“Sustainable Wellbeing Futures: A Research and Action Agenda for Ecological Economics” is an important new book laying out an alternative approach that places the sustainable wellbeing of humans and the rest of nature as the overarching goal. Each of the book’s chapters, written by a diverse collection of scholars and practitioners, outlines a research and action agenda for how this future can look and possible actions for its realisation.
Edited by founding WEAll members Professor Robert Costanza and Ida Kubiszewski, along with Jon D. Erickson and Joshua Farley, it is available now via Edward Elgar publishing.
The editors describe the book as follows:
“Climate disruption, overpopulation, biodiversity loss, the threats of financial collapse, large-scale damage to our natural and social environments and eroding democracy are all becoming critically important concerns. The editors of this timely book assert that these problems are not separate, but all stem from our over-reliance on an out-dated approach to economics that puts growth of production and consumption above all else.
Ecological economics can help create the future that most people want – a future that is prosperous, just, equitable and sustainable. This forward-thinking book lays out an alternative approach that places the sustainable wellbeing of humans and the rest of nature as the overarching goal. Each of the book’s chapters, written by a diverse collection of scholars and practitioners, outlines a research and action agenda for how this future can look and possible actions for its realisation.
Sustainable Wellbeing Futures will be of value to academics and students researching environmental and ecological economics, as well as individuals interested in gaining a greater understanding of the concept of a wellbeing future and how we might act to achieve it.”
The publication of this book marks a major step in economic thinking, bringing wellbeing economics ideas and practice to the fore.
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WEAll member CUSP (Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity) recently hosted an event for British policy makers on how to build back better post-covid.
Setting out to engage MPs across the political spectrum, this online discussion was chaired by Krishnan Guru-Murthy (Channel 4), and expertly deliberated on the prospects for a socially and environmentally just economic recovery—which takes into account not only the need to prevent the worst of climate breakdown, but does so in a way that sustainably strengthens the wellbeing of people. Discussants were CUSP director Prof Tim Jackson, Prof Mariana Mazzucato (UCL), Sir Prof Michael Marmot (UCL) and Sir David King (former Government Chief Scientist).
The interactive panel was hosted by the APPGs on Climate Change, on Compassion in Politics and on Renewable & Sustainable Energy, and joined by Bim Afolami MP (Conservative) and Debbie Abrahams MP (Labour). Introductory remarks were provided by Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Watch the full discussion below or find it on YouTube here.
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The city of Amsterdam recently unveiled its new Amsterdam City Doughnut, which Doughnut Economics author and WEAll Ambassador Kate Raworth describes as “taking the global concept of the Doughnut and turns it into a tool for transformative action in the city of Amsterdam.”
Doughnut Economics is a book full of ideas for 21st century economies and since it was first launched in 2017 many people – from teachers, artists and community organisers to city officials, business leaders and politicians – have said they want to put the ideas into practice, indeed they are already doing it.
The iconic Doughnut framework sets a goal of operating within safe social and planetary boundaries. It is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century.
Kate and her team we are launching Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) to help make this happen. The start-up team is currently working on building a collaborative platform so that this emerging community of changemakers can connect, share, inspire and get inspired, with all the different ways that people are putting the ideas of Doughnut Economics into action.
As well as Amsterdam’s Doughnut, there are already other Doughnuts out there – and this period of great change, transformation and recovery is the perfect time to revisit them.
Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics work began during her time at Oxfam, and the NGO has developed Doughnut frameworks and tools for Wales, Scotland, the UK and South Africa.
The Welsh Doughnut 2020 offers many insights into the current situation in Wales and where the government and others could prioritise in order to work towards building a wellbeing economy.
If you’re interested in exploring a Doughnut framework where you are, you can let the Doughnut Economics Action Lab know by filling in this short form.
In the meantime, check out the rich resources that are the existing Doughnuts – and if you’re working on building a wellbeing economy of those locations, make sure that decision makers are aware of the Doughnut analysis that’s already been carried out.
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WEAll’s Executive Chair Stewart Wallis OBE took part in a spirited and hugely popular online dialogue last week, organised by EcoCiv, on “The Next Economy“.
Stewart was joined on the impressive panel by: Kate Raworth (Doughnut Economics and WEAll Ambassador), Marjorie Kelly (The Democracy Collaborative), David Korten (Living Economies Forum) and Gunna Jung (Economic Advisor to Seoul Metropolitan Government)
They discussed the following questions:
“As the socio-economic effects of coronavirus worsen, the deep failures of our global economic order are being revealed. Is this the end of the neoliberal era? What will the economy look like after COVID-19? Can our next economy promote the overall well-being of people and the planet?”
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By WEAll Ambassadors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson on behalf of WEAll and the Equality Trust
The coronavirus pandemic is changing the lives of children across the world, with both predictable and unforeseeable short- and long-term effects on children’s development and lifelong well-being. Children are experiencing massive changes in daily routines and education, many in families that are experiencing losses of work, income and loved ones, and fear and anxiety about infection and life beyond the crisis.
In the past, child well-being policies almost inevitably focused on the most vulnerable children – those living in poverty, or in deprived neighbourhoods, those who were refugees, abused or neglected. In the United Kingdom in recent years, we have had epidemics of knife crime, self-harm and mental illness but these were not accompanied by any policies focused on the underlying root causes of poverty – inequality and austerity. Instead, we saw an emphasis on parenting interventions, as if the wider context were too difficult to tackle. Now, the coronavirus crisis is shifting our perspective, bringing into sharp focus the pre-existing vulnerability of too many children to the politics, policies and practices that perpetuate inequality. We can see that some children are more vulnerable to the impacts of lockdown – school and nursery closures, sheltering in place and physical distancing. But children in some of the more unequal rich countries hardest hit by the pandemic, the United States and United Kingdom, were already less resilient than children in more equal countries, with worse health, well-being and educational attainment. By comparing children in more and less equal societies, we might be able to learn the lessons of how to look after all our children better.
