By Mkyeku Onesmo Kisanga, WEAll Youth

“Wellbeing Economy” directly translates to ‘uchumi wa ustawi’ in Swahili which is an official language in Tanzania. Tanzania is found in the Eastern part of Africa with approximately 61.5 million people with over 120 unofficial languages (tribes inclusive). Being one of the largest countries in Africa, seeking to achieve a wellbeing economy can be difficult.

Most of the citizens fall on the poverty line of the GDP of Tanzania which means approximately two thirds of the whole population this has only worsened with the current Covid19 situation. The current life expectancy in Tanzania is around 60 years which means there is a deterioration.

Why is it important?

Wellbeing economy approaches could solve the recurring precarious problems in our communities. With this, we could improve our life expectancy rate, improve our healthcare especially in remote areas, improve digital literacy and remove the huge gender gap (statistics show men have a higher literacy rate than women in Tanzania), and provide reliable employability for the youth and people of Tanzania.

Enabling people to benefit from their hard work and engagement and even during retirement, they are well taken care of. No huge gaps in their salaries reduce and bridging of the difference in salary from the rich to middle class to destitute ones. This provides collective cooperation and cohabitation.

Repairing and make reparations for the current economic situation which is crumbling down. This will shift us to a circular economy.

We envision a future where everyone is well taken care of and don’t have to endure the challenges we are facing lately.

A wellbeing economy for Tanzania would provide a coherent and yet efficient transformation of the economy in Tanzania keeping in mind that the current situation didn’t favour some classes and professions and affected everyone entirely. 

Central to the transformation required would be improving the education systems that are deteriorating and exclusive of gender, tribe and people of a certain class. Our education systems should cater for the needs of everyone collectively without being biased.

Focusing on wellbeing would help prevent all the barbarous acts of crime happening because youth are idle and lack the motivation they need and resort to committing crime to sustain their needs. Regulating the cognitive dissonance in the area prevents people from embracing opportunities and new ways of life.

Residents inclusive of aboriginals, citizens, migrants and the whole diaspora need to apply the holistic approach and multifaceted approach to a wellbeing economy. Including everyone equally will provide longevity of results that are pleasant and positive leading to freedom and less conflict.

How to achieve a wellbeing economy:

Achieving a wellbeing economy simply means treating human beings as the first top priority rather than financial and monetary needs, resulting in a sustainable realm. How does one provide inclusivity while integrating all the tribes and cities in Tanzania and promoting a sustainable economy?

  • Use of Swahili, which is not only prominent in Tanzania but the whole of East Africa . After all, Swahili is already termed as one of the leading and most frequently spoken languages in the world. This will definitely boost the country’s economy by promoting union with neighbouring and other states in Africa and globally.
  • Addressing gender equality and gender gap- making sure women and men contribute equally to the economy and their salaries and reimbursement are the same throughout. Forming policies that accommodate both genders in all professions will reduce harmful social norms and stereotypes and prejudices.
  • Health care- same health care for everyone regardless of their status.
  • Education in learning institutes- use of Swahili language and introduction of this module in every level.
  • Employability, providing enough and accessible jobs that don’t have too many requirements, quota age, experience but provides inclusion of all regardless of their qualifications and experiences. In Tanzania, farmers are the one’s who highly contribute to the country’s economy and yet are disregarded and berated because of the stereotypes in the country. Most value partisans and professions that require one working in a huge company, presented in a formal appearance. While in reality, all are contributors to the economy, thus we need to ensure equal involvement and accessibility regardless of their title and identification.
  • Having youth yarn their creativity side and use their skills to come up with innovative and new ideas in rectifying the economy and also providing them funds and support in every trajectory. This will eventually cater for all tribes and cities establishing a wellbeing economy that doesn’t favour a certain gender, class, tribe or ethnicity.

About the author

Mkyeku Onesmo Kisanga is a 26 year old Tanzanian based in Cyprus pursuing her psychology degree. She is currently looking at how to employ the wellbeing economy in her organisation, Sakonsa in Tanzania which recently started in January 2020. Sakonsa is working with SDG’s 4, 10 & 17 on a voluntary basis through youth willing to make an impact and transforming a better tomorrow. Mkyeku joined in because of her inquisitive and pragmatic nature, she wanted to explore all possibilities and what is out there that is significant and impactful. Connect with her on Linkedin here.

Learn more about WEAll Youth here.

Wohlbefinde – “Wellbeing”

Eh Ökonomie fürs Wohlbefinde – “A Wellbeing Economy”

Swiss German

Switzerland is a country that always scores very high in rankings such as “the world’s happiest countries” and “best standards of living”, and that people living elsewhere often associate with beautiful nature, tasty chocolate, and very expensive prices. In many ways, Switzerland is the perfect example of a country that could fully implement a Wellbeing Economy, and in some aspects, it does. But not all that glitters is gold. 

So here, along with examining what is already happening in Switzerland that contributes towards a Wellbeing Economy, I will also dive into the possibilities for the future, drawing on my experiences and knowledge of my hometown, Zurich. 

So, where would Switzerland rank highly among countries on progress towards a Wellbeing Economy? 

