New WEAll Briefing paper published today:

‘With your support we kept going, what else were we to do?’ Linwood as a microcosm of the beginnings of a wellbeing economy (click to download PDF)

By Katherine Trebeck, WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead with Kirsty Flannigan and Jim Boyle

For any new idea to be supported, let alone adopted, it needs to be visualised.

Sometimes that is via story telling that offers a coherent and compelling narrative. Sometimes that will be by seeing the idea played out in practice and getting a sense of what it looks and feels like.

Ideally, it will be both.

This applies to the diverse movement working to build a wellbeing economy: we need to work upwards from practical experience and outwards from conversations that open up people’s sense of the possibility that the economy can operate for, rather than against, humanity.

Rarely though (under the current economic system), is it possible to see the richness of an idea embodied in so many dimensions in one place. Fortunately, in Linwood, a town of just over ten thousand people on the outskirts of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, efforts to build what can be described as a wellbeing economy can be seen in action.

The Linwood story encompasses not just what a wellbeing economy might entail, but also why such a new economic model needs to be built, in Linwood and beyond.

In many ways, the story of Linwood reflects the story of the global economy. It has powerful actors in the form of corporate and institutional protagonists. And it has those who suffer from an economic model misaligned with what people need: local families who just want to get on with their lives and buy produce locally, play football on local pitches, share a cup of coffee together in a local cafe, and feel that the economy with which they interact is working for them.

The characters in Linwood’s story include heroic women fighting against an impersonal bureaucracy. It has heartache and triumphs, and its long history is still ongoing with the possibility of another instalment just around the corner.

Rather than telling the story of Linwood in a chronological sense, its story of the last few decades is set out here via challenges and objectives that will be familiar to those in the wellbeing economy movement around the world:

  • Deep systemic causes beyond the manifest symptoms
  • Local perseverance in resisting an imposed and inappropriate agenda, but so often coming up against power and system intransigence
  • The cultivation of business models that are designed for social benefit
  • Bottom up economic development; and
  • A bold new vision for how the economy can operate.

Together, the story of Linwood provides hope that a wellbeing economy can be built in the face of system resistance, by a few determined people with their eyes set on an economy that works for them.

Download the full paper here.

Image: Linwood CDT

This blog was originally published on the Wellbeing Economies Film website. Read it there – and find out more about the forthcoming Wellbeing Economies documentary.

By Martin Oetting

A few days ago, I had the chance to catch up with Katherine – one of the two key protagonists in our film – about her thoughts regarding our current crisis, and what it means for changing our economies. This is a summary of the things she mentioned in our call.

Corona is revealing to the wider community that its miserably paid armies of people in precarious work, hitherto dismissed as ‘low skill’, who really keep our societies going: the couriers, the nurses, the supermarket checkout staff, the care workers, the refuse collectors. They are now the ones who keep the shop open, who keep our streets clean, who deliver books and groceries to our door to help us get through lockdown. They are the ones who ensure our wellbeing these days.

Whereas the highly paid top managers are nowhere to be seen in such a terrain.

This should make us take a renewed interest in rather boring seeming and less glamorous aspects of our economy: schools, hospitals, the food industry (the so-called ‘foundational economy’). We should hold on to a new recognition of the importance of local supply chains.

And also ask ourselves new questions: what is the Care Economy really worth to us? How much do we value the “gift economy” — i.e. all the services that are provided in everyday life without payment (child supervision among neighbours, care for the elderly in the family, help here and there in the neighbourhood), which keep so much of our lives as individuals and as communities together.

And we should note that despite the vital role these things play, so many of them are not calculated anywhere in the GDP of a country.

That is why now is the time to think new thoughts and imagine a better economy post-corona than the one we had going into it. This phase of crisis enables us to ask questions and give answers that were unthinkable only a short while ago. For example, the current UK Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to be thinking — or at least there were hints of this in some of his press conferences – in terms of the rich having to carry some of the burden of the mammoth income support programmes the government is having to bring in. We’ll see where that ends up, but it would have been hard to have imagined just a few weeks ago.

The risk is that this window of possibility will close again very quickly – that a “rollback” will come as people rush to return to how things were — forgetting or ignoring how grim that was for so many and for our planet. 

