Mark McKergow, founder, Village In The City (http://villageinthecity.net )

You arrive in a new city to find that although everything is bustling, there seems to be no way to connect to people in your neighbourhood. Or perhaps you have lived in a city for ages, only to find that the pandemic lockdowns cut you off from your normal social channels. That was me, a few months ago. 

However, I noticed that the lockdown produced a change in our street. People started talking to each other. An email and Whatsapp group were set up. News was shared, support offered, I played my saxophone for the neighbours on the doorstep, and we started to connect. In one way, I felt life improving as a result of this terrible event. I wanted more of it, for me and for others.

So, I set up Village In The City in June 2020, with the idea of learning about how to build my own micro-local community in Edinburgh’s West End, and to connect and share with others who feel they want to share a similar journey. My background is in leadership and organisation development, in particular the approach of ‘leading as a host’.  I figured that I have some professional expertise to bring to the community development field. So, I wrote a Manifesto with six key elements which can act as the basis for community and set about it, inviting others to join in. Micro-local communities improve well-being, economy, and connection.

What IS a ‘village in the city’?

It’s a small patch, a neighbourhood rather than a council area or local government unit. It may only be a few streets. You can probably walk across it in 10 minutes maximum. To create one, we suggest to people to start small at first – connect, invite people to join you, take some small steps, maybe set up a Facebook group or similar, have a kick-off meeting to see what people would value, and go from there.

Village-level community can:

  • Improve all our lives in the short-term and long-term. Both building an active community and being part of one are positive experiences.
  • Build inclusive cross-generational and cross-demographic community, to expand our awareness of how the world is experienced by those around us.
  • Build resilience and mutual support with people right there on their doorstep, continuing and expanding the positive developments seen during the COVID pandemic.
  • Connect businesses, support groups, families, churches, secular groups, and everyone else with an identity and local participation.
  • Act as a necessary counterbalance to online communication; access to global communication leaves space for micro-local in-person interaction.
  • Help citizens become more empowered and purposefully connected than they have been in recent years.

We now have a growing band of village-builders around the world, from North and South America to continental Europe and the United Kingdom. We hold monthly calls with experts in community development, as well as learning & sharing calls and forums – all free to join. We are also developing resources including the ‘Village Builders Handbook’ (now in its third iteration and growing all the time). 

We welcome folk from anywhere in the world who want to start work to build community in their local patch. It doesn’t even have to be in a city! Some of our members have found themselves working from home, spending more time in their local patch, and finding they want to use their skills and experience to improve it. You are welcome to join our international group where we learn, share, support each other, improve our own lives and the lives of our neighbours too. 

You can find out more about Village In The City by joining our free online FireStarter Festival event on Thursday 4th February at 4pm UK time, visiting the website, or joining one of our free calls. You are also welcome to contact me at mark@villageinthecity.net

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: Dirk Philipsen

Originally published in AEON Magazine

Against the capitalist creeds of scarcity and self-interest, a plan for humanity’s shared flourishing is finally coming into view

I’ve witnessed massive swarms of fireflies
grace my garden like never before, drawn
to the air cleansed of our arrogant greed,
their glow a flashback to the time before
us, omen of Earth without us, a reminder
we’re never immune to nature. I say this
might be the end we’ve always needed
to begin again …
– From the poem ‘Say This Isn’t the End’ (2020) by Richard Blanco

A basic truth is once again trying to break through the agony of worldwide pandemic and the enduring inhumanity of racist oppression. Healthcare workers risking their lives for others, mutual aid networks empowering neighbourhoods, farmers delivering food to quarantined customers, mothers forming lines to protect youth from police violence: we’re in this life together. We – young and old, citizen and immigrant – do best when we collaborate. Indeed, our only way to survive is to have each other’s back while safeguarding the resilience and diversity of this planet we call home.

As an insight, it’s not new, or surprising. Anthropologists have long told us that, as a species neither particularly strong nor fast, humans survived because of our unique ability to create and cooperate. ‘All our thriving is mutual’ is how the Indigenous scholar Edgar Villanueva captured the age-old wisdom in his book Decolonizing Wealth (2018). What is new is the extent to which so many civic and corporate leaders – sometimes entire cultures – have lost sight of our most precious collective quality.

This loss is rooted, in large part, in the tragedy of the private – this notion that moved, in short order, from curious idea to ideology to global economic system. It claimed selfishness, greed and private property as the real seeds of progress. Indeed, the mistaken concept many readers have likely heard under the name ‘the tragedy of the commons’ has its origins in the sophomoric assumption that private interest is the naturally predominant guide for human action. The real tragedy, however, lies not in the commons, but in the private. It is the private that produces violence, destruction and exclusion. Standing on its head thousands of years of cultural wisdom, the idea of the private variously separates, exploits and exhausts those living under its cold operating logic.


In preindustrial societies, cooperation represented naked necessity for survival. Yet the realisation that a healthy whole is larger than its parts never stopped informing cultures. It embodies the pillars of Christianity as much as the Islamic Golden Age, the Enlightenment or the New Deal. In the midst of a global depression, the US president Franklin D Roosevelt evoked an ‘industrial covenant’ – a commitment to living wages and a right to work for all. During the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr gave voice to the broader idea when he said that no one is free until we are all free. On Earth Day 1970, the US senator Edmund Muskie proclaimed that the only society to survive is one that ‘will not tolerate slums for some and decent houses for others, … clean air for some and filth for others’. We should call these ideas what they are – central civilisational insights. Social and economic prosperity depends on the wellbeing of all, not just the few.

Cultures that fundamentally departed from this awareness usually did not, in the long run, fare well, from the Roman Empire to Nazism or Stalinism. Will neoliberal capitalism be next? Rather than acknowledge the endless variety of things that had to be in place to make our individual accomplishments possible, it is grounded in the immature claim that our privileges are ‘earned’, made possible primarily by private initiative.

But what a claim it is: where would we be without the work and care of others? Without the food from the farmer? Without the electricity and housing and roads and healthcare and education and access to information and hundreds of other things provided to us, day in and day out, often for free, and routinely without us knowing what went into their existence? Seeing ourselves as seemingly free-floating individuals, it’s both easy and convenient to indulge in the delusion that ‘I built it. I worked for it. I earned it.’

The painful flipside are the billions of those who, through no fault of their own, drew the short end of the stick. Those who were born in the wrong country, to the wrong parents, in the wrong school district – ‘wrong’ for no other reason than that their skin colour or religion or talents didn’t happen to be favoured. The limited focus on the individual can here be seen as nakedly serving power: if those who have privilege and wealth presumably earned it, so must those who have pain and hardship deserve it.

Old and young, meanwhile, sense the loss of a cultural heritage that transcends the private, a purpose beyond the marketing of self. We likely fear, with good reason, that, in all the self-promotion, we can no longer rely on others to be there for us, to provide us with consistent work, a stable community, a bit of love and kindness. We are scared of climate change, the ultimate consequence of our voracious consumption. We dread loneliness and depression, too much work, the loss of jobs, debt. We sense, and often experience, that everyone looking out for themselves brings out the worst in us – me against you, one tribe against the other. Many experience it simply as a culture in distress.

Standard economic thinking both seeds and feeds the underlying fear by instructing that we’re all in a race to compete for limited resources. Most definitions of mainstream economics are based on some version of Lionel Robbin’s 1932 definition as the ‘efficient allocation of scarce resources’. The answer to scarcity coupled with people’s presumed desire for more is, of course: keep producing stuff. Not surprisingly, the guiding star for success, of both policymakers and economists around the world, is a crude, if convenient metric – GDP – that does nothing but indiscriminately count final output (more stuff), independent of whether it’s good or bad, whether it creates wellbeing or harm, and notwithstanding that its ongoing growth is unsustainable.

It’s circular logic: (1) scarcity makes people have endless needs, so the economy needs to grow; (2) for the economy to grow, people need to have ever more needs. Such thinking dominates the field of economics, and much of contemporary culture: Man (yes, those ideas overwhelmingly come from men) as the endless optimiser of self-interest; people reduced to producers and consumers; all aspects of life that go beyond the mere accumulation of stuff – morality, joy, care – confined to kindergarten, fiction and the occasional ethics course in high school or college. The result is what Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times calls a ‘moral myopia’ threatening to collapse under a mounting pile of stuff.

Dysfunctions such as climate change, racism and inequality are not unrelated and naturally occurring features of life. On the contrary, they are based on the fictions and failures of the ‘private’ that later turned into systems that now govern our lives.

In reality, we collaborate, organise together, show love and solidarity – as the Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom documented in her book Governing the Commons (1990) – in the process invariably creating common rules and values that organise communal life. We rely on society, community, family, day-in and day-out. And yet the tragic disconnect between our lived reality (however embattled at times) and the dominant ideology, celebrating ‘the private’ in textbooks, newspapers and Hollywood movies, often eludes us. When large corporations, run by people who preach the gospel of the market and private gain, need the public to bail them out, few in power raise the most obvious question: why do you need public money to bail you out if you are supposed to be pulling yourself up by your bootstraps?

A deeper question might be: why should wealth and privilege – largely built on the free work of nature and the cheap work of labourers – be rescued, when in trouble, by the very people otherwise deemed ‘disposable’?