Education 

The Swiss educational system allows most young people to choose a career that they like, because of the many possibilities available to them after graduation. Apart from having schools for students that are planning on going to university, there are three levels of secondary schooling: A, B, and C. In the B and C levels, students need more support in education. Because of the availability of these levels, the teachers can give more specific attention to the needs of the students, to help them graduate without failing. Moreover, apprenticeships after completing high school are more common in Switzerland than going to university. Most often, young adults are able to choose an apprenticeship from across a wide range of professions and exciting companies. During the apprenticeship, youth go to specific schools some days per week to deepen their learning. Some of the schools also offer the possibility to go to university after finishing the apprenticeship, so there are various pathways that one can take to pursue further education. 

Datei:Badi-Oberer-Letten Zuerich Sommer.jpg
The Limmat in the Summer (Source)

Social Life

In Switzerland, cities organise a lot of social activities which increase social wellbeing, because they offer opportunities to come together and to share happy experiences. In Zurich, for example, we have a city-festival every four years and in the winter, we have beautiful Christmas markets spread out through the whole city. Many stands in the Christmas markets are local crafters and artists selling their handmade products and foods. Of course, the next step would be to ensure these events implement high sustainability standards around energy consumption and waste management. But I think in terms of a Wellbeing Economy, and looking at the aspect of the wellbeing of People, using the profit of a country for organising Christmas markets and other festivals for the people is a great way to put value back into society. Next to these events, there are a lot of possibilities for people to enjoy their leisure time. We have the “Limmat”, a large river that is clean, so it is amazing to swim in and is free to access. 

advent-weihnachtmarkt-basel
Christmas Market in Zurich (Source)

Where is there potential for improvement in Switzerland?

On the 29th of November this year, important political referenda took place, which, if they had been accepted, would have fit perfectly into the Wellbeing Economy agenda.

There was a vote on ending arms deals that are financed by Swiss funding, but the majority voted against this. 

There was also a vote on the heavily anticipated Initiative for Industry Responsibility, which would have made corporations liable for breaching human and environmental rights. This initiative was accepted and voted for by the majority of the general public. However, Switzerland is made up of so-called “cantons” (similar to states) and when there is an initiative that would change the federal constitution, votes from the majority of the number of cantons are needed. And this is where the initiative was rejected.

That the majority of people voted for an initiative, but not by the majority of cantons, has only happened once since the Swiss constitution was founded. 

This means that Swiss banks’ support for institutions and concepts that are not aligned with the principles of a Wellbeing Economy will remain strong, because power flows where money goes. 

Therefore, in the near future I would like to see true moral values be reflected in the economic structure of financing and foreign trade. In the day-to-day life of Swiss citizens, we are on our way towards a Wellbeing Economy. We must continue this progress by challenging and demanding strict transparency in banking and investment in Switzerland, as an influential sector globally, to accelerate sustainable development for people and planet.

On a positive note, in Switzerland, any initiative that receives over 100,000 official signatures is nationally voted for and can be constitutionalised. So, if you have an idea for an initiative that can directly contribute to a Wellbeing Economy, let me know and we can work to get 100,000 supporters and help to partly restructure the Swiss system. That’s how easy it should be for people in any country to directly demand political and economic change. 

We have the power. It’s just about inspiring and working together for something greater… Join the WEAll Youth community to keep the conversation going. 

I am Cosima, 19 years old, and I was born and raised in Switzerland. Right now, I am studying “Global Project and Change Management” at the Windesheim Honours College, in Zwolle, The Netherlands. Fun fact, WEAll Youth was founded here! I joined WEAll Youth because it is a global network of young people that inspires each other and works together for a better tomorrow. My personal motivation towards a Wellbeing Economy is that life and all that lives, has infinite value. and I want to bring this understanding into people’s daily lives. With three other girls, I have re-established the local WEAll Youth hub in Zwolle. I am excited to organise lots of activities for people living here to become involved in co-creating the Wellbeing Economy we all envision deeply. 

Connect with Cosima on LinkedIn: Cosima von Seefried

Learn more about WEAll Youth here.

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

By Izabela Ivanova Velikova

Визии за Благополучната Икономика в България

“Visions for the Wellbeing Economy in Bulgaria”

Bulgarian (sounds like /vizii/ /za/ /blagopoluchnata/ /ikonomika/ /v/ /bulgaria/)

Благополучна

“Wellbeing”

Bulgarian (sounds like /blagopoluchna/)

Being a country with a 14 century history, Bulgaria has gone through many transformations, which inevitably had their impact on the way that it is now. By the early 20th century, Bulgaria declared its independence after more than five centuries of rule under the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, it remained isolated for nearly half of the century, because it was under communist rule.

It is not surprising that the transition from communism to democracy, which happened only 30 years ago, has had its impact on the current state of the Bulgarian economy, as well as on other support systems in the country.

Right now, Bulgaria is considered to be the poorest country in the European Union and quality of life is very low. Along with that, other big challenges that Bulgaria faces, are organised crime and corruption.

Is a Wellbeing Economy possible in Bulgaria?

The concept of a Wellbeing Economy is a system that works for the people, rather than a system that people have to work for. In that sense, the effective transition from the current economy to a Wellbeing Economy in Bulgaria would be a really slow and hard process.

But I do not think that it is impossible.

As Bulgarians, we often joke that due to the Ottoman Empire slavery, Bulgaria is 500 years behind, compared to the rest of the world. As sarcastic as this is, I do find the positive side to it. It is not a secret that the state of the economy and all of the country’s current societal and economical problems are a product of unhealthy stereotypes and habits adopted during the “dark times” of our recent history. All of this has led to constant chaos and inconvenience, in which it is really easy for the ones on the top of the hierarchy in Bulgaria to resort to power abuse, without ever thinking about the wellbeing of the society that they are responsible for.

