Wellbeing Economy Alliance Launches in U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 15 September 2018, the ten year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, #WEAll campaigners gave away free money outside the bank’s former building in New York. The purpose: to urge people to rethink our relationship with the economy, and to promote sharing, collaboration and dialogue. #FreeMoneyDay #10yearson

Photo and video by Create the Remarkable

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck has written a chapter for a new ebook by Open Democracy, available free here. Edited by Laurie Macfarlane, “New Thinking for the British Economy” brings together leading thinkers to outline the broad pillars of a new economic agenda, and the type of policies that are needed to get us there. As well as more traditional policy areas such as trade, finance, housing and industrial policy, the book explores a range of areas that are not typically considered to be within the sphere of economic policy but which nonetheless play a critical role shaping our political economy – such as the media, our care systems, racial inequalities and our constitutional arrangements.

Katherine’s chapter – “Building a Wellbeing Economy” – explains that GDP is a wholly inadequate measure of progress for the twenty-first century: the narrow pursuit of growth-at-all-costs is failing to meet human needs and destroying the planet. Repurposing the economy away from GDP towards outcomes that align economic success with the delivery of human and ecological wellbeing is therefore an essential step towards an economy that works for people and planet.

Download the ebook for free now.

 

As published on the Greenhouse PR Pioneers blog here.

“The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is a new global network created to help bring about a transformation of the economic system to prioritise shared wellbeing on a healthy planet.

Ahead of the official launch in New York tomorrow (20 September), we invited Executive Director, Diego Isabel, to tell us about WEAll’s mission to empower people around the world to catalyse systemic change.

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about the Wellbeing Economy Alliance – what’s its mission?

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (#WEAll) has the mission to transform the goal of the economy, from profit maximisation to providing wellbeing to people and the planet.

  • What drives you?

Change. When I see and feel change for the common good is possible, I go for it.

  • What is your greatest achievement to date?

I am very proud of having brought together the main new economy networks and movements to the Global Forum NESI (New Economy and Social Innovation) to work together, to collaborate. #WEAll is a step beyond NESI, now all these networks are willing to keep on collaborating.

  • What are the challenges you face?

Putting egos aside, not only individual egos but also what I call “corporate egos”. Collaboration is about agreeing on a common purpose and goals and working together to achieve them, without expecting a reward to feed our egos.

  • What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?

Creating positive and practical proposals for governments and cities so they become wellbeing economy governments and wellbeing economy cities. We need to create ecosystems where businesses can have a social purpose and people can have meaningful jobs and enjoy their lives.

  • Where do you want to take WEAll next?

On the one hand, to create roadmaps for governments, cities, and businesses so they know how to make the transition towards a wellbeing economy. On the other, WEAll needs to empower people around the world to catalyse systemic change. We aim to develop what we call WEAll Citizens, a campaign to mobilise citizens around the world to support the wellbeing economy and the proposals of the different new economy movements.

  • What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

There are many things that would make a difference in our lives and in the system. We have the power to decide what to buy and from whom. The products we eat, the way we move, the clothes we buy and wear, all these things contribute to a global change.

  • How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?

I think that the best way to inspire others is by walking your talk. I try to be coherent with the kind of system I would like to see. Paraphrasing Gandhi: “be the economy you want to see in the world”.

  • Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers?

This summer I was inspired reading “Journey to Earthland” by Paul Raskin, Director of the Tellus Institute, one of the WEAll members. On my bedside table I always have some traditional eastern books such as the Tao Te King or the Dhammapada. They contain powerful inspiring messages.

  • What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?

My wife asking, what have we got for dinner? 🙂

  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Life is about giving and being yourself.

  • Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero?

Mother nature, or Pacha Mama as they call it in Latin America, is the best Eco Hero, we only need to listen to her and follow her lead.”

238 leading academics wrote an open letter to the EU this weekend, calling for the prioritisation of stability and wellbeing over GDP.

The experts, including WEAll Ambassador Kate Pickett, mention the vital role of WEAll in connecting the existing and  emerging wellbeing economy movement.

