heart of economic policy making.

Imagine an economy, that by its very design, ended inequality and environmental destruction and delivered good lives for everyone, everywhere.

That’s better than growth.

Rabia Abrar
Communications Lead, WEAll.

#BuildBackBetterScot #BuildBackBetter #betterthangrowth

Earlier this month, the WEGo partnership was featured in the 2020 edition of WWF’s Nature In All Goals publication, which outlines how we can restore our relationship with nature to realise the promise of the SDGs and Leave No One Behind.

Individually, the 17 SDGs define key areas of progress for humanity. Delivered together, they will transform the world and create prosperity for all on a healthy planet.

The publication gives inspirational examples of where each of the 17 SDGs have been put into practice – ranging from Supporting Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Communities in Myanmar to Renewable energy solutions for better health and energy security in Karachi, Pakistan.

In WEAll’s article, we discussed how to shift toward a Sustainable and Just economy – one that promotes wellbeing for all. 

Action on the SDGs in the next ten years is not possible without a fundamental transformation of our economic system.

In order to do this, WEAll’s membership has developed the 5 priorities a wellbeing economy should deliver on.

‘We All Need’:

  1. Dignity: Everyone has enough to live in comfort, safety and happiness
  2. Nature: A restored and safe natural world for all life
  3. Connection: A sense of belonging and institutions that serve the common good
  4. Fairness: Justice in all its dimensions at the heart of economic systems, and the gap between the richest and poorest greatly reduced
  5. Participation: Citizens actively engaged in their communities and locally rooted economies.

These principles guide the work of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership.

WEGo member states have achieve great successes in mainstreaming social equity and ecological restoration – in line with the SDGs:

Read all of the inspiring examples of the shift toward a wellbeing economy in the WWF’s Nature In All Goals publication, here.

The Repair Stop, a new community repair enterprise, is opening in Glasgow on 21 July. Sophie Unwin, founder and director of the Remade Network, shares her thoughts on how community repair enterprises such as The Repair Stop can provide a model on building a greener, fairer world.

As the Remade Network launches its new, collaborative community repair project in Glasgow, Katherine Trebeck’s words resonate with me:

“The economic model that has become so dominant is called all sorts of things: neoliberal, market fundamentalist, overly financialised, extractive, and toxic. What it is called doesn’t matter so much as how it has strangled our imaginations and our sense of possibility.”

We know the scale of the challenge that we face in our world is huge. Oppression, inequality, waste, and pollution are in every corner. Headed in one direction, it looks like an inevitable move to a certain dystopia – where we blindly consume and compete instead of sharing resources and showing empathy to each other.

As bad as things could get, it perhaps allows us to dream big of a better world that we would like to see. But for those of us – like me – who have reached our middle age, our hopes are inevitably tempered with a sense of realism. We have heard new ideas and slogans come and go, from sustainable development to the triple bottom line. And we know that real change can be hard won, as it speaks of shifts to the status quo.

Could a wellbeing economy offer us something new?

“As bad as things could get, it perhaps allows us to dream big of a better world that we would like to see.”

For me, building an economy based on repair skills – the work I’ve carried out over the last 12 years, which has grown from London to Edinburgh and now Glasgow – chimes closely with what the Wellbeing Economy Alliance advocates. This is a regenerative economy, one that prevents waste at its source rather than just recycling materials; a collaborative economy where we work with other community groups and Glasgow City Council; and a business model with purpose and shared values at its heart.

In January this year, we started work in earnest with five other organisations: Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Repair Café Glasgow, Glasgow Tool Library, The Pram Project, and Glasgow City Council. Meeting each fortnight, we developed a collaborative business plan, for which the City Council granted us a social enterprise start-up grant.

Then came COVID-19.

With no social contact allowed, we started meeting online and had to pivot our plans. But we also had space to share ideas, discuss our values, and reflect on what was really important to us. From April, Remade Network has grown from three members of staff to seven, and this July we open our new project – The Repair Stop.