There is a similar diversity in the corporate world — the wheat separating from the chaff: some companies are now putting profits aside and trying to live up to their responsibilities. One example that has caught my eye is the supermarket chain Morrisons which has promised all its suppliers that from now on they will pay all deliveries immediately, to help them with their cash flow. This is significant because supermarkets are notorious for slow payment. Another example is whisky distilleries reconfiguring their operations to produce hand sanitisers — and making it available at cost or for free to front line workers. But there are others going in the opposite direction: Amazon has fired people who didn’t dare to come to work because of Corona, a chain of pubs forcing its staff to work when the government was advising against it.

This is exactly why we must do everything we can to start creating a better world now. The opportunity is to build back better as my former colleagues working in humanitarian situations would say. 

A lot of folks have been thinking long and hard for many years — decades even — about how our economy should be. Covid-19 may have just transformed the economic and political landscape so much that these ideas get the hearing they so urgently deserve.

Dr Katherine Trebeck is Advocacy and Influencing lead for WEAll

Images: Martin Oetting

First published on Bella Caledonia

By Katherine Trebeck

History is being made by the hour. The current crisis is era-defining to that extent that we are soon likely to talk in terms of “pre-covid” and “post-covid”. The decisions being made now by those in power will ripple through the years and determine what kind of society we go on to live in.

The spread of covid-19 shines a light on our economy – its inequalities, power structures and absurdities. The opportunity is to address some of the cleavages between parts of our society by building a wellbeing economy instead of reverting to the same old structures: building back better rather than returning to business as usual.

Covid-19 means that the reality is setting in that ours is an economic system which depends on an army of low paid workers. These are the workers Guy Standing described as the ‘precariat’: without decent security in their work, let alone sufficient pay. Those on zero hour contracts in the gig economy or eking out a living as self-employed, but with little command over the rates or regularity of that work. These are the front-line staff of our hyper-flexible economy where humans are treated as just-in-time inventory just as much as oat milk for the salariat’s flat whites is. The precariat are already the first losing their hours and their jobs as business dwindles – as bars close, as people delay haircuts and as events are cancelled. Without savings, they will be amongst the hardest hit and thus compelled to go into work if the work is there – a form of economic conscription if there ever was one.

It is the precariat who drive the delivery vans keeping the salariat stocked with avocados and hand wipes, who keep the Amazon-orders flowing in, and the Uber-Eats sushi on the table. It is the precariat tending to the frail in nursing homes or stocking the shelves in supermarkets so the rest of society can fill up on necessities while self-isolating.

In contrast, many of the ‘salariat’ (or the ‘proficians’ in Standing’s lexicon) have the relative luxury of moving their work from pot-plant filled offices to online conference calls at home. Lonely? Perhaps, but without the risk of bailiffs chasing unpaid bills so long as salaries are still paid.

Covid-19 is putting into sharp relief the contrast between those with sufficient resources and ‘human capital’ to command a toe-hold in the economy and those who are simply knocked about by taps on an app and the ‘Free Next Day Delivery’ obsession.

Precarious work shouldn’t exist – work should be a route to economic security and sense of purpose. Workers shouldn’t be compelled by economic necessity to work when sick and possibly contagious. Government should do all it can to ensure workers don’t face the choice between spreading covid-19 and being kicked out of their house because they can’t pay the monthly rent or mortgage.

There is a serious risk that, with eyes firmly fixed on a return to ‘business as usual’ beyond the current situation, the first queuing up for bailouts are the very entities which should be powered down in the face of the climate emergency. Meanwhile, those that most need it are left to make do with the already frayed social safety net that masquerades as social protection in the UK these days. Around the world governments are recognising the needs of vulnerable workers – not just the vulnerable elderly. For example, Ireland is paying 203 euros a week to those who lose their job or income or who are self-employed and losing contracts for the next six weeks. The Swedish government is also paying sick pay, rather than putting it at the feet of employers and increasing the amount of cover it provides to short-time workers. Even in Australia – one of the toughest welfare regimes in the OECD – the government is paying $AUD750 tax free to those on benefits and to all pensioners.

Yet these are the sort of measures that are short term amelioration – they help take the edge off an economy that doesn’t do enough to support everyone.

They are also a sign of how far away the current scenario is from a wellbeing economy – one purposed for and hence designed in a way to deliver good lives for people first time around.

Fortunately, just as covid-19 is showing us the stark divides in our economy – between those who can readily work from their kitchen tables and those forced to deliver to them – it also is showing us the outline of a better economy – a wellbeing economy.