The word to describe such a dynamic is unstable. In my opinion though, the positive dimensions of that word can really easily overcome the negative ones, if the society manages to get into the right mindset to do it. ‘Unstable’ means to have room for many new and unexpected opportunities. ‘Unstable’ means that if you have enough will and creativity, you can build the base of the world you want to live in.

‘Unstable’ means that society now has more power than ever, as the instability gives room to the hustle, and the hustle brings people together.

The need for a better future is stronger than ever during these times, when people can’t seem to see the way through. A Wellbeing Economy may be the way for Bulgaria. 

How?

Firstly, education. I have lived in Bulgaria for 19 years and not once have I been told about a Wellbeing Economy. I believe that if more young people get informed about this concept, they will easily be intrigued, would want to participate in the process towards a Wellbeing Economy and establish the daily habits needed for it. Bringing up the topic in educational institutions is key, because as you know… we (the youth) are the future!

Next, networking between all small businesses. This requires a shift in the worldview of the society – from a constant desire for individual profits to the understanding of the importance of mutual wellbeing.

Keeping the culture alive is also an important part of the process towards a Wellbeing Economy. Patriotism is a really big part of Bulgarian cultural values, and creates a strong sense of community.  I believe that if channeled properly, this feeling could be the ultimate way of creating the base of a Wellbeing Economy, because at the end of the day, this idea is based on the understanding that if you want to be happy and to be doing good, those around you must too, and that you can be an active part of making this happen.

Green agricultural development. One of the most important factors for building a Wellbeing Economy in Bulgaria is that people should learn how to take care and take healthy advantage of the country’s many natural resources. Bulgaria has numerous hectares of fertile agricultural fields, which are simply not being used. A big reason for that is the fact that most people move to the big cities and develop themselves in the technical and business fields, looking for a better quality of life. This inevitably leads to overpopulation in the cities (with all it’s consequences, like extreme air pollution), while the countryside remains unpopulated and undeveloped, but with huge agricultural potential. If used properly, those fertile fields could become the long waited salvation of the country, and also a pretty promising base for the creation of a Wellbeing Economy.

For its natives, Bulgaria seems like the worst country to live in right now and not many people are able to see the potential that it has. Well, I see it. I believe that there is a way out of every vicious circle, if you have the will to keep pushing in the opposite direction.

In this sense, a Wellbeing Economy is the only systemic ‘circle’ I want to see in my country in a few years from now.

Therefore, as a future Project and Change Manager, I am willing to put in as much effort as needed, to see my country get there. 

My name is Izabela Velikova and I am a first year student in The Netherlands. I study the program Global Project and Change Management at Windesheim Honours College, which I believe will help me reach my life goal – to make the world a better place. I grew interested in the idea of Wellbeing Economy when I found out about WEAll Youth and I really believe that it is the ultimate way of development and I can’t wait to see the world getting there.

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

By: Avwerosuoghene Onobrakpeya for Swedish Organization for Global Health (SOGH)

A multi-diverse country, made up of over 200 million citizens, and about 250 ethnic groups, where more than 500 languages are spoken. This is Nigeria.

And so, we have coined many ways of describing ‘wellbeing’. To mention just a few:

The Yorubas call it Alafia, Omakpupo is what the Urhobos say, Tivs say Mlu u dedoo, it is Odimma in Igbo, and Lafiya describes wellbeing in Hausa.

Still, even with the differing beautiful translations of wellbeing, the message remains the same and we all want the same thing – a Wellbeing Economy. An economy where the health and Alafia of people and the planet come first. So, what will a Wellbeing Economy look like in Nigeria?

A Wellbeing Economy can be described as ‘yôu-yôu u uma’ in Tiv

My vision of a Wellbeing Economy in Nigeria cannot be attained while Nigeria’s two main problems of health and insecurity exist. 

“The groundwork for all happiness is good health”

Leigh Hunt
Mothers have their babies vaccinated at the Primary Health Care Maraba, in Karu, Nigeria on June 19, 2018.
Photo © Dominic Chavez/GFF

Good health is paramount to accomplish the wellness of people. When good health institutions are not put in place, healthcare is going to suffer greatly. This is the situation in Nigeria today. The two foremost health problems are inadequate health institutions and hospital negligence. In recent years, there have been thousands of deaths in Nigerian hospitals, for reasons such as a nonexistent healthcare database to verify health insurance, which leads to treatment refusal; no wrenches to turn on oxygen cylinders; and unqualified personnel who are handling care. All being forms of negligence. 

Thousands of health institutions litter Nigeria, but they are mostly unequipped, either in manpower or equipment. Industrial strike actions by medical personnel are a norm. These healthcare practitioners constantly demand better working conditions and better pay. How can the people be cared for, when the healthcare professionals lack the facilities to handle care? How can the health of the people be achieved when healthcare workers themselves are not well cared for?

Rather than invest in Nigeria’s health sector, most government officers are ‘medical tourists’, globetrotting in search of good healthcare for themselves, which the people back in Nigeria are deprived of. It is sad that government officials have experienced the true definition of working health systems, yet refuse to work towards it in Nigeria. 

Thankfully, progress has been made in recent years.