The key to a holistic understanding of how we create population-wide child well-being is grasping the fact that economic inequality – disparities in wealth and income – affects all children within a society. Yes, the poor suffer more, and children living in poverty and deprivation experience a double detriment, and even more so in the current crisis. But there is growing evidence that the effects of living in a more unequal society are felt even among the children of the affluent, well-educated middle and upper classes.
In our books The Spirit Level (2009) and The Inner Level (2018), we present and interpret the robust and broad evidence of the effects of income inequality on the health and well-being of whole populations. For children, inequality leads to lower child well-being when measured by Unicef indices, as well as worse infant mortality, child obesity, bullying, child maltreatment, teenage pregnancies, educational attainment and social mobility. Indirectly, children are affected by the impact of inequality on parents’ mental and physical health, long working hours, high levels of debt, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling.
All of these problems stem from the way in which greater economic inequality increases the importance of social status, class and rank within a society; the way in which material differences create social distances between us. In less equal societies people trust one another less, participate less in civic and cultural life, feel less solidarity with others and suffer more from the day-to-day social comparisons as we experience ourselves through other people’s eyes. There is more anxiety about status, more depression and, on the flip side, more narcissism and self-enhancement as well. Relationships within wider society and the public realm, in workplaces and schools, and within families are all corrupted by the invidious psychosocial damage caused by inequality. This picture is supported by a wealth of both quantitative and qualitative academic research, across many decades and many disciplines. Brought together, the data tell a coherent story about how desperately we need to reorient our societal goals towards well-being. Politicians tend to think that’s what they’re doing but so often they are clearly not.
Knowledge is the first step in creating change. The OECD’s recent report “Changing the Odds for Vulnerable Children” (2019) will be part of changing the discourse and creating a framework in which to make well-being the primary aim of cross-sector policy making. Intervening to improve child well-being is challenging but we need to step up to the challenges and opportunities for change offered by the coronavirus and demand that policies address root causes and systems so that this generation of children can grow up healthy and resilient. There are many examples of good practice to learn from but one we know well is the Born in Bradford programme. In Bradford, a city in the north of England with high levels of deprivation and ill health, 10 years of collaborative work has created a research-ready, people-powered and data-linked test bed to co-produce, implement and evaluate early life interventions to promote well-being and reduce inequalities. Just as the coronavirus hit, we were building the ActEarly City Collaboratory to provide a whole system environment where the public, scientists, policy leaders and practitioners can work with each other to develop upstream preventive solutions for a healthier, fairer future for children. Now, the focus has shifted to help the city respond to the immediate crisis and prepare for an inclusive recovery. We hope that readers of this article will engage with the projects, track our progress and share their own good practices.
We are sometimes asked whether the rich and the powerful simply don’t care about children. The answer is, of course, they do – but too often only about their own. That would be less worrying if they used the same schools and health services, but it is dangerous when they don’t. Now, more than ever, we need to foster cultures where we care for each other’s children as for our own, so that we create the policy environment to support all children during and following the coronavirus pandemic.
Finally, we need to listen to children as they tell us about their experiences and their hopes and fears for the future, and be guided by them in setting our priorities. John F. Kennedy said that, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see”. That is true, but we also need to be alive to the messages children, such as Greta Thunberg, are giving us – about how we have failed them in the past, in the time they could never see, how we are letting them down now as they live through this crisis. They can tell us what we need to do to build their opportunities and their resilience.
Photos: Shutterstock/Liderina and Photo: Shutterstock/Lolostock
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Today is the launch of the Amsterdam City Doughnut, which takes the global concept of the Doughnut and turns it into a tool for transformative action in the city of Amsterdam. It’s also the first public presentation of the holistic approach to ‘downscaling the Doughnut’ that an international team of us have been developing for more than a year. We never imagined that we would be launching it in a context of crisis such as this, but we believe that the need for such a transformative tool could hardly be greater right now, and its use in Amsterdam has the chance to inspire many more places – from neighbourhoods and villages to towns and cities to nations and regions – to take such a holistic approach as they begin to reimagine and remake their own futures.
The Doughnut was first published in 2012, proposing a social foundation and ecological ceiling for the whole world. Ever since then people have asked: can we downscale the Doughnut so that we can apply it here – in our town, our country, our region? Over the past eight years there have been many innovative initiatives exploring different approaches to doing just that – including for the Lake Erhai catchment in China, for the nations of South Africa, Wales and the UK, and for a comparison of 150 countries.
Today sees the launch of a new and holistic approach to downscaling the Doughnut, and we are confident that it has huge potential at multiple scales – from neighbourhood to nation – as a tool for transformative action. Amsterdam is a great place for launching this tool because this city has already placed the Doughnut at the heart of its long-term vision and policymaking, and is home to the Amsterdam Donut Coalition, a network of inspiring change-makers who are already putting the Doughnut into practice in their city.
When the Doughnut meets Biomimicry
This new holistic approach to downscaling the Doughnut started out as a playful conceptual collaboration between the biomimicry thinker Janine Benyus and me, as we sought to combine the essence of our contrasting ways of thinking about people and place. It then became a collaborative initiative, led by Doughnut Economics Action Lab (we are so new we don’t have a website yet – but watch this space!) working very closely with fantastic colleagues at Biomimicry 3.8, Circle Economy and C40 Cities, all collaborating as part of the Thriving Cities Initiative.