The particular version of the ‘private as property’ likely has its origins in the Roman empire. It comes with the notion of absolute dominion – denoting one’s right to have full control over one’s property. Initially, such dominion was exercised by the male head of household, over both things and people – or, more precisely, over things, but also over people who, in what was possibly the first legal power grab in the name of the private, came to be defined as things (children, slaves).

When George Floyd was killed on 25 May 2020, it put on global display, once again, that most people – poor, younger, older, Black, Brown, non-male – remain disposable in the regime of private interest. All too often, they are violated in the scarcely disguised name of private property, perpetrated by those tasked to defend it, the police. The mistake of vandals in recent demonstrations, as satirists have pointed out, was that they didn’t loot in the name of private equity firms. Put differently: in order for the law not to put its boot on your neck, your theft has to come at white-collar scale and the sanction of power.

The tragedy of the private, in short, doesn’t come from the private as individual, but from the private as ownership, as control over land, resources and others. To own was always less about protection of the self than it was about exclusion of others. As such, it is a logical violation of the ‘other self’ or, really, other selves. You against me – your gain as my loss.

To illustrate: no single event, short of war, created as much misery in a country like England as when those with access to violence (arms, laws, wealth) privatised and fenced in the land that people needed to stay alive. It came to be known as ‘enclosure of the commons’ but represented a largescale and bloody theft, allowing a tiny percentage of people to exclude the majority from access to a common heritage. The result has since been naturalised and replicated the world over and sanctified in law as ‘the rights of private property’.

No bodies were ever more violated than those brutalised as slaves or serfs, all in the name of profit and – as authors such as Kidada Williams have documented in painstaking detail – sanctified by a vicious regime of private property. Racism, as thinkers from C L R James to Angela Davis to Barbara and Karen Fields remind us, is an essential building block to the system of private capital.

No form of governance, social or economic, has plundered the resources provided by nature as much as private property (though the state ownership of communism came close).

No single circumstance undermines political rights and freedoms today more than poverty – the violent exclusion from essential human rights: access to work, income, vital resources.

The private as dominion over property thus inevitably violates the private as personal integrity and freedom. Humans become objects – my slave, my worker, my child – and are denied access to the essentials of life. Thus deprived of independence, the private reduces the freedom of the majority, all those without access to sufficient capital, to the narrow choices provided by the marketplace in service of private property – they are, in Amartya Sen’s words, effectively denied ‘the capability to realise one’s full potential as a human being’.

Over generations, open theft of common heritage became disguised as private property, hiding behind legal contracts and the cold fiction of money as wealth. One gets used to customs, this history suggests, even when they defy rational thought. The original freedom fighters against the enclosure of common land, groups such as ‘the Diggers’, were remarkably less mystified than their modern compatriots: no one is free, they declared in 1649, ‘till the Poor … have a free allowance to dig and labour the Commons’. Thomas Jefferson (the freedom fighter, not the slaveholder) would’ve understood the logic – as would’ve Toussaint L’Ouverture or Nelson Mandela.

Legally ‘set free’ to sell their labour power, the landless were instead reduced to a state of abject poverty where they became the unwilling ‘masses’ populating the satanic mills of early industrialisation – freedom as a choice between misery or death.

The excuse for the ruthlessness of the exclusion and exploitation of others in the name of private interest was always the same: the prospect of a better future for all. Today, we should ask: has it succeeded? It is a question far more difficult to answer than modern apologists such as Steven Pinker would have us believe. Yes, by any available measure, capitalism (based on private interest) has generated unprecedented wealth and knowledge.

This explosive creation of wealth, however, came, and continues to come, with a steep, and exponentially rising, price. Powered by fossil fuels, it is both depleting and burning up the planet. Grounded in extraction and exploitation, capitalist progress carries mounting violence and destruction in its wake. The flipside of civilisation, in Walter Benjamin’s words, appears to be ‘a document of barbarism’. Growth, expansion, development – the struggle to conquer scarcity both gave and took in large measure from those who populated our land. Perhaps it’s finally time to recognise the carnage that created the wealth.

At first, modern economies succeeded in providing more calories to a starving patient. Based on this initial success, the economics profession (no doubt based on sophisticated mathematical models) concluded that more calories will forever improve health. Now dealing with a lethally obese patient, our leaders and economic advisors stubbornly resist acknowledging the obvious question: if we continue on an exponentially increasing regimen of calories, won’t we incapacitate, if not kill, the patient – ourselves?

Much has been said about how the incessant race for more, bigger, faster has also led to a crisis of meaning and purpose, what King, Jr called a widening ‘spiritual death’ of living in a ‘thing-oriented’ rather than ‘a person-oriented society’, or what D H Lawrence simply labelled ‘the Mammon of mechanised greed’.

But whether the death is one of spirit or meaning, or the actual death of nature and people, all spring from a common root: the single story of self-interest, and its logical manifestation, the private. ‘We do not have to escape from the Earth,’ as the environmental activist Vandana Shiva exhorts us in Oneness vs the 1% (2019), ‘we have to escape from the illusions that enslave our minds …’

We live in a different world now. Whatever might have been justified in the past to overcome poverty and scarcity no longer holds sway. Today, we face an entirely different challenge. Not too little, but too much. Not scarcity, but abundance.

In the modern world, more is actually less. Indeed, the costs of economic growth have begun to outpace their benefits, visible in the plunder of the environment and escalating inequality. We no longer need more, but rather better and more fairly distributed, in order to provide prosperity for all. Collectively, we produce and grow enough for every child, woman and man to have a good and dignified life wherever they live. As a world community, we know more and create more than we know how to process. It’s a huge accomplishment. We should celebrate and enjoy it together, rather than remain on the deplorable path of pitting one against the other in the race for ever more, one dying of too much, the other of too little.

And yet, our dominant economic systems continue to follow colonial extraction and brutal exclusion, in the process creating two organically related, existential problems: the perpetuation (and in some cases intensification) of poverty, and the violation of the biophysical limits of our planet. What a tragic irony that, in the early 21st century, higher education’s economics departments worldwide still instruct some of our brightest minds in simplistic economic models about the efficient allocation of scarce resources, rather than in how to sustainably build the good life based on an abundance of knowledge and resources.

To emphasise: chasing the bogeyman of scarcity, we are, by now, in the process of passing some frightening historic thresholds, altering the very makeup of life and creating an unsustainable future for our children and grandchildren. It’s Barbarism 3.0.

I wonder if the real tragedy of the private lies in separating what can function only when together, in the process excluding, individualising, destroying, alienating and, in consequence, undermining the innate creativity and resilience of a necessarily complex system of interaction – between human and human, and between human and nature.

We’re living in the midst of a historic transition. It might be our great fortune that, at this juncture, we still have a choice: to wake up, or continue to muddle along on our current path. If we choose the latter, as most mainstream experts from around the world keep telling us, ‘collapse is very difficult to avoid’.

Certainly, the history of how we got here, and the options of changing course, are immensely complex. Yet the reason why collapse is virtually assured if we continue on our current path is actually quite simple: too much.

The Achilles heel of modern economies is the exponential nature of economic growth. Based on what economists consider a ‘healthy’ growth rate of about 3 per cent, the economy would have to double in output roughly every 23 years. If such growth is difficult to imagine, that’s because it is absurd. Imagine economies such as the United States with 16 times the output in 100 years, 256 times in just 200 years, or 5,000 times in as little as 300 years. There is one diagram in economic theory, writes Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics (2018), that ‘is so dangerous that it is never actually drawn: the long-term path of GDP growth’.

Instead, we should ask, what do we really value? And how do we measure it? When authors write about economies for the common good, or for the wellbeing of all, they highlight a very different set of values than those, based on private property and private gain, that dominate modern economies today – not efficiency but health and resilience; not the bottom line but collective wellbeing. They are founded on the basic moral claim that, as the legal scholar Jedediah Purdy puts it in This Land Is Our Land (2019), ‘the world belongs in principle to all who are born into it’.

Most civilisational traditions agree that everyone brought into this world should have an equal claim to thrive. If we follow those traditions, we must conclude that cultures ‘already parcelled out’ into private property and wealth are morally bankrupt. They value the private over people.

In The Value of Everything (2019), the economist Mariana Mazzucato points to an underlying flaw in thinking: ‘until now, we have confused price with value’. Economists and policymakers have created a system disconnected from the real world that privileges market transactions over our personal and planetary wellbeing. This, too, is standard circular logic: earnings are justified because something was produced that presumably has value; value, in turn, is defined by the amount of earnings.

Here perhaps is the crux of our technocratic era: we value what we measure. When we measure the wrong things, the result is perverse. Today, what matters most to a thriving life is not counted at all in our dominant economic performance indicators. A natural environment that will continue to provide us with fresh air, clean water, rich soil – not counted. Communities that educate and nurture their members – not counted. Forms of governance with a stable degree of accountability – not counted. In the end: our ability to continue life on Earth (what is meant by the word sustainability) – not counted. We have an economic system, reflects Lorenzo Fioramonti in Wellbeing Economy (2017), ‘that sees no value in any human or natural resource unless it is exploited.’ The result is what the medical historian Julie Livingstone calls ‘self-devouring growth’. The triple challenges of climate change, pandemic and systemic racism highlight the deeper systemic defects.

