By: Jussi Ahokas

Finland joins the leading group of Wellbeing Economy Governments

This week we received great news when the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced that Finland had joined the international Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) network. The news is particularly good for SOSTE Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health (an umbrella organization of Finnish NGOs from the social and health sector) which has been promoting the wellbeing economy approach for several years.

By joining the WEGo partnership, Finland will be increasingly involved in discussions with New Zealand, Scotland, Iceland, and Wales around how societies can be built to ensure wellbeing for all people, despite the great challenges of our time. 

Civil society as a catalyst of cooperation

The news of Finland joining WEGo is also exciting for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a civil society network of which SOSTE has been a member since Spring 2019, as the Alliance has been instrumental in the creation of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership. Apart from countries being able to engage in wellbeing economy initiatives, the network has offered to its member organizations, foundations, and individuals an arena to reflect together on the need for actions orientated towards wellbeing. 

Due to this cooperation SOSTE, for example, has reinforced the idea that without securing ecological sustainability future wellbeing cannot be ensured. In many respects, the change we need is greater than what could be achieved solely by SOSTE’s work on wellbeing economy, which has mostly concentrated on health policy and social policy issues. A sectoral perspective, or even a national perspective, is not sufficient – a wellbeing economy must be built globally and with all people and the whole planet in mind. 

Together we can build a wellbeing economy  

Given the extent of the required actions, no actor can succeed in building a wellbeing economy alone. It is, therefore, important to involve also governments and civil servants around the world in this joint effort. 

In the case of Finland, the wellbeing economy was one of the main themes during the country’s EU Presidency, and in recent months the wellbeing economy approach has really found its place in the central government’s agenda. A Wellbeing Economy group has just been established in the Public Health Advisory Board, and ministries and other state institutions have also been engaged around the issue of wellbeing economy. It is excellent that this work can now be shared and benchmarked with the other WEGo governments. 

Wellbeing economy for a better future 

When the acute coronavirus crisis is over, we will have again the opportunity to consider the next steps that should be taken to build up wellbeing economies and support people’s wellbeing around the world. 

SOSTE, social and health sector NGOs and global civil society are ready to continue to provide solutions that strengthen and expand the wellbeing economy. It is possible that in following years this effort will be embraced by other countries as well, as the global dialogue around the wellbeing policy and wellbeing economy evolves. This gives hope for a better tomorrow. 

It goes without saying that this has been a difficult year for everyone. 

The global pandemic has made the injustice, unsustainability, and fragility of our current economic system clearer than ever – and exposed the urgency of transforming our economic system.

The good news is that WEAll has made significant progress this year in our mission to catalyse economic system change towards an economy that delivers social justice on a healthy planet.

“This year has shown us that together, we have the power to achieve the seemingly impossible – change the economic system so that it works for both humans and the planet.”

Stewart

1. Catalysing Powerbases

WEAll Members

Oh no… here comes yet another Zoom photo… (You didn’t think we’d wrap up 2020 without one, did you?!)

Many of our members let us know that,

“Discovering WEAll has been a highlight of my year!

Thank you for joining us virtually this year – all 187 of you! Learning about and supporting your important work has been the highlight of our year! 

Oh – and as Raissa Marks put it at our last member’s call:

“What I love about WEAll is listening to all the different accents from people around the world!” 

We love that too!

WEAll Citizens

2100 people from around the globe now participate on the Citizens platform! We held 12 events for Citizens this year, particularly around the topic of designing empowering stories about a new economy.

“We’re in this together, we’ll get out of it together”.

Usman

WEAll Hubs

WEAll hubs are popping up everywhere! We now have seven established place-based hubs in California, Canada, Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales. And that’s not all! We’re also working with partners to establish seven new hubs in Australia, Barcelona, Ireland, North Carolina, the Netherlands, Trinidad & Tobago, and Vermont.

“WEAll Ireland is helping us to ground our activity in our common values by providing us with tools to build a collaborative and respectful future together, with the hugely-appreciated support of our partners around the world.”

Caroline Whyte, FEASTA

We recently had a joint meeting for all WEAll hubs to share their learnings and tips!

“In Scotland, the Scottish Government released their economic recovery report calling for a ‘robust, resilient Wellbeing Economy’. This shift in language is a promising first step. We’ve made lots of progress at WEAll Scotland this year, and we’re excited to continue transforming the tangible, achievable ideas of a Wellbeing Economy into concrete policies, with our partners and allies.”

Joey Gartin, WEAll Scotland

WEAll Youth

In 2020, WEAll Youth expanded its core team, now boasts 83 young members in its WEAll Youth global hub, and has started WEAll Connect as a way for youth to engage with the wider WEAll network. WEAll Youth now has hubs in Melbourne, Warwick, Scotland, Zwolle, Uganda, which have two community calls per month. Sign up for the WEAll Youth newsletter here.

“While slower than any millennial would like, it’s reassuring to see the momentum building for creating a new economic system.”

Isabel

Aligning Alliances

“A Wellbeing Economy is happening – and the more we connect our networks, initiatives, and organisations – the stronger we become.”

Claire

This year, WEAll has proactively connected with other alliances that are focused on global economic systems change, and is exploring how to collaborate further, to amplify our collective impact. 

The WEGo Partnership

  • The WEGo Partnership continued to gather steam this year: Wales joined the WEGo partnership in April 2020, while Finland and Canada have begun to participate in the WEGo policy labs and seem to appreciate the space the partnership creates. 
  • In February 2020, the Scottish Government, a founding member of WEGo, presented the Scottish Budget 2020-21, which prioritises investment for driving wellbeing and sustainable and inclusive growth. 
  • The Wellbeing Economy agenda has been promoted in various countries, including the Netherlands and Costa Rica, through the engagement of government officials, and in numerous groups such as the Club de Madrid and Common Earth.

“What was seen as impossible in the past, appears feasible and desirable now.”

Anna

WEAll Read

Our new economics book club is still going strong. Join the WEAll Read Whatsapp Group to participate or start your own WEAll Read book club. 

2. Sharing Empowering Narratives

Storytelling

  • WEAll has built a network of 21 ambassadors and 67 spokespeople, who have collectively delivered over 107 keynotes, panel discussions, podcast interviews, and more (virtually) around the world in 2020!
  • Our ‘Narratives Playbook’, which offers guidance on how to tell positive and empowering stories about an economy in service to life, will be launching early in 2021. Thank you to our members who have inputted into the process of creating it this year. Watch this space!

Reaching the Mainstream

People are increasingly interested in the idea of a Wellbeing Economy. 

  • In 2020, WEAll was featured in the media around the globe, over 130 times. 
  • Since last year, google searches for a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ have doubled – and google searches for the ‘Wellbeing Economy Alliance’ have tripled!
  • Our followership and engagement on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and  LinkedIn) has grown significantly in 2020 – especially on LinkedIn (which is 5x what it was in 2019!)
  • In 2020, the WEAll website had over 80,000 visitors (92% of which were new users) – more than double the number of visitors in 2019!

“Over the past several months, I’ve developed a much more clear understanding of the economy and economics in general. We cannot shift to an alternative economy without building this understanding in the mainstream. Economics is for everyone! I’m looking forward to supporting the work of growing economic literacy in the new year.”

Rabia

3. Consolidating the Knowledge & Policy Evidence Base

WEAll’s Knowledge & Policy working group now includes over 100 scholars, practitioners, experts, and academics. 

“I am constantly inspired by the brilliant minds and kind hearts that make up the WEAll family and am confident that with our powers combined, we can build a more just and sustainable world.” 

Amanda

Creating Accessible Content

The group stays connected through Slack and bimonthly web meetings, and has produced six briefing papers on key topics relevant to a Wellbeing Economy: 

  1. Understanding Wellbeing 
  2. Linwood, Scotland: A microcosm of the beginnings of a wellbeing economy 
  3. Wellbeing Economics for a the COVID-19 Recovery: 10 Principles to Build Back Better 
  4. Rebuilding to a US Wellbeing Economy: 5 principles to guide recovery and policy action 
  5. Measuring the Wellbeing Economy: How to move Beyond GDP 
  6. Wellbeing Business: 8 ways that businesses are challenging the corporate mindset to ensure social and ecological wellbeing for all 

Stay tuned for The Wellbeing Economy Policy Design Guide, which is coming out in early 2021. Many thanks to everyone involved in co-creating it with us!

When I think of how we’ve created our Policy Design Guide, I am reminded of the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Michael

Sparking Conversation

We held 12 WEAll Talks this year, spanning from topics like Measuring Wellbeing to Designing for Justice. A big thank you to our speakers: Henri Wiman, Rutger Hoekstra, Claudia Gross, Jorge Rosales, Mariana Mirabile, Martin Oetting & Kai Schäntele, Henry Levenson-Gower, Christian Felber, Sarah Deas, Sarah McKinley, Julie McLachlan, Bob Willard,Thomas Dürmeier and Vicki-Ann Assevero

Looking Ahead to 2021

Fred Swaniker, co-founder of African Leadership Academy said, “We have to make this crisis the first phase of the next stage”. We agree. And we seem to be on our way.

