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“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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

What do we want? To save the world!

When do we want it? Now!

How are we going to do it? Errr….

It was easy to be caught up by the exuberance of the Climate Strikers and Extinction Rebellion last Spring. Greta took many of us by surprise – a determined Swedish Joan of Arc campaigning solo against climate change. Who could forget her on the stage at Davos next to the venerable Sir David Attenborough, the old and the young united in purpose – calling for “a plan”? But as yet no masterplan has appeared to rescue the natural world and moderate climate change. And so, as we feared, the alarming decline continues.

For far too long an environmentally unaccountable economic juggernaut has dragged us towards a precipice of environmental collapse. But now the cohorts of climate protest have done something truly worthwhile- they have lit a beacon that will now be impossible to extinguish. However, it is vital that this beacon shines on the right place– the interface between economics and the natural world. The philosophical ground has been laid by Raworth, Klein and Occasio-Cortez and others. Their arguments are heartfelt, compassionate and elevating: the goals are admirable. Nevertheless, even the Green New Deal is as yet only a list of aspirations. We still lack the all-embracing blueprint for a practical, immediately realisable green economics revolution that doesn’t plunge the world into economic chaos. So where do we find that?

I’ve been searching for that blueprint for a long time, and I discovered it has been right under our noses all the time – in Nature itself.

It’s several decades since I first got seriously worried about what was happening to the environment and began the journey that eventually led to the publication of my book, Junglenomics, earlier this year. For years I suffered the pains of the ‘eco-anxiety’ that the American Psychological Association now recognises as a mental condition and describes as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”. Rachel Carson drove the nails in deeper. I may have been hard to live with sometimes, I admit. I found it difficult to see a future worth having children for (though I’m forever grateful to my wife for ignoring me!). Then I came across an old book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, by Dale Carnegie. Two pieces of advice stick in my mind: “compartmentalise” and “one step at a time”. The book taught me that you have to take control of your fears, not wallow in them. To do that I realised I needed to understand why we humans destroy the natural world that we depend on for our very survival. Not the superficial why- “greed” for example, but the genetic, developmental, anthropological why. “Look deep into Nature”, Einstein said, “and then you will understand everything better”. Few wiser words have been uttered. Yet I was to find that Nature not only helps you understand, it also provides solutions.

I began to see who we humans are in the big scheme of things: for example, that we are genetically driven to colonise resources, like all our ancestors before us since the beginning of life. I also came to realise that we live in an “economic ecosystem” that is an extension of natural ecosystems, with us as its “species”. But we aren’t tied to one niche like wild species: we are avatars, able to slip from one niche to another. Here, evolution is provided by ever more rapidly advancing technology and the new jobs it creates, while the out-dated go extinct.

And there lies the problem: our economic ecosystem has evolved too fast and too far to develop the fine synchrony that takes ecology millions of years to achieve; too fast in particular to build the checks and balances that in ecosystems keep species from destroying their environment. The chief reason our economic ecosystem has got so out of balance with the natural world is therefore because, unlike in ecosystems, polluters and degraders are divorced from the consequences of their destructive behaviour, so their own viability isn’t directly diminished by it. In ecosystems, “detritivores” have coevolved with potential polluters to clean up and recycle their outputs, each working for its own profit, innocently colluding to transfer nutrients back down into the soil to begin their life-giving journey once again. In contrast, markets have been free to degrade the environment yet thrive.

This is foremost an economics issue therefore. The power of markets, expressed through our ancient resource-hungry genes, now needs harnessing to work for the environment not against it, and until markets are subjected to the same economic disciplines found in ecosystems, the decline will go on.

There is of course much more to this, but the really exciting thing about this ecosystem approach is that it at last provides real beef- a manifesto covering all areas of the economics-ecology interface that any enlightened government could begin tomorrow: for example “Robin Hood” levies that take from polluters to fast-track a green tech revolution, and investment instruments that permanently protect important wilderness in return for infrastructure capital that benefits the poorest.

I believe passionately that if we can get our leaders to adopt it, such “ecosystem economics” could get us back in synch with the natural world before it’s too late.