The result is a holistic approach that embraces social and ecological perspectives, both locally and globally. Applied at the scale of a city, it starts by asking this very 21st century question:
It’s a question that combines local aspiration – to be thriving people in a thriving place – with a global responsibility to live in ways that respect all people and the whole planet. As Janine put it in her characteristically poetic way, ‘when a bird builds a nest in a tree, it takes care not to destroy the surrounding forest in the process’. How can humanity also learn to create settlements big and small that promote the wellbeing of their inhabitants, while respecting the wider living communities in which they are embedded?
To dive into these issues, we explore four interdependent questions, applied in this case to Amsterdam:
These questions turn into the four ‘lenses’ of the City Doughnut, producing a new ‘portrait’ of the city from four inter-connected perspectives. Drawing on the city’s current targets for the local lenses, as well as on the Sustainable Development Goals and the planetary boundaries for the global lenses, we compared desired outcomes for the city against statistical snapshots of its current performance (see the published tool for full details).
To be clear, this city portrait is not a report and assessment of Amsterdam: it is a tool and starting point, ideal for using in workshops to open up new insights and bring about transformative action. The current coronavirus lockdown means that such workshops are on hold at the moment, but changemakers in the city are already finding creative ways to sustain momentum, including through many of the 8 ways that set out below.
Our team at the Thriving Cities Initiative has also worked with city staff to create city portraits for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Portland, Oregon (these are not yet published) and the initial workshops that have been held to date in all three cities have brought together policymakers and change-makers in dynamic and thought-provoking discussions.
And here’s what we think is the real opportunity. The City Portraits that our team has made are what we call public portraits of the cities – made using publicly available targets and data. What if a city were to turn this into its own self portrait, gathering together residents’ lived experiences, their values, hopes and fears, their ideas and initiatives, their own understanding of their deep interconnections with the rest of world? The process of creating such City Self Portraits is, we believe, what will make this tool really take off.
The likelihood of this happening in Amsterdam is high, thanks to the newly launched Amsterdam Donut Coalition: a network of over 30 organisations – including community groups, commons-based organisations, SMEs, businesses, academia and local government – that are already putting Doughnut Economics into practice in their work. Working together they are becoming a catalyst for transformative change, generating inspiration and action within Amsterdam and far beyond.
If you are interested in applying this tool for downscaling the Doughnut to your own place – your neighbourhood, village, town, city, region, nation – please do let us know by filling in this short form. Doughnut Economics Action Lab is already working on creating version 2.0 of the methodology and, once ready, we plan to share it on our forthcoming platform, which will make working collaboratively like this far easier and more effective. Our newly created team at DEAL is currently focused on setting up this platform, so please be a little patient, and by the end of May we will get in touch with our plans for taking this downscaling work forward.
Everyone is likewise welcome to leave responses and suggestions about Amsterdam’s City Doughnut, and the City Doughnut tool, below in the Comments section of this blog. I am currently focused on working with DEAL’s fast-growing team, as well as homeschooling my two children, and looking out for my local community – so please do understand that I may not be able to reply to comments personally, but you are of course welcome to comment and discuss with each other.
As we all start thinking about how we will emerge from this crisis, let us seek to be holistic in how we reimagine and recreate the local-to-global futures of the places we live. I believe this newly downscaled Doughnut tool has a great deal to offer and I look forward to seeing it turned into transformative action, in Amsterdam and far beyond.
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WEAll was honoured to be part of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Limits to Growth at the UK Parliament this week.
Chaired by Green MP Caroline Lucas, and convened by the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, the APPG provides a platform for cross-party dialogue on shared and lasting prosperity in a world of environmental, social and economic limits.
The paper sets out a three-fold strategy for moving beyond GDP by: changing the way we measure success; building a consistent policy framework for a ‘wellbeing economy’; and addressing the ‘growth dependency’ of the economy.
In particular, the briefing recommends:
a determined effort to develop new measures of societal wellbeing and sustainable prosperity;
the full integration of these measures into central and local government decision-making processes;
the alignment of regulatory, fiscal and monetary policy with the aims of achieving a sustainable and inclusive wellbeing economy;
the establishment of a formal inquiry into reducing the ‘growth dependency’ of the UK economy;
the development of a long-term, precautionary ‘post-growth’ strategy for the UK.
A packed room of MPs and peers from all political parties was addressed first by Peter Schmidt, rapporteur to the European Economic and Social Committee’s (EESC) recent ‘own initiative opinion’ on The sustainable economy we need, then by Lisa Hough-Stewart, Communications and Mobilisation lead at WEAll.
Lisa focused her remarks on the need for new economic narratives, and the role of policy makers in helping shape those narratives. Explaining the work of WEAll and its members, she also gave details of the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative (WEGo) which has Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand collaborating towards their shared goal of promoting economies based on wellbeing.
A robust and positive discussion followed the presentations, with clear interest in wellbeing economy ideas from all attendees and encouraging suggestions for driving the agenda forward at UK level.
Caroline Lucas has raised an Early Day Motion in Parliament in support of the findings on the EESC opinion, and the principles of a wellbeing economy. It is garnering support with more MPs across the political spectrum – you can view the motion here, and if you live in the UK, share it with your MP asking them to support it.
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A pioneering new book “Sustainable Wellbeing Futures: A Research and Action Agenda for Ecological Economics” is soon to be published, outlining the various dimensions of a wellbeing economy and setting out a research and action plan for change.
Throughout February and March, WEAll is highlighting some of the book’s ideas by sharing short abstracts from each chapter. It is due to be published in May 2020 – find out more and order a copy here.