“2020 has shown that people around the world are ready for change, that they care about each other and about strangers, and that governments are more than capable of making massive shifts. This should give us heart that the journey we are on is one worth taking and that, despite the pain and loss of 2020, the wind is in our sails.”

Katherine

Here’s to making it through a difficult year.

“Take a much needed break – but no te rindas… (Don’t give up).”

Ana

We’ll see you next year! Until then we wish everyone in the WEAll community around the world a safe and restful holiday season. 

– The WEAll Amp team

2020. There’s no denying it’s been a year of struggle. But like a bright candle in an otherwise dark room, it’s also been a year of opportunity.

As lockdown loomed and work was waylaid, more and more people began to think about who “the economy” really serves. Does it benefit the millions of people, including key workers, who work every day to keep it running? And what about the many people who are unable to work? Or does it tend to benefit a privileged few at the expense of other people and the environment?

We’ve been advocating for Scotland’s transition to a wellbeing economy—a system which delivers social justice on a healthy planet—for a long time now, but the need for its realisation has never been greater. That’s why it’s so encouraging and uplifting to mainstream sources adopting language like wellbeing economy, build back better, and green recovery into their everyday discussions, from journalists to politicians.

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

The wellbeing economy concept then took centre stage a month later when the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery published its report, Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland.

At WEAll Scotland, we were delighted to see wellbeing-economy language featured so prominently. But it’s important to remember that we exist to advocate for and enable a wellbeing economy, not simply celebrate its becoming a buzzword.

We were concerned with how prominently the reliance on growth was referenced throughout the report. What kind of growth, we ask, and for whom? Simply adding “inclusive” and “sustainable” modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.

It’s time to move away from outdated metrics like growth to GDP and instead focus on the indicators which truly measure quality of life: social justice, a healthy environment, and the opportunity for everyone to pursue the life they wish to live.

Life is for learning, and we’ve certainly learned a lot in 2020. As we look to the future by looking back, we wanted to end the year (and this article!) by sharing some positive stories from lockdown.

Ostrero is a research and advocacy body that raises awareness of what the circular economy is and why it’s vitally important to Scotland’s economic and environmental wellbeing. Earlier this year, they gathered quotes from children across Scotland on what they learned during lockdown and how we can work together to build back better. Ostrero were kind enough to allow us to share some of those quotes here.

Thanks for reading and for helping us advocate for a wellbeing economy in 2020.

Here’s to a bright new year.

“Although lockdown has been hard there’s been many positives, for instance when I go on a bike ride with no traffic on the road, I can go down the Mound without a single car in sight, the air is fresher and cleaner and it’s lovely to hear the birds sing.”

Millie, age 12

“When I was at school, every lunch, we used paper plates. So every day, we threw away our plates, our cutlery and our glass. It wasn’t reusable, so it was harmful for the planet. Now I use a real plate to eat with my family, and it is better for the environment.”

Arthur, age 10

“I had my 10th birthday during Lockdown and it was different, but also good as it was a new way to spend my birthday. My parents arranged for my family to sing to me on Messenger. It was nice and my mum made me a cake. I think that using technology is helping people be able to see each other and also help me to do my school work.  I have been learning Spanish during this time using an app and it has been a lot of fun.”

Ethan, age 10

“I have online classes, so teachers can’t print documents anymore. It strikes me because having documents online already pollutes a lot and by printing them in addition, you only harm nature more by using unnecessary paper. I hope it will help people be more careful when using our planet’s resources.”

Salomé, age 15

“I never really talked with my neighbours (I didn’t even know some of their names) but now we do because we check everyone is ok and we help a neighbour with her shopping, recycling and anything else she needs and in return she bakes us delicious cookies.”

Archie, age 13

Authors: Olga Koretskaya, Gus Grosenbaugh

Read Paper

For the past several decades, the primary question for many businesses has been: “How much money can we make?”. It is still largely assumed that the social responsibility of business is to increase profits for shareholders, as that wealth should trickle down to benefit all. While the formal economy has never been larger, the unprecedented scale of environmental degradation and inequality it has created today makes us question business-as-usual and to look for alternatives.

In fact, all around the world, people are rejecting the status-quo of self-interest. In the midst of the global pandemic, more than ever, we see purposeful work towards building an economy that delivers environmental and social wellbeing.

  • With the election of Joe Biden, the US appears primed to re-enter the Paris Agreement.
  • New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget makes health a key, driving metric in economic decision making.
  • The ‘rights of nature’ are being recognised by national and local laws, predominantly in the countries of the Global South: Ecuador, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Mexico, Uganda, and Colombia.

While public awareness and government policies are crucial in supporting Wellbeing Business, it is companies – both large and small – that will be the engine behind the transition. The good news is: many of them already exist, and we know how to recognise them.

Here are eight key principles that define a Wellbeing Business.

  1. Redefining the vision. Primarily driven by the desire to create products and services that satisfy the needs of society, while staying in harmony with nature. 
  2. Ensuring transparency. Proactive in disclosing data about their environmental, social, and economic performance.
  3. Internalising externalities. Aware of the ‘negative externalities’ or negative environmental and social impacts they produce, and strive to reduce them.
  4. Having a long-term mindset. Make decisions that benefit the company and all important stakeholders including society and nature. This implies, for example careful consideration of resource use, and investment in employees and the communities within which companies operate.
  5. Making people an asset. Prioritise the dignifying of work and empowering of diverse voices within the company.
  6. Localising production. Become much more embedded in the community and ecosystems by striving to localise energy sources, financial sources, as well as distribution.      
  7. Switching to circular production. Design business processes to coexist with environmental and social systems.
  8. Embracing diversity. Acknowledge and embrace diversity in values, ownership structure, finance as key to a resilient business environment.

On 18 December we hosted a webinar to discuss this paper. You can watch the recording here:

Also, do check out the WEAll Business Guide as a nice pair to this work.

Event Recap from July 2020

What is free trade? And why is free trade problematic?

Christian Felber, author of Trading For Good and WEAll Ambassador, explained this exact concept on a WEAll Talk on Ethical World Trade

Christian calls free trade ‘enforced trade’. ‘Enforced’ because countries that are young can be punished by international law or tribunals if they refuse to open borders. 

What makes free trade so unique is that the only counter solution is Protectionism, where countries close all borders and do not participate in any kind of international trade. 

These two avenues for trade are extreme and don’t offer any solution founded in protecting human rights. 

The goal of free trade, according to the EU is, “progressive abolition or restrictions of international trade of Foreign Direct Investment and of lowering of customs and other barriers.” 

In other words, the overarching goals of free trade laws just eliminate restrictions. You are free of any responsibility of how trade may impact local communities. Countries are convinced to open borders because “it’s good for trade!” 

Instead the goal could be, “open borders because it will provide a more thriving livelihood for your community”. A country’s decision to open borders, must be their decision, not an enforced decision by the international trade organisations. 

So what’s the alternative?

In a Wellbeing Economy, the goal of trade would be founded on human rights, labour rights, social cohesion, biodiversity, climate protection, and cultural diversity. 

Christian advises that we must stop considering trade as the end but rather, as a means to the end; make the goals of trade to support the international laws for human rights; and then adjust the means according to that overarching goal. 

This can mean that trade agreements are welcome  – if and only if they support a country’s goals. But if it puts a country at risk or the goals of that country at risk, they can opt out without punishment. 

He makes a good point about the language that is used with trade. Similar to the logic that everyone who criticises capitalism is a socialist or everyone who criticises excessive inequality is for the elimination of inequality: everyone who criticises free trade is automatically considered a protectionist. This kind of thinking can be no longer. 

In order to shift toward Ethical World Trade, Christian offers 6 steps: 

  1. Multilateral UN agreement: The World Trade Organisation is not a part of the UN and therefore, it’s goals do not align with wider UN policies on human and climate rights. These must be linked and therefore, a multilateral UN agreement on trade must be created. 
  2. Commitment to trade equilibrium: There must be an international agreement to avoid trade imbalance. 
  3. No equal treatment of poorer or richer countries: Countries who are poorer cannot be put on the same playing field as countries that are richer. Christan notes that the US was highly protectionist up until WWII, as was Great Britain. Protecting their borders and producing locally helped bring them to a stage to then produce internationally. Other countries have to be given this freedom as well. 
  4. No more political straight jackets: Milton Freedman suggested putting a “straight jacket” on countries, so that they open their borders and support international trade, which, in theory, would ultimately  make them richer. Unfortunately, this has not played out in reality. Christian counters this with the idea of giving everyone a dancers dress, so each country can make their own trade policies. This allows for flexibility, so that if a country sees engaging only in their indigenous economies as the best path forward, they can do so without repercussions from international counterparts. 
  5. Priority for Local markets: Countries need to continue to prioritise local production in communities. If it can be made locally, encourage this, as opposed to disincentivising local production to promote international trade.
  6. Limit and diminish power of multinational corporations: Corporations need to be better held to account for the impacts of their operations. The playing field for local businesses to compete with multinationals is not level. Global governance is needed to ensure corporations’ power is checked before it causes harm to people and planet. 