Perhaps it is, then, unrealistic to expect individuals to make smarter choices, when dominant economic reasoning rewards them for moving in the wrong direction. I see this every spring when talented undergraduates face limited choices for their future: corporate law, consulting, finance, highly specialised medicine. Can we build forward on fleecing investors, addicting consumers to ever more products or making a career lying to the public, yet make it virtually impossible for those seeking a sustainable future and balanced life to pay their bills?

The urgency of now might instead require a change in the operating logic, a system that supports the core values that make up all thriving life – health, diversity and resilience. One might call it ‘shared prosperity within biophysical boundaries’ or, as Raworth has it, ‘doughnut economics’.

Whatever we call it, we need an economy focused on shared flourishing, rather than on the chimera that more money will somehow, someday magically get us there. It’s a simple and hard-nosed recognition of reality.

Beyond what is possible, we should ask what we actually want. Perhaps the deepest tragedy of the private is not even the destruction of our home in the name of self-interest, but missing out on history’s greatest opportunity, failing to realise what thinkers of the past could only dream about – a life liberated from want and scarcity. A culture where ‘the love of money as a possession’, in the words of John Maynard Keynes in 1930, ‘will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity.’ A future, as Vandana Shiva aptly summarised it, in which the economy’s ‘currency is not money, [but] life’.

It is a sorrow of the narrow that modern cultures, for the most part, no longer give themselves permission to dream and strive for a better life. Rather than idolise some past greatness or false realism that never was, why not imagine a grown and healthy adult who is no longer prisoner to the regimen of ‘ever more calories’ – a mind liberated from ‘the love of money’ that the sustainability economist Tim Jackson envisioned in Prosperity Without Growth (2009). Yet it could be even more. Prosperity without mental and cultural imprisonment, without the drudgery of wage labour, and the dismal reduction of life to cost-benefit analyses – a life, in the words of the poet Langston Hughes, ‘where greed no longer saps the soul’.

It could be a life as imagined by theorists such as adrienne maree brown in Emergent Strategy (2017) and the young activists of the International Indigenous Youth Council, the Movement for Black LivesFridays for Future, the Sunrise Movement or the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. People in such groups are imagining life within stable and healthy communities, respectful of difference. They envision regenerative and carbon-free economies, communities that offer meaningful work to everyone who wants it. They have drafted sophisticated policy proposals (see links above), and authored detailed accounts of a possible wellbeing economy. They are fighting for what the legal scholar Amna A Akbar in The New York Times called a governance system ‘whose primary allegiance is to people’s needs instead of profit’. In short, by finding our personal and collective sovereignty, we could, in solidarity with each other, build a thriving society for the common good, not just for the select few.

Given our current global situation, the temptation is to dismiss all such thinking as idealistic and naive. And yet, if you pay close attention, signs of life are cracking through the edifice of the old everywhere. As the social theorist Patricia Hill Collins reminds us, ‘there is always choice, and power to act, no matter how bleak the situation may be.’

German millennials have called out their elders with the missive Ihr habt keinen Plan (2019), or ‘You Don’t Have a Plan’, and then set out to construct a vision that holds promise for future generations. The public intellectual Rutger Bregman asks us to finally stop defending the indefensible. His book Utopia for Realists (2017) is grounded in a profound realisation: many utopias are more realistic than current reality, no matter how much the latter is defended as the only option by those with suits, impressive university degrees and big bank accounts.

We need to have a broad democratic dialogue on the mix of policies that might work best in promoting the common good, in overcoming the tragedy of the private. A new freedom will have to nestle within the realities of nature and the rights of others. Limits will be rediscovered as essential to freedom. This will require difficult transitions – away from fossil fuel or the mass-produced consumption of meat or the acceptance of rampant inequality. Yes, a sustainable wellbeing future will make obsolete many skills and professions, likely eliminating more jobs than it replaces, opening up opportunities for shorter working weeks for everyone. Among the many possible paths forward, the following core features will be essential:

  • local, national and international regulations preventing the violation of critical ecological thresholds;
  • repair of the most egregious market failures through true-cost accounting, properly valuing essential work(ers), ending the privatisation of gains and socialisation of costs, and compensating for essential ecosystem services and the care economy (a full-cost accounting of gasoline, for instance, could raise the price to $16 a gallon);
  • making available basic services and basic income to everyone (we could call it a ‘self-evident truth that all Earthlings have an unalienable right to the preconditions of life, liberty and happiness’);
  • access to work for all, for everyone deserves the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution;
  • a basic moral recognition that nothing – not race, not nation, not gender, not personal contributions, not your zip code – should ever be legitimate cause for either extreme poverty or excessive wealth;
  • and, most fundamentally, a basic acknowledgement that we don’t own or control this planet, but simply borrow it ‘from the seventh generation’ – those coming after us. The principle should always be, as many learned in kindergarten: ‘Leave it as good as, or better than, you found it.’

Yes, it is time to rewrite the script. A climate in deep crisis, a global pandemic, systemic racism and inequality are all part and parcel of the same bad script, the tragedy of the private, aggravated by an elite inability (or unwillingness?) to contemplate a better future.

Even though narrow selfishness, when elevated into ideologies in service of the private, has repeatedly brought the world to the brink of disaster, we have thus far survived largely because of our underlying ability to cooperate. It is now time to make our exceptional human capacity to create and cooperate part of our governance structures – part of the operating logic of modern societies. Perhaps then we can bring to life what others could only envision: a system focused on wellbeing of people and planet, liberating our individual and collective capabilities.

Learn more about Dirk Philipsen here

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Decoupling Debunked – European Environmental Bureau

“Not only is there no empirical evidence supporting the existence of a decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures on anywhere near the scale needed to deal with environmental breakdown, but also, and perhaps more importantly, such decoupling appears unlikely to happen in the future”

Growth without economic growth – European Environment Agency

“It is unlikely that a long-lasting, absolute decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures and impacts can be achieved at the global scale; therefore, societies need to rethink what is meant by growth and progress and their meaning for global sustainability.”

If Not Now, When? – The Social Renewal Advisory Board Report

“We have a crisis of inequality in this nation that we cannot continue to tolerate. A crisis where sticking plasters fail to address negative outcomes. A crisis of performance in a system that reacts to negative outcomes rather than preventing them happening in the first place. Moves towards a wellbeing economy should be the central goal of every government.”

The Tragedy of Growth– David Barmes, Fran Boait| Positive Money 

“We must transform the structures of our economy such that they no longer require GDP growth to temporarily fend off financial, economic, and social crises. If growth is low or negative, these structures – referred to as ‘growth imperatives’ – generate multiple undesirable crises. Rising unemployment, deepening inequality and debt crises are just a few of the common consequences of insufficient growth in our current economic system.”

Transforming Towards Life-Centered Economics: How Business, Government, and Civil Society Can Build A Better World – Sandra Waddock

“This slim volume is not just as thorough and concise a summary of the need to transform our financial system as you will find anywhere. It also clearly envisions how the creation of collaborative value, sustainable stewardship, and an “enough-not-more” mantra can drive a transformational change that will benefit the all as well as the one.”

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From the Archives

Positive and empowering messaging around a Wellbeing Economy is incredibly important and a vital part of our work in catalysing the transition toward a different economic system. On January 20, Positive Money, NEON, PIRC and WEAll, hosted a webinar to present findings on the ‘how to’ of effective messaging around a Wellbeing Economy to a diverse audience. The discussion officially launched the new Wellbeing Economy Messaging guide, which you can find here.

Dora (NEON) introduced the guide and provided 4 key messaging tips from the guide: 

Relating to the first point, shared value is a key tenant to beginning conversations around changing our economic system. What values can we agree on that can underpin our economy? WEAll and its members created the 5 WEAll Needs that showcase the values we believe to represent a Wellbeing Economy:

Dora spoke about how it is key to ensure that people know that they are a part of the economy and can contribute to its development. Most people continue to believe that the economy = money. However, we are the economy and therefore, have the ability to change it.

A feature of the guide that is incredibly useful is a list of Messaging Do’s and Don’ts:

During the webinar, we discussed the importance of shared language. This list above provides the language that we suggest using in order to shape people’s understanding of a Wellbeing Economy and how people can contribute to its development.

After Dora’s presentation, we ended the call with a rich discussion with the audience; we’re sharing some of the key questions, comments, and resources discussed. Watch the webinar to learn the answers to the questions asked below. Questions that were not answered on the call, are answered in italic.  For privacy, we’ve removed last names.

From Robert : How do you deal with words like ‘capitalism’? Do you actively avoid them?

From Madis : Instead of capitalism, some suggest to use the term “growthism”, which sounds more neutral. What are your thoughts?

From Rhiannon : Can you give any more examples of that common ground starting point? What shared values should we lead with?

From JOANNA : How much does the word ‘wellbeing’ resonate with people? Is it understood what it means?

From jo : Absolutely don’t problematise, but if we are trying to say the economy as it is, harms people, many people will think ‘really?’ as they live very comfortable lifestyles. How do we persuade them this is not so?

From Morven (she/her) – Sustain : Question – what about communicating to people we know are quite opposed to our ideas? i.e. to national govt, or specific Tory politicians. When someone has ideological preconceptions, they will turn off to certain messaging but listen up when they hear things like ‘jobs creation’.

From Roger: GDP is a measure of income. How do we talk about GDP without addressing people’s incomes?

From Juliet (she/her): 

1. Can you share some do/donts on avoiding the elidiing the goals of a wellbeing economy with a wellness/yoga/healthy eating frame? 