Simon Lamb is the author of Junglenomics: Nature’s solutions the world environment crisis: a new paradigm for the twenty-first century and beyond

You can find the “12 Core Principles of Junglenomics”, and the “60-point manifesto for an environment-saving economics revolution” at https://junglenomics.com

This was first published on Open Democracy

Ian Gough’s latest book is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the enormity of the task at hand, writes Katherine Trebeck.

This is a long overdue review of a book that could not be more important. I read Gough’s Heat, Greed and Human Need: Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing soon after it was published, and I have taken my time to digest and reflect on its messages. Since then, the book’s messages have only become more salient, as young people have gone on strike from school to call out political intransigence to the climate crisis, as scientists’ warnings have become more stern and their connection of the climate crisis with the operation of the economic system less tentative, and as the UN Special Rapporteur has exposed the UK government’s inadequate support (at best) for people failed by the economic system.

This book is rich – and dense. It is not a page turner, but a ‘page-returner’. I found myself leafing back to re-read sections in order to grasp subsequent discussions. But the research and reflections contained between the covers provide the intellectual foundation for the protest placard ‘System Change Not Climate Change’.

Gough is one of the world’s greatest scholars on human needs (he explains his intellectual journey in a short autobiography). His work, with Len Doyal, shows that basic needs encompass physical health, autonomy of agency (mental health, cognitive understanding, opportunities to participate), and critical autonomy. They are satisfied by access to things such as adequate food and water, protective housing, safe work environment, healthcare, and significant primary relationships, and in turn optimized by freedoms from (civic and political rights), freedoms to(rights of access to need satisfiers), and political participation.

Since human need theory draws on eudemonic psychology (which underscores the recognition of three universal needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness), Gough’s work is influential for those who are a little skeptical about the merit of wellbeing as individual self-reported happiness in the hedonic sense. He reminds us, for example, that preferences and wants are shaped and context matters, so simplistic assumptions about one number or one question about how people feel are problematic. In contrast, “human needs are objective, plural, non-substitutable and satiable”.

Heat, Greed, and Human Need takes this focus and puts the attainment of human needs in the context of the climate crisis, given the scientific realities and lived experience faced by communities around the word. He does so by explaining how both rising heat (due to climate change) and resultant challenges in meeting human needs have their root cause in the greed embedded in – and exacerbated by – the current economic system: ‘neoliberalism’. This is an economic agenda characterized by belief in the superiority of markets (especially when spread across global production networks, and when the financial sector flourishes) and a disparaging approach to the role of government and collective action.

The pursuit of economic growth, which is inherent in this system, has been “at the cost of growing inequalities of wealth and income…Another way that growth undermines wellbeing is through the commodification of more and more aspects of life”.

In other words, while human needs theory tells us that everyone has psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness, “economic growth often fails to nurture and nourish” these needs.

Worse, when the climate crisis is taken into account, Gough reports that research and modelling show increasing the efficiency of production won’t be enough – unfortunately for proponents of a ‘technical’ solution,

Instead, the task is to change the pattern of consumption and ensure that what the ‘North’ consumes is within a corridor of minimum and maximum standards. This requires fundamental transformation of almost all aspects of the economy, including a need to:

  • Invest in renewable energy and energy networks
  • Transform and communications and even cities
  • Retrofit buildings for energy efficiency
  • Regenerate natural resources generated
  • Re-examine ideas of investment, productivity, profit and growth to align with social needs and contribution

He suggests that there are three-elements of the shift: improving production to make it more efficient in resource and energy use; transforming consumption so it encompasses less material throughput; and reducing demand for consumption in the global north. These elements are set out in turn and their possibility aided by a rich discussion of the different ‘varieties’ of capitalism as it intersects with welfare states, climate mitigation strategies – including some great typologies (always useful for a reader like me who loves a good typology!).

Gough does not shy away from pointing to the extent of political capture that drives the current mode of greed-driven capitalism, nor does he hesitate in raising a skeptical eyebrow at policies currently in vogue amongst potential readers.