Based at Govanhill Baths’ Deep End on Nithsdale Street in Govanhill, The Repair Stop will offer affordable repairs, priced at £5 or £10, and accept donations of unwanted laptops, phones, tablets, and prams that we will fix, redistribute, and sell on.

And, thanks to contracts with both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government, we will be distributing 500 desktop computers to vulnerable people across the city. People like Mohamed from the Somali Association, who will ensure the computers help people find jobs, access basic services, and stay in touch with their families. And people like Elaine, a single mum whose son, Maxwell, has struggled to do his schoolwork since COVID, as they don’t have a working computer at home.

The C-40 Cities Climate Leadership Group have recently published some principles about a green recovery, and some of these speak to the project:

  • Excellent public services, public investment, and increased community resilience will form the most effective basis for the recovery
  • The recovery must address issues of equity that have been laid bare by the impact of the crisis
  • The recovery must improve the resilience of our cities and communities

Equity and resilience are so vital here. It is the people who consume the least who are most impacted by pollution and environmental problems. But it is also those people, and poorer communities, who often hold a wealth of creativity and ideas. Poorer communities are already used to being resourceful and resilient.

As the Aboriginal leader Lilla Watson says, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Moving away from extractive to regenerative economies also means valuing indigenous knowledge, the skills and ideas that are already in place when we come to start work on a new project. Without this basic attitude of respect and curiosity, how can we achieve anything meaningful?

We firmly believe that repair can help us build a better world post-COVID and help regenerate forgotten places. It values and draws on people’s skills and creativity, as each repair is different, and it creates new jobs – repairing creates 10 times as many jobs as recycling. Finally, it brings people together and helps build community. Repair is not a new idea, but it is one whose time has come.

As the Wellbeing Economy Alliance reminds us, “Humanity defines economics, not the other way around.” In many ways, this could be a motto for social enterprise as a whole – business and profit is not the end in itself, but a means to harness our core values and create a better world.

You can visit the Repair Stop at 21 Nithsdale Street in Glasgow, open 12-2pm Monday to Saturday, from 21 July, for repairs of household items and to donate unwanted and broken laptops, phones, tablets and prams. For more information, email repair@remade.network, visit www.remade.network, or follow @remadenetwork on Twitter and Facebook.

(Photography credit: Hollin Jones)

Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is seeking to recruit three or four trustees from a variety of backgrounds to join our board and drive forward our work to support positive change.

You will be passionate about the need for economic system change, and you will have a good understanding of the issues facing our economy, society, and natural environment. You should be confident that you can make a valuable contribution to our work and comfortable with working at board level.

The board plays a vital role setting WEAll Scotland’s strategy, overseeing a small core team and the projects that we deliver as well as acting as ambassadors of the charity. Trustees will be appointed for an initial period of up to 3 years with potential for extension. The commitment required is a minimum of one day per quarter (attending board meeting and preparation), but we would also expect trustees to take an active role and interest in the charity beyond attending meetings – for example, by attending public events on behalf of WEAll, providing some project oversight, and taking on pieces of work for and on behalf of the board.

We are particularly looking for trustees with fundraising, organisation building, legal expertise, and governance experience.

There is no remuneration; however, all necessary travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed. Previous board experience is not a requirement.

We aim at all times to recruit the person who is most suited to the job and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds – men and women, people of all ages, sexual orientations, nationalities, religions and beliefs.  However, we particularly encourage applications from women, disabled, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, as these groups are underrepresented on boards in Scotland.

If you feel you have the passion, experience, and commitment, please send a cover letter setting out why you are interested in the role and your CV to scotland@wellbeingeconomy.org

The closing date for applications is 24th July 2020.

Background:

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is a new global collaboration of organisations, alliances, movements, and individuals working together to change the economic system to create a wellbeing economy: one that delivers human and ecological wellbeing.  At a time when a global pandemic has caused deep social, economic, and environmental shocks, many people are radically rethinking the kind of future they want. There has never been a more important time to be part of the work to build an economy that works for people and planet, internationally and here in Scotland.