Creating Positive Futures for Humanity on Earth
By Robert Costanza, Elizabeth M. B. Doran, Tatiana Gladkikh, Ida Kubiszewski, Valerie Luzadis, and Eric Zencey
We cannot predict the future, but we can design and help create the future we want. To do this we need to better understand how cultures evolve and change and how to overcome societal addictions and roadblocks to positive change. Creating a shared vision is a critical step in this process. Goal setting, envisioning and scenario planning are important tools that have been used to guide and enable transitions in businesses, communities, and individuals. On the world stage, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an important step toward creating a shared vision of a positive future for all countries on Earth. This chapter discusses these theories, tools, and processes and how they have been used to create alternative futures to motivate and guide major transitions. It then proposes a research and action agenda to enable better understanding of cultural evolution, how to direct it toward desired goals, and how to create a shared vision of the goal – a world of sustainable wellbeing we all want.
Work, Labour, and Regenerative Production
By Kaitlin Kish and Stephen Quilley
In this chapter, we revisit Marxist critiques of deskilling and alienation and review recent work in relation to the ontology of the labour process and the possibility of more meaningful work in an Ecological Economics (EE) context. The movements and phenomena that we survey include: the re-emergence of the arts and crafts sensibility in the form of the ‘maker’ movement; the sharing economy; ‘regenerative’ economies; new forms of bartering, gifting and trading facilitated by information and communication technologies; a new significance attaching to residual and seemingly anachronistic guilds; and emerging traditions associated with new forms of work. On this basis of we review potentially fertile areas for future EE research, demarcating in the process a number of significant themes including: making as a hobby and leisure activity, a vocation, an occupation and a career; making as a dimension of transformative education; automation versus/or integrated with fabrication by hand; the issues of hand/brain re-integration and de-alienation; the connection between making and patterns of place and reconnection with local biosphere; the connections between this kind of radical political economy on the one hand and restoration ecology and indigenous studies on the other; and the tension between the prospective regenerative economy (repair and reuse) and the tendency towards increased ephemeralization. On this basis we explore possibilities for a simultaneous contraction, expansion and innovation in the roles of municipal and regional governments in facilitating the emergence of a vibrant and more embedded reMaker economy.
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Ecological economics can help create the future that most people want – a future that is prosperous, just, equitable and sustainable.
Ecological economics (EE) is a transdiscipline. While it is difficult to categorise ecological economics in the same way one would a normal academic discipline, it can be characterised in general by its goals, worldview, and methodology. The overarching goal is sustainable wellbeing of both humans and the rest of nature, with three broad sub-goals of sustainable scale, fair distribution, and efficient allocation of resources.
An exploration of what ecological economics is and why we need it more than ever, is the opening chapter of a pioneering new book “Sustainable Wellbeing Futures: A Research and Action Agenda for Ecological Economics.” Authored by the book’s editors Robert Costanza, Jon D. Erickson, Joshua Farley, and Ida Kubiszewski, the article sets out how the ecological economics worldview includes an interdependent, co-evolving, complex whole system perspective of economies embedded in societies embedded in the rest of nature.
In the foreword to the book, Professor Jacqueline McGlade reflects on the wellbeing economy movement and where it must go next:
“The first global political manifestation of a shift towards wellbeing economies becoming mainstream emerged in 2018, with the decision by the leaders of Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand, to form the Wellbeing Economies Group. Their goal is to implement economic policies with the objective of delivering the collective wellbeing of their nations, looking at how happy the population is, not just how wealthy it is, creating fair work that is well-paid and based on worthwhile and fulfilling work, and which values a transition to longer term sustainability.
Sustainable Wellbeing Futures provides the robust and well-articulated body of knowledge that these national endeavours will need.
The ideas that Sustainable Wellbeing Futures brings to life have been borne out of thousands of hours of discussions about the multiple aspects of wellbeing and ecological economics. Shortcomings have been probed and examined and answers found. The importance of this book is that it provides solutions and examples of how we – as individuals, organisations, governments – can work together to turn the tide against the destructive changes in our world. These examples should give us hope and inspiration. We should also take encouragement from the volume itself; it is heartening to see so many leading researchers and thinkers working together to provide a coherent, multidisciplinary voice, stating loud and clear what is happening and how we can deliver our future wellbeing.”
This forward-thinking book lays out an alternative approach that places the sustainable wellbeing of humans and the rest of nature as the overarching goal. Each of the book’s chapters, written by a diverse collection of scholars and practitioners, outlines a research and action agenda for how this future can look and possible actions for its realisation.
Over the coming weeks, WEAll will be highlighting some of these ideas by sharing short abstracts from each chapter. It is due to be published in May 2020 – find out more and order a copy here.
https://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/CostaRica_IMG_6448-scaled.jpg25601707lisahttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pnglisa2020-02-18 15:40:232020-02-19 12:00:47What is ecological economics and why do we need it now more than ever?
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) today overwhelmingly adopted an ‘own-initiative opinion’ on the sustainable and inclusive wellbeing economy that Europe needs. It calls on the EU ‘for a new vision of prosperity’, developed in close collaboration with WEAll Ambassador and CUSP director Tim Jackson as Expert to the Rapporteur.
Wellbeing economy language and ideas are central to the opinion, which called for a ‘new vision of prosperity for people and planet based on the principles of environmental sustainability, the right to a decent life and the protection of social values’.
Professor Tim Jackson has worked closely with the EESC over the last year to help craft the opinion. He was appointed by the Committee as expert to the rapporteur early last year and took a lead role on drafting (and re-drafting) the opinion in the intervening months.
“I’m absolutely delighted by today’s vote,” said Prof Jackson. “It lays the foundations for a far-reaching transformation of Europe’s economic vision for the future.”
The Committee highlighted that building the wellbeing economy must start by adopting ‘a precautionary approach in which macroeconomic stability does not depend on GDP growth’ and proposed the development of new indicators of economic performance and social progress.
Its detailed proposals include a review of the EU’s fiscal and monetary rules, an end to perverse subsidies and action ‘to address hyper-consumerism’ across Europe. It also proposed the adoption of a Living Standards Framework and the introduction of a Wellbeing Budget for the EU.