The economic activities most needed at times like these are not the glittering cocktail bars and massive concert venues. They are the unglamorous but necessary pillars of the foundational economy – the schools, supermarkets and hospitals that can’t threaten to up and run at the lightest change in the tax system, entities which require considerable labour input and hence offer local jobs. The places prioritising those who need them most, profit or no profit (the supermarket Morrisons’ recent effort being a good example).

Local supply chains are coming into their own as global ones are disrupted by border closures and plane groundings.

And, perhaps most beautifully, covid-19 is showing the importance of community ties and informal support – none of which will do much to boost the usual measures of economic ‘success’ in the form of Gross Domestic Product, but which undeniably will be vital in helping individuals and families survive.

Local supply chains, the foundational economy, and community support in the care economy are three of the pillars we’ll all need to get through it. They are also three pieces of the jigsaw of a wellbeing economy weall need beyond covid-19.

Communities and individuals are stepping up to the challenges presented by covid-19, recognising that we all need each other and prioritising togetherness even as we are forced to be physically apart. As the inequalities in our economic system are laid bare by this crisis, rather than returning to business as usual, countries such as the UK would be well-served to instead build back better by creating a wellbeing economy.

 

WEAll was honoured to be part of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Limits to Growth at the UK Parliament this week.

Chaired by Green MP Caroline Lucas, and convened by the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, the APPG provides a platform for cross-party dialogue on shared and lasting prosperity in a world of environmental, social and economic limits.

This session was the group’s AGM and it had a special focus on Wellbeing Economics. Professor Tim Jackson, a WEAll Ambassador, had prepared this briefing paper on tackling growth dependency.

The paper sets out a three-fold strategy for moving beyond GDP by: changing the way we measure success; building a consistent policy framework for a ‘wellbeing economy’; and addressing the ‘growth dependency’ of the economy.

In particular, the briefing recommends:

  • a determined effort to develop new measures of societal wellbeing and sustainable prosperity;
  • the full integration of these measures into central and local government decision-making processes;
  • the alignment of regulatory, fiscal and monetary policy with the aims of achieving a sustainable and inclusive wellbeing economy;
  • the establishment of a formal inquiry into reducing the ‘growth dependency’ of the UK economy;
  • the development of a long-term, precautionary ‘post-growth’ strategy for the UK.

A packed room of MPs and peers from all political parties was addressed first by Peter Schmidt, rapporteur to the European Economic and Social Committee’s (EESC) recent ‘own initiative opinion’ on The sustainable economy we need, then by Lisa Hough-Stewart, Communications and Mobilisation lead at WEAll.

Lisa focused her remarks on the need for new economic narratives, and the role of policy makers in helping shape those narratives. Explaining the work of WEAll and its members, she also gave details of the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative (WEGo) which has Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand collaborating towards their shared goal of promoting economies based on wellbeing.

A robust and positive discussion followed the presentations, with clear interest in wellbeing economy ideas from all attendees and encouraging suggestions for driving the agenda forward at UK level.

Caroline Lucas has raised an Early Day Motion in Parliament in support of the findings on the EESC opinion, and the principles of a wellbeing economy. It is garnering support with more MPs across the political spectrum – you can view the motion here, and if you live in the UK, share it with your MP asking them to support it.

WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Katherine Trebeck was recently invited to be a featured guest speaker at the latest session of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, on Saturday 18 January.

The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland (the Assembly) is a group of 100 citizens from across Scotland that are broadly representative of the country and are coming together to address the following three questions:

  • What kind of country are we seeking to build?
  • How best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit?
  • What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

Katherine has now adapted her contribution to the Assembly into a new WEAll Ideas paper entitled “A wellbeing economy for Scotland”. You can download it here.

You can also watch the whole session on the Assembly’s Facebook page here (or below) – Katherine’s contribution starts at 30:53.

From NHS Health Scotland website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Dr Katherine Trebeck recently gave a powerful new talk at TEDx Munich on why the future economy has to be a wellbeing economy

Watch her talk below or on YouTube here – and share far and wide to spread the message of why we need a wellbeing economy

Image from TEDx Munchen

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

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

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

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

Photo by brotiN biswaS from Pexels

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

It includes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following discussions with WEAll Scotland, Sue Rule of Dunoon was motivated to write and share this beautiful new poem.

By Anna Murphy

Where does money come from? What’s the purpose of economics? What is economics? Is growth the means to an end or an end in itself? Why are there people still homeless and hungry when the world has so much wealth? Why have we developed economic and political systems which disregard nature’s power and beauty? Can we fix the system with the very tools that built it? What does ‘the system’ even mean? 