Christian proposes a new free trade defined by how open or protective a country wants to be. 

While Christian spoke about the changes needed to shift business and trade at the international level toward a Wellbeing Economy, there is much work to be done at the level of individual businesses. 

This month WEAll is publishing a new WEAll Business Briefing Paper, which also links to WEAll’s Business for Wellbeing Guide published last year. Both publications compile insights from experts on the important role that businesses can and must play to support the creation of a Wellbeing Economy.  

These outputs, coupled together, communicate a common vision for how business and governments can work together on a global scale, to deliver global wellbeing on a healthy planet. Now it is time to act on this learning.

Stay tuned for the Business briefing paper coming out next week and the Business Guide here, and watch Christian’s talk here.

Last January, we launched ‘The Business of Wellbeing: a Guide to the Alternatives to Business as Usual’. It aimed to answer questions such as, “What exactly is a wellbeing economy and how can we put it into practice?”and, “What are the options and what is the path that makes sense in each particular business context?”  

Examples of Wellbeing Economy businesses outlined in this guide include:

Riversimple

A car manufacturer founded to ‘pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport’. Its business model aims to completely rethink the automobile sector, from open-source design to a circular economy approach to car use. The founders redefine ownership by including key decision-makers in their governance structure, not only investors but also the Environment, Customers, Communities, Staff, Investors and Commercial Partners. The Board’s duty is to balance and protect the benefit streams of all six stakeholder groups, rather than maximising the value of one.

Futuro Forestal

Futuro Forestal has become one of Latin America’s largest and premier providers of tropical hardwood, and worked on the reforestation of over 9000 hectares, the creation of 4,500 hectares of private reserves. Together with a number of local and international stakeholders and investors, Futuro Forestal developed the ‘generation forest’, a combination of the dynamics of natural forests and reforestation which absorbs carbon dioxide and ensuring biodiversity and recovers soils and water sources. It also helps to create income earning opportunities for locals. 

Throughout the year, we have used this guide to drive some of our engagement with our network. For instance, we hosted two events that presented the guide and discussed practical strategies that businesses could use to transition to a ‘Wellbeing Economy Business’. 

Currently, our Organisational Lead, Michael, is working with WEAll Scotland to deliver a training programme for Scottish businesses based on the guide. The first iteration of this training is concluding soon. We imagine this work will continue in other countries and hope to be able to adapt the training for their specific contexts. 

The guide outlines seven dimensions for ‘The Business of Wellbeing’, that Wellbeing Economic businesses embody: 

In addition to the celebration of the Business guide’s one-year anniversary and the work on Wellbeing Economy businesses it has helped move ahead, WEAll is also hosting a panel discussion on December 18th on the topic of the state of Wellbeing Economic businesses in the world today. 

The panelists are: 

Olga Koretskaya and Gus Grosenbaugh, the authors of an upcoming WEAll briefing paper called “Business in the Wellbeing Economy”. We will share the publication before the event.

Bonnie Clark is the CEO of This is Remarkable. She has hundreds of case studies of businesses in Scotland who have undertaken the initiative to become a wellbeing business. 

Michael Weatherhead is Organisational Lead and WEAll and spearheaded the publication of the WEAll Business Guide last year. 

If you’re interested in joining, please register for the event here.

How does adult development play into the internal narratives we hold? How can we shift those narratives?

Internal narratives are the stories we tell ourselves about the world. It’s our self-talk, the way we explain or attempt to think something through. By better understanding these narratives, we can see where to shift toward to change the structure of our thinking. 

 In this WEAll Citizens event, Jackie Thoms, co-founder of Fraendi.org, introduced ‘Adult Development’ as a lens through which people can shift their internal narratives. As a body of work, Adult Development has been researched over 40 years internationally, and is now entering more fully into discourse around organisational and leadership practices. This approach is not about defining what the narrative is or needs to be, but supports adults to perceive more and perceive differently, sensing into the deeper patterns of what may be true and potentially enabling shifts in epistemology.

Epistemology is the understanding of how we come to know that something is the reality. It is the understanding of or justification of knowledge claims or a systematic way of interrogating our own thinking, mental models or how we make sense of things.

Often crises support people to make developmental shifts, and we are living through such a crisis now, with the coronavirus pandemic. At this time, we need many more narratives to paint the richness of who we are as a society and to nudge ourselves in subtle and more obvious ways to develop. 

With a developmental view of who we are as humans we have the capacity to shift our narratives through different levels. Multiple descriptions and multiple stories illuminate what the problems are and the possibilities and paths forward. It’s not that we need to define or be given the new narratives, we need to be given the structures to support us to create many, many more stories. However, the scaffolding required to support people to develop more mature and complex ways of thinking is not integrated into our way of life. 

Most institutions in western cultures: educational, political, and organisational tend to foster reductionist thinking. Reductionist thinking doesn’t include the idea that things are moving and changing, and avoids conflict and dissonance: often the main motor for change. This leads to more static and stable thinking, which contributes to our difficulty in moving  beyond the status quo,even as we face the destruction of our ecologies and multiple significant crises. So although people are born with the capacity for complex thinking, it does not develop. Vanessa Andreotti in the Climate Change Sessions, (A school called Home, Nov 2020) goes further to say that we live in a self-infantalising society in western cultures and that “Children are born. Grown-ups are made.”

Another factor that is limiting, is the narrative of (neo-)liberalism from the 1800s which is dominant in most western cultures today. The focus on humanity being the destructive species we are currently, ignores and limits our capacities to be different. It continues the ideal of competition as a priority and downplays or dismisses interdependence and connectedness. 

The narrative that we can individually determine our health and wellbeing is being challenged through this lived experience that our health is interdependent on our neighbour, our community, the policies and response of governments across the world and much more.

Mark Langdon, a WEAll member in the session shared that in the book “Wilful Blindness”, Margaret Heffernan comments that competition makes us more likely to conform than to think autonomously.

Adult Development approaches have relevance for education, politics, organisations and are embedded in a broader movement to break out of our limiting narratives and sense making to re-story life on this planet. This is especially important today.

Here are some resources on Paths to perceive more and differently, informed by an Adult Development lens:

NO LONGER ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: Please note that the application window for this position has now closed. Thank you for your interest.

CLOSED: Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is recruiting a Director!

This is a unique opportunity to take WEAll Scotland to the next level – moving it from a high impact but volunteer led organisation to a high performing, professional and sustainable organisation. Your main focus in terms of delivering external impact will be through our flagship Allies programme, which aims to create a network of allies who help collectively deliver and promote the feasibility and desirability of transition to a wellbeing economy. They will collaborate in various activities to support both practice and policy changes. 

WEAll Scotland has a strong external profile, and you will represent the network externally with key stakeholders from business, government and civil society. You will also support key voices from within the core team and network to be heard at external events and in the media.

You will lead WEAll Scotland’s development as an organisation, developing its strategy, team, fundraising and ensuring its culture and operational practices create an inclusive environment for a diverse team. One of your first priorities will be hiring the next two roles for the team: a Collaboration and Research Officer and a Communications Officer. 

PLEASE NOTE: We are no longer accepting applications for this role; the application window has now closed. Thank you for your interest.

The closing date for applications is 09.00am 18th January 2021.

First interviews will take place on w/c 25th January 2021 with second interviews on w/c 8th February 2021.

To find out more and apply for this role, please download the application pack and application form. If you have any queries, or if you feel you could succeed in this role but don’t have all the characteristics we’re looking for, please get in touch with Charlotte Millar, WEAll Scotland Trustee on charlotte@scotland.weall.org 

We are committed to providing equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background. We believe this is crucial to ensuring the legitimacy and effectiveness of our work. We acknowledge that people from a number of communities are underrepresented in our team and in the wider movement of those seeking systemic economic change and the charity sector in general, and we’re committed to addressing this. If you believe you would bring greater diversity to our team, we’re keen to hear from you. We are open to assisting with childcare or other duties that may prevent candidates from attending an interview. 

Two recent reports, while focusing on different geographic areas and on seemingly different topics, call for similar policy outcomes: the prioritisation and delivery of the 5 WEAll needs: dignity, access to nature, connection, fairness and meaningful participation for all people.. 