What does the ‘opinion’ call for?
The EESC underlines that the European Union (EU) has fully committed itself to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To guarantee their proper implementation the EU urgently needs to develop the foundations for a sustainable and inclusive wellbeing economy that works for everyone.
The vision of social progress only relying on the pursuit of growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ignores important elements of individual and social wellbeing and fails to account properly for environmental and social considerations.
The EESC calls for the EU to propose a new vision of prosperity for people and planet based on the principles of environmental sustainability, the right to a decent life and the protection of social values. The economy is an enabler for this vision.
The wellbeing economy should protect ecosystems, conserve biodiversity and deliver a just transition to a climate neutral way of life across the EU and foster sustainable entrepreneurship. Educational systems across the EU will play a key role in promoting such concepts across society, thus inscribing in them the way of thinking of the decision-makers and leaders of tomorrow.
To achieve this goal, the EESC recognises the need to support the fundamental changes that have already begun to emerge in the nature of enterprise, the organisation of work, the role of investment and the structure of the money system.
The EESC highlights that building the wellbeing economy must start by adopting a precautionary approach in which macroeconomic stability does not depend on GDP growth. It proposes the development of new indicators of economic performance and social progress beyond GDP.
The EESC proposes the adoption of a Living Standards Framework and the introduction of a Wellbeing Budget for the EU, modelled on approaches already adopted elsewhere.
The EESC calls for an end to perverse subsidies and for the alignment of all public sector spending across the EU and its Member States with the goal of achieving climate neutrality.
The EESC calls for a European Green and Social Deal to deliver the large-scale investment needed for a just transition to a climate neutral economy and to provide quality jobs in every community.
The EESC calls on the Commission and the Member States to carry out green fiscal reform to help align taxation, subsidies and pre-distributive policies with the goal of achieving a just transition to a wellbeing economy, in particular by enforcing existing legislation.
The EESC proposes a review of the growth dependency of the EU Member States and a strategy to focus on sustainable and inclusive wellbeing in the EU economy. It also recommends a review of the EU’s fiscal and monetary rules to ensure they are fit for purpose in achieving the transition to a climate-neutral economy.
The EESC calls for all existing EU policy and budgetary/financial frameworks and tools (such as the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the European Semester and Better Regulation) to be urgently aligned with a just transition to a wellbeing economy.
The EESC proposes the adaptation of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Annual Growth Survey to ensure that the wellbeing economy is fully consistent with the SDGs and the European Pillar of Social Rights.
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Rafael Galaz, a chilean lawyer has been working on an investigation about how to spread the word of Ecological Economics, created a comic based on an interview that our very own Ambassador, Robert Costanza, gave 8 years ago in the “Yale Insights” Magazine. You can find the beautifully crafted comic attached below.
https://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Screen-Shot-2020-01-16-at-9.40.31-AM.png9241190anahttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pngana2020-01-16 06:42:302020-01-16 06:42:30Comic of Ecological Economics (in Spanish)
At the end of 2017, Auchrannie resorton the island of Arran in Scotland became the first Scottish resort to transition to a model of employee ownership. A trust now owns 100% of the company’s shares on behalf of its 160 employees.
The co-founder, and Managing Director since 2010, Linda Johnston said of the employees in relation to the transfer:
“They realise that what each of them does will affect the future success of the business and that this is directly linked to their own success, so they have already become more engaged in making the business better and understand the power and influence each and every one of them now has on their own future.”
New targets for the business
New efficiency targets for the business, agreed by the ‘new owners’, created the conditions to become a Real Living Wage Accredited Employer in April of 2018.
While the efficiency targets helped boost profitability, paving the way for the introduction of the Real Living Wage, there was also a recognition that the introduction of the wage would in and of itself support further financial benefits. These included lower staff recruitment costs (due to higher retention), greater productivity and increased occupancy from an improved reputation.
Linda Johnston, MD of Auchrannie resort
“Employee ownership will give the whole Auchrannie team a stake in the continued growth of the business. All of us will work together to build a more efficient, sustainable and profitable business.”
explains Linda Johnston
Since the acquisition of a 16-room guest house in 1988 by Linda and her late husband Iain, the resort has become home to two 4-star hotels, 30 5-star self-catering lodges, 14 luxury ‘Retreats’, two leisure clubs, 3 restaurants, children’s playbarn, a destination spa and outdoor adventure company.
Ownership transfer as an exit strategy
The ownership transfer was born of a desire for an exit strategy by the Johnston family (sole owners of the resort) that would allow the business to continue to flourish as well as upholding the ethos of the company, maintaining and motivating the team plus continuing the community’s access to the facilities of the resort.
“We are confident that the collective efforts of our fantastic team will continue to strengthen Auchrannie’s customer care and community focus as well as improving the sustainability of the business going forward.”
adds Linda Johnston, MD and former owner of the resort
Crucially, the transfer arrangements were designed for it to be affordable to the business to be able to reinvest in the future as well as financially reward the employees after the transfer. The previous shareholders will be paid out of the profits of the business over the next 25 years.
This is an extract from the forthcoming ‘The Business of Wellbeing – Alternatives to Business as Usual’ Guide, launching in January 2020. For more extracts, please click here
No founder will ever forget the day their business legally came to life. The birth of this new entity comes with a great sense of responsibility. Many business owners feel a great deal of emotional attachment to their creation as it unfolds, develops and grows.
Ownership and governance play a crucial role in business as we attempt to transition towards a wellbeing economy. Holding on to what is most important can require reimagining what it means to own something. Here are 3 important elements to consider:
The Social and the Environmental
How can ownership support effective decision making?