What can I, as an individual, do to create positive change? 

Welcome to WEAll Read. WEAll Read is WEAll’s new book club, a community reading and discussing books relevant to the wellbeing economy: in essence, the goal is to answer the questions above…and the many more that crop up with each new book! It’s about making economics everyone’s business, because it is too important to be left just to the experts. 

A core premise of the wellbeing economy is that economic growth must not be an end in itself: but rather a possible means to the ultimate goal of creating human and ecological health, wealth and fulfilment. This challenges a deeply embedded assumption of traditional economics: that it is a science, devoid of values. At WEAll read, we believe in the need to bring values back to economic thought, knowledge, theory and practice.

Where did it come from? 

As a recent graduate starting out with a sustainable finance project, my 2019 New Year’s resolution was to learn about sustainability and economics (and ideally to build a community with whom to chat about this slightly niche topic). It all started with a LinkedIn post. I promised wine. The Impact Economy Book Club kicked off in Edinburgh and 8 months later, we welcomed Katherine Trebeck to the local bookshop. We were so inspired by her ideas and organisation, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, that we joined forces! It was immensely exciting to discover an organisation turning the things we were reading about into action. 

‘Together we are greater than the sum of our parts’ goes the WEAll mantra, and this collaboration felt like exactly that. 

Where is it going? 

Think hundreds of local book clubs, far and wide, with people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines coming together to learn and take action with the wellbeing economy. 

We’re up and running in Edinburgh (join this Whatsapp Group to get involved), and start in Glasgow this month. Beth Cloughton, the Glasgow organiser, is also planning a book swap and online dial-in, already showing the power of creativity! You can join their Facebook Group here

We’d love for you to get in touch if you’d like to set up either a place-based or online club, and also have a Goodreads Group for anyone to join (you can find the books we read in 2019 there).

How we are at WEAll Read

  • Brave and respectful: we listen attentively and respectfully, and challenge bravely
  • Curious and skeptical: we are open to new ideas whilst also rigorously challenging them
  • Grounded in knowledge and action: each month, we conclude our conversations by making personal intentions to take action, based on what we’ve learnt

Where we could do with some help

Challenging conversation isn’t always comfortable. A few months ago, in Edinburgh, a book club attendee criticised it for being a feminist echo-chamber: we had apparently been read too many books by females. After establishing robust argument against this critique, the whiteness and Western-ness of all the authors whose books we had read was obvious, and problematic. This is why we believe brave conversations are necessary: uncomfortable moments produce stronger arguments and reveal important blind spots.

If anyone from the wellbeing economy community has books to recommend from perspectives we might have inadvertently missed, please reach out, we would love to hear from you. 

Join us on Monday 27th in Glasgow to discuss Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s ‘The Spirit Level’ or Tuesday 28th in Edinburgh, for Naomi Klein’s ‘On Fire.’ Looking forward to some new faces!

Books we read last year: 

  • Winners Take All, Anand Giridharadas
  • Lean Impact, Ann Mei Chang
  • The Purpose of Capital, Jed Emerson
  • A World of Three Zeros, Muhammad Yunus
  • Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth
  • The Value of Everything, Mariana Mazzucato 
  • There is No Planet B, Mike Berners Lee 
  • The Economics of Arrival, Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams

Discussions so far in Edinburgh

Katherine Trebeck comes to the book club in Edinburgh 

Summary notes of The Economics of Arrival 

Summary of Discussion, The Value of Everything, by Mariana Mazzucato

Summary of Discussion: There is No Planet B 

 

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck was a featured guest speaker at the latest session of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, on Saturday 18 January.

The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland (the Assembly) is a group of 100 citizens from across Scotland that are broadly representative of the country and are coming together to address the following three questions:

  • What kind of country are we seeking to build?
  • How best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit?
  • What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

The session on Saturday was the Assembly’s fourth meeting, and it focused on sustainability – applying economic, social and environmental lenses to Scotland’s sustainability challenges.

Katherine was invited to address the Assembly and outline the vision of a wellbeing economy, the role of growth and WEAll’s ideas for Scotland’s future.

You can watch the whole session on the Assembly’s Facebook page here (or below) – Katherine’s contribution starts at 30:53.

Session four of weekend 3 – Sustainability: environmental, economic and social lenses. We're LIVE at 14:45.

Posted by Citizens' Assembly of Scotland on Saturday, January 18, 2020

It is the end of the year and we are sharing the first yearly round-up of our activites here at WEAll Scotland.