Scotland is a key player in the global movement for a wellbeing economy. Across Scotland, the purpose of the economy and the dominant model of growth is being reconsidered, with pioneering projects springing up within different sectors. WEAll Scotland will connect these initiatives, amplify narratives and create a safe space for government, businesses, and society to question the current economic model and champion bold new policies.

Visit https://wellbeingeconomy.org/scotland to learn more.

This week, WEAll joined Social Enterprise Scotland in a webinar: ‘Time for Change – New Economy’ on the role businesses can play in creating a Wellbeing Economy.

Three great speakers joined the session: Michael Roy (Glasgow Caledonian University), Michael Weatherhead( Wellbeing Economy Alliance) and Julie McLachlan (North Ayrshire Council).

If you missed it, you can watch the webinar recording here.

WEAll’s Michael Weatherhead covered takeaways from our Business of Wellbeing Guide, from the 19 minute to the 39 minute mark, including:

  • 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.

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

Today, 22 June 2020, the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery published its report, ‘Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland’.

As an organisation whose purpose is to support the creation of a wellbeing economy in Scotland we are excited to see the prominence given to this goal in the report’s title.

Our initial sense is that there are parts to praise and unfortunately parts that fall short in recognising the type of transformation that could truly transform Scotland into a wellbeing economy.

We welcome the ‘four pillars’ approach laid out in the report, which gives business, people, community, and the environment balanced priority. This is an important step to designing a wellbeing economy, although a true wellbeing economy approach goes one step further to say that business and economic activity must be designed to serve people and planet, not thrive alongside them. After all, what is the benefit of an economy if it does not directly serve the people who sustain it?  We would also add that conflating business with the economy in the four pillars seems to miss the vital role of unpaid role of care and social reproduction in families and communities in supporting the market economy. This would be a serious blind spot for a country where the gender equality discussion is better than in other localities.

We are also concerned at the extent to which a desire for ‘growth’ still features prominently in the report’s language. What kind of growth? And for whom? Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.

Indeed, the answers are the crux of what separates a traditional, growth-driven system from a true wellbeing economy. A wellbeing economy is one that is purposed and designed explicitly for human and ecological wellbeing – economic activity in service of these higher order goals.

In the report’s foreword, Benny Higgins (who led the group tasked with compiling the report’s recommendations) states: ‘Scotland had the ambition to become a robust, wellbeing economy. That is one that generates strong economic growth… and that does so with an unequivocal focus on climate change, fair work, diversity, and equality’. We disagree that a wellbeing economy is about generating “strong economic growth” – a wellbeing economy would ask: ‘what sort of growth – and for whom – is needed for collective wellbeing?’ It is about the economy (and growth where necessary) being in service of delivering collective wellbeing.

For example, we welcome the emphasis on conditionality in business support and recommendations such as a jobs guarantee: the post-covid economy cannot be one where businesses get away with social and environmental harm while young people see their future ebbing away.

Recognition that a wellbeing economy attends to climate change, fair work, diversity, and equality is promising to hear. The report rightly gives prominent focus to green recovery tests, and to circular economy principles.

Again though – and crucially – to truly initiate a wellbeing economy, the restructure must be designed to enable people and planet to flourish while being agnostic to economic growth, not dependent on it.

The Advisory Group’s report is a good starting point, and we welcome the embrace of the ‘wellbeing economy’ concept. The conversation can’t end here – not least when creating a wellbeing economy requires substantial economic transformation. We look forward to continuing the conversation with Government, businesses, and the wider public as we all move into this new era of economic recovery. Scotland has an opportunity to lead the world in truly putting collective wellbeing at the heart of economic policy making and creating an economy that delivers for people and planet first time around.

Katherine Trebeck (WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead) has been advocating alternative measures of progress to GDP for a long time – including her work on Oxfam’s Humankind Index.