Summary of two recent reports: 

Job Treadmill – European Environmental Bureau and the European Youth Forum , focused on a policy blueprint for creating employment in a post-pandemic EU and a vision for revolutionising the future of work.

Billionaire Wealth and Community Wealth – Institute for Policy Studies, focused on 12 US Corporations – the Delinquent Dozen– who need to do significantly  more to protect their workers as their owners and executives continue to reap billions. 

“Our economic system can best be depicted as an ‘endless treadmill’: the growth-driven market system works, as long as we become more productive,” says the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) in their new report, out last week.  

In order to combat this system that has adverse effects on livelihoods, inequality, working conditions, job security, the environment, leisure time, and meaningful work, the EEB suggests that we:

  1. Start questioning the current fundamentals and debating more sustainable alternatives;
  2. Reframe our core policy goals to enhance our collective wellbeing;
  3. Move beyond economic growth when measuring the success of our economies, instead using holistic socio-ecological indicators and;
  4. Embrace policies for transition that enable us to escape the ‘endless treadmill’, such as Universal Basic Income, Working Time reduction, Democracy at work (shifting decision-making power from corporate managers and corporate shareholders to larger group so shareholders, mainly workers) and the Job Guarantee.  

The Institute for Policy Studies’ recently published report, ‘Billionaire Wealth and Community Health’, dives into the topic of top US corporations that have seen their wealth surge as a part of their monopoly status in the US economy. These drastic gains are juxtaposed against the losses of hundreds of thousands of essential workers, who continue to risk their lives in order to make ends meet. The IPS calls for the embrace of transition policies to reduce the growing inequalities by deliberative actions for companies and policymakers.

The IPS suggests that:

  1. Companies employing essential workers must: immediately implement hazard pay of at least $5 per hour and continue providing it for the duration of the pandemic; provide substantial sick leave and bereavement leave benefits for workers; provide personal protective equipment at no cost to all their essential workers; and create workplace health councils. 
  2. Lawmakers should legislate protections for essential workers – meaning: establish a Presidential Commission on Essential Workers; support and facilitate the creation of workplace health councils so that workers can monitor and support enforcement of compliance with health and safety guidance; and create an Essential Workers Bill of Rights.
  3. Support Policies to discourage Billionaire Pandemic Profiteering – meaning: levy an Emergency Pandemic Wealth Tax on Billionaire Gains during 2020 and anExact and Excess Profit Tax; impose conditions on corporations receiving federal pandemic financial support to protect essential workers; establish a Pandemic Profiteering Oversight Committee; and pass a Stop Wall Street Looting Act (SWSLA).

Both of these reports share common threads:  strong ask for policy makers to protect worker’s rights, to shift to more environmentally and socially sustainable practices, move goals beyond economic growth at all costs to reduce inequality and seek balance, and above all: prioritise the wellbeing of people, ahead of profit.

It’s heartening to see the similarities in these  recent reports. While the language we use or the agle we approach economic systems  change may differ, ultimately, we  are all on the same team and working towards the same outcome. 

This is an example of cohesion that is needed to drive the Wellbeing Economy movement. 

We look forward to continuing to work with the WEAll Community to advocate for these necessary changes.  

By Isabel Nuesse 

This week, many American’s are gearing up for another Thanksgiving holiday. A holiday told to celebrate the harmony between the Pilgrims and Wampanoags – whose land expands from Southern Massachusetts, into Rhode Island.

Source: Wikipedia 

However, this narrative overlooks the genocide of the Native American peoples. It is said that between the 19th and 20th centuries, 75-90% of the Native American peoples were killed by the European Settlers

It is significant that the month of November, during which Thanksgiving takes place, has been named Native American Heritage month. Which was only officially recognized in 1990 by President George W. Bush. 

It has taken years to acknowledge the mass elimination of the Native American’s and the theft of their lands. Much of that acknowledgment is still missing. Though, understanding the true story of Thanksgiving is the first step in finding a better path forward for our society.

As we begin to plan how we ‘build back better’ in the face of the crises of COVID-19, inequality and climate change, this work is absolutely critical.

It feels obvious to say, but to address the crises we face and to build a Wellbeing Economy, we cannot use the same paradigm from which our current economic system was born.

We need alternatives. And, those alternatives exist. 

On this day, we consider the teachings of Native American communities and how these perspectives are necessary in building a more just and sustainable economy; both in the US and globally.  

WEAll members have collectively defined 5 universal human needs that a Wellbeing Economy must deliver upon, to truly be ‘better’ than our current system. The ‘WEAll Needs’ are: dignity for all, participation in decision making, access to and preservation and regeneration of nature, connection and fairness.

Indigenous value systems inherently already address each of these needs. 

In the book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks of ‘The Honorable Harvest’: Indigenous principles or rules that govern the exchange of life for life. She notes that while these ‘rules’ are not written, if they were, they would appear something like this: 

  • Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them
  • Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. 
  • Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
  • Never take the first. Never take the last. 
  • Take only what you need. 
  • Take only which is given.
  • Never take more than half. Leave some for others. 
  • Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share. 
  • Give thanks for what you have been given.
  • Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken. 
  • Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever. 

These principles highlight an incredible act; giving, which is in direct contrast to our current extractive economy, which is very much focused on ‘taking’. This mindset validates the endless growth paradigm and centers profit ahead of the land on which we depend. 

Crucially, these Indigenous principles highlight the truth that the Earth is the source of life, not a limit to life. And that everything that comes after, is dependent on that source.

In learning more about this ancient wisdom, I ask myself,“Can we learn from these perspectives? Can we better honor the land and give more than we take?”

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin speaks to a salient point. She notes that the Indigenous communities in what we call America observed, “The problem with these new people is that they don’t have both feet on the shore. One is still on the boat. They don’t seem to know whether they’re staying or not.” 

This speaks to an investment, in our lives, in our Earth. Robin then asks, “Can Americans, a nation of immigrants, learn to live here as if we’re staying? With both feet on the shore?” 

What does a Wellbeing Economy look like from this point of view? How can we ensure that we’re building a system that requires that both feet are on the shore? One that centers the earth and grounds the Wellbeing Economy movement in our living systems?

There’s much more learning to be done. Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from this wisdom and to start to help right the wrongs of our past. 

To deepen our understanding, we’re looking into these Indigenous organisations and resources:

On November 20, Rutger Hoekstra introduced the topic of his new paper “Measuring the Wellbeing Economy: Going Beyond GDP.” 

During the 60 minute webinar, Rutger outlined the three major to-dos needed  to move this agenda forward.

  1. Harmonise. There are a number of indicators out there. We need the United Nationals and other international institutions to step up and help harmonise Beyond-GDP indicators, to ensure there are consistent measures of success for the performance of a Wellbeing Economy.
  2. Develop Policy Tools. This community needs to create tools which show governments how to enhance wellbeing, sustainability, and equality in their societies.
  3. Change the Social Narrative. Our societal discourse around economic success must not be predicated on the “growth is good” concept. 

You can watch the recap of the event below

He is currently working with the United Nations University (UNU) exactly on these topics. The working title of the project is the WiSE Transition (Wellbeing, Sustainability and Equity). He emphasised that he doesn’t want to create a new index or dashboard. What he’s wanting to do is harmonise existing databases and also put more emphasis on the global south perspective and involvement. 

If you’re interested in getting involved in WiSE, please fill out this form.The survey will close December 4.

During the event, a number of questions were asked. We’ve summarised  them below.

We hope to keep you apprised as Rutger’s WiSE working group and work with the UNU continues. 

Q: A “beyond-GDP” measure makes so much sense! From your experience, what are the top three barriers / inhibitors to its adaption by governments?

A: 1) Political leadership 2) Too much heterogeneity 3) Lack of Policy Tools

Q: How do you view the “buen vivir” alternative narrative in some Latin American countries?

A: Sorry I don’t really know enough about it. But in my research I find far more commonalities than differences between the various concepts. Let’s focus on commonalities. 

Q: Is there space for co-creation and engagement in moving this agenda forward? When we talk about narratives, I suppose it really connects with the lived experience of people.

A: Yes, by definition the harmonisation we discussed will need to be co-created (and an interdisciplinary process).

Q: What do you think of the work of professor Nicky Pouw who takes the SAM (social accounting matrix) and extends the tool to a Wellbeing Economy Matrix. (Is this the kind of tooling you are looking for?) 

A: Sorry, I am not aware of this. Without further knowledge I would say: I like the idea of linking it to the SAM (an accounting framework). I wouldn’t call this a policy tool yet, that would need using the SAM to build a model upon which a decision can be made.

Q: How are you integrating with Ecological Economics principles and practices?  Is there a need for an ecological worldview that changes our perspective of how economy and life fits in the planet?