We hope you find this document insightful and energising.

We wish you the best in your efforts in realising more of the wellbeing economy ideals in your communities and lives.

Happy holidays!

WEAll Scotland

 

WEALL SCOT_YRLY ROUND UP_2019

REPOST FROM CHRISTIAN AID:

By: Úna Bartley

Back in the late eighties, Christmas for me, meant extra shifts at WH Smith’s record department. More shifts meant more cash, and more cash meant more purchases from Ms. Selfridge for my ever expanding wardrobe with its fifty shades of black. With my shaky grasp on economics, the festive period seemed a win-win for all concerned: more work equalled more goods purchased. More purchased goods equalled more work. And more work equalled more goods to be purchased. What wasn’t to like?

Fast forward thirty years and this is the world that so many are living in and on which our economies depend. A world dominated by work (be it low-paid, well-paid or unpaid) and consumption.

This relentless treadmill of working to consume is underpinned by an economic system that prioritises the pursuit of profit and economic growth over the wellbeing of our communities and planet. It is a system that has given rise to stark inequalities and is devastating our environment. It has also subtly shaped our thinking so that with all that work and shopping, we often lose sight of what really matters to us: our family, friends and health. As well as what is essential for our survival: a sustainable and viable planet.

Yet it’s hard not to feel that change is in the air. Witness the recent series of political shocks, the volatile atmosphere across the globe and the sudden rise in protests against climate change.

While some are simply venting their frustration at a system that they feel has left them behind or is trashing our planet, others are quietly channelling their energy into establishing positive alternatives to our current economic model, from community energy projects to innovative business initiatives to ethical finance projects.

While some are simply venting their frustration at a system that they feel has left them behind or is trashing our planet, others are quietly channelling their energy into establishing positive alternatives to our current economic model

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland was established as part of a global movement which works to build on this momentum and to promote a wellbeing economy. Building such a radically different economy – one that delivers social justice and environmental health – will require participation from both ‘insiders’ & ‘outsiders’ across all sectors. Our role is to support, connect and amplify those who are already pioneering alternative practices and demanding radical change of our institutions, as well as to create platforms for a different narrative, including safe spaces for business leaders and politicians to explore a different economic model.

From the outset, WEAll Scotland has been overwhelmed by individuals and organisations in Scotland wanting to be part of the movement to build a wellbeing economy. To capitalise on that energy and potential, we are setting up a series of sector-specific clusters, including a ‘Faith Cluster’. Each cluster will work with participants to identify the leverage points and opportunities for change within their own communities, led by the question, ‘what can we do together that we can’t do apart?’.

The ‘Faith Cluster’ will build on the strong engagement we have had to date with the Church of Scotland and others. It offers particular promise given the track record of churches and other faith groups in leading some of the most successful social movements of our time, through mobilising engaged communities and by asking people to reflect on their values and our social norms.

The festive period is a good time for reflection, and if like me, you now think there has to be more to life – and Christmas – than work and shopping, we’d love to hear from you. You can stay engaged with the work of WEAll Scotland through our website, our Twitter account or by signing up for our regular bulletin at Scotland@wellbeingeconomy.org

Almost one year after publishing its first Vision Brochure, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance is excited to launch a brand new version of this important strategic document.

The WEAll Vision brochure sets out:

  • What WEAll is, including the background and vision for change
  • Details about WEAll’s theory of change and ongoing work
  • Who is involved with WEAll: the Amp team, Ambassadors, Global Council and Organisational members
  • WEAll’s future ambitions for transforming the economic system.
Click here to download a PDF of the new brochure now.

By Sam Butler-Sloss, Co-Lead of WEAll Youth Scotland and Organiser at Economists for Future

I got involved in the Wellbeing Economy Alliance because the case for repurposing and redesigning the economy to deliver wellbeing for people and planet is overwhelming. Yet, as a student of economics, it is unclear to me to what extent the economics profession agrees with this. 

In my experience, most economists want to enhance the wellbeing of humanity through analytical contributions. Yet, in the past several decades, dominant economic theory and practice has made a number of consequential errors that have compromised the discipline’s ability to fulfil this goal. Chief among them is the de-prioritisation of the single greatest threat to the wellbeing of humanity in the 21st century – the climate and ecological crisis. 

 Across teaching, research and public and policy engagement, economists have failed to adequately engage in this issue. The most cited journal in economics has never published an article on climate change. The teaching of economics remains abstracted from ecological foundations. And even as other academic disciplines have become increasingly vocal on this issue, economists have remained too silent. 