One alternative metric she’s become known for championing is the number of girls riding bicycles to school. Just think, she urges us, of the number of policies that need to be working for the benefit of people in order for higher numbers of girls on bikes – and in education – to be possible.

This month Katherine spoke with The Alternative UK about this idea and the vision of a wellbeing economy more broadly. Watch the “fascinating, informative and warm exchange”, part of their “The Elephant Meets” series, below or find it on The Alternative here. 

 

This week the #BuildBackBetter campaign has launched in earnest in the UK, and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance is proud to support it alongside more than 70 other diverse organisations.

The campaign calls for “a new deal that prioritises people, invests in our NHS and creates a robust, shockproof economy that is capable of tackling the climate crisis.” This includes a petition to MPs, which UK citizens can use to contact their representatives asking them to support the Build Back Better vision.

All coalition partners support the following high level principles for any coronavirus recovery plan in the UK:

1. Secure the health and needs of everyone in the UK now and into the future – irrespective of employment or nationality – including for food, healthcare, income, job security, good housing, and access to clean and affordable energy and heat, public transport, clean air and green spaces.

2. Protect and invest in our public services. From the NHS to paid and unpaid social care, from schools and colleges to rescue services, early years care and local authorities. The services that we all rely on must be properly funded, protected from privatisation and available to everyone, regardless of their immigration status.
3. Rebuild society with a transformative Green New Deal. The recovery plan must decarbonise the economy in a way that tackles inequality and enhances the lives of ordinary people, workers and communities. It should create thousands of new, well-paid, secure, unionised jobs across the country.

4. Invest in people. Ensure that the policies and investments for recovery do not prop up the profits of the big banks and the executives of corporations fuelling
climate change and inequality. We need to restructure public and private finance so that it redistributes power into the hands of people, workers and communities, and supports sectors that nourish our society and safeguards our future.
5. Build solidarity and community across borders. Our recovery should leave no-one behind – especially as much of the world begin their fight against Covid-19. Anything we do now, and in the longer-term recovery, should aim to end global injustices, conflict, and environmental degradation; must guarantee human rights and free movement; and promote changes that end global power inequalities. We must share solutions, technology and transfer finance where it’s needed.

By Denisha Killoh, WEAll Scotland

This piece was originally published by The Herald on 9 June 2020

The barbaric murder of George Floyd has sparked a surge in global outrage at the violence and racism people of colour are forced to endure. What began as an aversion to an untimely death has rapidly spread to become a mass movement across country boundaries.

As the whole world navigates the repercussions of a pandemic together, the sense of community amongst local citizens has been invigorated. The extrajudicial killing of George Floyd has contextual significance as citizens everywhere are beginning to scrutinise their own establishments to demand a systemic revolution.

This fight against the injustice inflicted on black communities resonates deeply with me as a woman of colour in Glasgow. My family emigrated to Scotland as part of the ‘Windrush generation’. At first the diversity this generation of immigrants brought was celebrated as their talents were deployed to fill the shortages in the post-war labour market. People of colour played a crucial role in reviving the British economy and restoring harmony to society. Yet, the 2018 Windrush scandal unearthed rife systemic racism. The introduction of the UK government’s hostile environment policy led to an abundance of BAME British citizens being wrongly deported disregarding their lifelong contribution to society.

I spoke to family members living in Scotland and a friend who lives in England about their direct experiences of racism. Although there is a generation gap, they voiced harrowingly similar stories about the impact of racism on their aspirations and self-esteem.

My friend told me that for as long as she can remember, she’s felt inferior due to her race. She spoke of repeatedly suffering at the hands of strangers who hold negative views towards “people like her” stating, “my whole life people have said to me that as a black woman, I have to work twice as hard as my white friends just to show I have the same abilities”.

One of my family members spoke of a time where she had been made to feel unwelcome at work. A colleague said to her, “you come here to take our jobs and what’s worse is that you are black”. They discussed the constant struggle to be heard and respected because of the inherent assumption that they were “dumb and incapable” due to their skin colour.