James Priest, Co-developer of Sociocracy 3.0, LearnS3
“Collaborative endeavours will be more effective if people affected by decisions are involved in making them, or at least that they are able to influence decisions that affect them, on the basis of sound reasons for doing so.”
James Priest, Co-developer of Sociocracy 3.0, LearnS3
Decision making, made in the absence of an understanding of the full picture, can affect the level of agility to respond to a changing environment (changing market demands, risk factors, regulations etc.).
In commonly used ownership structures, influence and business information are mostly centralised to a few decision-makers. As a result, employees, customers, and affected communities and the planet are often left out of decision-making processes.
“Management hierarchies centralize decision making. While this is effective in some contexts, collaborative endeavours are more likely to succeed if you shift responsibility for significant elements of decision making close to where value is created.”
James Priest, Co-developer of Sociocracy 3.0, LearnS3
Ultimately, ownership should not be a roadblock to productivity. It should enable it by delegating governance to those affected.
How can ownership affect our trajectory?
Many companies started out life in response to a social need – sometimes influenced by their founders’ religious beliefs. The UK confectionery Cadbury’s was begun by a Quaker. The Spanish cooperative Mondragon by a Catholic priest. The UK retailer Marks and Spencer by an impoverished Jewish boy from Belarussia. These organizations, like many others, have struggled through organisational growth and change of ownership to stay true to, and serve, their initial purpose.
An ownership and governance structure that supports affected key stakeholders to have a voice in decision-making can help organisations to stay true to their mission.
Katherine Trebeck, author of The Economics of Arrival
“Investor demands on business can take away from a business’s original mission. Without ownership and governance models designed to protect the interests of all stakeholders, there is a risk that actions focussing on the short-term will prevail.”
says Dr. Katherine Trebeck, author of ‘The Economics of Arrival’
As companies grow, they often start to be viewed as commodities, controllable by the highest bidder. Business-as-usual governance models are designed to maximise shareholder influence and often ignore stakeholder interests.
Martin Rich, FutureFit
“Listed companies are owned by nobody because they’re ostensibly owned by everybody, the result is a lack of responsibility.”
Martin Rich, FutureFit
This means economic interests and short-term profit gains can often overrule organisational values and principles, social and environmental concerns and even the long-term success of the business.
Even Patagonia, often held up as the poster child of sustainability, is wrestling with these questions as they head north of the $1bn mark in annual sales. They are beginning to question whether their scale is a hindrance to being truly regenerative.
Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions
“Scale is a real problem for change.”
Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capital Solutions
As a business grows and occupies a new role in the market, there is a need to evolve to a model of stewardship. This means influence is delegated to a range of stakeholders to ensure informed decisions can be made by those affected.
Who’s responsible for the social and the environmental?
Traditionally, consideration of social and the environmental impacts was an afterthought for businesses, once the business of the economic i.e. financial had been taken care of. That has begun to change with statements from various business groupings that profit maximisation will no longer be the sole focus for their business.
Patrick Andrews, Co-Founder of Human Organising Co.
As a general rule, ownership brings responsibility. So it’s something of an anomaly that the owners of companies have no legal responsibility for their actions. If you own a share in a company that breaks the law, pollutes the environment or even kills someone, you can’t be touched. Is this not strange?
Comments Patrick Andrews, Co-Founder of Human Organising Co.
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Vala is a WEAll Ambassador, member of the WEAll Global Council and leader of WEAll Iceland. She is Professor of Sustainability Science at the University of Iceland.
I often tell people about my epiphany that I had when I talked to the late Richard St George in Bristol (UK) in the year 2000. He was then the Director of the Schumacher Society which held „the“ environmental gathering in the UK – every year – under the title: Schumacher Lectures. I was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol (and had never heard about the Schumacher Society despite having lived in the city for more than 10 years). We discovered during our conversation at my neighbour’s birthday party that we were both working on environmental issues. I was working at the atomic scale – using Synchotron radiation at the Daresbury Laboratory near Liverpool to decipher the structure and coordination of metals and pollutants in water and on mineral surfaces. Richard was working on finding ways to make the world sustainable. He was thinking about the big picture. I had lost the view of the big picture.
I had a shock once I learned how unsustainable our life on planet Earth was (and still is). First I did not know what to do. I spent a summer staring at my computer and did not know how to proceed. But since being depressed is not my nature, I decided to figure out how an Earth scientist could contribute toward sustainability. I moved up 15 orders of magnitude and sustainability has been at the centre of my research, teaching and operations ever since.
One of the things I decided I had to do was to minimise my own impact on the world. I had my old car scrapped and I cycled, walked or used public transportation. When going to Europe I took the train. I kitted out a loft for myself in an old paint factory with under floor heating, solar water heating, double glazing, sheep wool insulation, linseed oil paint… I bought local and organic produce, stopped for the most part giving gifts, but instead gave Oxfam „gifts“ for the developing world, ranging from giving access to clean water, sanitation, vegetable gardens, goats etc. If I bought anything for my extended family it was (and still is) a book on environmental issues. And for whatever CO2 emissions I was responsible, I offset with supporting tree planting.
At the end of 2008 I moved to Iceland, my country of origin. It was strange to move straight into the economic collapse in Iceland – where the ethical values I was raised with seemed to have vanished. First I lived with my parents, then got myself a car and a flat. Living in the same environmentally friendly way as in the UK was difficult. Most produce is imported. Going to conferences and workshop meant flying. Taking the ferry is possible, but takes a long time via Seydisfjördur (East Iceland), the Faroe Islands and Jytland in Denmark. From there you need to take a train. Seydisfjördur is 800 km from Reykjavik where I live and work. Then the same distance back.
So I had to change my way of operating. From Iceland I have travelled according the following principles since 2009:
Will my presence at the summit/conference/workshop/symposium contribute toward the world becoming more sustainable? and/or
Will l learn something that can help me support the world becoming more sustainable?