Worse too, when economists do engage, they often distort the problem. To name a few examples, their models tend to leave out tipping points, catastrophic risks and treat all threats as ‘marginal’. As a result, many economists’ contributions have been used as evidence to scale back, rather than scale up, climate ambition. 

The economics profession’s insufficient response to the climate crisis puzzles me – it appears they are not even living up to their own standards.  

Firstly, over the last several decades, economists have tried to convince the world that they are ‘scientific’. But, if they pride themselves on being scientific, then they must take the most important science of our day seriously.

Secondly, if the purpose of economics is to further human prosperity, then in an era of environmental breakdown, the exclusion of the natural world is only undermining that very goal.

 Thirdly, the priorities of economists are often governed by cost-benefit analysis, but there is no scenario that is more expensive than unabated climate change. Even when using this dangerously narrow framework, the economic imperative for urgent action is clear. With the inclusion of harder-to-quantify aspects, such as distributional justice, this imperative for action is only amplified.  

You might ask, why focus on economists? Is the inaction not the fault of politicians? Is it not a lack of political will? Sure, political willpower is in serious shortfall. As COP comes to an end, all eyes are on the world leaders. Rightly so. They must show leadership: they must take decisive and ambitious action or step aside for those that will. But pressure groups must also dig one layer deeper and ask how policy-makers make their decisions. For better or worse, economics has a central role in this process. If we are going to radically ramp up the ambition of climate policy, we must change how it is designed. We must change economics. 

That is what motivated us, a group of students from across the world, to found Economists for Future. To arrest the climate crisis, economics must move from getting it wrong to making it right. 

At Economists for Future, we are critical optimists. We have a deep belief in the power of good economics to make the world a better and more humane place. But we believe that we are currently not living up to our responsibility to help create and communicate a policy framework that accelerates the transformation to a more sustainable, prosperous and fairer world. 

At this stage, failure to step up to this responsibility and to seize this opportunity is to let down the world. If economists cannot engage in this economic transformation the science requires—then who? If we do not raise our game now—then when? The likelihood is it will be too late. In which case, history has every right to judge us harshly. 

In our one-page open letter we lay out the case for economists to raise their game. 

We are encouraging everyone to sign and share it. 

 

What?

  • In October 2018, Top up Taps – public drinking fountains – are rolled out across Scotland
  • 10 taps are set up: Fort William, Oban, Milngavie, Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dunfermline, Dumfries and Edinburgh.
  • In less than one year, Scottish residents drank the equivalent of 90,000 330ml plastic bottles from the Taps.
  • In August 2019, what started out as a pilot project is greenlighted for expansion to push the total number of Top Up Taps to 70.

 

Why?

  • Scotland is buckling under excessive plastic waste, including plastic bottles, costing £11 million per year.
  • This despite the fact that almost 2/3 of residents in Scotland prefer tap water.
  • There are also health concerns: sugary drinks are fierce competitors to the good old H2o.
  • Public water fountains are nothing new: they predate running water in homes. But they have fallen into disuse.
  • Various cities are bringing them back with vigour. Amsterdam, to name but one, launched its plan in 2015, with plans in 2018 to introduce 300 additional spots.

 

How?

  • The policy choice and design is part of the Scottish Government’s programme of 2018-2019, which includes investment of around £600 million into water infrastructure
  • The infrastructure is implemented by Scottish Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

What?

  • Saughton Park, City of Edinburgh Council, is the UK’s first green-powered or low-carbon park.
  • The park utilises the green energy Ground Source Heat Pump, powered by a micro-hydro system located on the Water of Leith.
  • This energy powers recreational and visitor facilities

 

 

 

Why?

  • The park renovation is part of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan projects, which number 120 overall.
  • This is in support of the Scottish Government’s energy strategy to decentralise and decarbonise Scottish energy systems.

 

 

 

 

 

How

  • The Saughton Park energy schemes have 6 different funding channels, including the Heritage Fund, Sustrans, Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme, Salix Finance and Scottish Power’s Green Economy Fund.

 

You can read more about the initiative in Green Spaces Scotland’s own case study here.

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck recently gave the evening keynote lecture at the Nourish Scotland conference in Edinburgh.

This new talk takes an in depth look at the role of food in our economy. In it, Katherine examines what our food systems would look like and do in a wellbeing economy.

Watch her fascinating talk HERE from 23:30.