Read the full letter below or on the Guardian website here, where you can also see all the signatories.

If you agree with their call, you can add your voice by signing this petition to the EU.

The open letter

“This week, scientists, politicians, and policymakers are gathering in Brussels for a landmark conference. The aim of this event, organised by members of the European parliament from five different political groups, alongside trade unions and NGOs, is to explore possibilities for a “post-growth economy” in Europe.

For the past seven decades, GDP growth has stood as the primary economic objective of European nations. But as our economies have grown, so has our negative impact on the environment. We are now exceeding the safe operating space for humanity on this planet, and there is no sign that economic activity is being decoupled from resource use or pollution at anything like the scale required. Today, solving social problems within European nations does not require more growth. It requires a fairer distribution of the income and wealth that we already have.

 

Growth is also becoming harder to achieve due to declining productivity gains, market saturation, and ecological degradation. If current trends continue, there may be no growth at all in Europe within a decade. Right now the response is to try to fuel growth by issuing more debt, shredding environmental regulations, extending working hours, and cutting social protections. This aggressive pursuit of growth at all costs divides society, creates economic instability, and undermines democracy.

Those in power have not been willing to engage with these issues, at least not until now. The European commission’s Beyond GDP project became GDP and Beyond. The official mantra remains growth — redressed as “sustainable”, “green”, or “inclusive” – but first and foremost, growth. Even the new UN sustainable development goalsinclude the pursuit of economic growth as a policy goal for all countries, despite the fundamental contradiction between growth and sustainability.

The good news is that within civil society and academia, a post-growth movement has been emerging. It goes by different names in different places:décroissance, Postwachstumsteady-state or doughnut economicsprosperity without growth, to name a few. Since 2008, regular degrowth conferenceshave gathered thousands of participants. A new global initiative, the Wellbeing Economies Alliance (or WE-All), is making connections between these movements, while a European research network has been developing new “ecological macroeconomic models”. Such work suggests that it’s possible to improve quality of life, restore the living world, reduce inequality, and provide meaningful jobs – all without the need for economic growth, provided we enact policies to overcome our current growth dependence.

Some of the changes that have been proposed include limits on resource use, progressive taxation to stem the tide of rising inequality, and a gradual reduction in working time. Resource use could be curbed by introducing a carbon tax, and the revenue could be returned as a dividend for everyone or used to finance social programmes. Introducing both a basic and a maximum income would reduce inequality further, while helping to redistribute care work and reducing the power imbalances that undermine democracy. New technologies could be used to reduce working time and improve quality of life, instead of being used to lay off masses of workers and increase the profits of the privileged few.

Given the risks at stake, it would be irresponsible for politicians and policymakers not to explore possibilities for a post-growth future. The conference happening in Brussels is a promising start, but much stronger commitments are needed. As a group of concerned social and natural scientists representing all Europe, we call on the European Union, its institutions, and member states to:

1. Constitute a special commission on post-growth futures in the EU parliament. This commission should actively debate the future of growth, devise policy alternatives for post-growth futures, and reconsider the pursuit of growth as an overarching policy goal.

2. Incorporate alternative indicators into the macroeconomic framework of the EU and its member states. Economic policies should be evaluated in terms of their impact on human wellbeing, resource use, inequality, and the provision of decent work. These indicators should be given higher priority than GDP in decision-making.

3. Turn the stability and growth pact (SGP) into a stability and wellbeing pact. The SGP is a set of rules aimed at limiting government deficits and national debt. It should be revised to ensure member states meet the basic needs of their citizens, while reducing resource use and waste emissions to a sustainable level.

4. Establish a ministry for economic transition in each member state. A new economy that focuses directly on human and ecological wellbeing could offer a much better future than one that is structurally dependent on economic growth.”

Blog post by Lisa Hough-Stewart

What happens when you give away free money to strangers?

WEAll teamed up with our members the Post Growth Institute and Finance Watch to do just that.

