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by Rabia Abrar

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

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

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

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

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

The Wellbeing Economy and A Healthy Planet

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

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

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

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

Social Injustice Drives Environmental Breakdown

Katherine explains that, 

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

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

Fascinatingly, research shows that:

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

Redesigning our Economy

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

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

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

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


But I agree with Katherine when she says:

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

Want to get involved? 

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

Elizabeth Dirth, a member of the WEAll Research Fellow’s Network, has recently released two extensive reports offering solutions for both governments and business alike to support the Friday’s for Future movement.

The timing seems ever important as we’re watching an entire continent light up in flames. The question is, how can we support and amplify the initiatives of youth that are pushing for change in a loud and radical way? Both of Elizabeth’s tool-kits provide the answers that many governments and businesses are looking for.

Click the links below to learn more about how to participate in the global push for climate action.

The Futuring Tool: A Toolkit for Responding to the Demands of the Fridays for Future Movement (for Governments): https://www.iass-potsdam.de/en/output/publications/2019/futuring-tool-toolkit-responding-demands-fridays-future-movement

The Futuring Tool: A Toolkit for Responding to the Demands of the Fridays for Future Movement. 2nd Edition (for NGOs and businesses): https://www.iass-potsdam.de/en/output/publications/2019/futuring-tool-toolkit-responding-demands-fridays-future-movement-2nd

 

 

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

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

Read Sam’s piece on the Independent site here.

Dear Adult,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can’t wait to see you there,

WEAll Youth

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