Firstly, in some states like, Delta state, free medical care for pregnant women and children aged 0 to 5 has been introduced. Additionally, healthcare used to be very difficult to access, because it was unaffordable. In recent times, the government, as well as private firms, have implemented insurance schemes, making healthcare more accessible. The current health insurance scheme implemented by the Nigerian government covers employees at government parastatals, their spouses, and their dependents between the ages of 0 to 18 years. Today, most private employers give their employees comprehensive health insurance. Most private educational institutions also provide insurance for students. During my secondary school education, I was actually a recipient of the Salus Trust health insurance scheme, paid for alongside my school fees.

Though many in Nigeria own health insurance today, there are more without this privilege.

Those in the rural areas, the average Nigerian working at a small establishment, the jobless, the students. Health insurance remains a luxury. It is no wonder that pharmacies, rather than hospitals, are the first stop whenever most Nigerians are sick.

Still, more has to be done. A yôu-yôu u uma cannot be achieved if the people are unhealthy. I envision a Nigeria where access to good healthcare will not be a luxury, a Nigeria where people are not reluctant to get care for their health, because it would rip a hole in their pockets. I dream of a Nigeria where hospitals will not be considered death traps. To achieve this, there has to be:

  • Greater investment in health.
  • Employment of more healthcare professionals.
  • Higher pay and benefits for healthcare workers.
  • A facelift of existing healthcare infrastructure, with facilities made suitable for patients, and medical technologies provided.
  • Health campaigns, to educate the public on health issues and subsequently, aid prevention.

“The safety and security of the citizens of a country is so important. If the citizens are unsafe, the nation cannot move forward”

Tonye Cole
Peaceful End SARS Protests at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, Nigeria. October 2020.
Source: Twitter

A yôu-yôu u uma in Nigeria is kept at bay by the insecurity that persists. Insurgency, banditry, terrorism, cattle rustling, police brutality, these are the insecurity issues that plague our everyday lives in Nigeria. In October 2020, police brutality by a particular unit of the Nigerian Police Force, Special Anti-robbery Response Squad (SARS) birthed the End SARS movement. Nigerian youths were exhausted by the wanton killings by SARS and with one voice, rose to say, “Enough is Enough!” Peaceful protests took place in states across Nigeria, as we called for not just the removal of SARS, but also the overhaul of the Nigerian Police system and justice for the lives lost. Unfortunately, even during these peaceful protests, the protesters were still victims of police brutality. Our security, our safety, our peace of mind, this is part of our alafia, our wellbeing, and when they are lacking, we are miles away from being a yôu-yôu u uma

Some efforts are being made by state governments to curb insecurity. Currently, there exists local policing in states across Nigeria, such as Amotekun in western Nigeria. Local vigilante groups also work in conjunction with police. This has helped beef up security a bit, although we are still lacking in many areas.

My vision is that Nigerian youths will be able to walk the streets without being profiled as criminals, just because of their appearance or their gadgets. I hope we can walk the streets without fear of a stray bullet. I hope to not be greeted with images of deaths and attacks whenever I watch the local news. This can be accomplished by: 

  • A total overhaul of the police system.
  • Routine mental health assessments of cadets and those in the police force.
  • Investigation of police brutality cases and punishment of the guilty.
  • Development of a criminal database, to make policing easier.
  • Increased pay and provision of benefits for security officers.

The image of a Wellbeing Economy that I have every morning when I wake, is of a Nigeria with healthy and safe people. We need to improve our health systems and uproot insecurity. Healthy people equate to happy people and this is the only way we can achieve a yôu-yôu u uma.

References

Avwerosuo is a blogger at Swedish Organization for Global Health (SOGH). She is currently using her voice to speak against, discuss and enlighten about gender-based violence, health inequalities, women’s health and planetary health. She hopes to contribute to creating a safer and better Nigeria for youths like her.

You can connect with Avwerosuo on LinkedIn and read more of her work at the SOGH blog.

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

By: Anna Chrysopoulou

Κοινωνική ευημερία: collective wellbeing

(sounds like /kee-no-nee-kee/ /e-vee-me-ree-ah/)

Οικονομία της ευτυχίας: Wellbeing Economy  

(sounds like /oy-kon-o-me-ah/  /tis/ / ef-tee-hee-ahs/)

Greece is a country with several linguistic terms to define the concept of ‘wellbeing’: ευημερία (e-vee-me-ree-ah), ευ ζην (ev zeen), and ευδαιμονία (ev-de-mo-nee-ah).

The latter, especially, appears extensively in Greek ethics and political philosophy from ancient times, through the work of the philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Yet, thousands of years later, it seems that the idea of collective wellbeing has lost its centrality in determining politics and social norms in Greece, at least until recently. 

After the 2008 Financial Crisis, economic terms such as growth, national debt, and interest rates, began to appear daily in our national media and everyday conversations. We were suddenly bombarded with questions around,

‘What is driving the economy? What is good for our GDP? How can we accelerate economic growth?

In the meantime, income inequalities were growing, with the middle- and low-income households being massively affected by tax increases and deep wage cuts. At the same time, an increasing number of people were living under the poverty line, and environmental degradation was being justified as an unavoidable way to bring investments back into the country. 

However, during these years of austerity and instability, examples of communities and initiatives have served as inspiration when envisioning a Wellbeing Economy in Greece. 

There are myriad ways of describing what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in my country, but here are some first thoughts on where we could start. 

1. Put wellbeing back into the heart of politics

We use the term Wellbeing Economy to describe an economy that serves people and communities, first and foremost. Since the Financial Crisis, the narrative around what the economy means for Greece has changed significantly (and deliberately, if I dare say). We started focusing on economic growth as being the ultimate goal that we ought to achieve, if we want to improve our living standards. It was all about growth per se. The idea of the economy became utterly disconnected from what really matters: the people. Instead of bringing back economic growth, why don’t we make the shift, and bring collective wellbeing back in our daily conversations, our society, and our politics?