2. Are there good ways of responding to the attack ‘but the economy does currently depend on growth?’

From Hayley : Have you explored any messaging with ‘ordinary people’ / people outside our ‘bubbles’?

From Bridget: ECG : How can we collaborate more between our networks to use case study examples of practical tools, models and approaches of what is working now in practice to create wellbeing economies locally and regionally?

From jack : Thanks so much for that Dora. How do we try to make this seem less radical/revolutionary and more common sense, given that we don’t hear much on this from the likes of Labour? 

From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : I agree with Joanna on jargon

From Rhiannon : I think people can connect and understand the word wellbeing a lot more than other economic concepts

From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Whose «  wellbeing » is the immédiate question.

From Alice, Equally Ours (she/her) : And on top of if people understand ‘wellbeing economy’, do they see it as a legitimate and important goal or as an unrealistic ‘nice-to-have’?

ANSWER: It depends on the audience. It seems the reasons why a Wellbeing Economy is important are becoming ever clearer. Our current economy is incredibly fragile as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. This is obvious to many. There are still the die-hards that are not going to accept a change in the system as they may be benefiting hugely from it. The WEGo partnership shows that there are a number of countries that are serious about undertaking efforts to shift towards a Wellbeing Economy, which is positive for the movement as a whole.

From Auska : Do you think this messaging should also translate into changes in visual communication and graphic design?

ANSWER: Absolutely. If you know of anyone that would be willing to do some of this work on a volunteer basis, please let Isabel know.

From James : On the “wellbeing economy” point being jargon… I suspect I’ll immediately turn people off with this one without a lot of further information.  “Get with the real world” 🙂

From Sally she/her : yes me too – ditto to Juliet’s question 1) re ensuring we don’t end up leading people to be thinking we’re talking about individual wellbeing/wellness

From Peter : The trick is to be short and snappy, and to realise that we are trying to put across what seems like incredibly complex issues for people, and questions such as ‘who’s going to pay for this?’ will almost inevitably surface.

From Mila P’s : true. one word has different meanings for different people. meeting people where they are at kind of mindset. And that comes to mind, who is the audience ?

From francine : I’ve read that Scot Gov is quite into the wellbeing economy, as are some other smaller country govs like new zealand and denmark…is your wellbeing economy promotion today all part of this same thing?

From Peter : I would urge that we all get acquainted with the basics – at least – of Modern Monetary Theory

From Jon : I like wellbeing as you can link it to people (the meaningful and fulfilling journey/ destination) and the planet (the outer ring of the doughnut). I agree with Rachel it is wide umbrella.

From francine  : In recent years, before wellbeing was linked to wellbeing economy, the word wellbeing has always been linked to mental health…

From Siddhartha (Medact) : I Organise healthcare workers to call for economic change. this guide is super helpful. we are working right now to call for financial support for people to self isolate. we are planning to also campaign on liveable incomes (wages and benefits) and secure housing as well. what advice would you have of communicating theses specific issues that fall under the need for a wellbeing economy

 From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Isn’t it about a whole social-political-system rather than  just ‘economy’.

ANSWER: Absolutely yes. One may argue that the economy IS the whole social-political system.

From martin: In relation to growth, is there anything to be gained from redefining what we commonly mean by “economic activity” to embrace activities that create wellbeing?

ANSWER: This is a great idea. When you think about it, ‘economic activity’ is rather vague. Curious what these activities could be defined as.. 

From Tabea : In Wales we have a “wellbeing of future generations act”, and “wellbeing goals” set in law – it does seem to resonate with the public as well as politicians (…although someone will always try and redefine it to suit themselves….)

From jack. : Talking about a fairer economy can work quite well as right? As fairness resonates with people. 

From Mila: There are at least 81 types of new economies, how does wellbeing economy collaborate either these others?

From Tamsyn (FrameWorks Institute) : @Jack: fairness is a tricky values frame. It can trigger zero sum thinking, or an evaluation of individual deservingness. We need to think beyond resonance, to ‘where does this particular value take people’?

From Lisa : @Tabea  – there is a Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) hub emerging in Wales and Wales is a member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership. More info on WEAll Cymru here if you’re interested in connecting with them https://wellbeingeconomy.org/cymru-wales. Email cymru@weall.org if you want the details

From Lisa : More info here on the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership https://wellbeingeconomy.org/wego

From Linda (Loving Earth Project): ONS has already done some work on GDP, which includes estimates of unpaid work.

From Isabel Nuesse (she/her) WEAll: GDP WEBINAR: https://t.co/vQKz3vWLaY

From francine H (Melrose) : I like the idea of new language and words. You gave a few examples – THIS gov rather than THE gov…words like fulfillment and meaningful lives…and the positive concept that everything human ddesigned can be redesigned. Could be useful to publish a whole list of ‘replacement’ words/ vocabulary that can quickly become mainstream and alter our way of thinking?

ANSWER: Yes. The start of this work is in the guide itself. Will note to continue as it’s useful  🙂

From Rachel Oliver : Positive Money’s The Tragedy of Growth report https://positivemoney.org/publications/tragedy-of-growth/

From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : A system that dépends on growth is doomed to failure in a ‘spaceship earth’.

From Donald : This is all very well for academics and activists, but where exactly does the debate about wellbeing happen with ordinary people at the grassroots?

ANSWER: In short, it starts with small conversations amongst each other about what we want  to see in our futures. Back to shared values. What values do you have with your neighbor who may be of an opposing party. Can you agree on some? This begins to shift our framework away from just economy = money = good to economy = people flourishing = good.

From Lisa : A clear distinction is that the wellbeing economy is about shared, societal wellbeing rather than individual wellbeing

From Linda (Loving Earth Project) : Is the phrase « the common good’ a useful one?

From Peter : it often seems to me that current mainstream capitalist economics is based on a kind of quasi-religious concepts, like ‘balancing the books’, ‘staying on top of debt’, ‘living within your means’, etc. which lead to the ‘wrong conversation’. it’s finding the punchy messages that take us ‘through’ these quasi-religious concepts, and makes our points.

From Laura : Just a fyi as a small real life example or what works with current govt audiences, we tweaked the second sentence of this EDM on Carnegie’s report on Gross Domestic Wellbeing in order to get Tracy Crouch as a sponsor. Before it said something like: “gdp growth is a poor measure of progress”  as you’ll see it’s a bit softer now:  https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57830/gross-domestic-wellbeing   (leaving aside the ridiculousness of EDMs as a format for communicating anything…)

From Juliet (she/her) : Great answers, thank you! Really love the ‘which bits of the garden’ metaphor

From Lisa  : @Donald – we’ve run some fantastic community sessions on a wellbeing economy in Scotland where people were very energised in design sessions for what a wellbeing economy would mean where they are. People know what is needed locally, you’re absolutely right that the conversation needs to be out of the bubble!

From Mila: if it’s not growth as measurement criteria, what about collaborating with the living system economy folks? Align economy to how it impacts all life forms , focussing on shared prosperity?

ANSWER: This is a part of the goal, yes. Shared prosperity, human flourishing, these are the terms to use to shift the metrics we use to measure ‘success’. 

From Bridget: ECG : Economy for the Common Good has the concept of the Common Good Product as an alternative to GDP ecogood.org

From Alice, Equally Ours (she/her) : The PIRC guide is really great! It’s here https://publicinterest.org.uk/TestingGuide.pdf

From Peter : I think often an essential concept to get across is that a household/individual’s budget is not the same as a State/Governments’ budget.

From Laura : Not a very important Q, but wonder whether there are any good examples of business comms on wellbeing economy or closely related that we can also draw on? This springs to mind: https://www.imperative21.co/

From Tamsyn (FrameWorks Institute) : Here’s the framing the economy guide, if you haven’t seen it already: us, NEON, NEF & PIRC – https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Framing-the-Economy-NEON-NEF-FrameWorks-PIRC.pdf

From Hayley : Would love to connect with PIRC as they are also based in Wales

From David Thomas : Partly related and may be of some interest, we at Social Value International are supporting and championing a UK campaign called ‘How Do Companies Act’ looking to reform company law and regulation to better protect people and planet, and also looking to replicate this in other countries. www.howdocompaniesact.org

From Lisa  : Hi @Laura! Here’s the WEAll Business guide https://wellbeingeconomy.org/business-guide

From Mila : yes collaboration 🙂 .. there are already 81 new types of economies… why work in silos?

From Lisa Hough-Stewart : Bridget, let’s continue that conversation…the idea of having a shared international PR person perhaps across orgs could be very exciting (I’m comms lead at WEAll, just back from mat leave) – lisa@weall.org

From Mila : the only part of collaboration to may be mindful is about focussing on the best interest of the whole rather than the self-interest of one,like living systems naturally do .. ie trees in forests, bees, ants etc

From Paddy : If anyone would like to hear more from Anat Shenker-Osorio (who Dora mentioned earlier), she’s speaking later today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/anat-shenker-osorio-messaging-this-moment-tickets-136600789639?keep_tld=1

From Juliet (she/her) : +1 to checking out Anat Shenker-Osorio – this podcast is a great introduction to her work https://neweconomics.org/2019/10/weekly-economics-podcast-the-stories-that-broke-the-economy-and-the-stories-that-can-fix-it

From Isabel Nuesse (she/her) WEAll : https://docs.google.com/document/d/15kIla25zp5yc8kr6IYokj0GQ8S2VPBqfKzIdlYNssWE/edit

From safia : www.REALsustainability.org happy to network

From francine H (Melrose) : @david – great point – make it legal – in the same way as there’s a campaign to make ecocide illegal!