The world faces an ultimatum; we can either #BuildBackBetter or go #BacktoWorse in the recovery from COVID-19. The pandemic and the symbolic case of George Floyd have revealed how entrenched our current systems are with inequality as they breed injustice and exist in conflict with the interests of BAME communities.

We have the opportunity to create wellbeing economies that prioritise long-term human health and ecological sustainability. It’s no coincidence that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is gaining such momentum in the wake of the pandemic: it is a unique moment to ensure that those who have historically been marginalised can have a leading role in rebuilding our economy and wider society.

In repurposing our systems to have compassion at their core, we must proactively confront systemic racism by radically transforming institutional practice to be in service of black lives, not at war with them.

I’d like to thank my Grandma Carmina and my friend Marta for bravely sharing their invaluable experiences of systemic racism. The way in which they have maintained their determination and strength in spite of lifelong discrimination is my biggest inspiration.

We must #SayTheirNames and honour the legacy of those taken from us too soon and create a world that is radically different, truly valuing black life.

Ahmaud Arbery

Belly Mujinga

Breonna Taylor

Eric Garner

George Floyd

Mark Duggan

Michael Brown

Rashan Charles

Sandra Bland

Sarah Reed

Sheku Bayoh

Shukri Abdi

Stephen Lawrence

Tamir Rice

Trayvon Martin

 

Header image: Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Blog by Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, WEAll Ambassador and Professor of Sustainability Science at the University of Iceland

June 2, 2020

A few years ago a  guy called me up in Iceland and asked: “Why do the leftists own the environment?“  My answer was: “They do not but they have taken environmental issues to the forefront of their politics.  All parties should do that.“ He went on to found the Right Green Party which never took foothold in Icelandic politics.  But it was a step in the right direction.   Healthy environment and sustainability is tantamount for everyone’s wellbeing.

I was party to a similar discussion in an international WhatsApp group recently:  “Why is it that left-wing governments are promoting the wellbeing agenda?  In doing so it will be rejected by those to the right in politics.“

My response was: “In Iceland there is a broad political base behind the new wellbeing policy which has a focus on prosperity and quality of life and is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development goals.“

Our Prime Minister is from the Left Green Movement, but her coalition government encompasses the whole political spectrum – with the Independence Party (conservative right wing) led by Bjarni Benediktsson who is Minister of Finance and and Economic Affairs, and  the Progressive Party led by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson and is Minister of Transport and Local Government.

This broad based coalition government agreed the Wellbeing policy agenda in April 2020.  It has 39 wellbeing indicators that are to be collected and followed by Statistics Iceland.  This is very important when considering what may happen in the next election – when the Left Greens may no longer lead the government.  Then the wellbeing agenda is already engrained in policy with civil servants and public institutional support.

What about the other countries in the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership?

In Scotland, the wellbeing economy agenda is being supported and followed by the National Performance Framework (NPF) which was presented to the Scottish Parliament by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Sturgeon is from the Scottish National Party (SNP) – which is considered to be a centre-left party and wants Scotland to become independent and and have closer ties with Europe and the EU.

Importantly, the NPF was passed unanimously with support from all five political parties in the Scottish Parliament.  Again, with this broad base of support in parliament the wellbeing economy agenda has a chance to survive if the next elections do not return the SNP as the leading party.

In New Zealand, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set the first wellbeing budget world-wide in May 2019 with a central question – how well are our people? The focus is on five priority areas where evidence indicates greatest opportunities to improve the lives of New Zealanders.  The PM´s political party is Labour (left).  Labour is in a coalition government with the New Zealand First Party (right wing) and the Green Party (left wing).  This again, is a broad-based political coalition, giving strength to the wellbeing agenda.

Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand are all members of WEGo – the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership – which is an offspring of WEAll.  A new member has just joined WEGo – Wales.  The First Minister of Wales is Mark Drakeford and he leads the Labour (left wing) government in Wales.  Wales has had the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act since 2015 that has seven wellbeing goals.  Therefore the wellbeing agenda is firmly in Welsh policy – and has been set in law for five years.

