Five Pathways Towards Health-Environment Policy in a Wellbeing Economy

Tags: environment, paper, policy, policy paper, Policymakers, Wellbeing Policy Design
Published on May 17, 2021

A new report published today by WEAll highlights five policy pathways to deliver positive outcomes for human health and the environment in a Wellbeing Economy. Illustrated with examples from around the world, it makes a compelling case for policy makers to look at the interconnectedness of health and environment decisions: the Health-Environment Nexus.

In this short video, one the paper’s authors Eloi Laurent explains the Health-Environment Nexus in more detail. It is, he says, “not another eulogy for a dying planet” but rather “a symphony”:

As the world strives to navigate global environmental and health crises, much of our failure to effectively respond to both comes from the perceived costs such actions would have on ‘the economy’. However, the economy is ultimately just a word for the way that we produce and provide for one another. Every good we produce ultimately comes, first and foremost, from the earth, and every service we provide is valuable in so far as it contributes to our wellbeing. Our economy is not something given. It is us, our interaction with one another and our natural environment, to produce and provide the things we need for a happy and healthy society. And it is only one facet of the true force behind our prosperity: social cooperation. We must not forget that the economy and the wealth it generates is a means and that the ultimate measure of its success is our wellbeing, now and for generations to come.

The Five Pathways

It’s time to move beyond the cost-benefit approach, which continues to dominate our collective actions and decision-making. This approach assigns every aspect of life a monetary value and evaluates our actions and investments in terms of their relative monetary cost vs their relative monetary benefit. A cost-benefit analysis would see the ‘costs’ of investing in climate change mitigation as outweighing the monetary ‘benefits’ of continuing business as usual.

However, a co-beneficial approach recognises the intrinsic value of the health of our people and planet and their role as the foundation for any economic activity. If we take on this perspective, we realise that mitigating climate change is not only vital for our collective health and wellbeing, but it also brings about considerable social savings resulting from improved health, as well as economic gains associated with the creation of an estimated 24 million new jobs by 2030.

The paper focuses on five key areas to show how a co-beneficial approach can be used to improve social and ecological synergies, and where co-benefits are both substantial and within reach:

  1. Healthcare – prevention and mitigation
  2. Food systems
  3. Energy
  4. Investing in social cooperation
  5. Education

To find out more about practical steps that can be taken in these five policy areas, and places where bold policies are already making an impact, download the full report:

Want to hear first-hand from the authors? Attend our upcoming event on 18 June from 14:00-16:00 CET. Learn more here


Five Pathways Towards Health-Environment Policy in a Wellbeing Economy” was co-authored by Éloi Laurent, Fabio Battaglia, Giorgia Dalla Libera Marchiori, Alessandro Galli, Amanda Janoo, Raluca Munteanu, and Claire Sommer and published by the Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

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