From Caroline she/her : feasta.org (Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) very happy to network too –  global focus, and some focus on Ireland too

From David : @Francine, thank you! Will look into the ecocide campaign!

From David, SCCAN : Such rich ideas – hopefully helping all our social justice and global justice and climate justice and racial justice movements to achieve engaging, ways of hooking citizens into a different narrative which looks forward to the future we all seek.  Great collaboration.  Thank you from someone involved in grassroots climate campaigns – look out for Transition – Bounce Forward Summit that Transition Network and ControlShift are running 3-20 March

From Alice, Equally Ours (she/her) : @Juliet and anyone else interested in checking out Anat Shenker-Osorio – she is doing this event online this evening that @Paddy is organising, signup is free 🙂 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/anat-shenker-osorio-messaging-this-moment-tickets-136600789639?aff=ebdssbeac

From safia minney : Why not “New Economics” rather than Well being economy. 

ANSWER: A ‘new’ economy infers that this has never been done before. When in fact, these economies may exist in other cultures or have existed before our time. A Wellbeing Economy also embedded int he name, sets a clear focus.

by: Rabia Abrar

Are you a bit uncomfortable using Facebook and other social media platforms these days – but don’t feel like you can stop using them? 😰

You’re not alone! After all, one of our five universal human needs is connection! That’s why we’re all on social media platforms to begin with. 

With all the news around Facebook lately, I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought: 

What exactly does ‘connection’ mean, at a societal level? 🧐

The WEAll membership has defined it as “a sense of belonging and institutions that serve the common good”. I want to dig into that last part: “institutions that serve the common good”.

I would say that, due to its size, influence, and the central role that it plays in connecting the world, Facebook IS an institution. ☝️

Facebook is the biggest of all the social networks, by far. 

With this much power, tech is no longer just a ‘tech issue’. It’s a societal and economic issue! 

Serving the common good?

For over a decade, we’ve become aware of multiple instances where Facebook has failed to ensure the privacy of its users’ data, allowing it to be harvested for targeted advertising, particularly political advertising, as well as failing to stem the spread of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and calls for violence. We’ve all heard at least a little about the controversies around Cambridge Analytica, the GDPR, the pro-Brexit Leave EU campaign, and the 2016 US presidential election. And most recently, the controversy around changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy, which states that Facebook reserves the right to share data collected on WhatsApp with its family of companies:

“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.” 

In reading about these issues, you have to wonder:

Is Facebook serving the common good? 👀

Source: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

It all comes down to the business model.

As a vehicle for creativity and innovation, business is a key player in creating the solutions we need to deliver social justice on a healthy planet. But in our current system, finance and the economy tend to serve themselves, rather than serving society and the environment. 👎

“Today, society and the environment are serving business, when business needs to be the servant of society.” 

Martin Rich, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Future Fit

Since economist Milton Friedman declared that “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits” in a 1970 New York Times op-ed, the ideal of ‘profit maximisation’ and continual growth to increase shareholder value has become the dominant model for how businesses operate. This often means deprioritising the interests of others stakeholders.

This seems to be true in the case of Facebook.

One of many popular ‘Mark Zuckerberg is a Robot’ memes; Source: Know Your Meme

As Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey, explains,

“Facebook openly says that their business model is to use data related to users for profit.”

This explains why we can use social media platforms for ‘free’. This makes logical sense. How else would they make money? 🤷‍♀️

This raises a foundational question:

If Facebook’s primary goal and business model was not centred around growth and profit maximisation, how might it approach issues of data privacy and digital safety? 🤔

Social Media in a Wellbeing Economy

“If a business is designed to maximise financial return, delivering environmental and social return as well, is inevitably a cost on the bottom line and competes with the financial return. However, if a business is designed to deliver environmental and social return as well as financial, it enhances rather than competes with financial return.”  

Hugo Spowers, Chief Engineer and Founder of Riversimple

To see business playing a key role in the shift toward a Wellbeing Economy (where the economy serves society as its core purpose), they must embody the principles of ‘Wellbeing Businesses”. These include: 

  • Connection – a corporate culture that aligns the organisational purpose with collective values. 🙏
  • Dignity – a business model that creates the means for employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to live with dignity. ✊
  • Participation – balanced and values-based relationships with all stakeholders. 🤝

Olga Koretskaya and Gus Grosenbaugh explain that, to put these principles of care and responsibility into practice, Wellbeing Businesses work to:

1. Ensure transparency and accountability 🔍

When multinational corporations work across multiple regional and regulatory borders, it often leads to a lack of transparency and accountability. 

“Listed companies are in effect owned by nobody, because everybody does. The result is a lack of responsibility.” 

Martin Rich, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Future Fit

Wellbeing Businesses recognise the importance of transparency and disclose data about environmental, social, and economic performance to all employees and the public in a way that is easy to retrieve and understand, across the entire supply chain or footprint of the organisation. 

For example, if Facebook were a Wellbeing Business, we might have seen more transparency and clarity upfront when Whatsapp’s new privacy policy was announced, about where metadata collected about users would be used and if and how it may be shared with third parties.      

Source: Glenn Carrie, Unsplash

2. Internalise externalities 🤓

A “negative externality” in business or industry is something that the business makes or produces, that negatively affects other people or the environment, and for which the business does not pay and is not reflected in the price. Wellbeing Businesses don’t ignore these “externalities” – they take responsibility for them and embrace different strategies for avoiding, reducing, or paying for harm. 

Here are 10 proposals for concrete actions that tech companies like Facebook and governments can take to prevent social media platforms from damaging democracy, spreading hate, or inciting violence.

3. Evolve toward stewardship

As a business grows and occupies a new role in the market, Wellbeing businesses evolve toward a model of stewardship, so that a range of stakeholders have a say in the business decisions that affect them. Riversimple, an eco car company, demonstrates one way to do this. Their governance model includes representatives of 6 different stakeholder groups: The Environment, Customers, Communities, Staff, Investors and Commercial Partners. 

Do I have a choice?

I know what you’re thinking – all of that is well and good, but what can I do about these issues around social media today?

Source: Markus Winkler, Unsplash

In our own work, WEAll still has to use some social media as it helps us spread the messages of a Wellbeing Economy to global audiences. But while it may not be possible to fully step away from social media, we can start to take steps to reduce our participation in some of the harm these platforms cause (and hold them accountable to make changes!). 💪

“After careful consideration WEAll has come to the conclusion, shared by countless others, that Facebook is no longer a platform we want to engage with. We feel that to be actively present is to be complicit. Therefore, we will keep our page open – but will no longer be actively engaging with it. While we still as a team rely on WhatsApp and as an organization use Instagram – this is the first step to move away from these predatory platforms.” 

WEAll message on our Facebook page

WEAll supports the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which calls for changes needed, including preventing lies in political ads, closing down groups that are associated with violence, and allowing victims of severe harassment to immediately reach a live Facebook representative for help. 

Believe it or not, social media platforms like Facebook are not our only options to stay connected. 🙌

For example, if you’re looking to connect and collaborate with like minded changemakers in the movement toward a Wellbeing Economy, the WEAll Citizens platform is a great option.

With over 2200 active users daily and at least 30 new members joining each week, Citizens is a thriving space to connect and feel a sense of belonging – minus any advertisements. 😉

There are a vast selection of books that can deepen our knowledge of our economic system and our understanding of how to practically change the system to support human and ecological wellbeing. 

This past week, we reached out to our member network to suggest their top picks for these kinds of books. Here’s the result of this participatory process, listed alphabetically.

The  2021 Wellbeing Economy Reading List:

  1. Prosocial– Paul W.B. Atkins, David Sloan Wilson and Steven C. Hayes

2. Rethinking Racial Capitalism- Gargi Bhattacharyya

3. Humankind – Rutger Bregman

4. The New Possible – Philip Clayton

5. Sacred Economics – Charles Eisenstein

6. Green Swans – John Elkington

7. Debt: The First 5000 Years- David Graeber

8. Less is more – Jason Hickel 

9. Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer 

10. The Value of Everything- Mariana Mazzucato

11. The Nordic Theory of Everything- Anu Partanen

12. How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy – Raj Patel 

13. The Tyranny of Merit- Michael Sanden

14. The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

15. Growing Young: How friendship, optimism and kindness can help  you live to 100 – Marta Zaraska

____

In case you missed them, here is a list of our Wellbeing Economics book recommendations from 2019 – 2020 This list  compiles recommendations from our members  WEAll members” and the WEAll Read book club.