2. Embrace togetherness

Greece is a country that has suffered from division throughout our history. Yet, we have recently experienced an encouraging rise of community groups, collectives, and movements focusing on helping those in need and, most importantly, caring about others. From local communities in the islands supporting refugees (with the limited means they had) to food collectives* helping the homeless and people who were affected by the Financial Crisis, there has been a change in getting together to look after each other. If we want to transition towards a Wellbeing Economy, we need to start by recognising that we can have different perspectives, and still respect and care about others in our communities.

* A food collective is an initiative in which groups of people gather in public spaces (even on the street) to cook and offer food (and always company!) to those in need: usually the homeless, the unemployed, refugees etc. In some cases, they even deliver cooked meals. It is always a hot cooked meal, so this is not the same as food banks. It is an act of solidarity with those that often cannot afford food. Find out more about the work of grassroots groups, such as the Mano Aperta, here.

3. Protect our natural spaces

It is certainly not the first time that you will have read about the country’s natural beauty, with its crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches. Our seas and natural environment have attracted attention and resulted in the tourism sector growing over the last decades. It is time, however, to change our perception of our natural resources. In a Wellbeing Economy, we will respect and protect our nature by divesting from fossil fuels, not allowing oil drilling in areas with vulnerable species, and taking preventative measures against forest fires, to mention a few. 

4. Take action against racism

Greece is a country where, in 2012, a neo-fascist group, Golden Dawn, was democratically elected and won 18 parliamentary seats. Thankfully, Greece is also the country that last month, sentenced the group’s lawmakers for operating a criminal organisation under the guise of a political party, with thousands on the streets celebrating this decision. Being non-racist is not enough in a Wellbeing Economy. We need to ensure that we will not allow these ideas and actions to find fertile ground again. If we want to move towards a Wellbeing Economy, we need to reflect on how we must be actively anti-racist

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”

Socrates

We might still be quite far away from having a Wellbeing Economy in Greece. However, the vision – and the hope – for one is being built in communities and small groups who dare to challenge the way things are currently, and who work towards an economy that is all about social justice on a healthy planet. 

Anna is the Advocacy Coordinator in the WEAll global amplification team, and also coordinates operations and projects for WEAll Scotland. She is passionate about political ecology and practices that place people and the environment ahead of profit.

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

By Arhum Amer

Urdu is spoken as a first language by nearly 70 million people and as a second language by more than 100 million people, predominantly in Pakistan[i]. Urdu is a language full of beauty and grace, a language that seems to have been custom-built for literature, a language that adds meaning to prose and charm to poetry.

In this language, the literal translation of ‘wellbeing’ would be خیریت ‘khair-iyat’.

A ‘Wellbeing Economy’ would be referred to as خوشحال معیشت ‘khush-haal maeeshat’

Pakistan is a country with 212 million resilient citizens, 64% of whom are under the age of 30[ii][iii]. Our founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision for a khush-haal maeeshat is echoed by our current Prime Minister, H.E Imran Khan’s platform for a “Naya Pakistan” (meaning “New Pakistan”): a welfare country based on democratic principles, freedom and respect for every religion and ethnicity, equality between poor and rich, safety for minority groups and the accountability of public office holders.       

To understand what a Wellbeing Economy, or khush-haal maeeshat, in Pakistan would look like, it is important that we understand the environment and challenges that grip Pakistan. Being a developing country, the reforms that we dream of may seem minuscule to a citizen of the West. However, I believe every state in the world is encountering similar or comparable issues, with varying intensities; each must be addressed to truly deliver khair-iyat, for all people.

Inequality

A high level of inequality prevails in the country, with around 24% of Pakistanis living below the poverty line[iv]. Many of the country’s financial challenges stem from recently overcoming a ‘War on Terror’, which resulted in $126B USD worth of losses over 17 years and from corruption, which remains Pakistan’s biggest systemic challenge.       

The Government’s Ehsaas Kafaalat programme will provide monthly cash stipends of Rs. 2,000 and bank accounts to Pakistan’s poorest women, as well as better access to smartphones, as a step towards digital inclusion. Such programmes must be expanded to all corners of Pakistan. No country can truly progress with such a large chunk of its population living under the poverty line.    

Education

Pakistan’s constitution obligates the state to provide free education to all children until the age of 16. However, due to the low standards of Government Institutes and the prevalence of child labour, students prefer private schools or choose to stay out of school. This has led to Pakistan having the second largest out-of-school youth population in the world[v]. I believe the students of the country deserve a forward-looking curriculum with compulsory extra-curricular activities. A Wellbeing Economy in Pakistan would encompass high quality state education and enrolment of girls in schools, in areas where they are deprived of education. 

Healthcare

In Pakistan, the double burden of malnutrition is becoming increasingly apparent, with almost one in three children underweight (28.9%), while 9.5% in the same age group are overweight[vi]. Meanwhile, overcrowded cities, unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, poor socioeconomic conditions, low health awareness and inadequate vaccination coverage have led to the rapid spread of communicable diseases, adding strain to the already overstretched medical facilities in the country.

Several government initiatives are underway to address these issues. For instance, the Poverty Alleviation Programme called Ehsaas Nashonuma, is a health and nutrition conditional cash transfer programme which aims to address stunting in children under 23 months of age as a pilot project in nine districts of the country. 