On the former, he notes that the financial sector in countries such as the UK and the US has expanded due to its lobbying power, influence on governments, and ‘ability to shift investment and economic activity between jurisdictions and the structural position of finance capital in ensuring national economic survival’.

On the later, in the face of the growing embrace of the citizens basic income agenda, Gough is cautious saying: the “idea of a citizen’s income resembles a ‘silver bullet’…[but it] could distract attention from the complex underlying causes of inequalities, ill-health and social conflict…These require ‘upstream’ systemic changes, rather than a single downstream intervention”.

This frankness and the positioning of human need delivery in the context of a planet burning up before our eyes make this rich book required reading for anyone who wants to break out of siloed thinking, who wants to understand the enormity of the task at hand, and who wants to be reminded of what the purpose of the economy should ultimately be.

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck and her co-author Jeremy Williams have been blogging about the core themes of their book ‘The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a grown up economy’.

Published on Jeremy’s site ‘The Earthbound Report’, the blogs explore the following five themes (click to read the blogs on Earthbound Report, or view the first one in full below):

  1. What is Arrival?
  2. On making ourselves at home
  3. The futility of uneconomic growth
  4. What does progress look like after growth?
  5. A gentler path to the summit
What is Arrival?

Arrival is the idea that sparked our book and gives it its title: The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a Grown Up Economy. But what do we mean by it? What is arrival?

(Besides being a rather good sci-fi film that came out while we were writing the book and drank our Google juice, obviously.)

Arrival is the notion that development has a destination. Growth is a means to an end, and at some point its work is done.

Arrival is about having enough to, in theory, have one’s basic needs met, and having all the resources required for a good life. To use a phrase that Jeremy’s grandma regularly said at the end of a good meal, we could describe it as reaching a point of ‘ample sufficiency’ in terms of wealth and resources in the economy as a whole.

In the context of national economies, a country has arrived if it has a high enough wealth and resources to theoretically provide a high quality of life for all its citizens. It has the finances and the materials to ensure everyone has what they need. Whether everyone has a good life in reality is, of course, a matter of access and distribution. Those are questions of politics and institutional design. Having enough resources collectively doesn’t necessarily mean everyone individually has enough. But it could, if a nation chose to make it so.

With that in mind, reaching a point of Arrival doesn’t mean that all problems are solved. We’re not suggesting that there’s a magical threshold where everyone’s needs are automatically provided for. But we can imagine Arrival as a moment when a society has the means for this. Growth has reached a point at which a good life could, theoretically, be universal.

Arrival is therefore a possibility, not a promise.

We’re using a journey metaphor, where rising economic growth and human development take us ever closer to our destination. You could, as in the sub-title of our book in fact, also consider Arrival to be a process of maturing and reaching adulthood, a metaphor captured in the German word for ‘postgrowth’, ausgewachsen. Or a tree reaching its full size, finding its niche among its neighbours, optimized to the rainfall, soil conditions and sunlight in the place where it stands.

This growth towards maturity is present all through nature. What if we extend the principle towards the economy? What does an economy look like when it is all grown up?

That does beg the question of how we know if and when a country has Arrived – and which of the world’s nations might already be there. It also raises the important question of what a country’s priorities should be once arrival is reached (and recognized). That’s something we call ‘making ourselves at home’, and we’ll look at that tomorrow.

Arrival is useful as a concept because it unlocks these kinds of questions. It’s a provocative notion, one that prompts us towards new lines of thinking. And those are positive questions – maturity is to be celebrated. Arrival is a success story. It delivers on the hopes of our ancestors, and promises a less stressful, more secure future for the next generation. But that would require us to recognize it and embrace it, or risk losing the gains so far in the scramble for more.

Let’s ask those questions, and see where they take us next. Welcome to the Arrivals Lounge.

Read the rest of the blogs at Earthbound Report

See also: Katherine and Jeremy’s recent blog ‘Arriving in a place with beautiful potential’ on And Beauty For All

This is the first in a series of guest blogs, exploring a range of new ideas for how we can move forward and create a future economy with human and environmental wellbeing at its heart. These blogs reflect the opinions of their authors, not necessarily WEAll and its members. What do you think of Angus’ idea? Comment below!