The Wellbeing Economy agenda is therefore neither left wing nor right wing.  It is for us all, so that all people and our planet can prosper.  Now that governments across the globe are finding their feet to lead their nations out of the COVOD-19 health and economic crisis – let us remember that pandemics hit us all, wherever we stand in politics. We also know that we cannot go back to business as usual.

In the worlds of professor Frank Snowden, a historian:  “By creating the myth that we could grow our economy exponentially and infinitely, by almost 8 billion people living on earth, excessive travel, environmental pollution, by pushing back nature more and more, we created almost ideal conditions for the coronavirus to emerge, spread and hit us especially hard.“

Let us join hands across political spectrums and make the Wellbeing Economy the new economy for the 21st century.  Would you like to learn more? Then see the WEAll ten principles of Building Back Better.

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.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop declared in Parliament yesterday that “the time of a wellbeing economy has well and truly arrived.”

Speaking about plans to get the Scottish economy moving again after the covid-19 lockdown, Hyslop was clear that business as usual should not be the default:

“We must be brave and bold and rethink the world of work,” she said as she outlines the three steps required to restart Scotland’s economy in 14 separate sectors, stressing that it must be done safely and will involve…

  • Measures to suppress the virus
  • Guidance that supports fair and safe workplaces
  • The right structures for workplace regulation

Encouragingly, she went on to say that we “need a revolution in economic thinking that stimulates and values cooperative sharing of risk and reward, to rethink what value is”.

While touching on workers’ rights, remote working and a green recovery, Ms Hyslop added that “collective endeavour” should replace “old thinking on battling over wealth distribution, which has never properly delivered”.

See more coverage on BBC News.

Scotland is one of four members of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership, alongside New Zealand, Iceland and Wales. Find out more about this initiative here and about WEAll Scotland – the dedicated Scottish hub of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance – here.

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).

Lois Cameron was one of over 200 people who attended a recent joint event organised by the RSA and WEAll, where Katherine Trebeck and Jamie Cooke were in conversation about what it will take to Build Back Better and create wellbeing economies. You can watch their discussion here.

Lois was so inspired by what she heard that she was moved to write this beautiful poem:

Build Back Better  

 

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

Care, kindness, love do they appear?

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

Time to shop local and be neighbourly

To slow down, connect , bring others cheer

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

 

Making money is not all it’s cracked up to be

People feel redundant as they lose their career

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

Can you see the butterflies, hear the bees?

Listen to clean water tumble over the weir

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

 

The change will be hard for all to agree

But to ‘build back better’ we need to be clear

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

Changing what matters is going to be key

In this woman lead, make sure you hear

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

May 2020     Lois Cameron

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.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] By Katherine Trebeck (WEAll) and Peter Kelly (The Poverty Alliance)

First published by Bella Caledonia

 

 

This year started with masks and it is likely to end with masks.

As Scottish people woke up on Hogmanay morning, Australians were going to bed to the latest news of the bushfires spreading across the east coast of the country, taking people’s homes, wildlife and acres and acres of native vegetation with them.

In Australia’s capital city, Canberra, the rolling hills surrounding it meant smoke from nearby blazes settled in the city streets, endangering the lungs of locals. Many went out to buy masks and the ones of apparently high enough spec to filter out the carcinogenetic particles quickly sold out.

And now multiple governments are telling their citizens that wearing masks is part of the steps they need to take to control the transmission of covid-19, part of the so-called ‘new normal’ we’re all going to have to fall into step with.

And as lockdown measures are slowly, hesitantly wound back, attention is being turned to how economies can recover from one of the biggest kicks in the guts it is possible to imagine: workers and customers being told to stay home.

The stakes are high – people have lost jobs, businesses are no longer viable, and personal and government debts have stacked up. Emergency measures cannot continue indefinitely – in due course the direction is going to have to be set for the post-covid economy.