For my travel I still offset my emissions. Not perfect, but better than doing nothing.
Move forward ten years and I recently had another epiphany. It is not enough to only consider sustainability issues, it is also necessary to consider gender balance issues. So from now on my traveling will be bound by a third principle:
Have the organisers of the summit/conference/workshop/symposium provided a gender balanced environment for presentations/panels (and more broad balance of gender identifications, where appropriate)?
This third principle came to me after I attended an international summit recently, where we were either presented with „manels“ (men only panels) or panels with one token woman. I had gone a long way from Iceland because I had hoped that the summit would focus on the voices of people from the global south, and women. That was not the case. All of the presenters were men. Only one African woman was given a voice on a panel.
When it dawned on me what was happening, at first I was furious, then sad, then I had the epiphany to make this third principle at the core of decisions of whether I will travel anywhere.
When I discussed this with two friends today, one suggested that I write a blog (thanks!) and another proposed a fourth principle:
Will the summit/conference/workshop/symposium nourish my soul?
She also suggested this should be principle 1. I agree (also thanks)!
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In August, WEAll Ambassador Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir brought together the WEAll Knowledge and Policy cluster with the PhD students close to finishing the pioneering AdaptEcon programme.
Following an intensive weekend of workshops, and training in media and public speaking, all participants had the opportunity to deliver and record a “TEDx-style” talk at the University of Iceland.
Below you can see all of the talks, which cover a range of topics from phosphorous to fish; from new stories to addiction. Each one is relevant to building a wellbeing economy and brings a unique perspective.
In addition to the PhD students, talks were delivered by members of the “WEAll family”: Amp team members Katherine Trebeck and Lisa Hough-Stewart, Ambassadors Bob Costanza and Vala Ragnarsdottir, Knowledge and Policy team members Ida Kubiszewski and Luca Coscieme, and Research Fellow Jennifer Hinton.
You can also visit the AdaptEcon YouTube channel which includes all the talks here.
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Innovative economist, broadcaster and WEAll Ambassador Ayabonga Cawe, has been appointed as one of the 18 members of South Africa’s new Economic Advisory Council.
According to The Citizen, the new Presidential Economic Advisory Council will: “ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy and ensure that government and society, in general, are better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances”.
The new economic advisory council is also intended to build a capable state.
According to the formal announcement, the council will be chaired by the president, will meet every quarter, and will receive support from National Treasury and existing economic research structures. The announcement states that the new council will engage with the existing National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
As an aside, Nedlac was established as “the vehicle by which government, labour, business and community organisations seek to cooperate, through problem-solving and negotiation, on economic, labour and development issues and related challenges facing the country”.
More about Aya
Ayabonga Cawe is a Johannesburg based development economist, columnist, radio presenter, photographer and activist.
He is Managing Director of a platform involved in advisory, facilitation and content development across a wide range of fields.
Prior to this he was Economic Justice Manager at Oxfam South Africa (OZA) working on policy advocacy and research. He has also worked as an Associate Consultant at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a global development strategy consulting and policy advisory firm.
He has experience in economic research, policy and supply chain analysis, advocacy, development program design and M&E. He is also a co-founder of Rethink Africa NPC, a youth-led policy research, advocacy and advisory organisation. He has taken part in a wide range of research, advisory and policy engagements on development issues in agriculture, rail, urban design and labour market policy.
His international experience on issues of sustainability and business includes conducting primary research with farmer organizations in Indonesia, for a multilateral client. He has also conducted primary research in Nigeria, for a market entry strategy on behalf of a global pharmaceuticals manufacturer. Ayabonga was a finalist in the category, ‘Best Business and Finance Show’ at the 2018 Liberty Radio Awards.
Ayabonga sat on the National Minimum Wage Advisory Panel appointed by the Deputy President and Nedlac, which advised on the R20/hour proposal. He currently sits on the VAT zero-rating review panel, tasked by the Minister of Finance to consider the expansion of the list of food and non-food items exempted from value added tax.
He holds an M. Com (Cum Laude) in Development Theory and Policy from Wits.
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https://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/maxresdefault.jpg7181280lisahttps://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEAll-logo-300x119.pnglisa2019-06-24 16:01:002019-06-24 16:01:00WEAll at “thinkdif” (Disruptive Innovation Festival) – new video
Back in January, Rethinking Economics and Doughnut Economics got together and launched a competition based on the ‘seven ways to think like a 21st century economist’ set out in Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics. The challenge that they threw down was this:
The judges were amazed and delighted to receive over 250 entries across three categories – schools, universities, and everyone else – covering a very wide range of themes. You can find out more about all 250 ideas and what happens next with them on the Doughnut Economics site here.
And the winners are…
‘Everyone Else’ winner – (WEAll member!) On Purpose with their short video ‘From Business Case to Systems Case’
School winner – Presence Tse with her video ‘From Division of Labour to Cohesive Partnership’
University winner – James Legg-Bagg with his video ‘Legal Rights for Nature’
“94 academics and representatives of civil society organisations call for Mark Carney’s successor to be someone who will foster a pluralistic policymaking culture
Eleven o’clock on Wednesday evening is the deadline for applicants to put themselves forward to be the next governor of the Bank of England. Candidates are asked to commit to an eight-year term lasting until 2028. By then the world will be a very different place. Three key trends will shape their time in post.
First, environmental breakdown is the biggest threat facing the planet. The next governor must build on Mark Carney’s legacy, and go even further to act on the Bank’s warnings by accelerating the transition of finance away from risky fossil fuels. Second, rising inequality, fuelled to a significant extent by monetary policy, has contributed to a crisis of trust in our institutions. The next governor must be open and honest about the trade-offs the Bank is forced to make, and take a critical view of how its policies impact on wider society. Third, the UK economy is increasingly unbalanced and skewed towards asset price inflation. Banks pour money into bidding up the value of pre-existing assets, with only £1 in every £10 they lend supporting non-financial firms. The next governor must seriously consider introducing measures to guide credit away from speculation towards productive activities.