  1. An Economy of Wellbeing: Mark Anielski
  2. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism: Ha-Joon Chang
  3. Change Everything: Christian Felber
  4. Wellbeing Economy: Lorenzo Fioramonti
  5. The Divide: Jason Hickel
  6. New Economy Business: Margo Hoek
  7. Local Is Our Future: Helena Norberg-Hodge
  8. The Age of Thrivability: Michelle Holliday
  9. Prosperity Without Growth: Tim Jackson
  10. The High Price of Materialism: Tim Kasser
  11. A Finer Future: Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, John Fullerton and Anders Wijkman
  12. Economics Unmasked: Manfred Max-Neef
  13. The Spirit Level: Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
  14. Doughnut Economics: Kate Raworth
  15. What Money Can’t Buy: Michael J. Sandel
  16. Small is Beautiful: E.F. Schumacher
  17. Local Dollars Local Sense – Michael Shuman
  18. How to Thrive in the Next Economy: John Thackara
  19. The Economics of Arrival: Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams

By Xola Keswa

Today, Africa has the youngest population in the world. Why is this important to note? Because the Earth is inherited by the young people of the world. Today, young Africans are not faced with the same threats that threatened their ancestors such as lions or other wild animals. Instead, we face our biggest existential threat ever: climate change.

Africa’s main environmental challenge is to mitigate the effects of climate change, as due to Africa’s size and position, it will be the most impacted.

This problem should and will initiate creative and dynamic solutions that young Africans will create. 

Africans have an innate knack for creating tools, techniques, and methods that help mankind survive. The technologies they discovered thousands of years ago to help survive amongst dangerous creatures in the Savanna of Africa, are still in use now within African traditions and customs. These technologies are how Africa is able to support a large population of about 1.6 billion people.

The innovation that helps sustain Africa today, is the same thing which will ensure her continued survival – and that of the world – through climate change.

Green Technology Innovation in Africa

Groundbreaking science research has been happening in Africa in the field of medicine, much of which is based on indigenous knowledge systems on natural flora and fauna. Much of that research by universities from western countries has been transferred to startup companies in Europe and the US, which have gone on to become successful in competitive pharmaceutical markets. 

Due to emerging policies such as the European Green Deal, companies in the Global North will ultimately need to seek alternative sources for investments in innovations in green technology. I propose that foreign investors start to actively invest in research and development for sustainable green technologies in African countries in the same way that they are investing in pharmaceuticals.

Especially within the area of innovation relating to waste and a circular economy, we have become very good at turning waste into upcycled and redesigned products.

These countries can learn a lot from Africa, “the world’s dumping grounds”. 

A good example of green technology innovation in Africa is the tippy tap. Many rural areas in Africa don’t have running water from a tap. So, naturally, innovative young Africans found a way around that. They ensured that there is a tap close to homes by making a tap using upcycled materials i.e. old plastic bottles.

 The hands-free design means bacteria is not transferred between users. 
The tippy tap is low cost – it can be made with local, salvaged materials.

A Fair Process of Technology Transfer

I’d now like to introduce myself. My name is Xola Keswa and I am from South Africa. I am a 27 year old environmental and social entrepreneur. I founded my own startup, Organic Matters in 2014, during an internship at Schools Environmental Education Development (SEED).

In 2019, I was selected to participate in international policy and practice research research programme at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Global Risk Governance Programme, in cooperation with the South African urban food and farming trust. Through their outreach programme, The Environmental Entrepreneurs Support Initiative, I received philanthropy funding and access to resources and support centres. 

Following this research, my startup Organic Matters created a horticultural technology within the UCT Global Risk Governance Programme in partnership with a German University, called the ‘self-watering raised bed’. 

The self-watering raised bed relies on wicking so that the plants draw up only the water that they need and none is wasted. You only need to fill up the water reservoir once a week. This technology can be adapted for use within both urban areas and peri-urban areas to mitigate climate change.

I want to help the less fortunate to at least grow their own vegetables, made out of recycled material – to help people become resilient and self-sustainable during these difficult times.

In September, EnsAfrica Africa’s largest law firm facilitated the ‘transfer of technology’, which is an academic term meaning that research and development created in universities is released from the institution for commercialisation.

Now, I own the intellectual property for the self-watering raised bed, meaning that I can retain the value of African innovation in Africa. But my experience is not the norm for young innovators in Africa.

Protecting African Intellectual Property

In the case of the tippy tap, and many others, young Africans are barely aware that they are inventing a method and a product. This is a big problem because these young people are unaware of the legal system and the opportunity to learn from experts to improve and market their products.

I see this as a contributing factor for Africans always finding themselves behind.

Instead, international organisations and universities usually come and extract information from Africa innovators through research, and take it back to Western countries to undergo R&D, create startups, and make licensing agreements. These organisations make a huge profit from such innovations. The Khoisan Hoodia, is an example of what I’m talking about. Research based on the use of the hoodia cactus in African traditional medicine was developed as a potential cure for obesity and taken to the USA and the UK, where patent applications were filed and accredited to western Pharmaceutical companies.

In a just transition, intellectual property would be protected from the very beginning of the creation of knowledge in Africa. 

Let’s say a few students conduct research in Africa and create a product. In a just transition, the research should be left in Africa and developed in partnership with its original creators. When the product is developed to the point that it can reach the market, intellectual property rights should be allocated to the relevant person or people who contributed to it from Africa. When royalties are negotiated or letters of intent are drawn up by third parties, young Africans should be listed and acknowledged. This in turn will ensure sharing of useful technology in the world that can improve the wellbeing of people and planet.

Young Africans should be given access to mentorship and support from European and North American countries, to make sure that they understand the protocol of intellectual property law. They should be supported to push their innovations into the mainstream market. This can happen in various different ways in the agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and telecommunications sectors. 

Looking Ahead

For two years, while I conducted my research at UTC in and around Cape Town, South Africa, using community based approaches, I would often encounter broken communities, plagued by gang violence and high crime rates. 

I came to realise that, much the same way as schools and business centres have helped me learn and become creative, with the right support in terms of mentorship and information, Africans from any background are capable of creating much-needed innovations. 

If given a fair opportunity, young Africans can play a major role in creating greener, circular, and more wellbeing-focused economies worldwide. 

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.

There is so much rich content out there in the world about a Wellbeing Economy. Part of our job is to amplify and connect the various initiatives and work that exists. 

These WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond every week. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Opportunity Knocking – Jessica Rose, Marjorie Kelly | Democracy Collaborative  

“Impact investors and other capital providers could be the agents that help resolve this vicious crisis—stepping in to turn the misfortune of small-business owners into a new start for employee-owners. Capital could be the agent that begins to take employee ownership to scale in this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”

Building a Resilient Economy – Barth J. and Coscieme L., Dimmelmeier, A., Kumar C., Mewes S., Abrar R., Nuesse I., Pendleton A., Trebeck K | ZOE, NEF, WEAll 

“The following chapters (and the research underpinning them) focus on the role of government and policy in delivering systemic change. We outline where public policymakers should place the emphasis in order to transform the world’s economic and financial systems most effectively to mitigate future environmental crises.”

Humanity Report– James Arbib & Tony Seba | RethinkX 

“We can choose to elevate humanity to new heights and use the upcoming convergence of technology disruptions to end poverty, inequality, resource conflict, and environmental destruction, all for a fraction of the cost we incur dealing with them today. Or we can choose to preserve the failing status quo and descend into another dark age like every leading civilization before us.“

Work-life balance and self-reported health among working adults in Europe: a gender and welfare state regime comparative analysis – Aziz Mensah & Nicholas Kofi Adjei | BMC Public Health

“The pressing demands of work over the years have had a significant constraint on the family and social life of working adults. Moreover, failure to achieve a ‘balance’ between these domains of life may have an adverse effect on their health. This study investigated the relationship between work-life conflict and self-reported health among working adults in contemporary welfare countries in Europe.”

Visions of a Wellbeing  Economy – Anna Chrysopoulou | Standard Social Innovation Review

“To solve the social, economic, and environmental challenges we face today, we need to rethink the status quo. Governments and other institutions around the world need to embrace new ways of thinking and actively engage in widespread systems innovation to make real progress toward a healthier, more prosperous world.”

The Little Book of Education – Wendy Ellyatt 

“If we want to create a better world, we have to start by looking at whether the values that we have been promoting to children through our education systems have been serving the long-term wellbeing and potential, within the context of a sustainable future”

Building Better Systems– The Rockwool Foundation

“System innovation is needed when two conditions apply. First when society faces a systemic challenge which requires a systemic response. Second when society has a systemic opportunity to create a new kind of system.” 

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From the Archives

Towards the end of the 2020, WEAll hosted a series of webinars through the WEAll Citizens platform in partnership with our members and fellow citizens. The 3-part series was designed to dive deep into the various aspects of narrative development, to support our ability to create narratives around a Wellbeing Economy that are feasible and desirable.

Our three brilliant hosts demonstrated just how complex narrative can get. The major takeaways for me were:

  1. Bring it back to the values. Values underpin our decision making, how we think, react, and communicate with each other. These values can underpin a society and therefore, underpin the way in which we communicate the change that we want to see in the world. 
  2. Narratives are constant. There is not A narrative. There are many narratives, which are developed and re-developed all of the time. The key is to allow for emergence of new stories that can speak to the overarching narrative you’re hoping to change.
  3. Don’t give up on people. People are hypocritical and stubborn and incredibly complex. As soon as we give up on supporting other people’s journeys to deeper understanding, we lose. We need to make sure that we are patient, kind, and understanding as perspectives transform and shift. Avoid shaming people into believing! 
  4. It’s here – we just need more of it. A Wellbeing Economy does exist. It starts with highlighting what already exists, and replicating these inittaives over and over again. This builds the powerbase that can then shift the real power at the top.  People are agile and able to create significant change swiftly and effectively, as we’ve seen with some of the response to COVID-19.  