Pakistan has recently rolled out universal health insurance in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with plans to expand it to Punjab, the country’s most populous province. I believe that access to the same medical facilities, for the rich and poor, would be the height of healthcare reform in the country. 

Urban Development

With its urban population growing three percent per year, Pakistanis are flocking to cities faster than any other country in South Asia[vii]. Urbanisation has inflated Pakistan’s biggest cities so rapidly that they struggle to deliver public services and create productive jobs. A disparity exists in the development of Pakistani cities: a few having 21st century facilities, others lacking basic necessities. Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, got its first metro train line just a couple of weeks ago, in addition to its existing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

The newly functional Orange Line Metro in Lahore, 250,000 people are expected to travel on it everyday. Wikimedia Commons

However, Karachi which is the country’s financial hub and largest city, has no public transit system or Emergency Response System. The city, with an estimated nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $164 billion USD[viii], was brought to its knees in the recent monsoon rains, due to the lack of a drainage system and planned development. 

Approximately 3 feet of water can be seen on the roads of Karachi’s most expensive residential area, after torrential rains paralysed the city.

In my opinion, the way forward has to involve empowering local governments, so they can collect taxes and spend it on the specific needs of the city. Sustainable expansion of cities should be based on long-term master plans and urban development projects should focus on supporting pedestrians and cyclists, rather than only facilitating car transport. The Clean Green City Index is a helpful tool to support this development.

Climate Resilience 

Pakistan is the fifth most climate-vulnerable nation in the world[ix]. Over the past 20 years, Pakistan is estimated to have lost nearly 10,000 lives and $4 billion USD in financial losses due to climate-related disasters[x]. My vision of a Wellbeing Economy in Pakistan involves one where the country is not constantly at risk from climate catastrophes. 

Pakistan has recently launched several initiatives to create a ‘green Pakistan’ and protect our national parks and forest reserves, including “Clean Green Pakistan” and the “Protected Areas Initiative”. The “10 Billion Tree Tsunami” initiative aims to plant billions of trees across the country over the next three years, in addition to the one billion trees already planted in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The use of plastic bags has also been banned in major cities (the implementation of this ban is a different story…). 

In addition to its progress to date, my vision for a climate-friendly and climate resilient Pakistan is one that moves toward affordable and clean energy, builds green cities and emphasises recycling, water conservation, responsible consumption and production models. An important step towards this vision involves a public awareness campaign about the possible catastrophic impacts of climate change on our glaciers and water tables – and how this would impact Pakistani lives. Climate change is not just an environmental challenge, but an issue impacting our economy, human health, agriculture, and ecosystem. 

Justice

While millions of legal cases remain pending in the courts of Pakistan, religious intolerance, lack of human rights and women’s safety have become a cause for concern. My vision for a Wellbeing Economy is in line with Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision:

“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.”

“You are free. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

I believe that a khush-haal maeeshat in Pakistan would see policies being made to protect the vulnerable, to create an environment that supports accountability and merit, and to serve the common person instead of a handful of the wealthy. No one would be above the law. To deliver on this vision and improve law-and-order in the country, better policing, use of forensic sciences, and accountability of public office holders is needed. Punishments for harassment and rape cases must be stricter and proper prosecution of such cases must be carried out to restore safety of women in the country. An entry test along the lines of the LSATs should be introduced to ensure that our legal community consists of the brightest minds in the country. The introduction of a Witness Protection Program is also critical, especially in criminal cases, in line with the model of the U.S Witness Security Program (WITSEC). 

The Way Forward

Pakistan faces challenges on multiple fronts, from the economy to governance and education to health services. Yet, there are plenty of things I love about my country and my hope for Pakistan’s bright future, despite its problems, never dies out.  

The fact that the WHO has praised Pakistan for its brilliant handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and that Pakistan has achieved its SDG 13 (Climate Action) goal a decade ahead of the deadline, are testaments to the fact that, no matter how mammoth the challenge, having competent public office holders making decisions for the khair-iyat of the people, can be done – and pays off.  

While we may seem off course in some ways:

“With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that [we] cannot achieve.”

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Arhum is a student of Chartered Accountancy and currently works as an audit associate at PwC Pakistan. His long-term goals include working for the betterment of the country.

References

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

By: Isabel Nuesse

well-be·​ing | \ ˈwel-ˈbē-iŋ  \

Definition of well-being : the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous : WELFARE

It’s a tumultuous time in the United States. With an ever-divisive political arena, our sensitivities have the wheel and it’s much easier to stick to our corners, and talk amongst ourselves.The outcome of the upcoming federal election could further exacerbate political polarity. If this trend continues, I expect few will applaud the result. 

Writing this piece, I’m a little scared. I do not want to over-simplify, offer a blanket solution, cause offense or seem uninformed. I know I’m not alone in this. These worries are everywhere. Due to our lack of trust for the ‘other’, we’re losing our ability, or more specifically, our desire to communicate honestly with each other. 

Conversations on topical news stories can often end with the warning of, ‘don’t make this political’, because it’s almost guaranteed that one side will lash out at the other. Or, we spew ‘facts’ back and forth. But are we sitting with the complexity of these issues, thinking from other perspectives or challenging our own thinking? 

I see both the left and the right disengaging entirely. ‘You’re threatening to take away my abortion right?’ ‘You’re threatening to take away my guns?’ It’s a yes/no, a this/that, either/or. When in reality, it’s almost all grey. But are we willing to believe in the grey? It’s much easier to stick to our corners and hold a hard line.