A: Yes, we need to reframe the idea that the economy is the central focal system. The planet is the most important system, society next, and the economy is only a sub-system of society. 

Q: Because all UN member states have signed on to the SDGs and (at least theoretically) have added SDG-based indicators to their “system of accounts,” do you think that an SDG-based dashboard would have the best chance of becoming a “Beyond-GDP” approach?

A: SDGs are great in terms of harmonisation of indicators, but the link to policy is still a challenge. In reality, the various targets are interrelated and so we need a system (accounting framework) which is capable of showing the interlinkages (trade–offs and win-wins) between the targets so that effective policies can be developed. P.S. the SDGs run out in 2030 – is that the end of Wellbeing Economics?  

Q: The New Zealand Wellbeing Budget was approved in 2019. Can we see some differences in the results of implementing such a budget comparing to the former years before the Wellbeing Budget was set up ?

A: It will probably take a little longer to assess its success. Plus, only 4% of the budget was assigned to specific wellbeing policy, so we need to be realistic about how radical a change we are expecting. 

Q: Global Progress Indicator will show politicians how over-inflated their GDP numbers are, there is strong disincentive to use it. Should one principle of the new metric be that it also highlights what governments are doing right? (Positive progress)

A: Yes, that and it also helps to frame a future where creating a better world is not only a sacrifice [but also has benefits] (e.g. less consumption, but more leisure time).  

Q: Within the SDGs, there is still a goal on Economic Growth (no.8) mostly measured in GDP . What’s your view on De-Growth?

A: I think GDP growth makes sense for very poor people (half the world population lives on less than 5 euros a day). As Kate Raworth says, we should be “agnostic” to growth. I don’t really care if GDP grows or declines as long as wellbeing, sustainability and equity are increasing.  

Q: We basically measure everything. If the values are “good”, then you get a label that says that (e.g. eco-labels). It becomes more about getting the values right rather than the reason why we are making those values, with companies just working to take the right boxes to get the label. How can we avoid wellbeing measurements following the same path?

A: Metrics are always flawed if they become a target. I don’t really know of a solution to this, but I do think that it is more important for companies to internalise the values of the wellbeing economy. Just adopting the metrics, but not the underlying values, will not be as effective. 

Q: Do any of the indices include a measurement of hate crime and how minority groups are embraced or otherwise within a country?

A: There are dashboards looking at discrimination and inequalities, but not as extensively as your question seems to wish for.

Calling all femxle change makers! 

We’re accepting applications for the new 36×36 project, which will gather next generation femxle professionals from all over the world, to develop the pillars for our economic future. 

Why?

The current neoliberal economic “story” was created in 1947, in a Swiss resort called Mont Pelerin by 36 men. These Western Male thinkers disseminated this story and their value system around the world. It’s time to rebalance that perspective: it continues to dominate our current thinking of how to manage our global economic system and underpins much of the decision making in the world.

This thinking is the root cause of the climate emergency, resource depletion and social inequalities. 

Now, it’s time to change that story. 

We urgently need new visionary economic thinkers and professionals who can build a balanced economy, which unites a variety of approaches to foster human flourishing and wellbeing on a healthy planet.

How?

The application process for the 36×36 project launches this week. It will bring together 36 next generation femxle professionals between the ages of 25-40, who are committed to building a more just and sustainable world. 

This applies to any proactive femxle who is passionate about building economies focused on supporting life on earth and planetary wellbeing.These young protagonists can be thinkers, practitioners, activists, policy developers or researchers. 

This program will be hosted online between February and October 2021. A global gathering is planned in Sweden at the end of September 2021. 

Over this 9-month period, the 36×36 grouping will receive online professional education in “Strategising Transformative Change”, engage in online exchanges around new economic theories and approaches, collaborate on new prototypes to materialise these strategies in practice, create a manifesto which will identify the essential building blocks of new economic architecture and ultimately, become a part of a global femxle transformation network to implement a new economic story. 

This is about changing the future. This project is funded by the Postcode Foundation in Sweden and launches today. Applications are open until December 31. Please check out our new  website, and learn more about how you can get involved.

* The term femxle / womxn encompasses all persons identifying as female/ woman, and is used throughout this project to be inclusive.

Brought to you by:

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: Christopher Boyce

I’d been writing about wellbeing for years. In fact, I’d published loads on the subject; an ‘expert’ you might say. Yet, the really curious thing was that when I thought about my own life, how I spent my time (mostly working), whether I had neighbours I could rely upon (eerily quiet stairwells), my health (OK, but I needed much more fresh air), I didn’t feel very content with how things had turned out. Sure, I did well at “the job”, achieved a lot and got paid more than enough. But those things don’t really matter all that much – much as my own research into understanding the links between money and happiness kept telling me.

When it came to wellbeing, I knew a lot and I could talk a good talk, but behind all of that, I wasn’t living the way I needed to feel fulfilled. In a society that cares more for profit than people, that is a difficult thing for any of us to do. 

My decision to quit my comfortable but not very happy life, and head out into the world on my bicycle, wasn’t an easy one. Sadly, making choices that fulfil us on a deeper level is rarely made easy. I was hoping that my bicycle would take me to places where they were finding other ways to live, that didn’t involve growing the economy ever larger. This was a journey that from top to tail, was centred around wellbeing – how I travelled, where I went, and who I encountered. Eventually, I was hoping that the end point of my journey would be when my bicycle and I would reach Bhutan, the country famous for its use of happiness to guide its national policy.

In the end, I cycled a good way up most of the Americas (from Argentina to Canada), before journeying to Bhutan via South East Asia – 25 countries and 20,000 km of pedalling. 

A huge chunk of my journey was spent in Latin America. Nearly 10 months – far longer than I had anticipated, yet the places I passed through there, were so inspiring and inviting.

Day 23: In Uruguay – fresh but nervous about the long road ahead.

In terms of how much people laugh and smile throughout the day, it is in Latin American countries where this is the highest in the world. The wellbeing they have is relational – that is, their wellbeing is grounded in relationships and the community – rather than in continuous, and often endless, achievement. Their wealth resides in their connections with one another and on countless occasions I was extended the most touching hospitality. It is an innate human need to give, and Latin Americans certainly haven’t lost the art of doing that. In the materialistic profit-orientated mainstream economy, there is such an extreme focus on getting and taking, often at the expense of others, that our wellbeing inevitably suffers.

Day 80: Up in the Andes. It was a simple, humble life that often had me touching the divine and feeling deeply fulfilled.
Day 134: Ecuador. Passing the Southern hemisphere into the Northern hemisphere.

The country that stands out the most in Latin America from a wellbeing perspective, is Costa Rica. Having heard so much about Costa Rica over the years, it was a joy to be there on my bicycle. It is uncanny that Costa Rica outperforms the United States on life expectancy (81.0 versus 79.1 years), democracy (a full democracy versus a flawed democracy), and population life evaluation (7.1 out of 10 versus 6.9). This is all despite having an average income more than three times smaller than in the United States. 

Day 247: A happy little village in Guatemala. Happiness the relational way.

During my time there, I met with Costa Rican government officials. They told me that their way of life has come about because Costa Rica made crucial policy decisions – high investment in health and education in the 50s/60s, as well as environmental protections in the 80s. What I loved about Costa Rica is that there is a national pride in living a simple, yet happy, relational lifestyle – they refer to it as the “pura vida”. I remember with fondness camping for days on end, watching the waves crash on beaches, and getting a taste of that “pura vida” for myself – no rushing, just being.

Another stand out country on my journey was Canada. Their national index of wellbeing is pushing the frontiers of going beyond measures of GDP – as the director of the index explained to me, when I met up with him. Not only was their index developed with citizen consultation, but it also has direct links to policy and is useful at the local and regional level. 

I was surprised I got as far as Canada. It wasn’t an easy journey and had been deeply challenging in places – from a dog bite in South America early in the journey, to crushing loneliness in North America – and in all honesty, by the time I reached Canada, I was ready to give up on Bhutan and come home.

As much as the journey was centred around arriving in that curious country, I’d long figured out that my own happiness wasn’t dependent upon me arriving there.

My personal process on this journey led to me letting go of achievement and being more present and compassionate in my approach to life, much like how the most inspiring people I met on my journey lived. They tended to be the happiest people I met too.

It was in Canada that lots of people I didn’t know started becoming interested in this journey of mine. It seemed that because I’d gotten this far, others thought I could genuinely make it to Bhutan. I got a new lease of life and I journeyed on through to Asia. It was in India where I was my happiest by far.

Day 500: Many curious and friendly souls in India.

Not only was I, after 18 months of cycling, excitably close to Bhutan, but I was well looked after by the countless people I met there. And I still can’t forget the happiness I felt two weeks earlier, when I was in neighbouring Sikkim, looking at mountains that might well have been Bhutanese mountains.