Here’s a summary of each webinar in the Narratives series:

1. “How Narratives Facilitate Change” 

Rina Tsubaki from the European Forest Institute (EFI) hosted this launch session. The EFI are working on a digital media analysis project around the Amazon fires in 2019. Rina used this research to explore narratives, how they are spread around the world, and how they can be used to facilitate change. 

You can watch the event recap here

There were a few points that were particularly interesting about her research:

  • Hashtags. When a movement is being created, the use of hashtags is incredibly important. They shift and change and there is always an ‘end of life’ to the use and viral nature of these terms. To learn more, see (21:00).
  • Narratives evolve. This is shown when an initial issue is discussed (e.g. Amazon fires) and  connected to and used to restart the conversation on another issue that was dormant (e.g. Indegenous cultures fight for life). To learn more, see (26:00).
  • Influencers. Rina’s research showed that images that were most popular in the Amazon fires movement were popularised first by more famous accounts and influencers of the public. See her example of Emanuel Macron at (37:00). 

One of Rina’s most striking research insights was that the classic ‘Hero’s Journey’ (see image) story structure or template, no longer applies in today’s world. 

We now live in a world where there is no single structure that fits all narratives. This dramatically shifts the ways we communicate with each other. In our ever-changing society, it is no longer about sharing the ‘single most beautiful story’ but rather, focusing on the change that we want and mobilising around that vision. 

Rina asks us to imagine what our ultimate dream scenario for the future can be, then work backwards from there, rather than start with the immediate changes needed. See image below:

She also introduced the “Iceberg” model, which can also be useful to identify the change that is needed to build a Wellbeing Economy. We need to think closely about the substance underneath the surface of the story that we’re trying to share.

Lastly, Rina introduced a beautiful illustration of the ‘types’ of narratives that can exist in today’s world. There are three types of stories. 

  1. Story as a light: Which makes previous stories that were invisible, visible. 
  2. Story as glue: Which supports community building, creates movements, connects people, and introduces a shared language to create a shared understanding. 
  3. Story as a web: constructed with a diverse set of narratives based on common themes. They recognise the depths and interconnectedness of the movement as a whole. 

Rina’s presentation paved the way for  the second webinar in the Narratives series…

2. “How do We Shift Our Internal Narratives?” 

In November, Jackie Thoms from Fraendi shared research to help us better understand how we, as individuals, see the world, understand complexity, and shift our internal thinking and behaviour as a starting point to change society.

This webinar was particularly informative around human behavior, how we think, what appeals to us, and what the process is for transforming our internal thinking and perspectives (which is key to narrative formation). 

You can watch the recap here 

The main points Jackie touches on are the three dimensions of adult development that are integral to understanding how our worldviews are created.

At 15:00, Jackie dives deep into the social- emotional piece of adult development:

Social-Emotional: This aspect of human development is where we develop maturity and wisdom. It is how we take decisions and is often crisis-led. There are five stages to this.

Stage 1: Our social-emotional learning as we develop from birth.

Stage 2: A stage of cognitive development but with a low social and emotional capacity.This may be someone who is unwilling to go beyond themselves. 

Stage 3: Is the stage that most of society is at. This is mainly about belonging. Once someone sees that they may not align with a community, they shift to the next stage. This stage can feel risky as individuals are leaving the comfort of their family of origin. Or, they may be changing their relationships or community.

Stage 4: This stage is embodying the values that we hold dear and the principles that we want to lead our lives by. 

Stage 5: This final stage is where people begin to consider other people’s perspectives more critically. This is where people may begin to experience the ‘other’ and not see one perspective as particularly dominant. This is someone who can hold a very broad view of life.

Jackie then turns to discussing the cognitive part of adult development (27:30)

Cognitive: This aspect of human development supports us in moving into a wider scope of responsibility and building the capacity to hold many different perspectives and thoughts.

Jackie then ran us through an exercise to discuss these thought-forms in a real-time example. You can check that out at (45:46). 

Jackie wrote a recap blog here if you’re interested in learning more. 

3. “How to move from Understanding to Action” 

Mariana Mirabile hosted the final narratives webinar, a highly interactive session supporting the audience to understand how to move from understanding how narratives work, to developing narratives about a new economy in real life.

Watch the webinar here.

Mariana speaks to the importance of understanding the values that underpin the change that we want to see in the world from (from 2:15-15:00). She uses this graphic to explain how stories and narratives are generally created. 

In the exercise that Mariana ran, she encouraged us to each think of an initiative that we are a part of in our daily life (i.e. a coop grocery store, bike share program etc.) – to illustrate the what we do – and then relate the initiative to one of the 5 WEAll Needs: 

She was making the point that a Wellbeing Economy is happening every day. We are living certain aspects of it in our daily lives. And, to be able to change narrative, we need to understand what tangible initiatives we’re supporting that are already helping to build the world we want to create. As we continue to see and support these initiatives, it will transform our mental models and in turn, build a Wellbeing Economy. 

If you’re interested in continuing to work on narratives for a Wellbeing Economy, please reach out to Isabel

By: Isabel Nuesse

One of the most significant measurements in our economy is Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is a measurement of the total value of goods and services produced in a country. It measures the size of a nation’s economy but doesn’t reflect a nation’s wellbeing. While inherently flawed, GDP continues to dominate the space as the measurement to compare countries against one another, and more importantly influence global policymaking. 

In a Wellbeing Economy, we argue that it is time that we move beyond GDP and find a more holistic measurement that encapsulates both human and ecological wellbeing. 

In the podcast Citations Needed, Economic Anthropologist and WEAll Ambassador Jason Hickel breaks down the history of GDP, how it drives both the climate crisis and inequality, and what practical steps we can take to ensure thriving livelihoods for all. 

What’s the history?

GDP was initially developed as a war-time measure. Simon Kuznets, the economist that created the national income accounts which inspired the current GDP measurement, warned the US congress about using this as the measurement. 

“The [people’s] welfare can therefore scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.” 

Meaning, there is no determination of social progress or human welfare that can be derived from this metric. So why do we continue to use it?

Using GDP as the main measurement of economic success was solidified after WWII hit. Countries focused on the measure of economic production, as wartime was a race to military domination. Growth ruled supreme. Who could produce the most output, the fastest, and where did the highest capacity lie?

It was further solidified after the Bretton Woods conference in 1944 which had over 700 delegates from 44 nations and created big institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). GDP then continued to dominate during the 1980s, when these institutions created structural adjustment programs (SAPs) – primary for countries in the global south- which move countries away from national development models and push for global development models that essentially only pursue economic growth. 

Luckily, these criticisms of GDP as the sole metric for economic success are coming to the forefront. It’s hard to ignore when the richest 1% of the human population pockets 22% or a quarter of total GDP 

As Jason says, “We’re plundering the earth to pay tribute to the global elite.” 

To further demonstrate this, Hickel says that if we took ⅓ of the income of the richest 1%, it would be enough to raise everyone in the world above a high poverty line of $7.40/day – eradicating poverty forever. If we took another fraction of that, we could provide high-quality universal public healthcare for the world. And, it would still leave the richest 1% with over $130,000/year per person forever. 

These numbers are striking. 

Where do we go from here?

Jason points out that once we admit that we don’t need more growth – we can focus on building an economy that can deliver high quality of life for all, and meet the ecological needs of the planet. 

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model that outlines how to keep global warming to under 1.5 degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels, requires a reduction in material use and energy use in the global economy. Meaning, we must scale down – or reduce growth. 

If both material and energy use is reduced, GDP will likely crash, causing our economy to collapse as our entire system is underpinned by its health. In order to prevent that crash, we need to organise our economy in a way that will not deliver such a catastrophe. 

How can we develop policies that allow human flourishing, despite declining industrial activity?

What’s needed is a fair distribution of existing income and a redistribution of productivity gains to more people.  Jason suggests that one practical way of doing this is shortening the average working week to four days, increasing wages so they are living wages for workers despite fewer hours, and redistributing necessary labour amongst more people. 

He raises  an interesting point about how self-defeating we will be if we continue to pursue GDP growth. Yes, the world is switching to renewables at a rapid pace, which will reduce the carbon footprint of our globe. However, renewable development still requires extraction of raw materials. And, if we’re continuing to grow the economy, we need to transition the whole economy to renewable energy and do it three times over to maintain our current pace of growth. 

In order to give technology a chance to be effective in delivering goals of human and planetary flourishing, we need to remove the growth priority so that innovations that address some of the glaring problems of the world are elevated, not stunted, because of low growth trajectories. The more you require companies to ramp up supply to meet demand, the more pressure on those capacities and the less of a solution they become.

How does equity play a role? 

Equity and justice have to be at the core of this transition to a ‘post-growth’ economy. The vast majority of the causes of the ecological crisis come from excess consumption from high-income nations. If everyone in the world consumed at the level of the average person in the Global South, we would have no ecological crisis. If they consumed at the level of the high-income nations, we would be operating at over 4x capacity of the Earth

There needs to be a balance between necessary growth for lower-income nations and degrowth for higher-income nations. 

The other key point is that this transition must be de-colonial at its core. No longer can the Global North rely on the extraction from the Global South. Imagine the possibility of an economy that doesn’t rely on that kind of extractivism! 