By Angus Forbes

“Two extraordinary things have just happened to the human race. The first is the understanding that we now run, along with Mother Nature, the life-support system of our planet. This is tantamount to a second Copernican revolution. The second is that we have now formed into a connected global citizenship.

From this point on, the future of both Earth and us humans is inextricably linked due to our size and power. So, we now have part responsibility for the planet’s ability to sustain life as we know it. We, yes, us humans, have to decide what the biophysical integrity of this planet will be in 2120, 3020, 4020 and thereafter.

We created our 200 countries though numerous acts of national self-determination when the global population was, on average, just under two billion (1924). Now we number just under eight billion people, we are urban, we are powerful and things have changed.

We now have a global problem that clearly cannot be handled by the system of independent countries and their multilateral organizations that we have created. For in the 50 years since the 1972 UN Stockholm Declaration which stated that the natural assets of Earth must be safeguarded, we have witnessed the accelerating destruction of our most valuable global asset, the biosphere. So something is structurally very wrong.

I believe the blame for the current predicament lies squarely with us, that is, you and me, because we have not created the right governance tool for our times, the risk we face and the known future. The nation state system we built was never designed to protect a biosphere from attack by 8 billion of us.

I am absolutely convinced that in order to protect the biosphere, we need a specialist global authority to do the job. We need to give it powers of regulation and revenue collection over all human organizational form (including the nation state) sufficient to impose the necessary biophysical boundaries for us all. Our new specialist authority will make decisions based on time frames different from those used by any existing human organization, i.e. 100, 500 and 1,000 years.

I believe that humanity is just about to embark upon our first act of global self-determination and enter the current void in global governance to create this authority. In 2022, 32 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote the computer program HTML and gave us the World Wide Web, five billion of us will be connected to each other via the internet. Five billion global citizens who are only seconds apart.

Because we know the problem and we are now connected, we have in place the two preconditions for positive radical change. We are in fact 80% of the way to forming the Global Planet Authority. We have no one to ask except ourselves in order to take the last step, to vote the GPA into existence.

It will involve hard work and sacrifice in the short term, of that there is no doubt, but I believe that we are in fact desperate to live in a world of clear biophysical boundaries, to show that we can shoulder this, our greatest intergenerational responsibility. After all, we are all just humans and all part of the biosphere. As we damage it, we damage ourselves. If we restore and look after it, we restore and look after ourselves.

We must, and can, overcome our limitations by an evolutionary leap in governance. My book, ‘Global Planet Authority: How we are about to save the biosphere’, is available to order now. “

 

WEAll member Local Futures has launched their founder Helena Norberg-Hodge’s new book, Local is Our Future. 

They explain the purpose of the book as follows:

“This book connects the dots between our social, economic, ecological and spiritual crises, revealing how a systemic shift from global to local can address these seemingly disparate problems simultaneously.

Distilling the wisdom gleaned from four decades of activism and direct experience in both the global North and South, Helena lucidly deconstructs the old narrative of ‘progress’ through technological advance and corporate growth, while presenting a concise and compelling case for economic localization.

Her arguments are supported by real-world examples proving that – beneath the radar of the mainstream media and far from the fetishized techno-utopia of Silicon Valley – healthy and vibrant futures, built upon connection to nature and community, are already in the making.”

Order from Local Futures online store

Local Futures would like to encourage readers to discuss the book as part of a book club or other community group – so they are offering a 30% discount for anyone planning to engage with the book collectively in this way. Please email seankeller@localfutures.org for details.

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:

Images: Ben Martin

‘A Finer Future: creating an economy in service to life’ has been awarded the Silver Nautilus Award in the Ecology & Environment category.

 

This book, by Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, Anders Wijkman and John Fullerton, was published in September 2018 and sets out a blueprint for an inspiring regenerative economy that avoids collapse and works for people and planet (a wellbeing economy!)

For two decades, Nautilus Book Awards has recognised books that transcend barriers of culture, gender, race, and class, and promote conscious living & green values, spiritual growth, wellness & vitality, and positive social change. Last year, Nautilus received entries from 36 US States, and from 12 other nations. Dedicated to excellence and high standards of both message and presentation, the Nautilus programme celebrates books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities and global citizens.