What covid-19 revealed was that the economy of pre-covid days was one that stood on the shoulders of an army of low paid workers eking out a livelihood in very precarious work. The early stages of lockdown revealed that what kept communities ticking over was the foundational economy, local supply chains, and the generosity and kindness of neighbours helping each other get by.

What will ensure Scotland builds back better? Certainly not reverting business as usual – in fact, that will be impossible, what is more likely is a more toxic economic model than the one of pre-covid days. So instead, what is necessary is a proactive, concerted effort to use all the levers the Scottish government has to create a wellbeing economy: one that delivers social justice on a healthy planet.

Scotland has already created of the mechanisms that can enable this – they’ve just been underutilised. Now is the time to breathe life into them, doubling down on the timid steps already being taken rather than ditching them with a misplaced deference to old way of doing things which didn’t require too much prodding to be revealed as inadequate.

Here are some examples:

  • Conditionality needs to be the name of the game in government support for businesses. Some businesses merit public funds because they are the sort of enterprises that can play a part in building a wellbeing economy. Some won’t and thus don’t. No business that is unable to demonstrate its relevance to the wellbeing economy agenda should be in line for public funds. But in making that real, fortunately the Scottish Government has a Business Pledge, sitting on the shelf quietly that could be bolstered and used as a lens through which to evaluate the requests for help. The work of Scottish Enterprise constitutes another nascent move that needs more oomph: nurturing more inclusive business models into existence and the 2019 shift in strategy to making ‘job-related grants contingent on fair work practices, including job security and payment of the real living wage’.
    *
  • But in contrast to businesses, all people merit public support when the chips are down. So reskilling is needed to help people reposition themselves in a profoundly changed economic landscape. But not just reskilling but providing a backstop so people don’t slip too far as they step into the new reality, via robust social protection. Making permanent the improved resources made available through the Scottish Welfare Fund would be positive, but significantly increasing Child Benefit using Scotland’s scope to top up reserved benefits would provide the cushion that many families have been lacking in recent weeks.
    *
  • Communities know what needs to be done: how their localities need to change and what sort of economy will be in service of that. So perhaps the best role of a post-covid state is to underwrite community-led solutions? Again, there are the glimmers of existing practice to build on – not least in the form of the Climate Challenge Fund. Ramping up such initiatives will ensure the activities that emerge as lockdown is lifted are those aligned with sustainability and community need.
    *
  • Jobs themselves need to be redesigned – to deliver decent pay (it beggars belief that two in five care workers did not earn the real Living Wage as the corona crisis set in) and to distribute the available paid work more fairly across people who want it. The Scottish Government can encourage this through support for those firms that embrace employing more people rather than working fewer staff harder. For example, business rates could be recalibrated, subsidies and procurement could be better aligned with certain business practices, and basic bread and butter encouragement of necessary practices all matter.
    *
  • Covid-19 and the economic disruption it has brought is no reason to put dealing with environmental breakdown on the backburner – in fact, it makes the need even more stark if the likes of Covid-32 and Covid-97 are to be kept at bay. Again, Scotland has the beginnings to build on: ambitious climate targets and the work of the Just Transition Commission to map a way to support communities while powering down those industries incompatible with a low carbon economy. The very existence of Zero Waste Scotland is something to celebrate – a post-covid economy needs to be a circular one. The just transition agenda needs to be at the heart of economic and social policy making as Scotland seeks ways to move into a new economic era without people being left on the wayside.
    *
  • Other mechanisms that offer the means to bring about the sort of changes needed, were they just to be drawn on with more vigour, include the Sustainable Procurement duty, the Community Empowerment Act, and the community wealth building efforts. Community wealth building in particular, when combined with the efforts to bolster the population of inclusive business models flagged above, constitutes an important way to ‘get the economy to do more of the heavy lifting’ – or predistribute – resources in a way that is fairer than current circumstances allow.
    *
  • The Citizens Assemblies – for example on Scotland’s future and on climate change – are examples of the sort of robust, deliberative mechanisms to distil and develop the views of people in Scotland. With the First Minister talking of having an ‘adult conversation’ about responding to covid-19, the test will be the extent to which they feed into policy decisions and become a core part of decision making strategy.