Day 508: Bhutanese Mountains. Finally arrived and feeling happy.

In Bhutan, it is dekyid that policymakers are trying to preserve and protect. Dekyid translates to happiness in English, but it means much more than that. It actually is more akin to peace and tranquillity. And in Bhutan, they aren’t ready to sacrifice it for the sake of a bigger economy. Though it has to be said that as a subsistence economy, there would perhaps be some benefits to economic growth there.

Yet, Bhutan is growing its economy in a way that is aligned with their own unique values. Such development takes time, but it is necessary. 

Day 511: Finally at the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan on International Day of Happiness, 20th March 2019.

There is a lot to learn from countries like Costa Rica, Canada, and Bhutan. They’re not perfect, no country is. But, the stand out features are that they are cultivating ways of life that haven’t been prescribed by the globalisation agenda. By the time I arrived in Bhutan, I had so much I wanted to incorporate into my life when I returned home. I couldn’t wait to get more involved in wellbeing conversations. In fact, when I set out for Bhutan, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance didn’t exist. But I’d watched as it gathered steam whilst I was away, and I couldn’t wait to come back and be a part of it.

Even though I quit a respectable job to take what was quite an absurd journey, people seem to value what I have to say a little more than before. It is one thing to research wellbeing, but quite another to live and breathe it. 

Christopher Boyce is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Stirling Management School, University of Stirling and a member of the World Wellbeing Panel. His research has explored how the economy contributes to individual and national happiness and wellbeing. Three years ago, he left academia to go on his cycling pilgrimage to Bhutan and is currently writing a book based on that journey, tentatively titled, ‘A Journey for Happiness’.

You can listen to Christopher speaking about his journey on BBC’s Fixing the World podcast: A Happier Planet.

Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @drhappyboyce; his website and sign up for book updates here.

Wellbeing Economy Correspondents is a series highlighting the firsthand experiences of individuals who have witnessed Wellbeing Economy principles, practices and policies being implemented in all different contexts around the world. Our correspondents support WEAll’s mission to establish that a Wellbeing Economy is not only a desirable goal, but also an entirely viable one.

by: Sandra Waddock

There is a lot of talk today about bouncing ‘back’ or returning to what passed for normal before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world and everyone’s lives. But there is a huge problem with that idea. 

By the nature of complexity and wicked problems in social systems, complex systems simply cannot return to prior states once change has been triggered. 

Despite many calls to ‘bring back’ the system as it was, and efforts by governments and business leaders to do so, many economic, work, educational, and social systems have already changed in unpredictable ways that make a complete return to pre-pandemic conditions unlikely. 

Something else important is happening, too. The pandemic has raised awareness that the economic drivers that shaped the prior ‘normal’ have created many problems—including existential crises like climate change, species extinction, and inequality. Some observers have even laid the COVID-19 pandemic at the feet of overly aggressive exploitation of nature. 

So the real question is, what will our economic and social systems look like after the pandemic if we can indeed do what WEAll suggests and ‘build back better’ or ‘bounce beyond’ today’s economics? 

Today’s dominant economic drivers include beliefs, or what the late systems theorist Donella Meadows called mindsets, that form an economic paradigm. That paradigm— neoliberalism —has been used to justify growing inequality, ignorance of environmental impacts, and a drive towards ‘efficiency’ that justifies layoffs, abusive conditions in many companies’ global supply chains, and cutthroat competition. The most vocal proponent of this flawed set of beliefs was the late Milton Friedman

Neoliberalism claims that markets are and need to be ‘free’, that people are self-interested profit maximisers—and so are companies. That the best governments are the ones that exert the least regulatory or legal influence on the powers of business. That endless growth is the goal of economies and companies. That companies’ only social responsibility is to maximise profits for one group of stakeholders—the shareholders, as Friedman put it in a famous and influential, yet problematic, New York Times article in 1970

Neoliberalism’s flawed and problematic orthodoxy (a generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice) remains deeply embedded in both business practice and governmental focus on flawed measures like GDP. The thing is, as my recent paper ‘Reframing and Transforming Economics around Life’ (published in Sustainability) argues, what the world really needs now is not another attempt at reforming the current framing, but a completely new economic orthodoxy.

The world needs an economics that favors life in all its aspects. One that fosters wellbeing for all humans, as well as non-humans. That economics needs to be built on powerful precepts— ‘memes’ or core building blocks of culture—that resonate broadly yet are considerably more holistic than those of neoliberalism.

Such memes support today’s new / next economies initiatives—such as Amsterdam’s recent adoption of Raworth’s ‘doughnut economics’and other wellbeing economies.

My paper argues for six synthesised precepts or building blocks, for Wellbeing Economics, drawn from a wide range of literatures. 

1. Stewardship of the Whole

Stewardship of the whole is foundational. Simply put, this means that leaders, governments, communities, businesses, and other institutions and, indeed, all of us, have shared responsibility for ensuring that the ‘whole’ system, including the planet itself, is healthy and supporting all of life for the foreseeable future. Living systems, including communities, organisations, and Earth itself, are healthy when all of their parts work together productively—when the ‘whole’ is considered, not just the parts. 

2. Co-creating Collective Value

Economic activity can be positive or negative (think the clear cutting of forests). This is why the focus of today’s economics on the growth of money as the sole way of assessing wellbeing is incredibly narrow-minded. Many other values, though perhaps not as readily measured as monetary outcomes, are important to humans, including health, relationships, community, meaningful work, and belonging, among others. Thus, another precept that underpins health, life, and wellbeing is co-creating collective value. Scholars Donaldson and Walsh argue that generating collective value should be the core purpose of businesses. Many important societal values that lend ‘life’ to human systems can be included in such a metric, as the Genuine Progress Indicator demonstrates. 

3. Cosmopolitan-localist Governance

Another core precept is cosmopolitan-localist governance. Given today’s technologically connected world, it is possible to create local governance systems in which citizens can have voice, input, and impact, and connect those to the global system. Cosmo-local governance, as it is sometimes called, relies on this connectivity, while decentralising decision making as much as possible, and allowing for communities to create and share ideas, knowledge, skills, technology, culture, and ecologically sustainable resources. 

4. Regeneration, Reciprocity, and Circularity

Cosmo-localism is complimented by an approach to production of goods and services that emphasises regeneration, reciprocity, and circularity. The idea here is to produce goods and services in alignment with the natural environment’s capacity to regenerate them, to operate in accord with nature’s own principles, in which exchanges are reciprocally balanced as inputs and outputs, and avoid toxic by-products (or products). Circularity avoids the take-make-waste approach too often used today, and instead adopts the idea of ‘waste equals food’, as some ecologists put it— which suggests that what is waste for one part of the system, needs to be reused as ‘food’ (inputs) in another part. 

5. Relationship and Connectedness

In contrast to neoliberalism’s strong bent towards individualism and individual responsibility, economics for all of liferecognises the idea of relationship and connectedness as foundational to what it means to be human—and what it means to exist in a complex world where physicists tell us, everything is connected. Human beings thrive in the context of relationship—and indeed, cannot survive on their own. The South African principle of Ubuntu, the idea that ‘I am because we are’, and the Lakota principle of Mitikuye Oyasin, or the idea that ‘all are related’ (sometimes translated as ‘All my relations’) reflect the core principle of relationships and connectedness. 

6. Equitable Markets and Trade

Since we are all connected, equitable markets and trade needs to replace the flawed idea of free markets and trade—because how we treat each other in markets and trading situations matters. Equitable or fair markets/trade offer fair and fully costed products and services, with all costs internalised, because otherwise, they are absorbed by and harm societies and the natural environment. It also means producing goods and services that are actually needed by customers and recognising the importance of good—and participative—governance over their fairness. 

There’s much more that could be said about each of these principles. 

The key idea here is that to make progress towards a Wellbeing Economy, many more progressive initiatives need to come to agreement about what the core ideas are, that would drive such an economy. 

My paper is intended as a start on that conversation, though by no means is it the end point. 

Dr. Sandra Waddock is the Galligan Chair of Strategy, Carroll School Scholar of Corporate Responsibility and Professor of Management at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Sandra has published well over 100 articles on corporate citizenship, sustainable enterprise, difference making, wisdom, stewardship of the future, responsibility management systems, corporate responsibility, management education, and related topics. Her research interests are in the area of macro-system change, intellectual shamanism, stewardship of the future, wisdom, corporate responsibility, management education, and multi-sector collaboration. 

Connect with Sandra on her website, blog and on Twitter: @SandraWaddock and @IntellectShaman

Faces of the Wellbeing Economy Movement is a series highlighting the many informed voices from different specialisms, sectors, demographics, and geographies in the Wellbeing Economy movement. This series will share diverse insights into why a Wellbeing Economy is a desirable and viable goal and the new ways of addressing societal issues, to show us how to get there. This supports WEAll’s mission to move beyond criticisms of the current economic system, towards purposeful action to build a Wellbeing Economy.

by: Erinch Sahan

A fundamental change is sweeping across the business world. Big ideas are spreading, new slogans being echoed, and the very purpose of business being questioned. A host of concepts and initiatives are driving this conversation. From BCorps to Social Enterprise, Cooperatives to Shared Value, the market-place of ideas is heating up.

These are all, by-and-large, positive developments. But how do these enterprise design ideas compare? Here’s an attempt to compare their essential structural features and assess the extent to which shareholder dominance and profit primacy remain embedded in enterprise design. In other words, the framework below compares the minimum in structural design that is required by these concepts.

It’s worth noting that we are comparing a mixture of legal forms, certifications and management concepts. For instance, many jurisdictions allow legal registration as a CooperativeSocial Enterprise or Benefit Corporation. Others are certifications to validate claims of being a Social Enterprise or BCorp. Meanwhile, new concepts like Shared Value or Triple Bottom Line are infiltrating MBA programmes, to guide a new generation of corporate leaders. They all (at least implicitly) deviate from shareholder primacy.

Turning away from Friedman? The answer lies in enterprise design.

In 1970, Milton Friedman penned, in the New York Times Magazine, the article ‘The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits’. While proclaiming this today would seem short-sighted (and a public relations own-goal), it is an honest account of shareholder primacy. This remains baked into the DNA of most companies – a persistent straight-jacket that most executives must wear.

The economic imagination has since moved away from this singular obsession with profits for shareholders as the exclusive purpose of business. But enterprise design hasn’t. 

While trapped in shareholder primacy, a growing chorus of business leaders declare their discovery of enlightened self-interest, where their long-term profitability relies on being socially responsible. Inconvenient trade-offs are swept aside and questioning how profits are shared remains taboo (the largest shareholders always get the biggest dividend cheques). Yet, some executives pronounce that the purpose of their company is ‘people and planet before profits’ – a far cry from Friedman’s doctrine and the prevailing corporate model that financial markets hold firmly in place. Nonetheless, the narrative has moved, substantially.

How the narrative has shifted

This means enterprise design has become central as we explore purpose and impact. It has crept up on us all. It probably started a few decades ago, with new corporate goals like minimising or eliminating the worst harms of corporate behaviour (usually where a PR-disaster beckoned). Think sweatshops and poisoned rivers. It then evolved to focus on broader social and environmental impacts: human rights impact assessments, environmental impact reports, or indicators for how a business impacts sustainable development. This focus on impact largely happened over the last decade. 

But positive impact requires practices and investments that actively foster it. Without inclusive trading partnerships, workers in supply chains remain trapped in poverty wages and precarious employment. Without investment into water-treatment plants, local rivers remain polluted. Under shareholder primacy, if the cost-benefit analysis doesn’t add-up, people and planet take a back-seat (unless regulated by government).

To embrace ‘purpose’, a business must be designed to prioritise such investments and practices. 

This means enterprise designs that allow objectives other than profit growth to be a priority, and to give voice and power to stakeholders other than shareholders. Otherwise, doing good is only possible where it grows profits. 

A note here to not confuse profit maximisation with commercial viability. Staying in business is necessary for all businesses. Continuously growing profits isn’t.

Pursuing purpose while in a straight-jacket

The enthusiasm for corporate purpose is evidence that we are joining the right dots. However, unless business is designed to focus on people and planet, it chases ever more profits and ignores social and environmental impacts, where the financial rewards don’t suffice. And it is enterprise design that can unlock the practices and impacts that we all agree business must embrace.

Expectations of dividend growth and boards full of shareholder representatives lock-in the shareholder primacy design. This dominant structure ensures a focus on always increasing profits, and forces extraction of profits for the purpose of growing shareholder wealth. It’s a straight-jacket, within which inclusive and truly sustainable corporate culture is held in check, often relegated to projects and initiatives that don’t threaten the pursuit of growing profits. 

All businesses need to be profitable, but it’s the focus on maximising or growing profits that holds back authentic corporate purpose. Whether an enterprise is designed to deviate from this paradigm is the central question. 

In recognition, an increasing number of businesses are claiming to possess a more evolved design. But how can we know if a business is truly designed to put people and planet before (or alongside) profit? Ideas and movements like Social Enterprise, Triple Bottom Line, BCorp, Shared Value and Cooperatives are attempting to give the answer.

People, Planet & Profit: how far do ideas really go?

While on paternity leave, I’ve had some headspace to grapple with how enterprise design ideas compare. I threw up on Twitter some thoughts, and a discussion unfolded (see thread here):

What emerged is a framework that helps draw key distinctions between concepts like BCorp and Social Enterprise. The focus is on the most fundamental and structural features that determine enterprise design.

Based on my analysis, I believe the following claims are the best way to describe the concepts, certifications and legal forms assessed:

  • Shareholder Primacy: Only Profit Matters
  • Shared Value: People and Planet, if it Helps Profit
  • Triple Bottom Line and BCorp: People and Planet without undermining Profit
  • Social Enterprise and Cooperatives: People and Planet before Profit

There are nuances missing and exceptions within each category. A business with a shareholder primacy structure may be majority controlled by an altruistic shareholder, who uses their power to ensure it behaves like a social enterprise. I don’t account for such optional benevolent use of power. In cooperatives, members (therefore power-holders) could be an already empowered stakeholder (e.g. consumer cooperatives in developed economies) or truly marginalised communities (e.g. low-income workers). My framework doesn’t draw such distinctions. Many BCorps or companies embracing Shared Value will go well beyond what the table implies about their structure. This will not do them justice.

But the framework does help draw key distinctions in comparing the minimum in structural design required by these concepts. The differences are meaningful.

We should all applaud the narrative shift (and positive impacts) all of these ideas are driving. Equally, we need to compare and contrast the ideas that profess to fundamentally transform the business world. I hope this table helps achieve this.

Note to reader: I conducted this analysis in my personal capacity through October 2020 (while on paternity leave). To remain credible, I left out the Fair Trade Enterprise model (the global network I lead as Chief Executive of WFTO – see relevant report here and a talk about it here). Other ideas and concepts were also left out, where they lack concrete enterprise design features relevant to this comparison (e.g. Stakeholder Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism) or are broader concepts that capture multiple ideas (e.g. Fourth Sector/For-Benefit).

Erinch Sahan is Chief Executive of the World Fair Trade Organization. He has spent over a decade on enterprise development, campaigning for responsible business, lecturing on sustainability and researching new business models. His career spans Oxfam, Procter & Gamble and the Australian Government. He holds degrees in law and business, and an honorary Doctorate.

Connect with Erinch on Twitter: @ErinchSahan and on LinkedIn

Faces of the Wellbeing Economy Movement is a series highlighting the many informed voices from different specialisms, sectors, demographics, and geographies in the Wellbeing Economy movement. This series will share diverse insights into why a Wellbeing Economy is a desirable and viable goal and the new ways of addressing societal issues, to show us how to get there. This supports WEAll’s mission to move beyond criticisms of the current economic system, towards purposeful action to build a Wellbeing Economy.

by: Rutger Hoekstra

Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the way we measure economic growth, has become the primary measure of success of societies. Countries that have a high GDP are considered important and governments that experience high economic growth are admired. As a result, there is a dominant narrative in society that “growth is good”.

But we have known for many decades that this narrative is flawed and that GDP is not a comprehensive measure of success. It does not measure important components of wellbeing such as health, education and social relationships. As far back as 1968, Robert Kennedy already proclaimed that GDP “measures everything….. except that which makes life worthwhile”.

Crucially, GDP also does not account for the growth in environmental degradation or growth in inequalities that are caused by growth in GDP.

To remedy this gap, many hundreds of alternatives for measuring economic success have been suggested: the Human Development Index, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Genuine Progress Indicator, Ecological Footprint, Happy Planet Index, Adjusted Net Savings, Comprehensive Wealth, and the Inclusive Wealth Index. Many brilliant scientists, thought leaders and important institutes have contributed to this impressive body of research, which is foundational to the creation of a Wellbeing Economy, an economy that delivers social justice on a healthy planet.

Yet, despite 50 years of understanding the drawbacks of  GDP and the introduction of hundreds of alternative ‘Beyond-GDP’ measures of economic success, it seems that the “growth is good” economic narrative is becoming stronger every day. But now,  more than ever before, we need our economy and society to focus on delivering wellbeing, sustainability, and equity. The election of Joe Biden, the introduction of climate targets in China and Europe, marches for racial justice and climate action are all signs of  the dire need and public demand to ‘Build Back Better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic. There has never been  a better time to replace the growth narrative. WEAll’s  new briefing paper describes a three-pronged strategy which should be adopted to do just that:

1) Harmonise. There are simply too many Beyond-GDP alternatives and new ones are being created every month. One of the most powerful features of GDP is that it is measured in the same way all over the world. The United Nations and OECD played a crucial role in developing a global economic accounting framework: the System of National Accounts, which allows for the global comparison of GDP. We need the United Nations and other international institutions to step up and help harmonise Beyond-GDP indicators to ensure there are consistent measures of success for the performance of a Wellbeing Economy.

2) Develop Policy Tools. Statistics help us to measure how things have developed in the past. But policy makers also need advice about their policy options in the future. Macro-economists have developed many tools to help inform difficult policy decisions, mainly focused on GDP growth. This community needs to create tools which show governments how to enhance wellbeing, sustainability and equity in their societies. A prime example of such a tool is New Zealand’s pioneering Wellbeing Budget that is designed expressly to prioritise the wellbeing of citizens.   

3) Change the Social Narrative. This strategy will only be successful if it manages to change societal discourse on economic success. Currently, our media plays a key role in spreading the “growth is good” economic narrative. The development of globally harmonised statistics and policy tools will help journalists and the general public to shift their belief on economic success to a narrative which values wellbeing, sustainability, and equity. If you would like to learn more about these ideas, download and share our new paper here.

Webinar Recording is below:

Download the Measuring the Wellbeing Economy Briefing Paper PDF

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.

WEAll is pleased to announce the launch of the first official US-based WEAll Hub: WEAll California. 

On November 12th, the Institute for Ecological Civilization (EcoCiv) and WEAll will gather online with a broad group of organizational leaders and policy makers, to officially launch the hub. 

This virtual event will bring together participants from across the state, including representatives from the Santa Monica-based Civil Wellbeing Partners, sustainability experts from Los Angeles city government, Bay Area non-profit directors and religious leaders, community foundation representatives from Humboldt County in Northern California, individuals working in the Sierra Nevada region and central valley, and a number of city economic development leaders. 

The goal of this broad representation is to encourage a holistic approach to envisioning and planning for improved wellbeing in California.

The bulk of the event will be facilitated conversations about what ‘wellbeing’ means in California, identifying key policy initiatives needed at the state and local level, and discussing next steps. Our goal is to leave with a set of clear priorities to galvanize efforts in California, going into 2021. 

Discussions will be divided into three parts: 1) visioning, 2) backcasting, and 3) road mapping. Using online collaboration tools, participants will share major components of their vision for wellbeing in California. 

What does wellbeing mean? What does it include? How do we want the California economy to look, ideally? How can an emerging new economy look beyond growth alone to focus on the wellbeing of people and the planet?

If we look backward from this shared vision, what first steps already exist or should exist? 

The backcasting section will include short reports from representative organizations on work they are already engaged in around the state, including ideas for how such work could be scaled and where roadblocks are present.

After the reports, we will break into smaller groups to continue identifying policy changes that could be helpful for the short and long-term as well as areas that deserve a longer-term focus.

In the last section, we will begin to build a roadmap toward an economy focused on wellbeing in California from the existing work and priority areas already identified. And finally, we will end by talking about concrete next steps for the California hub as we approach 2021.


If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to the WEAll California hub team through EcoCiv here and learn more on the WEAll California Page here.

We asked Meg Thomas, Head of Policy, Participation, and Projects at Includem, to tell us about the work being done at Includem and how it relates to the wellbeing economy. Read her guest blog below.

At Includem, we work 24/7, 365 days a year, to support families when they need it the most. We provide intensive, bespoke support to young people and families in challenging circumstances, building solid relationships of trust to help young people realise their full potential.

For many of the young people and families we support, entrenched poverty is the most common and persistent issue they face. This has of course been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our families report regular issues affording the basics, telling us they struggle to put food on the table, pay the electric bill, and cover the costs of internet access. Social security payments are too low, wages are often insufficient, and the cost of living is too high. This in turn has caused a deterioration in mental health.

That is why discussions of a wellbeing economy are so greatly welcomed – a shift towards a social understanding of the economy beyond the narrow parameters of GDP could provide a vital framework (and impetus) for policies that end poverty and give families such as those we support a strong and reliable financial foundation.

To develop a wellbeing economy, it is crucial that the voices of those at the margins of society – who face the sharpest consequences of current economic policy – are at its heart. The increased emphasis on lived experience in policy development across Scotland gives us reason to be hopeful this can happen.

Initiatives such as Get Heard Scotland enable those affected by poverty to have their voices heard on the policies and decisions that impact their lives; Youth Justice Voices has given young people with care and justice experience a direct route to shape national policy and practice; and The Promise has put those with experience of the care system it is set to transform, front and centre.

At Includem, we too have focussed on amplifying the voices of our young people and families, conducting research on Digital Access and Poverty to highlight the key issues they face, as well as ensuring young people’s lived experience shapes our policy submissions to the Scottish Government.

But while progress is being made in Scotland, there are significant engagement barriers that must be dismantled to ensure marginalised voices are fully and authentically involved at all stages and in all areas of policymaking, service design and delivery.

Without access to equipment, the finances for broadband costs and electricity, or sufficient digital literacy and confidence, many families are unjustly excluded from fully participating in society.

A key obstacle is digital exclusion, an issue that has become particularly prominent over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without access to equipment, the finances for broadband costs and electricity, or sufficient digital literacy and confidence, many families are unjustly excluded from fully participating in society. Their voices are lost in the process. It is imperative that children, young people, and families can participate in decisions that affect them, and digital access is a crucial pillar in ensuring these rights are upheld.

From our experience of delivering intensive family support services, we also know that both stigma and a distrust of statutory services can prevent young people and families from engaging – particularly as families in poverty are 10 times more likely to have their children on the child protection register and to come into care.

Regrettably, this is rarely considered in discussions of tackling poverty and centring the voices of lived experience. I was particularly struck by Dr Calum Webb’s piece on Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality where he remarks on reviewing thirteen of the top selling and topcited books on the topic of inequality, injustice, and its consequences, including four of the highest cited books on the public health consequences of inequality, only to discover none of these books had a dedicated chapter about child protection or social work.

Despite the fact that families in poverty are more likely to receive state intervention, the most deprived local authorities in England “have seen the greatest cuts to their preventative spending, fuelling more disruptive and damaging forms of intervention.”  I would argue that true preventative spending addresses the underlying causes of poverty, not the behaviours resulting from it. 

Fundamentally, parents should not fear being separated from their children because of poverty – a structural inequality which current economic and social policies perpetuate.

I am Australian. I had an aunt who was from Australia’s First Nation. She was one of Australia’s Stolen Generation where children were forcibly removed from their families solely due to race. If current practices continue, we risk having another stolen generation, this time due to poverty.

It is vital that young people and families are given the space to be open and honest about their experiences and struggles without fear or likelihood of consequences. If we do not urgently create such an environment, they will continue to be afraid of speaking out, go unheard by decision-makers, and their voices lost.

As a society, our collective mission must be to ensure that those who are most marginalised have their voices both heard and acted upon. Ultimately, all children, young people, and families should be able to exert their right to be heard. Only then can we truly shape a wellbeing economy for all. 

Meg Thomas is the Head of Policy, Participation, and Projects at Includem.

References

Bywaters, P., Scourfield, J., Jones, C., Sparks, T., Elliott, M., Hooper, J., McCarten, C., Shapira, M., Bunting, L., Daniel, B (2018) Child welfare inequalities in the four nations of the UK
https://pure.hud.ac.uk/en/publications/child-welfare-inequalities-in-the-four-nations-of-the-uk

Includem (2020) Poverty and the Impact of Coronavirus on Young People and Families in Scotland
https://www.includem.org/resources/Poverty-and-the-Impact-of-Coronavirus-on-Young-People-and-Families—Includem—Oct-2020.pdf

Includem (2020) Staying Connected: Assessing digital inclusion during the coronavirus pandemic
https://www.includem.org/resources/staying-connected-includem-digital-inclusion-report-may-2020.pdf

The Poverty Alliance Get Heard Scotland
https://www.povertyalliance.org/get-involved/get-heard-scotland/

The Promise
https://www.thepromise.scot/

Staf and The Children’s and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) Youth Justice Voices
https://www.staf.scot/blogs/blogs/category/youth-justice-voices Webb, C (2020) Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality
https://socstudiesresearch.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/child-protection-and-removal-the-hidden-inequality/

Webb, C (2020) Child protection and removal: the hidden inequality
https://socstudiesresearch.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/child-protection-and-removal-the-hidden-inequality/


For further information on Includem’s policy and research work, including government consultation submissions, please see: https://www.includem.org/about-policy-research/