Nautilus Book Awards is held in particular high-regard for recognising and promoting outstanding print books in several dozen genres that nurture positive change to co-create a Better World.

Nautilus is one of the significant Book Award programs that welcomes entries from the full range of the print-publishing spectrum: Author Self-Published, Small Press (2 to 10 books annual & from multiple authors), Small Press-Hybrid, and from Large Publishers. All the books selected as Winners are potent seeds for the growth, coherence, and healing of our culture and world.

The Nautilus Mission is to recognize and celebrate a wide subject-range of Better Books for a Better World.

You can find out more about A Finer Future and order your copy here.

Based on the book Enough Is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, this film lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth — an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Featuring interviews with leading sustainability thinkers such as Tim Jackson, Kate Pickett, Andrew Simms, Ben Dyson, and Natalie Bennett. Enough Is Enough is produced and directed by Tom Bliss, with illustrations by Polyp and animations by Henry Edmonds.

Find out more about Enough is Enough here.

Guest blog from WEAll Scotland

The launch of new book ‘The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a grown-up economy’ by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams this month provided a great opportunity for WEAll Scotland to engage with the public on how to create a wellbeing economy by putting on launch events in collaboration with Oxfam Scotland.

Sold-out audiences in Glasgow and Edinburgh listened to an inspiring talk by the authors on the idea of ‘Arrival’ – the point at which economies can stop focusing on growth and instead focus on how to make ourselves at home in this place of plenty.

The concepts in the book resonated with participants, who were full of questions and ideas. Can Scotland follow in New Zealand’s footsteps and create a wellbeing budget? What can Scottish businesses do right now to contribute to this agenda? From a local councillor, what can councils do to encourage more participation? And, from the youngest participant who was just 9 years old, how can we make sustainable solutions more affordable for everyone?

All these questions and more were discussed in interactive sessions after the talks, with people contributing ideas and solutions for how Scotland can become a ‘grown-up economy’.

As with previous WEAll Scotland events, the diversity of perspectives in the room was very encouraging, with not only politicians, activists and business people taking part but also citizens who are increasingly concerned about the current system and keen to contribute to making change.

As one attendee put it: “I’m just a mum with a normal job, but recently my daughter has helped me realise about inequalities and unfairness and I want to play my part.”

Another, a student at Edinburgh University, said that the event and the connections with people there helped him feel hopeful for the future at a time when it seems like there’s a lot of cause for despair.

‘Arrival’ is the idea that a society collectively has the means for this. Growth has reached a point at which a decent standard of living could, theoretically, be universal – and countries like Scotland could lead the way. This week’s events certainly helped the WEAll Scotland team feel like this is not only possible, but already starting to happen.

The book is available from Policy Press here.

Blog by WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams to mark the launch of their new book “The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a grown up economy” on 15 January 2019. Blog originally published on Policy Press.

As we enter 2019, there is one thing that all the commentators and punters seem to agree on: no one can really predict what will happen as the months unfold.

What form will Brexit take? Will Trump’s trade wars lead to hostility between nations or will he pull off a peace deal with North Korea? What will the gadget be that people flock to? Will 2019 be the year that plastic bags increase to 10p each in the UK and plastic straws become a thing of the past?

“So many of the factors that shape one’s life are determined in realms beyond your control.”

Against these multilayered uncertainties is the uncertainty that the majority of people have been dealing with for some time: so many of the factors that shape one’s life are determined in realms beyond your control. In boardrooms that decide your pay and hours. In algorithms that shape political decisions. In weather that is more extreme due to the pollution and emissions of the richest. In navigating social interactions charged with pressure to look a certain way, own certain things, or even to pose and pout in a certain way.

It is no wonder that more and more people are grasping for something different, whether it is apparently simple solutions offered at the ballot box or stepping outside the mainstream into alternative lifestyles.