A transition toward an economy centered on wellbeing may only be possible if people are willing to and capable of having patient conversations with one another. 

It’s true that sometimes patient conversations cannot be had, due to deep rooted histories of oppression. In this instance, my suggestion does not apply. 

I do believe however, many people are capable of having these conversations. But they’re hard, uncomfortable and can be extremely emotional. If we don’t start to shift more of the conversation to be inquiry-based, with a focus on the core issues, do we run a risk of escalated unrest?  

I found some hope in seeing this video the other day, of two candidates running for Governor in Utah.

It is not perfect. But, it’s somewhat refreshing to see the two sides trying to move beyond the hyperpolarization of our current political state. 

In my own life I’ve tried to facilitate some of these conversations. 7 months ago, I moved back in with my parents in a small town in  Massachusetts. Twice a week, I walk with a friend of my Mom’s: a ‘fiscally conservative’ voter, who is curious enough to engage me in conversations on current events. From police violence, racial justice, supreme court nominees, climate change and Jeff Bezos’ trillion dollar salary, we cover it all. 

We can agree that local community resilience is paramount, that wealth inequality is an issue, that police often act above the law, that women are the future and that nearly all political parties can act immorally. While these agreements are not revolutionary, they are telling. 

These topics are complex. I can see from her perspective and have been forced to ask myself questions that I would not have thought of before. It can be refreshing to chat with her, because she is so hopeful about the future that it can sometimes dampen my worry.

Most importantly, these conversations have solidified the fact that we do have similar visions for the future.

Meaning, we can likely find common ground to work together towards a country we’re both proud to live in. 


My vision for a Wellbeing Economy in the US starts with us. Compromise is not impossible. And having compassion is important. One way to transition toward a Wellbeing Economy is to start in the community to better understand our neighbors, and to be open to question our individual perspectives. We have to remind ourselves that the ‘other’ isn’t evil. We can co-create an economy that meets the needs of all people. And we don’t need to be filtering our conversation to do that.

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

by: Xola Keswa

Impilo econo kuqala kwesimosomnoto – Wellbeing economy 

Zulu

South Africa is a country that many greats, including Nelson Mandela, Elon Musk, Mark Shuttleworth, Steve Biko, Mariam Makeba, Trevor Noah, and Mahatma Gandhi, have called home.

People will tell very different stories of their experiences in our beautiful country, depending on when they were born and which time period they lived through. As is no secret, the country wasn’t always like it is today. South Africa comes out of a difficult time of suffering and pain: apartheid, a legal form of discrimination, loomed on our streets for about fifty years, following 300 years of colonisation. These hard times ushered in new visions of what South Africa could be, if given the opportunity. 

The Rainbow Nation

The new vision was one of equality before the law and the upholding of human rights: the right to life, right to dignity and the right to freedoms that any person can be all which they desire.

In our African traditions and customs, we call this word humanity (the foundation for wellbeing) in a different way. We call it by the name “Ubuntu”, meaning “I am because we are”.

Desmond Tutu was one of the first people to mention Ubuntu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which then further introduced it to the world. After his release from prison, South Africa began to embrace a spirit of togetherness inspired by Nelson Mandela, the father of our nation and its democracy. After he was elected as the first president of our democratic South Africa, Madiba, as many call him, chose peace and reconciliation instead of bloodshed and civil war, which could have easily been the story of South Africa, like many of our African countries which experienced a similar situation.

Inspired by these leaders, the spirit of Ubuntu and togetherness have shaped our new vision and narrative of a post-apartheid South Africa: the Rainbow Nation

Visions of Wellbeing from the ‘Born Frees’

At the age of 26, I’d say I’m one year short of being what we call ‘a born free’. In South Africa, children who were born in 1994, who are about 25 years or younger, are referred to as ‘born frees’. They did not experience apartheid; they have only heard about it in the news or in their history books or in the stories told by their parents or grandparents.

These are the young ones who belong to the united, post-apartheid South Africa, which we have come call our Rainbow Nation.

It is this Rainbow Nation and the spirit of Ubuntu that I’d like to focus on, as a gateway to an economy of togetherness as opposed to separateness. 

The Time of COVID-19: Ubuntu in Action

In 2020, the country was faced with a challenge some thought was on too big a scale for South Africa to tackle, given our young democracy. 

As COVID-19 approached us, many feared for the worst to happen, as people were pushed to the brink of survival. Many people who were already on the breadline saw that same bread disappear at the table. Many people lost their jobs as the country geared for lockdown level 5 (meaning nobody could be walking around in the streets): everyone was told to stay home. What was our country to do, as 30% of youth were unemployed and those who did have a job lost them? Many people left cities and towns to get away to the countryside, fearing an insurrection.

This country did no such thing; instead people and government came together and thought of exactly the opposite.

The country responded as if they asked themselves, ‘What Madiba would do?’

In March, our government started a new foundation called the ‘Solidarity Fund’, intended to support communities with food aid, medical and financial relief, as well as to support the country with the spirit of togetherness during these difficult times. It is also investing funds into wellbeing, health and ending gender-based violence. In response to the crisis, all the major South African business firms and wealthy families in South Africa started donating to this Solidarity Fund. 