As the world around it changes, the function of the Bank itself must evolve. Its current mandate and tools are increasingly coming into question, and a future government may assign the Bank with a new mission. The next governor must meet this with an open mind, not seek to preserve the status quo. To equip the Bank to meet the challenges of the future, the new governor will also need to ensure it benefits from a greater diversity of backgrounds, experience and perspectives throughout the organisation. The Bank of England’s own stated purpose is to promote the good of the people. We need a governor genuinely committed to serving the whole of society, not just financial markets.
Fran Boait Positive Money Josh Ryan-Collins UCL IIPP John Sauven Greenpeace UK Tom Kibasi IPPR Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland) Will Hutton Author and academic Patrick Allen Progressive Economy Forum Faiza Shaheen Class Ann Pettifor Prime Economics Kate Raworth University of Oxford Christopher Pissarides London School of Economics Yanis Varoufakis University of Athens Prem Sikka University of Sheffield Danny Dorling University of Oxford Asad Rehman War on Want Guy Standing Soas David Hillman Stamp Out Poverty Catherine Howarth ShareAction Maeve Cohen Rethinking Economics Jonathan Michie University of Oxford Natalie Sharples Health Poverty Action Joe Guinan The Democracy Collaborative Nick Dearden Global Justice Now Steve Keen UCL Institute for Strategy, Resilience & Security Jason Hickel Goldsmiths, University of London Tony Greenham Royal Society of Arts Johnna Montgomerie Kings College London John Weeks Soas Frances Coppola Financial commentator and author Dimitri Zenghelis Cambridge University Rick Van Der Ploeg University of Oxford Molly Scott Cato University of Roehampton Ben Carpenter Social Value UK Philippe Aghion London School of Economics Felix Fitzroy St Andrews Marianne Sensier University of Manchester Christine Cooper University of Edinburgh Elisa Van Waeyenberge Soas Roberto Veneziani Queen Mary University of London Andrew Denis City University Stewart Lansley University of Bristol Dimitris Sotiropoulos Open University UK Ulrich Volz Soas Panicos Demetriades University of Leicester Maria Nikolaidi University of Greenwich Julia Steinberger University of Leeds Sue Konzelmann Birkbeck University Roger Seifert Wolverhampton Business School Ozlem Onaran University of Greenwich Neil Lancastle De Monfort University Yannis Dafermos University of the West of England Alberto Botta University of Greenwich David Tyfield Lancaster University Kate Pickett University of York Philip Haynes University of Brighton Richard Wilkinson University of Nottingham Peter Sweatman Climate Strategy & Partners David Graeber LSE Richard Murphy City University John Christensen Tax Justice UK Anna Laycock Finance Innovation Lab Colin Hines Green New Deal Group Sarah-Jayne Clifton Jubilee Debt Campaign Line Christensen Jubilee Scotland Stewart Wallis Wellbeing Economy Alliance Benjamin Braun Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG) Fiona Dove The Transnational Institute Annelise Riles Buffett Institute for Global Studies Ellen Brown Public Banking Institute Johan Frijns Banktrack Benoît Lallemand Finance Watch Joshua Farley International Society for Ecological Economics Ole Bjerg Copenhagen Business School Stephany Griffith-Jones Columbia University David Boyle The New Weather Institute Mark Blyth Brown University Bernard Barthalay Université Lumière (Lyon) Giorgos Kallis Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Jean-Marc Ferry Alliance Europa Joseph Huber Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg Ladislau Dowbor Catholic University of São Paulo Livio Di Matteo Lakehead University Marc Lavoie University of Ottawa Mark Sanders Utrecht University Sergio Rossi University of Fribourg, Switzerland Michel Lepetit The Shift Project Dirk Ehnts Technical University of Chemnitz Johann Walter Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen Steven Hail University of Adelaide Ludovic Desmedt University of Burgundy Terrence McDonough National University of Ireland Galway Rodrigo Fernandez Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) Jean Luc de Meulemeester The Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management”
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Last week, an enthusiastic crowd in London attended the sold-out event to promote ‘The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown-up economy’ by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams.
Hosted by WEAll members CUSP (the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity) and GEC (Green Economy Coalition), the event attracted academics, civil society professionals, activists, journalists and more, all keen to understand more about the need for economic system change and to engage in the debate about how we get there.
Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams inspired the audience with an overview of the book’s themes and concepts. Williams explained that the concept of ‘Arrival’ is “not a promise but the possibility of having enough.” The authors argue that for many countries, there are now diminishing returns to growth and that they ought now to focus on ‘making themselves at home’ by prioritising human and environmental wellbeing.
Trebeck made the case that our global economic system is manifestly failing to deliver – on poverty, wellbeing, health, environment, and equality. “People feel their lives are out of control. The system isn’t working,” she said.
Sharing examples such as Japan and Costa Rica to demonstrate the potential of alternative economic approaches, and ending with a positive message that economic system change is possible, the speakers certainly got the room talking with this introduction to their work.
Questions and ideas came thick and fast from those in the room who were keen to delve further into the concept of Arrival.
A panel discussion featuring Professor Tim Jackson of CUSP and Irene Gujit of Oxfam GB, as well as Trebeck and Williams, gave an opportunity for more exploration, as the room considered the different applications of the book’s concepts in the global south as well as tangible ways to build a wellbeing economy in the UK.
‘The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown up economy’ is available from Policy Press here.
Watch a short video summarising the ideas in the book:
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