This individual searching is mirrored in the economy writ large, which also needs to find a different direction. It needs a new project that recognises that the growth-oriented economy of the 20thcentury has delivered, but that now, many parts of the world are entering a period where growth is bringing a diminishing suite of benefits and often even increasing harm. The institutions and policies that once rendered growth positive (such as progressive taxation, collective provision of health services and education, or labour market arrangements that balanced power more equally between workers and the owners of capital) are being eroded. This is leaving the benefits of growth to be enjoyed by fewer and fewer people. Pursuit of ever more growth is often driving increasing problems that require yet more resources to fix.

“The pursuit of more poses ever greater risk for people and planet – and yet it, the idea of growth, has a stranglehold on our political and economic systems.”

The pursuit of more poses ever greater risk for people and planet – and yet it, the idea of growth, has a stranglehold on our political and economic systems.

It is time for such economies to recognise that they have arrived.

‘Arrival’ is about adequacy, being able to meet basic needs. It is primarily a material notion, a matter of having the resources to deliver a good life.

It confronts the ostensibly forbidden question of whether development has a destination.

Crucially, however, having enough resources collectively does not necessarily mean everyone individually has enough. Arrival does not imply that everything is resolved and everyone has what they need. Rather, it is the idea that a society collectively has the means for this.

“Failure to share the world’s harvest, both within and between countries, is one of the most enduring frustrations and tragedies of our time.”

Failure to share the world’s harvest, both within and between countries, is one of the most enduring frustrations and tragedies of our time. It is the cause of so many of the challenges and uncertainties that people, politicians, businesses and communities are wrestling with as 2019 unfolds.

Perhaps 2019 will be the year in which people recognise that growth has reached a point where a high standard of living could, theoretically, be universal.

Realising that possibility demands a new project – using resources in a smarter, fairer way, rather than wasting or hoarding them; focusing on the quality and distribution of economic activity and material resources. That is the task of ‘making ourselves at home’.

Once the delusion of growth as both an end in itself and the best of all possible means is discarded, discussion can then turn to what sort of economy we can create, to making better use of what has already been accumulated and, perhaps more than anything, ensuring it is fairly distributed.

Many aspects of this ‘grown up’ economy are already in existence – and indeed flourishing. From pro-social businesses to the ‘remakeries’ that are popping up in high streets. From policy makers creating incentives for the circular economy, to the city mayors using participatory budgeting.

Making ourselves at home is an economy in which there is scope for continuous improvement. Science and technology will advance. Human creativity and imagination are boundless. The economy will remain dynamic.

What changes is the ultimate goal. Making ourselves at home is an ethos of qualitative improvement that is a very different system-wide goal to the sometimes meaningless, sometimes harmful, and sometimes unnecessary, pursuit of more.

 

the economics of arrival_fcThe economics of arrival by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams is available on the Policy Press website. Order here for £11.99.

A Finer Future: Creating an economy in service to life

By L. Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, Anders Wijkman, John Fullerton

A Finer Future is aimed at business leaders, entrepreneurs, activists, and anyone who cares about the future of our planet. Rich with stories of communities implementing solutions, it describes the exciting news in the work to transform finance, business, energy agriculture and many other areas of our society to create an economy that works for every one of us.

Find out more about the book and order your copy here.

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck has written a chapter for a new ebook by Open Democracy, available free here. Edited by Laurie Macfarlane, “New Thinking for the British Economy” brings together leading thinkers to outline the broad pillars of a new economic agenda, and the type of policies that are needed to get us there. As well as more traditional policy areas such as trade, finance, housing and industrial policy, the book explores a range of areas that are not typically considered to be within the sphere of economic policy but which nonetheless play a critical role shaping our political economy – such as the media, our care systems, racial inequalities and our constitutional arrangements.

Katherine’s chapter – “Building a Wellbeing Economy” – explains that GDP is a wholly inadequate measure of progress for the twenty-first century: the narrow pursuit of growth-at-all-costs is failing to meet human needs and destroying the planet. Repurposing the economy away from GDP towards outcomes that align economic success with the delivery of human and ecological wellbeing is therefore an essential step towards an economy that works for people and planet.

Download the ebook for free now.