At the same time, citizens also took action as lockdown rules tightened and the need for basic food and shelter became apparent. In Cape Town, a local initiative was created by a group of Captonians’ who saw a need for solidarity instead of segregation, from a Facebook group called ‘Cape Town’. A self-organising system of community action networks were created in every major town or suburb in the city of Cape Town metropolitan area. Each community organised its own volunteers from the neighbourhood, to help in fundraising for the less fortunate in the cities’ peripheries. 

As the world knows, South Africa is the most unequal society in the world, where the rich live like those in Europe and the US, while the majority, the indigenous people, can barely afford to stay above the poverty line.

Through these community action networks in Cape Town, we witnessed a major redistribution of resources from the ‘haves’ to the ‘have nots’.

Like a wave of a magic wand, people began distributing food aid and blankets for the homeless and assisting in finding shelters in churches etc. What stood out for me, by far, was the partnering of affluent suburbs and townships called the ‘Cape Flats’. As the nation started to form an understanding of a common threat to us all, we put our differences aside to deal with the virus together. 

I have seen the vision of building towards a Wellbeing Economy being put into practice – slowly though, as negative minds still exist and push back against the current communal wave. For example, many municipalities went against their rate payers by calling them out for engaging in community action networks. But this hasn’t stopped the spirit of togetherness spreading into the country to major cities like Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth city in the Eastern Cape. 

For the first time in my life (aside from winning the Rugby World Cup, of course), I felt proudly South African. I am actually seeing my country, our Rainbow Nation, put aside the past and “build back better” through the idea of solidarity – Ubuntu.

My Vision of a Wellbeing Economy

The idea of solidarity as a response to the COVID-19 is definitely part of my vision for a new economy. Putting human beings and communities first, before anything else and actually mobilising funds and resources to do so via the Solidarity Fund. 

To me it is obvious that whenever our country is pushed into a corner, we will return to the spirit of togetherness inspired by our past leaders and Desmond Tutu’s philosophy of Ubuntu. It helped to end apartheid and it is building our strength in the face of the coronavirus. 

This spirit of finding strength in diversity and bringing together different resources and skills, is South Africa’s best hope of coming out of any mess we find ourselves in and fostering the wellbeing of all people, regardless of colour or creed.

The cooperation around South Africa’s progressive Solidarity Fund demonstrate this spirit – and can be the foundation for a Wellbeing Economy in South Africa. 

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

By: Nikita Asnani

اقتصاد الرفاهية (wellbeing economy)

اقتصاد السعادة (economy of happiness)

Arabic

I belong to the land of dates – no, not that kind, the edible ones…

This horse (shaped) peninsula, engulfed by the pearl-laden Arabian waters, refuses to slow down its speedy gait, be it in technology, science, commerce arts and culture. 

What could a ‘wellbeing economy’ possibly mean in the country that has already garnered global recognition for its feat in ranking first, globally, for the categories: ‘Availability of Quality Healthcare’, ‘Access to Mobile Phones’ and the ‘Feeling Safe’ Index?

Here are a few personal suggestions that might help accelerate the transition to a wellbeing economy:

1. Rethinking ‘Fast Streets’ 

The scorching heat and general dependency on private transport, as opposed to public transport, in most of the emirates, has led to almost every family owning one car, at the very least. 

Increasing connectivity and developing new, shared modes of transport are likely to dominate the landscape of urban mobility in a more sustainable Dubai. I am also of the opinion that encouraging walking and running to short distances, coupled with the usage of traditional dhows or abras (ferries), is likely to contribute to public health as well as economic development at the local level. 

2. Embracing Slow Fashion

‘Shop, till we drop’ is a popular slogan used to promote shopping festivals in Dubai. Do we know what the real impact we have, particularly as consumers, of fast fashion? Even if you question ‘who made my clothes, and how?’, you’ll often find condescending labels that read ‘100% organic’.

But, as we all know, multiple fast fashion brands are guilty of ‘greenwashing’. I believe it is high time we unmask the true impact of fast fashion in a country known, in part, for ‘great shopping’ – and pave the way for local brands selling regenerative fashion. 

3. Saying NO to plastic

The number of plastic bags being used on a daily basis in the UAE is staggering. Financial incentives to reduce the dependency single-use plastics along with behavioural change campaigns to switch to cloth bags (no, even paper is not good enough!) will go a long way in changing the face of the economy. 

4. Keeping the culture alive 

In a recent blog on www.greenfootprint.com, Abdul Rahman highlights how our ancestors heavily relied on date palms to meet their day to day needs, from construction of houses and boats to weaving brooms, food covers, mats, air fans, dates sachets, bedding, and so on. 

low angle photo of palm trees
Photo by Cassie Burt on Unsplash

“The scarcity of natural resources and harsh environment pushed people to live within their means. Despite the harsh environment, the uniqueness of the date palm lies in managing to grow fruit even during the summer season. It pushed them to be creative and work within their natural means. The date palm was definitely a more sustainable option since it is a biodegradable material.” 

(Abdul Rahman, 2020)

It seems to me that by revisiting our history, through storytelling in schools, for example, we can help the UAE honour our cultural heritage – while also contributing to improved environmental sustainability. 

“My wealth is the happiness of my people” 

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Founding Father of the United Arab Emirates)

People are, in the 21st century, what Oil was to the UAE, in the 18th Century. 

The UAE’s real wealth lies in its people, and a wellbeing economy would dig right where the real gold lies. 

Nikita Asnani is a 19-year old student based in Dubai. She is passionate about design thinking and systems change for a circular economy. She joined WEAll because it offered her hope in the ability of young people to catalyse a new economic system, by harnessing the real power of people

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.