Institutions such as the IMF can no longer link voting power to GDP metrics. This is actively exclusionary and continues to set the wealthiest nations up for success. As Jason notes, “it’s crazy to have a plutocracy1 at the heart of global economic governance.”  

1 Plutocracy: a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income

Jason presents another glaring statistic: “The poorest 60% of humanity only receive 5% of the income from global GDP growth”- proving that the theory that wealth at the top will “trickle down” to all levels of society does not hold true in the real world. 

Meaning, this idea that global aggregate economic growth is necessary in order to reduce poverty is untrue. The global south contributes the vast majority of both labour and resources and yet don’t reap the benefit of their output. 

We need a fair economy that allows the global south to claim their fair share of yields they produce. This will in turn eradicate much of the poverty in the world simply by distributing income more fairly. 

Jason concludes that once we build a more fair economic structure and shift to a post-growth economy we can more easily fight the climate crisis and tackle global poverty. 

The last point that Jason makes on the podcast is around the phrasing that, “humans are the virus” that is damaging the earth. He wants to completely shift that thinking. Humans are not the virus, capital is the virus.

Capital is programmed to replicate itself – everything it touches turns into more capital. Exactly like a virus that colonises the host to produce more of itself. 

The problem is that expansionary economic systems are organised around appropriation, plunder, and extrication. 

It’s time we changed the economic system, don’t you agree? 

By: Rabia Abrar

Over the last 24 hours, like everyone else, I’ve cycled through an overwhelming series of emotions: disbelief, frustration, anger, helplessness, sadness, dread. 

I felt especially sad because, while yesterday’s violent acts of white supremacy in Washington D.C. are news, white supremacy and the institutional and systemic racism1 that enables it, is far from new.  

This past year has been a reckoning in the face of racial injustice and police violence. These systemic issues aren’t going away just because 2020 is over. 

At the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), we are working with a global network to bring about a Wellbeing Economy, an economy2 that delivers social justice on a healthy planet.

I’ll speak to the situation in North America. We are not there yet. There is still so much work to be done. 

I had to go out for a walk to clear my head. As I trudged through the snow, I kept asking myself,

“Where do we go from here? Where do we even start?” 

I don’t have all the answers (does anyone?!) But here’s what I do know. 

1. Protect your mental health.

As I walked, I had to remind myself: does my frustration, on its own, help anyone? No. If we are to effectively deal with societal issues that are upsetting and exhausting, we’re going to need to protect our mental health. In the wise words of Oprah, 

“Your real work is to figure out where your power base is. And to work on the alignment of your gifts that you have to give with the real reason why you’re here. The number one thing you have to do, is to work on yourself…and to fill yourself up, and keep your cup full.”

In short: You can only give or contribute to positive change if ‘your cup runneth over’. Honour yourself.

The New Economics Foundation suggests Five (Evidence-based) Ways to Wellbeing, around the themes of social relationships, physical activity, awareness, learning, and giving. 

Breathe deeply, get some fresh air, talk to a friend, listen to music, dance to shake it off.

Today, I did all of the above.

2. Support organisations doing the work. 

The social justice and environmental crises we face are multidimensional and interconnected. We don’t have to look any further than the COVID-19 crisis to see this. Indigenous and racialised communities are not only disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, but also by environmental issuesthe effects of climate change, and poverty – and these issues reinforce one another. And since these issues are all interconnected, your support for organisations working to address any of them, is helping (as long as we hold them accountable to take an intersectional approach). 

Once I’d had enough of reading and watching videos of yesterday’s riot on Instagram, I started to google social justice organisations I could donate to. Here’s a good list of Canadian social justice organisations I found.

Not everyone has the privilege to be able to donate. And even if you do, you may not have a lot that you are able to give. But if you can, even donating $5 is still $5 that is flowing in to help move forward the change we need.

“Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something, anything.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Author and Animal Activist

3. Examine your own role.

All countries have their own systemic social justice issues. That includes Canada. For example, Indigenous people represent about 26% of those in a correctional facility, while only accounting for about 3% of the population.

Halfway through my walk, I remembered this excerpt from the Living Hyphen team’s anti-racism statement: 

“We are committed to continuously (un)learning our role and responsibility in […] dismantling the mentality of white supremacy that exists as a result of this colonisation.” 

Institutional racism in our economic, legal, and political systems is tied to power imbalances rooted in colonialism and capitalism. Before we can reimagine more equitable institutions and systems, we have to understand and acknowledge the impacts of colonialism that continue to exist today. 

Living Hyphen has created Indigenous Allyship resources and Anti-racism resources to help in this task. They also raise tough questions we all need to ask ourselves, as a starting point: 

“Can we celebrate our communities’ achievements while also interrogating and rising up against the systems that led us here? How can we hold all these truths at once?” 

While this felt like a heavy thought, it was also an empowering one. If I have a role to play in enabling or challenging systemic racism, I am not helpless to its effects. And I can get started right in my own small social circle.

With all of this in mind, I finished my walk feeling a little lighter and with a new emotion: resolve. 

“Revolutions do not happen only in grand moments in public view but also in small pockets of people coming together to inhabit a new way of being. We birth the beloved community by becoming the beloved community.”

Valarie Kaur, Author of One World

1 refers to the ways that white supremacy (the belief that white people are superior to people of other races) is reflected and upheld in the systems in our society. Read more here.

2 a system that measures how we produce and provide things

Connect with Rabia on Twitter & LinkedIn.

By: Isabel Nuesse

COVID-19 has killed over 1.7M people and infected more than 77M globally. Just this last month, the promise of a vaccine seems to bring renewed hope that the days of isolation and struggle may soon come to an end. However, as the roll-out of these technologies begins, it’s not a coincidence that they are being deployed to the wealthier nations, first.

This trend is not new. 

Historically, lack of access to affordable health care medicines for the global population has been a recurrent concern – especially since the World Trade Organization (WTO) created the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS”)  agreement. This agreement was created to strengthen the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs). 

What is the significance of the TRIPS agreement today?

The COVID-19 vaccine is patented and many lower to mid-level income countries simply cannot afford it. The alternative is to create a generic version of the vaccine at a more affordable cost. This is only possible if IPRs on COVID-19 vaccines are eliminated.

India and South Africa have already requested a waiver to remove the IPRs on these medicines and technologies that prevent, contain, and treat COVID-19.

This proposal essentially calls for solidarity amongst governments around the globe to make access to the vaccine equitable and affordable, without the threat of sanctions or being found in violation of international trade rules. 

The waiver proposal has been extended from its initial December 31, 2020 expiration date. As of now, 9 countries oppose this waiver: the United States, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada,  Australia, Brazil, and the European Union. These are seemingly countries that do not have to worry about affordability with the vaccine. Likely, they even house the multinational corporations that produce the vaccine. Therefore, they may stand to benefit from keeping the IRPs in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies.  

The significance of this waiver brings about an important point. As it stands, the TRIPS agreement places the goal of free trade above the needs of the people. At what point does the intellectual property of medicines and technologies take precedence over saving lives? 

Christian Felber recently gave a talk on the transitions that need to be made in order to support Ethical World Trade, a key component of a Wellbeing Economy. Mainly, trade cannot be the end, but rather, a means to the end. The goal of international trade should be to support human flourishing, not to support free trade. Read the recap of the event here.

One interesting example of when such a goal has been effectively pursued was with the WHO and the TRIPS agreement was during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 2000’s. The initial offer from the pharmaceutical provider of HIV/AIDS medication requested the Brazilian government pay $1.59 per pill. But, Brazil saw that it could get the medicines made from India for $0.45 per pill which would enable them to distribute the drug more widely. However, because of how the TRIPS treaty works, the pharmaceutical provider has monopoly rights over the distribution of the drug. This meant that Brazil had to pay the $1.59 to the pharmaceutical provider, even though the generic brand was available at a lower cost. TRIPS institutes the monopoly power for the pharmaceutical provider so that companies don’t lose out on the expensive research and development costs (even though much of this research is publicly funded). **to learn more about this see Mariana Mazzucato’s work on the public funding seeding investment for the private sector. Here is an article in Time Magazine as well. 

Brazil’s president stated that he was not willing to sacrifice the health of his country’s citizens for the sake of world trade. 

After this debate, international leaders met for the Doha Declaration in November of 2001 and formally established that the TRIPS agreement should be interpreted and implemented to promote public health.

The Compulsory Licensing Provision within the TRIPS agreement now allows developing countries to produce or buy generic versions of the patented medication, which inevitably reduces the cost of the medicine. Each country can determine the grounds on which the compulsory licencing may be granted. These could be on the grounds of national emergency, extreme poverty, public non-commercial use, and to remedy anti-competitive practices. 

The precedent that this case study set is of concern for many nations. Having strong IPRs over pharmaceuticals prevents people from low to middle income countries from having access to life-saving medication. So, it is important to allow generic manufacturers to override patent holder rights in certain situations. 

Where does this leave us, in regards to the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vote on whether to eliminate IPRs for the COVID-19 vaccines will take place in the next few months, and coalitions amongst countries are already being made. Luckily the WHO has a policy for one vote per country. 

If you’re interested in learning more about international trade issues, please check out the organizations below:

Regions Refocus

Third World Network

DAWN

SEATINI

Bretton Woods Project

Gender and Trade Coalition

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.