The goal of a wellbeing economy has been set in the National Performance Framework, the creation of WEGo, the First Minister’s TED talk, and the rhetoric about the February budget being a wellbeing budget (a dubious claim, but the sentiment counts for something).

If the NPF can be used more concertedly to guide the objectives of policy making and accountability of policy making, then the economy coming out of covid will begin to be one that could be described as a wellbeing economy.

If the learnings from others can be harnessed via WEGo and if the bold statements in the First Minister’s TED talk create space for civil servants wanting to be part of the transformation necessary, then the economy coming out of covid will begin to be one that could be described as a wellbeing economy.

And if next year’s budget truly is a wellbeing budget – featuring long term goals, cross-departmental collaboration, with an outcome focus and attending to root causes of wellbeing deficits – then the economy coming out of covid will begin to be one that could be described as a wellbeing economy.

And that brings us to the task force set up to guide the government on economic recovery post-covid. Others have raised an eyebrow at its composition and lack of unusual suspects (and, dare we point out, the lack of expertise on addressing poverty and ways to bolster Scotland’s renewable sector, let alone an economic system change expert). This is surely an own-goal – diversity will enable better ideas. But not wanting to judge it prematurely, its merit will depend on the extent to which it discards outdated recipes, recognises the dual goals of social justice and sustainability and that the best initiatives deliver on both fronts to deliver collective wellbeing for current and future generations.

Scotland has the talk and the templates for building a wellbeing economy. There are tentative moves in the direction of what is necessary. Now is not the time to turn away from them. Now is the time to breathe life into them, roll them out, scale them out and up in order to build back better.

Katherine photo credit: Martin Oetting

Peter photo credit: Maverick photo agency[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

On 7 May WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Katherine Trebeck was part of The RSA’s webinar series.

Katherine had a lively discussion with Jamie Cooke, Head of RSA Scotland, about the urgency of prioritising wellbeing over economic growth in order to build back better to create wellbeing economies, during and after the covid emergency response.

Watch the event below or find it on The RSA’s YouTube channel here.

By Lisa Hough-Stewart

The city of Amsterdam recently unveiled its new Amsterdam City Doughnut, which Doughnut Economics author and WEAll Ambassador Kate Raworth describes as “taking the global concept of the Doughnut and turns it into a tool for transformative action in the city of Amsterdam.”

Doughnut Economics is a book full of ideas for 21st century economies and since it was first launched in 2017 many people – from teachers, artists and community organisers to city officials, business leaders and politicians – have said they want to put the ideas into practice, indeed they are already doing it.

The iconic Doughnut framework sets a goal of operating within safe social and planetary boundaries. It is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century.

Kate and her team we are launching Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) to help make this happen. The start-up team is currently working on building a collaborative platform so that this emerging community of changemakers can connect, share, inspire and get inspired, with all the different ways that people are putting the ideas of Doughnut Economics into action.

As well as Amsterdam’s Doughnut, there are already other Doughnuts out there – and this period of great change, transformation and recovery is the perfect time to revisit them.

Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics work began during her time at Oxfam, and the NGO has developed Doughnut frameworks and tools for Wales, Scotland, the UK and South Africa.

Indeed, Oxfam Cymru has recently published a new Welsh Doughnut 2020  – great timing, as the Welsh Government has just joined the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership. 

The Welsh Doughnut 2020 offers many insights into the current situation in Wales and where the government and others could prioritise in order to work towards building a wellbeing economy.

Oxfam Cymru

 

If you’re interested in exploring a Doughnut framework where you are, you can let the Doughnut Economics Action Lab know by filling in this short form.

In the meantime, check out the rich resources that are the existing Doughnuts – and if you’re working on building a wellbeing economy of those locations, make sure that decision makers are aware of the Doughnut analysis that’s already been carried out.

Header image: Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels