by Rabia Abrar

COP26, the UN Global Climate Summit, was originally meant to have taken place in Glasgow starting this Monday – but it was delayed until next year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the event has been delayed, the urgency to address the climate crisis remains the same.

‘Unusual suspects’, as some may view them, have taken leadership on pushing the agenda of the urgently needed, transformational climate action, with or without a conference.

Youth Leading the Way

Frustrated by the fact that no innovative way could be found to hold the COP26 summit online, young climate activists have organised their own two-week “Mock COP”, which starts this week (November 19). The conference is designed to mirror the format of the delayed U.N. talks, but with youth from more than 140 nations as the negotiators. The online summit will focus on themes including climate education, carbon targets, climate justice, health and green jobs. A large emphasis is about moving past simply discussing change, to exploring how to implement solutions.

Youth organisers of the Mock COP aim to, in part, change views of what young activists are capable of doing, rather than being perceived as little more than an inspiration for older officials.

“People will have seen that … we can do more than just strike and protest”

Josh Tregale, 18, Britain

But youth want more than to change perceptions; more crucially, they want a seat at the (economic decision-making) table. This thinking is in line with key components of a Wellbeing Economy, which would put humans at the centre of economic purpose: intergenerational justice and participation of ‘the people’ in economic decision making. 

“Young people will pay the tax to pay off the (economic stimulus and climate) decisions we make now. It’s effectively our money they’re spending at the moment… (and) young people should have a voice, especially at this time.”

Josh Tregale, 18, Britain

While youth are making their voices heard, so are artists. 

Calling all Musicians (to Action)

A group of Scottish artists at all levels, including multi-award winning musician Karine Polwart and Edinburgh’s Soundhouse Choir, has released a song called, Enough is Enough.

If our planet Earth could talk to us right now, what might she say?

The song covers themes of environmental justice and collective wellbeing and draws on the imagery of Glasgow’s coat of arms (a tree, a bird, a fish and a bell).

Spearheaded by Oi Musica, an independent artist-led music organisation in Edinburgh, the project aims to unite choirs, street bands and community-based music groups across the UK in a collective, creative action ahead of next year’s COP26. The aim is to raise awareness and build public pressure in the lead up to the climate summit in Glasgow in 2021. 

Brass, Aye? – an open access street band in Glasgow. Photo credit: Heather Longwell

“We’re excited about creating a shared focus for bands, choirs & musicians at a difficult time for live music – and finding positive, creative ways of raising our voices in support of climate justice and systems change”. 

Olivia Furness, Oi Musica Co-Director 

WEAll is a partner in this collaboration, sharing its vision of a future economy that rejects eternal economic growth and instead, focuses on delivering social justice on a healthy planet. 

No Need for Delay 

A restriction to virtual meetings during COVID-19 hasn’t held the musical collaboration back. To assess the song’s potential for mass participation, Enough is Enough was road tested with 120 singers, who filmed and recorded their parts on mobile phones. This process added a whopping 1500 recorded files to the studio recording! 

The Edinburgh Soundhouse Choir in the ‘Enough is Enough’ music video

Pandemic restrictions continue to impact the working life of musicians; and the digital skills that are being acquired as a result of this collaboration are strengthening connections between people and communities through tough times. 

The song, ‘Enough is Enough’, and the process by which it has been created, exemplifies the role WEAll envisions the Arts to play in a Wellbeing Economy, which includes the Arts helping to tell the story and paint the picture of a more humane economy.

As Dom Jaramillo, a 21-year-old Ecuadorian delegate to Mock COP put it,

“Everyone says we’re the leaders of the future… I find myself leading things in the present.” 

We can take the lead of the youth and musicians who are not waiting for a more convenient time to collaborate around tackling the climate crisis. 

COP26 may be delayed. Transformational climate action needn’t be. 

Find out more about the Mock COP26 conference, running from November 19 – December 1, here. Donate to the Mock COP26 Crowdfunder campaign and join the conversation on Twitter: @MockCOP26, Instagram: @mockcop26 and Facebook: @MockCOP26.

Listen to ‘Enough is Enough’, here, and register your interest to join the musical collaboration around ‘Enough is Enough’, here. You can follow along on Twitter: @Oi_Musica, @IAMKP; Instagram: @oi.musica , @karinepolwart; and Facebook@oimusica; @soundhousechoir; @karinepolwart.

By Arhum Amer

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

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

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

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

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

Inequality

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

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

Education

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

Healthcare

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

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

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

Urban Development

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Resilience 

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

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

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

Justice

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

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

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

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

The Way Forward

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

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

While we may seem off course in some ways:

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

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

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

References

by: Xola Keswa

Impilo econo kuqala kwesimosomnoto – Wellbeing economy 

Zulu

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

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

The Rainbow Nation

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

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

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

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

Visions of Wellbeing from the ‘Born Frees’

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

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

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

The Time of COVID-19: Ubuntu in Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Vision of a Wellbeing Economy

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

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

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

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

by Rutger de Roo van Alderwerelt

In exploring topics for my MSc thesis in Financial Economics, I came across the concept of a Wellbeing Economy. With my primary academic focus on the economic impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) in international financial markets, I found few academic articles that relate this field to conceptualising a Wellbeing Economy. This offered a valuable research opportunity with a relatively untouched academic focus for my thesis.

In my preliminary research about economic wellbeing, I was inspired by a book by Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist. She illustrates a comprehensive economic model based on the principles of the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It exemplifies new economic thought that is based on human and ecological wellbeing, which could translate into a Wellbeing economy.

Based on this model, I derived my research question: “Are the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals a comprehensive guideline to conceptualise a Wellbeing Economy?”, relating it to the academic field of FDI’s economic impact in international financial markets.

The SDGs and the International Financial Market

FDI is highlighted by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as a significant driver of the achievability of the SDGs.

One particular source of FDI that has been on the rise since 2007 is the social impact investment market. Investors in this market invest their capital, primarily in developing countries and emerging markets, with the aim of generating positive social and environmental impact, along with financial returns. In theory, the existence of this investor sentiment could capture the principles of social justice on a healthy planet in international financial markets. 

In practice, the existence of this investor sentiment is illustrated by the global social impact investment market value of $502 billion in 2019. While this is promising, the OECD estimates that a global market value of $4 – 5 trillion is needed to completely achieve the SDGs.

To further increase the size of the social impact investment market in international financial markets, I propose and discuss the following vital objectives in my research:

  1. Sharing data and conducting case studies on existing impact investment portfolios,
  1. Develop and promote reliable methodologies in impact measurement and analysis.

Case Study: The Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF)

My thesis research dove into the investment portfolio of the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), which is managed by impact investor, Triple Jump. They invest in small to medium enterprises (SMEs), to improve local economic conditions and create employment opportunities among several demographics; total, female and youth employment. 

My quantitative analysis found that:

  • Over time, the  DGGF has become increasingly effective in positively affecting all three employment objectives in local economies, directly contributing to SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.
  • There may also be indirect effects on the achievement of other SDGs: creating jobs in the formal sector should ensure a decent income for the local population, SDG 1, which may support reduction in hunger, SDG 2 and access to better healthcare and clean water/sanitation, SDG 3 and SDG 6. Furthermore, creating jobs for younger generations and the female population contributes to reduced inequalities, SDG 5 and SDG 10.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Disability | United Nations Enable

The interconnectedness of the SDGs is ever more apparent.

While my case study contributes to the first objective, more research is needed on the spill-over effects to other SDGs. It is promising that we could help achieve multiple SDGs by providing capital to SMEs in developing countries.

My research has made me a firm believer that the social impact investment market will set an example for the whole international financial market. Financial return can be efficiently and effectively combined with social and environmental returns.

Well on our way…

In addition to the insights derived from my own case – study, there are a number of international networks that frequently publish reports on the developments in the social impact investment market. Their objective is to enhance the development of a more unified framework to measure and analyse impact, relating to my proposed second objective

The Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN) shows 73% of investors in the social impact investment market recognize the SDGs as a tool to determine target impact objectives and to evaluate their performance. More specifically, in their most recent impact investor survey, as can be seen from Table 1 below, the target impact categories reflect the UN SDGs (which was not the case in the same survey, one year before!). 

Overall, this is evidence that investors in the social impact investment market are becoming more determined to achieve the UN SDGs.

Impact CategoryPercentage Targeted
Decent Work & Economic Growth (SDG 8)71%
No Poverty (SDG 1)62%
Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3)59%
Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10)58%
Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7)57%
Gender Equality (SDG 5)56%
Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11)55%
Climate Action (SDG 13)54%
Table 1: Target Impact Categories, 2019 GIIN Annual Impact Investor Survey

As long as this trend continues, international financial markets can increasingly support the transition to a wellbeing economy.

More about Rutger: 

Due to my experience as a part-time intern at the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), I had the privilege to learn first-hand what role FDI can play in achieving the SDGs. As a result, I learned about the active role that impact investors play in shifting international financial markets to human and ecological wellbeing-centred systems.

Throughout writing my thesis, I kept close contact with social impact performance analysts at Triple Jump, FMO and Oikocredit. I also found many other organisations, in the Netherlands and beyond, making it their life’s work to transform our economic system. 

I am glad to be given the opportunity to write this blog to give you, perhaps new, perspectives on sectors and markets committed to transforming the global economic system based on principles of human and ecological wellbeing.

If you are interested to learn more about my research and findings or for a full list of sources on the topic of UN SDG integration into the social impact investment market, please contact me via LinkedIn or E-mail.

By: Nikita Asnani

اقتصاد الرفاهية (wellbeing economy)

اقتصاد السعادة (economy of happiness)

Arabic

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

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

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

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

1. Rethinking ‘Fast Streets’ 

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

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

2. Embracing Slow Fashion

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

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

3. Saying NO to plastic

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

4. Keeping the culture alive 

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

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

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

(Abdul Rahman, 2020)

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

“My wealth is the happiness of my people” 

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

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

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

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

by Rabia Abrar

Over the years, I have committed to ‘do my part’ to help the world ‘fix’ the effects of inequality and the climate crisis.

I have joined passionate youth in supporting the work of vitally important organisations which address the downstream effects of inequality and the climate crisis: fundraising to build libraries or to create children’s bed kits, supporting community food drives, becoming a reducetarian and campaigning to share the ‘how to’ for individual climate action in a personal 100-Day challenge and in my work at Hubbub

And yet, I always held frustration about why these issues exist in the first place. Why do we need to redistribute income after poverty has reached crisis levels, why are we having to fund clean ups of oil spills and why are individuals expected to ‘consume responsibly’, when producers are not also mandated to produce responsibly? 

Joining the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) has helped articulate my long-held beliefs: business, politics and economic activity should exist solely to deliver collective wellbeing – a.k.a social justice on a healthy planet.

We should only pursue growth in those areas of the economy that contribute to collective wellbeing and shrink those areas of the economy that damage it. And this shift in the purpose and functioning of the economy requires systems change.

The Wellbeing Economy and A Healthy Planet

As Dr. Katherine Trebeck described in a recent interview with the Herald, 

“The wellbeing economy agenda … comes from a recognition that, if we don’t transform how the economy operates – who wins, who loses out of the economic system, how we price things, what we incentivise, how businesses operate, how we build our infrastructure – we won’t have a chance of delivering that goal: social justice on a healthy planet.

Crucially, a wellbeing economy will only ever have been achieved if we have delivered environmental sustainability, addressed climate breakdown and regenerated our environment.

That’s what today’s Global Climate Strike is about. In at least 3500 locations around the world, youth are striking as part of the Fridays for Future movement, to reinforce the urgency of the climate crisis even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and to demand more urgent action on the climate and ecological crisis by governments. Young people are taking action both online and in the streets where COVID-19 regulations allow.

Social Injustice Drives Environmental Breakdown

Katherine explains that, 

“the environmental crisis is [actually also] a social justice issue and the two of those are bound up in how we design our economics.” 

And further, much of our environmental breakdown is actually rooted in social injustice.

Fascinatingly, research shows that:

  1. High levels of inequality drive huge amounts of consumption and hence emissions, especially by the very wealthy
  2. Inequality actually undermines political mobilisation on these issues, which is why those countries that are less unequal are more likely to be more proactive on addressing environmental issues. 

Redesigning our Economy

“If we transform the economy towards a wellbeing economy, this will help us deliver on the social justice side of things and on the environment.”

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is a collective of organisations, alliances, movements and academics operating collaboratively across many different sectors to redesign the economic system – including place-based hubs, which are working with governments across the globe to test out new narratives, policies, ideas and models to make the wellbeing economy a reality in their own localities. 

This work is crucial, especially now, as we all discuss how to ‘Build Back Better’ beyond COVID.

As the brilliant (and terrifying) Metronome’s reprogrammed digital clock illustrates – we have a short window of time to make this economic systems change – and the clock is ticking.


But I agree with Katherine when she says:

“What keeps me optimistic is the young people … around the world who are so passionate, so articulate and so bright. Climate breakdown is something they don’t question because they’ve grown up knowing that it’s a reality . . . and so they’re rolling up their sleeves and being collaborative.” 

Want to get involved? 

Join the conversation and action around the Global Climate Strike or WEAll Youth network, a global movement of regional youth communities  collectively taking action towards a creating a wellbeing economy.

By Denisha Killoh, WEAll Scotland

This piece was originally published by The Herald on 9 June 2020

The barbaric murder of George Floyd has sparked a surge in global outrage at the violence and racism people of colour are forced to endure. What began as an aversion to an untimely death has rapidly spread to become a mass movement across country boundaries.

As the whole world navigates the repercussions of a pandemic together, the sense of community amongst local citizens has been invigorated. The extrajudicial killing of George Floyd has contextual significance as citizens everywhere are beginning to scrutinise their own establishments to demand a systemic revolution.

This fight against the injustice inflicted on black communities resonates deeply with me as a woman of colour in Glasgow. My family emigrated to Scotland as part of the ‘Windrush generation’. At first the diversity this generation of immigrants brought was celebrated as their talents were deployed to fill the shortages in the post-war labour market. People of colour played a crucial role in reviving the British economy and restoring harmony to society. Yet, the 2018 Windrush scandal unearthed rife systemic racism. The introduction of the UK government’s hostile environment policy led to an abundance of BAME British citizens being wrongly deported disregarding their lifelong contribution to society.

I spoke to family members living in Scotland and a friend who lives in England about their direct experiences of racism. Although there is a generation gap, they voiced harrowingly similar stories about the impact of racism on their aspirations and self-esteem.

My friend told me that for as long as she can remember, she’s felt inferior due to her race. She spoke of repeatedly suffering at the hands of strangers who hold negative views towards “people like her” stating, “my whole life people have said to me that as a black woman, I have to work twice as hard as my white friends just to show I have the same abilities”.

One of my family members spoke of a time where she had been made to feel unwelcome at work. A colleague said to her, “you come here to take our jobs and what’s worse is that you are black”. They discussed the constant struggle to be heard and respected because of the inherent assumption that they were “dumb and incapable” due to their skin colour.

The world faces an ultimatum; we can either #BuildBackBetter or go #BacktoWorse in the recovery from COVID-19. The pandemic and the symbolic case of George Floyd have revealed how entrenched our current systems are with inequality as they breed injustice and exist in conflict with the interests of BAME communities.

We have the opportunity to create wellbeing economies that prioritise long-term human health and ecological sustainability. It’s no coincidence that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is gaining such momentum in the wake of the pandemic: it is a unique moment to ensure that those who have historically been marginalised can have a leading role in rebuilding our economy and wider society.

In repurposing our systems to have compassion at their core, we must proactively confront systemic racism by radically transforming institutional practice to be in service of black lives, not at war with them.

I’d like to thank my Grandma Carmina and my friend Marta for bravely sharing their invaluable experiences of systemic racism. The way in which they have maintained their determination and strength in spite of lifelong discrimination is my biggest inspiration.

We must #SayTheirNames and honour the legacy of those taken from us too soon and create a world that is radically different, truly valuing black life.

Ahmaud Arbery

Belly Mujinga

Breonna Taylor

Eric Garner

George Floyd

Mark Duggan

Michael Brown

Rashan Charles

Sandra Bland

Sarah Reed

Sheku Bayoh

Shukri Abdi

Stephen Lawrence

Tamir Rice

Trayvon Martin

 

Header image: Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Are you a young person who wants to play a leading role in solving the problems of the 21st century?

This summer, The Useful & Kind foundation is hosting a summer school for individuals between the ages of 16-30 in York, UK from 6-10 July to give you the skills you need to lead.

Useful & Kind originates from President Obama’s suggestion that we all be ‘useful and kind’ to one another. It is a basis and value set to stand upon in any kind of position. The Useful & Kind foundation is keen to teach how to be a Useful & Kind leader in order to solve problems in your local community. The goal is to build a large constituency of those wanting to make a better life for us all.

Over the weeklong training, the leaders will work on awareness building, idea creating, research conducting and strengthening debate skills. The aim is to create a better, fairer and more sustainable future, starting with understanding how to be a leader in community.

Duncan Fraser, Director of U&K Unlimited, will lead the summer school. He invites guest speakers, to share their experiences with the group. Additionally, the larger group of 24 individuals is broken into smaller groups who are led by junior mentors, all whom are experienced in the field and with the U&K approach.

This opportunity is a great way to learn how to develop leadership skills of the future. With many problems to solve, we need all the leaders we can get. If you’re interested, sign up using this link:

https://www.usefulandkindunlimited.com/projects-1-2

 

By Anna Murphy

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

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

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

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

Where did it come from? 

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

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

Where is it going? 

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

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

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

How we are at WEAll Read

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

Where we could do with some help

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

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

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

Books we read last year: 

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

Discussions so far in Edinburgh

Katherine Trebeck comes to the book club in Edinburgh 

Summary notes of The Economics of Arrival 

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

Summary of Discussion: There is No Planet B 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are encouraging everyone to sign and share it. 

 

Sam Butler-Sloss, who is leading the emerging WEAll Youth group in Scotland, has written a powerful piece in today’s Independent.

In his opinion piece, “Criticise the climate strikers if you like. In five years we’ll all be at the ballot box and the world will change”, Sam makes a strong case for economic system change and advocates for the strength and power of young people in driving change.

Read Sam’s piece on the Independent site here.

A message from WEAll Youth:

“We are thrilled to announce that Wellbeing Economy Alliance Youth (WEAll Youth) has been selected as one of the 50 Youth Solutions featured in the Youth Solutions Report 2019. 4300+ solutions originating from 170+ countries were submitted and based on a rigorous review process, 50 were selected to be featured in this year’s report. We are so excited to be selected among many inspiring youth solutions. Young innovators all over the world are working towards a sustainable future – we’re proud to be part of the change!

You can read all about us at www.youthsolutions.report (WEAll Youth can be found on p85).

We are so proud we have been selected and can’t wait to see what the future will hold. All of the solutions selected are so promising which is amazing to see as our world often portrays all the negative sides. We are excited to see so many young people getting involved @ their future.”

More about the report:

NEW YORK, USA; September 26: The third edition of the ​Youth Solutions Report,​ which identifies ​50 youth-led projects that are accelerating global progress on the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)​, has been released today, at the ​74th UNGA High-Level Side Event on Social Business, Youth and Technology.

This year, the selected solutions have been chosen by an advisory panel of 24 leading experts across all SDG sectors and geographical regions, among a pool of applicants that included over 4,300 submissions from ​174 countries​. Winning projects were particularly focused on introducing innovative approaches to lifting vulnerable communities in developing countries out of poverty, with solutions targeting areas such as digital health and education, financial inclusion, innovation in agricultural practices, sustainable livelihoods, and circular economy.

Like its 2017 and 2018 predecessors, this year’s Youth Solutions Report provides ​selected initiatives with a powerful platform to secure funding, build capacity, communicate experiences, and scale efforts. In addition, the new edition includes an in-depth analysis of the role of youth-led innovation in achieving the specific SDGs that have been reviewed at the July session of the 2019 High-Level Political Forum, focusing on the role of young people in improving access to quality education, promoting decent work for all, reducing inequality, combating climate change, promoting peaceful societies, and supporting a renewed global partnership for sustainable development.

One key aspect of the Report consists of its discussion of cross-cutting challenges to youth-led innovation and the importance of seeing young people as a fundamental component of the broader innovation systems that are required to implement the 2030 Agenda. ​

Mariana Mazzucato, Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London​, said: ‘The SDGs are the world’s challenges, and can only be achieved through directed, mission-oriented, innovation activities, taken on through bold new partnerships between the public sector, business and civil society. The Youth Solutions Report provides a loud, dynamic forum for youth to be heard and learned from in this critical solutions-oriented process.’ Ms Mazzucato’s auspices were echoed by ​Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and recent founder of Imagine,​ who recognized that ‘creating the right policy frameworks for engaging young people in SDG implementation will a big enabler of the entire Agenda’. According to Mr Polman, ‘the Youth Solutions Report serves as a platform that will increase exposure to youth-led projects that will hopefully push policy reform in the future.’

Siamak Sam Loni, Global Coordinator of SDSN Youth​, added that while young people are already contributing to the implementation of the SDGs, they still face common challenges that prevent them from realizing the full potential, including the lack of visibility, limited access to finance, and the lack of training and technical support. ‘The 2019 Youth Solutions Report will help investors, donors, and supporters better understand the multi-faceted role of young people in sustainable development and give them additional opportunities to showcase and scale their work’ concluded Mr. Loni.

As further testimony of SDSN Youth’s commitment to concretely supporting its growing global cohort of young innovators, this year’s report was prepared in collaboration with Junior Chamber International (JCI), which ensured that ​5 of the selected solutions could be provided with grants from the Global Youth Empowerment Fund. ​The Fund, founded by JCI in partnership with the UN SDG Action Campaign, offers grants and training to youth-led projects that advance theSDGs.​EarlSawyer,Interim Secretary-GeneralofJCI​,said:‘JCIisproudtocollaboratewith SDSN Youth on their 2019 Youth Solutions Report. We are excited to offer young people the recognition, tools, training and resources needed to scale their SDG-focused projects in order to tackle global problems’.

Dear Adult,

We are WEAll Youth and hereby we are inviting you to join the global climate strikes on the 20th and 27th of September.

In recent months, Greta Thunberg and millions of other students have been striking for the climate.

Right before our governments will gather at the United Nations for the Climate Action Summit on September 23, we will strike again.

Join us at the global climate strike on the 20th and 27th of September.

This is not just a call for students and young people, this is a call for everyone. We need to show our politicians something needs to happen now, to show them that business, as usual, is no longer an option.

Let’s make them see that we all need economic system change, that we all need to transform the current profit focussed economy to an economy that puts people and planet first.

WEAll Youth will be there, will you join us? Use #WEAll and #WEAll Youth on your banners and let’s see how many places we can take the message that in order to tackle climate change we all need economic system change. If you can’t be there in person, you can participate in the digital strike.

For more information and to check if there is a strike near you check out this website: https://globalclimatestrike.net/ 

We can’t wait to see you there,

WEAll Youth

Esther, Pien and Mara are part of the WEAll Youth core team. For more about WEAll Youth see here.

 Blog by Sam Butler-Sloss, Economics for Change

Economics for Change – a student-led campaigning organisation based in Edinburgh focused on the need for economic system change – is enormously excited to be joining the Wellbeing Economy Alliance to lead their efforts to establish a WEAll Youth Hub here in Scotland. This Youth Hub’s mission is to mobilise young people behind the historic opportunity to drive economic systems change.

 

Why young people? And why is it such a historic opportunity?

We are all acutely aware of the multiple crises that face us in the 21st century, from spiralling inequality to run away climate change. Yet however well documented these challenges are, bizarrely, awareness has not been enough to drive the adequate action. Since this insufficient level of action has become the new normal, it has taken our generation to stand up and say the current efforts are simply not enough. They do not begin to meet the scale or the urgency of the challenges that we face.

This year has been a striking demonstration of young people’s’ capacity to be at the forefront of social change. We have shown that we have the expectations and ambitions for a better, cleaner and fairer world that dwarf those who are currently at the helms of power. It is in this same spirit that Economics for Change is bringing young people together to take a stand against a failing economic system; to stamp out the tendency of simply ‘muddling through’ and to advocate for an economy that enables both the people and the planet to flourish.

It is often easy for us to feel overwhelmed, but at the centre of WEAll’s narrative is the idea that whilst the challenges are certainly demanding, the opportunities they present are enormous.

To overcome these great societal challenges requires us to transform our economy–and the climate challenge gives a decade to do so.

A decade to redesign how we produce, consume and share in the 21st century. The chance to fundamentally redesign our economy does not come about often, and with it, comes the once in a lifetime opportunity to redraw a better world.

As the economic consensus fractures and the old principles that defined our economy expire, a space is opening up, in which the case for systems-change has never been stronger. As this space widens, a new era is emerging.

This new era is generating new norms, new business models, new energy sources and new ideas of shared prosperity. It is outcompeting today’s system and is paving the path to a wellbeing economy. Yet the question remains, will this change happen fast enough?  

There is no doubt that were are approaching a paradigm shift between a system built on extraction, exploitation and exhaustion and one that is regenerative, circular and inclusive. And this is where young people must step up and have a catalytic effect.

WEAll Youth is a vehicle to enable us to do so: we are a global, interconnected network of young people fighting for a new kind of economics from all corners of this world. We are thinking globally, with a shared vision for change, whilst acting locally to catalyse this transformation from the ground up. We acknowledge our assets: our votes hold power; our voices form new narratives; and our connectivity brings untamable potential to mainstream new ideas and paradigms with the urgency that does these challenges justice.

While fundamental redesign is no modest task it holds the keys to transforming our future; to keeping us within a 1.5 degree world; and to enabling all humans to live a prosperous and dignified life. As young people, we have the most to gain and the most at risk. This is no dress rehearsal, there will be no second chance. The time to come together to drive systemic change is now–we would be mad not to seize this opportunity.

In the coming month, Economics for Change and WEAll Scotland will be establishing the WEAll Scotland Youth Hub. If you share our passion for an economy that serves people & planet and want Scotland to lead the way, get in touch at scotland@wellbeingeconomy.org and join the movement as  WEAll Citizen at www.weallcitizens.org 

If you’re a young person (16-34) and want to get involved with WEAll Youth wherever you are in the world, contact weallyouth@gmail.com 

.

 

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck was a guest last week on the Futures of Work podcast, talking about the need to build a wellbeing economy, and her book The Economics of Arrival (co-authored with Jeremy Williams).

Listen here now:

New Economy and Social Innovation Forum: WEAll Youth participation

Last week was the NESI (New Economy and Social Innovation) Forum in Malaga, and we met a lot of interesting people. In these three days we travelled to the year 2030. The big questions were: what does our economy look like in 2030 and what did we do in 2019 to get there?

NESI is held every 2 years in Malaga. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is one of the partners of the Forum. The programme of the Forum was as follows: each day started with a plenary opening, there were conversations, speeches, and interviews on stage, and there were 3 working sessions, 1 on the first day and 2 on the second day.

For the working sessions, you could choose between 6 different tracks: the future of food sovereignty, the future of urban and housing, the future of finance, the future of work, the future of sustainable textiles and the future of resources and energy. Within each working session, different questions would be tackled: What is happening right now (2019)? Which are positive aspects and which do we want to keep and grow? What will it look like in 2030? What do we need to do to get there? These questions were answered in every track. You could choose to go to the same track every day or you could switch it up.

In between the working sessions and the plenary session, there was time to network, walk around and take a look at the different booths. At this time we were often at the WEAll booth, talking to people about WEAll and WEAll Youth.

One of the highlights of NESI was the WEAll gathering. After NESI was done, we spent Friday afternoon with everyone from WEAll. We had a WEAll members meeting like any other, with the exception that it was in real life, instead of through zoom. It was amazing to see all of the people you normally see on zoom, in real life. The meeting was about updates from every aspect of WEAll. We also got some time to talk about WEAll Youth, which was a great opportunity to tell members from around the world about the things we are doing and planning to do in the future. Besides the WEAll gathering, we also attended the WEAll dinner which was also a very nice way to connect with everyone at WEAll. At these gatherings, we made crucial connections with people from the WEAll community and got so much support and praise that it was overwhelming! We are very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to meet all these amazing people and were uplifted by their work and their kind words towards WEAll Youth.

 

Tracks – our take

Pien: Personally, I was mostly interested in the sustainable textiles track. This is because fashion has a big influence on my life and it has a much bigger influence on our earth! Next to it being one of the biggest polluting industries, it is a big player in human slavery. We are caught in some sort of cycle where supply and demand are getting out of control.

The first session was started with a question that made us think about the things that are going well right now, the components that are essential to maintain. Such as, the employment the industry offers, the alliances that are built, the demand for sustainable products, the demand for transparency in the supply chain, the demand for high-quality textile, skills (sewing and repairing) and creativity and innovation. After this, we talked about things that had to change fast like, the volume that is produced, lack of quality, the value consumers put on clothing, working conditions, animal welfare, extreme consumerism and negative externalities which are not integrated into the price.

How will we enable this change? By raising awareness, regulations, technology, influencers and the power of social media, innovations, developments in new textiles, transparency, education, design to recycle and slow fashion. To make this change a success there are still some question to be ask, like, who is responsible? Are consumers willing to change? Are the brands willing to change? Who is going to pay? How do we prioritize? How to ensure equal access? And when is the deadline? These questions are left with us as food for thought…

Esther:  I went to the future of Work, the future of Urban & Housing and the future of Finance tracks. The future of work was very interesting to me. There were a lot of people and every single one of them could contribute valuable information and/or viewpoints. We talked about equality and diversity in the workplace. Shattering the glass ceiling, but also making sure the application process is fair, equal and without any discrimination by age, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, nationality or religion. This was just one of the topics we tackled, we also talked about good qualities of our work and the system as it is now and project or organizations that are already doing great things in this field. One of the things I learned was how important government policies are when fighting this. Things like women quotas or being able to apply anonymously make a huge difference in progress between cities, districts or countries. There were a lot of international people there and it was very interesting to hear the different situations in different countries and even regions.

I learned a lot in the finance track, at first I was doubting to go to this track because I felt like I did not have much to add to the conversation because I find finance to be very complicated. I talked to some people about what track I wanted to go to and someone said to me: “If you are interested, just go, don’t be afraid to do something you think you can’t.” And so I went, I am happy I did. I did not have a lot of things to add to the conversation but it was very interesting to listen to the discussions. The group I was in was also very encouraging and wanted everyone to contribute to the conversation. I confessed my struggle with finance and we started talking about the complication of the current system. Someone said: “They make it complicated and confusing because they do not want people to interfere in their businesses.” This resonated with me and inspired me to try not step away from seemingly complicated subjects in the future. At the end of the session, I had learned so many new things and spoke to many interesting people. I am very glad I decided to go to the finance track.

At the Urban & Housing track we talked a lot about different projects and organisations who are doing projects that are already working in ways that are innovative and belong in our future of urban and housing. We also created questions for the organisations in the urban and housing sector in the future. “Are we working with equality in mind? ”& “Are we putting people over profit?” There were a lot of professionals in this sector at my table so I enjoyed listening to them talk about all of the projects that are going on. Even though I did not contribute much to the conversation and felt a bit odd in between so many experienced professionals, it was nice to listen to them talk about their work field.

Mara: I chose to go to the tracks on the future of food, the future of work and the future of resources and energy. This was very challenging as two of them were mainly in Spanish and translated for the handful of people that did not speak Spanish well enough to engage in the discussion naturally. However, it was very interesting to talk about how our food systems are now, what we would like to keep and what needs to change in the future to transform it into a system that encourages wellbeing. The things that came out of the session were more local production, transparency and clear labelling should be a part of a future food system. For work, it was interesting to talk about what would the perfect future for work look like and what are the important aspects to include. The future of work in the eyes of the participants, me included should put the people in the centre and get away from being profit driven with a more distributed power structure. The last session I took part in was about how do we get to the aspired future of resources and energy. The energy transition equals a value transition, the participants came up with a model where local communities rise up and own their energy together. Through this mechanism, big companies loose power and are more inclined to be a part of the energy transition to local and renewable resources.

NESI gave different viewpoints and solutions for the future. We talked about some of the most important topics for our future, which seems very scary but, in the end, it gave us a lot of hope and inspired us to keep working to create a wellbeing economy. Overall, the NESI forum helped us realize we are not alone in this fight. What we’re doing is right and we need to fight for what is right. Meeting so many great people and all of the interesting conversations and discussions were uplifting and exhilarating.

 

 

 

Written by Esther Snijder, Mara Tippmann & Pien Gerards

WEAll Youth leaders are undertaking research into sustainable lifestyles and behaviours for under 30s.

If you are aged 30 and below, please take part by completing this simple survey: CLICK HERE

 

By Pien Gerards, WEAll Youth

Fashion, you can find it anywhere: on the streets, TV, Social Media and in school. It can make you feel great; you can express yourself and show the world who you are or just make yourself feel comfortable and relaxed. There is something for everyone and nowadays you can change your fashion any day and anytime.

But do we actually know where our clothes are made and what impact this has on the world?

Facts of the Fashion industry:

  • Environment

According to Marieke Eyskoot (2017), 10.000 litres of water are needed to produce 1 outfit (jeans and shirt), 85 Million trees are cut down every year to produce fabrics, but 140 Million kilo of the clothing we produce will be burned in the incinerator every year.  In addition, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the CO2 emissions world-wide.

  • People

According to Safia Minney (2017) 168 Million children are still working in child labour today. 21 Million other people are victims of forced labour within the industry. This is modern slavery. Children are used to work in supply chains of clothing and jewellery, but also on cotton fields and cacao plantations. Human trafficking, forced labour, excessive labour and bonded labour are happening today

  • Fast Fashion

All of this happens because of the consumerism culture of the current economic system. Fashion brands make you believe you need new clothing 12 or even more times a year. We throw away our clothes faster than ever and the quality of our clothes decreases.

Does this sound like a Wellbeing Economy to you?

Since 2000 the fashion industry became 4 times as big. Nowadays 80 Billion pieces of clothes are produced every year (Eyskoot, 2017), the fashion industry is the third biggest industry in the world (Minney, 2017), and it is part of the world’s biggest polluters.

Personally, I started thinking about my fashion choices because I really care about animals. My research about how animals are used within the fashion industry escalated into finding out all the horror stories going on in this industry, not only for animals but also for our environment and people working in this industry.

But I do not want to depress you with all the negative, there are so many solutions to this problem! Sustainable fashion can be fun and below you can find tips and tricks on how to increase your positive impact on the world through fashion.

What can we do?
  • Do not support fast fashion: Quality above quantity, go for your own style instead of following the forever and fast changing trends.
  • Remake your clothes: Is the zipper of your favourite jeans broken? Repair it instead of buying a new one, as well as this being better for the environment this is also a lot cheaper.
  • Recycle: Do you really want something else? Ask friends, family or co-workers for all the stuff they do not use anymore and organize a clothing swap. This way your ‘trash’ turns into someone else’s treasure. Personally, I am also a big fan of Thrift shopping. Many modern cities have second hand or vintage stores.
  • Ask why before you buy: Do you really need something new? There are (speaking from personal experience) so many items in your closet that can be reused! Check out everything you have before you decided to buy something new, and ask yourself, will this really bring extra value to my life.
  • Support Ethical brands: There are a lot of initiatives rising up who want to show a good example. Below in recommendations a few ethical brands are named. But see which one are close to you! Also you can download the apps ‘rank a brand’ or ‘good on you’ to check if your favourite brand are ethical.
  • Act: Join the Fashion Revolution. The Fashion revolution organisation is campaigning for “a fashion industry that conserves and restores our environment and gives people, especially woman, a voice” (Fashion Revolution , 2019). Fashion revolution starts the 22nd of April! You can see on their website if there are event in your neighbourhood.

Sustainable fashion certainly does not have to be more expensive. Buying new shirts every month for 5 euros of bad quality which you can throw away after using it a few times… or buying one good quality shirt for 50 euros which will last years is something to consider!

A quote that really stuck with me was,

If you do not pay the price someone else will

 

Pien’s recommendations:

Books:

Slave to fashion – Safia Minney

This is a good guide – Marieke Eyskoot

Documentaries:

The true cost (Netflix)

Minimalism (Netflix)

Websites:

Fashionrevolution.org

Ethical fashion websites/brands:

Reformation

Geitenwollenwinkel

Goat Organic Apparel

Know the origin

Less too late

Veja

Hara the label

And there are so much more!!

References:

Eyskoot, M. (2017). Dit is een goede gids. Amsterdam: Keff & Dessing Publishing.

Fashion Revolution . (2019). Home. Retrieved from fashionrevolution.org: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/

Minney, S. (2017). Slave to fashion. New International Publications Ltd.

 

 

 

Blog by  Esther Snijder – WEAll Youth

 

 

All around the world, young people have come together to strike on behalf of the climate. They want the world leaders to start acting on their words and take a stand  for better climate policies. WEAll Youth joined them on the 7th of February in the Hague, the Netherlands and on the 10th of March in Amsterdam where more than 40.000  people joined the demonstration.

We started at Zwolle station, where there were already people  on the train carrying signs. It was so busy that we had to stand. The whole way there more people boarded the train and at the last stop, before the Hague, it was so busy that the train had to keep going because it could not fit any more people.   At the Malieveld, where the strike started, a speech was held by Youth For Climate. Youth For Climate is an organisation that initiates and supports   many of the climate strikes around Europe. Once we started walking through the street 10,000 students chanted: “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? NOW!”. We walked past the parliament building and afterwards we came back to the Malieveld again. It was very empowering to walk among so many people who were also standing up for their future.

The climate strikes started with Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish girl. She started in September, and has been striking every Friday since. Fridays For Future has since grown into an enormous movement of young people striking everyFriday and even on some  Thursday’s. Strikes have been held in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland & the US.

On the 15th of March is the global Friday for future strike.

What can you do? Join them!

Even if you are not a student.  Time to get out some paper and start making your sign!

Find out here if there is a strike near you: https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/events/list?fbclid=IwAR0dA0C-KSFqpJve0BKWunAhS1O1Bfk0kcYU4gkTpm8qKfrBEWEgONuZmNE