On September 15, 2018, ten years to the day from the collapse of Lehman Brothers (which triggered the financial crash), a small group of us stood opposite the old Lehman Brothers building on 7th Avenue in New York, and dished out cash.

This stunt was part of the Change Finance coalition’s #10yearson campaign. The purpose was simple: to provoke people to think about our relationship with money and what the economy is for, encouraging sharing and collaboration instead of greed. To emphasize the point, we invited everyone to take two dollars – one to keep, and one to pass on to someone else.

In preparing for this stunt, I gave plenty of thought to our messages, the logistics, the risks – and not much thought to how people would react. In fact, I assumed that the $500 we had to give away would disappear within half an hour, with people grabbing bills as quickly as they could.

The reality was more complex, and it said a lot about our relationship with money: exactly what we were there to explore! At first, almost everyone was wary and confused, and many would not engage with us at all, refusing to believe anyone would just hand out money with no catch.

We didn’t get a lot of outright negativity, but a lot of people were quick to put up their hands and say, “I’ve got enough”. A nice sentiment, as our economy certainly needs a better concept of “enough”: it was pretty clear, though, that this response was defensive. People did not want to be seen to be in need.

Our pitch went along the lines of “It’s free money day! You get a dollar, and you pass one on to someone else”. The last part of the sentence was transformational. We could see the penny drop, as people who had been quickening their pace to avoid us suddenly smiled, slowed down and started to engage. The sharing element connected with people instantly, and that’s when they wanted to know more about what we were doing.

My favourite part was the people who really got into the spirit of it, eager to give away their dollar straight away – a few even joined our team for a while! Kids were particularly thrilled not just to get a buck but to hand out money to others. I lost count of the number of people who said we made their day.

It didn’t take half an hour to get rid of $500 on a Saturday afternoon in New York City. It took almost two hours. In those two hours, we had conversations with strangers lasting from a few seconds to fifteen or twenty minutes. We shared ideas, laughter and hugs with these strangers as we connected over the idea that we all can do better, and build an economy that works for people and planet.

  • Free Money Day is a global event in which people hand out money to strangers in order to raise awareness and start conversations about the benefits of economies based on sharing. http://www.freemoneyday.org/
  • Finance Watch is an independent, non-profit, publicinterest association dedicated to making finance work for society. It was created in June 2011 to be a citizen’s counterweight to the lobbying of the financial industry and conducts technical and policy advocacy in favour of financial regulations that will make finance serve society. It now expands its mission to include work on campaigns that demand systemic change, and coordinates the Change Finance coalition. 
  • The #10YearsOn campaign has involved over 60 organisations to reimagine the financial system. Its demands are focused on a financial system that serves people and planet, that is democratically governed, and that is stable.

Images by Create The Remarkable

On the ten year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the financial crash, we think that #WEAll can do better. We can build a wellbeing economy. #10yearson

English version:

Spanish version:

Diez años después, ¿podemos cambiar?

¿Podemos crear una economía basada en las personas? #10añosDespues #10yearson #WeAll

Posted by PlayGround on Friday, September 14, 2018

Video by Playground

WEAll Policy and Knowledge lead Katherine appears on the latest Politics Galore! podcast, talking wellbeing economies, and a little bit of Scottish politics.

In the latest episode of Local Bites, a great podcast produced by WEAll member Local Futures, they chatted with Diego Isabel La Moneda, WEAll Strategy and Connections lead.

Listen here now [12 minutes].

An economist, a songwriter and a puppet designer walked into a recording studio.

What came out? An economics puppet rap battle, of course.

In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, puppet designer Emma Powell, musician Simon Panrucker, and renegade economist (and WEAll Ambassador) Kate Raworth have created a surreal musical puppet adventure to challenge the heart of outdated economic thinking.

Their 7-minute video stars puppets pitched in a rap battle with their economics professor. The project’s aim is to equip economics students and teachers with a playful but insightful critique of Rational Economic Man, the outdated depiction of humanity at the heart of mainstream economic thought.

A synopsis of the storyline:

Dissatisfied with the model of man presented in their economics lesson, three students visit their professor and embark on a rap battle to debate the very nature of humankind. While the professor argues that Economic Man – a rational, self-interested, money-driven being – serves the theory well, the students counter that a more nuanced portrait reflecting community, generosity and uncertainty is now essential. A musical puppet adventure challenging the heart of outdated economic thinking ensues.

Kate Raworth is the author of the internationally acclaimed book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist (Penguin Random House, 2017). ‘One of the most dangerous stories at the heart of 20th century economics is the depiction of humanity as rational economic man’ she says, ‘He stands alone, with money in his hand, ego in his heart, a calculator in his head and nature at his feet. In making this video, we wanted to make clear – as playfully as possible – that this absurd portrait is deeply out of date.’

The project was funded by the Network for Social Change and the video is being disseminated widely online. A full set of the lyrics is available for teachers and students who want to bring the details of the debate to life in the classroom.

Wondering what WEAll is all about, and what we’re hoping to achieve?

Amp team members Katherine and Lisa wrote a piece for the Transforming Capitalism Lab, part of our member The Presencing Institute.

Read it here and join the discussion.

Blog by Lisa Hough-Stewart

I was thrilled to be part of the international Rethinking Economics summer gathering earlier in August.

Rethinking Economics (RE) is an international network of students, academics and professionals aiming to build better economics education and thus contribute to transformation of the economic system.  RE is a WEAll member and we headed to their gathering to explain what WEAll is doing and our vision, and make connections between the work of RE and the wider movement.

This was a really special event – by the time I arrived on day 4, the participants were clearly a really tight group. Despite having already had four intense days of strategic planning and plotting to change the world, energy and enthusiasm levels were through the roof. I reckon there are a few world changers in this group!

I supported Rowan from RE to run the opening session on day five, encouraging students to work in their national or regional groups to use power mapping tools. They each mapped out the different external stakeholders who have influence over their university curriculum and came up with strategies for working with at least one of these to create change in the new semester. The depth of strategic thinking was really impressive for a short session!

Then it was time to deliver a presentation on what WEAll is all about and I was delighted to have a packed room full of people curious to learn about us. I started by asking everyone to say what they think a wellbeing economy is or includes, and the answers were brilliant – all completely in line with WEAll’s definitions! (see the photo) It was great to get an overwhelmingly positive response to my short workshop, and a wee queue of students keen to discuss collaboration at the end.

Myself and the other presenters were swept up in the busy afternoon of workshops, and I had so much fun as part of Team Meme Machine creating memes that RE can use during the #10yearson campaign (watch this space). We were also grateful to be welcomed into the brilliant (late night!) closing party, complete with quiz and talent show. These Rethinkers know how to have fun.

It seemed there was a meaningful connection with WEAll to be made with every Rethinking Economics group, and the other presenters I spoke with to – being part of this incredible Gathering made me more sure than ever that WEAll as an alliance to connect the wellbeing economy movement is really needed. It also gave me a real boost that with the energy and talent that already exists within the movement, we really can succeed in our ambitious goals.

Katherine Trebeck, WEAll Policy and Knowledge lead, sat down with Brazilian media outlet “This is not the truth” to explore the need for a wellbeing economy and how we can get there.

Each month, the WEAll Amplification team (Amp team) shares what they’ve been working on, and their priorities for the coming month.

Find out more about our team members here 

Ana Gomez 

What’s kept you busy in August?
  • Helping Lisa build WEAll’s new website, focusing on Member’s details, donation software, and anything she has needed. Supporting each other is a common goal for all of us!
  • Enjoying an amazing and fruitful face-to-face meeting with Lisa, Diego, Rebeca and myself to organise the coming months in terms of September event, and thinking ahead to NESI 2019
  • Working on the onboarding process to welcome new members/friends/groups into the movement. Getting to know interested organisations and individuals! 
August highlight:
  • Lisa’s visit to Malaga to work together with Diego and myself. It’s rare to have the chance to see each other in person but when it happens we get the most out of it, at working and human level. 
September priorities:
  • WEAll Scotland event. Collaborating with Ellie Logan and the whole team in WEAll Scotland to celebrate at the beginning of October the incredible debut of the Scotland Local Hub.
  • Members will be my priority. I want to get to know each other much better, listening to their ideas, proposals, questions, etc. My goal is that they feel they are an active part of the movement. I’m willing to create a closer bond and understanding among all of us in our future collaborations.
  • Creating more Local Hubs around the world to get many more people involved with WEAll at a local level with an international perspective. Super excited about this! 

Lisa Hough-Stewart 

What’s kept you busy in August?
  • Getting plans in place for our trip to New York in September, where  we’re running an event and launching some new aspects of WEAll’s work. It was great to spend some time in Malaga with Diego and Ana, planning together
  • Overseeing the completion of the website build
  • Creating the WEAll Citizens programme, which I’m very excited about

August highlight:

  • Delivering a workshop about WEAll at the Rethinking Economics Summer Gathering. The student “Rethinkers” were super inspiring, and had great ideas for linking their curriculum reform work to the wider wellbeing economy movement.

September priorities:

  • Campaigning as part of the #10yearson campaign with Change Finance in New York – watch this space!
  • Running an event in New York to soft launch WEAll and connect with the US movement
  • Launching WEAll Citizens

Diego Isabel

What’s kept you busy in August?
  • Starting to prepare the WEAll action plan and budget for 2019-2021
  • Fundraising activities for WEAll
  • Following up with contacts after our visit to the US in July 
August highlight:
  • Charging the batteries under the Spanish sun with positive energy for the coming months!
September priorities:
  • Preparing and participating in the WEAll event in New York on the 20th of September
  • Connecting with key partners for WEAll as well as for the NESI Forum 2019 where all the WEAll members will come together
  • Launching the WEAll strategy group with members and experts

Katherine Trebeck

What’s kept you busy in August?
  • Loads of meetings!! But wonderful ones, including many related to WEAll Scotland (possible partnerships & preparing for our event in October ‘The Wealth of Nations 3.0: Building the Conditions of Wellbeing’) and plenty with other WEAll partner organisations.
  • Speaking at the Edinburgh Fringe in a debate (about a 300+ report from the governing Scottish National Party about Scotland’s future being one of growth. I said I think we can do better…)
  • Submitting a chapter with the rather boring title of ‘Building a Wellbeing Economy’ to a book being edited by Open Democracy  
August highlight:
  • Besides snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef?! Seeing the final version of the cover for a book I co-authored (coming out in January). Hope you like it as much as Jeremy and I do!  
September priorities:
  • Moving ahead on actions from the research cluster (eg WEAll Wisdom Webinars), mapping priority synthesis papers, and creating the WEAll Fellows Network
  • Finalising plans for the WEAll Scotland gathering in October (including an opening talk from WEAll friend Jacquie McGlade)
  • Spending time in a cabin beside a Scottish Loch making a dent in my long reading list in order to move forward with some WEAll outputs

Stewart Wallis

Stewart has been enjoying a well-earned rest in August and September – after coming out of retirement to help set up and run WEAll, he has temporarily re-retired!

But that didn’t stop him spending a couple of days in Amsterdam building relationships on behalf of WEAll. Stewart will be working again in late September.

 

Michael Weatherhead

What’s kept you busy in August?
  •  Developing proposals to pilot the WEAllCities guide (currently being finalised).
  • Laying the ground work for the start of an exciting new employment and wellbeing economics coaching programme to up skill and assist unemployed individuals across Southern Spain
  • Developing our team’s cultural code of conduct
August highlight:
  •  Supporting one of our regional members with their strategy and how WEAll can support them
September priorities:
  • Getting the WEAll Business Cluster off the ground with a firm action plan and proposals for future initiatives
  • Establishing the formal relationship between WEAll and its first established local hub WEAll Scotland
  • Furthering the transformation journey of a leading multi-national