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As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Were Economists Prepared for the Pandemic?– Rethinking Economics

“Increasingly, it is economists that governments turn to when responding to  these crises, but do their economics courses do enough to prepare them for this vital  role?” 

Goliath and Goliath: Asset Management and Ownership in the UK Economy

“This briefing – which introduces Common Wealth’s programme of work on the future of the sector – explores the implications of this rise and concentration in assets and, by extension, economic power, setting out key questions for policymakers, particularly with respect to this industry’s growing role in our response to global challenges, from ensuring a strong and fair Covid-19 recovery to tackling the climate crisis.”

Pathways out of Capitalism: Building Forward, New and Radical

“Anti-capitalist organising must be rooted in a commitment to see the world for what it is but at the same time push forward with unrelenting hope that another world, a better one, is possible.”

Better Business Act

“We’re joining the coalition because we believe that now is the right time to raise the bar for British business across the board, it’s time for broader accountability to be a legal requirement for the many, not just a moral imperative for the few.” – Arlo Brady, Freuds

The Principles of Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.”

Community Currencies as Crisis Response: Results from a Randomized Control Trial in Kenya

“This paper presents the results of what may be the world’s first randomized control trial on community currencies. In 2020, Grassroots Economics’ Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) model was adopted by the Kenya Red Cross as a humanitarian response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Wellbeing Transition – Eloi Laurent

“The purpose is to advance the understanding and undertaking of the well-being transition away from growth and toward resilience and sustainability, at a time when this progress has become a vital necessity”

Inclusive and sustainable economies: leaving no one behind (executive summary)

“There is a social gradient in health: the lower an individual’s socioeconomic position, as defined by their job, qualifications, income, wealth, and where they live, the worse their health. It has been estimated that, between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2018, over a third of deaths in England were attributable to socioeconomic inequality. Such avoidable inequalities are unjust, and there is both a moral and economic argument for acting at scale to reduce health inequalities.”

Good Lives for All in Greater Manchester

Nothing we describe in this vision for the city-region is impractical or unachievable. Good things might be already happening somewhere, but they need to be happening everywhere.

The Green Central Banking Scorecard – Positive Money

“While some institutions have taken concrete action to assess environmental risks and incentivise green investments, all are shying away from policies that disincentivise or restrict financial flows to environmentally harmful activities.”

OECD: Beyond Growth

“At the core of the report is recognition of the sociality of human beings and their embeddedness in social instituions, an idea with profound implications for our understandings of both economic theory and policy.”

Careless Finance—Operational and economic fragility in adult social care

Adult social care across the OECD is in crisis. Covid-19 has exposed deep fragilities which have combined to place unprecedented strain on social care organisations. Principal amongst these is the process of marketisation and financialisation of the social care sector. In this paper, we take a critical perspective on this process

DAWN Informs on PPPs

Together they compose a panorama of the state of PPPs today, filled with analysis and critique, looking at effects and consequences to women’s lives and communities’ wellbeing, all in the name of so-called development.

Job Openings & Opportunities

What to Watch

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Upcoming Events

WEAll Originals  

Blogs:

Publications:

From the Archives

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

Careless Finance—Operational and economic fragility in adult social care

Adult social care across the OECD is in crisis. Covid-19 has exposed deep fragilities which have combined to place unprecedented strain on social care organisations. Principal amongst these is the process of marketisation and financialisation of the social care sector. In this paper, we take a critical perspective on this process

DAWN Informs on PPPs

Together they compose a panorama of the state of PPPs today, filled with analysis and critique, looking at effects and consequences to women’s lives and communities’ wellbeing, all in the name of so-called development.

Why systems change requires shadow work

 I argue that for us to move forward and truly create root and branch change, we each of us have to do the dirty work, and acknowledge all the things denied about ourselves and our cultures. So, allow me to be the first to hold up my hand and own my culture’s stuff

From growth to well-being: a new paradigm for EU economic governance

This policy brief criticizes the European Economic Governance system for being too narrowly focused on economic growth and competitiveness.

Roots of Transformation: lessons and leverage points for sustainable living

 We acknowledge the need for drastic changes if we are to meet the 1.5 degree challenge. But how do we actually do it? 

WEAll Policy Design Guidebook

“This guide has been co-created by the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) to support visionary policy makers, to build more just and sustainable economies for people and planet.”

Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing – Dr. Katherine Trebeck

“The report argues that the Scottish Government’s stated aims of improving wellbeing across society and addressing the fact that one quarter of children live in relative poverty cannot be met unless we create conditions for our youngest children to be healthy and supported from the outset.”

Chasing Carbon Markets: The Deception of Carbon Markets and “Net Zero”

“Net zero” is a smokescreen, a conveniently invented concept that is both dangerous and problematic because of how effectively it hides inaction. We have to unpack “net zero” strategies and pledges to see which are real and which are fake. Fake zero strategies rely on offsets, rather than real emission reductions. Real zero strategies require emissions to really go to zero, or as close to zero as possible

Mindset Shifts: What are they? Why do they matter? How do they happen?

This report is intended as a resource for all those working on and funding mindset shifts.The research yields clear lessons and recommendations for how advocates, activists, funders,and other practitioners can maximize the impact of their efforts to change how we thinkabout social issues in order to change the contexts and structures that shape our experiencesand realities

SBTI … Net Zero Targets … TCFD … ESG Investment … resistance bubbles up that ‘trust us, we’re big’​ is not sufficient any longer

It is clear that ‘business as usual’ is not sufficient any longer (and hasn’t been for long), and remaining incremental ‘steps in the right direction’ are wilful predatory delay and not part of the solution. Now, do we have the tools at hand to react sufficiently and responsibly?

Devastatingly pervasive: 1 in 3 women globally experience violence

“Violence disproportionately affects women living in low- and lower-middle-income countries.  An estimated 37% of women living in the poorest countries have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their life, with some of these countries having a prevalence as high as 1 in 2.”

Health Verses Wealth?

“This briefing, by drawing attention to the longer term interactions between public health and the economy, dispels the myth that measures to protect public health are necessarily detrimental to economic well-being. Whilst difficult choices do have to be made, this ‘health versus wealth’ mentality is shown to be a false dichotomy.”

Job Openings & Opportunities

What to Watch

Listen Up

Upcoming Events

WEAll Originals  

Blogs:

Publications:

From the Archives

As part of our work to amplify the important work in the Wellbeing Economy movement, these WEAll Weekly Update blogs will share some of the latest and greatest updates from our membership and beyond. Please use the comment box to share any relevant updates from this week and keep the conversation going!

Weekly Reads

L’Internationale Online

“This collection draws upon the complexity of ethical, ecological and political frameworks and reveals other perspectives on the current crisis through critical essays, storytelling, science fiction, biomorphic design, audiovisual traces of artistic practices and allegorical maps”

Budget 2021: Five priorities for a green and fair economic recovery | APPG letter to the Chancellor, 1 Mar 2021

“Every decision that the Treasury makes should be through a climate, nature and equality lens, and this budget must be the start.”

Regenerative Agriculture White Paper Sets Out Pressing Research Priorities

“The white paper is the result of intensive collaboration and consultation with more than 200 people from June to November 2020. Collaborators include farmers and growers, researchers, primary industry bodies, banks, retailers, non-governmental organisations, government departments, large corporates, consultants, marketers, overseas researchers and educators.”

Why Understanding & Embracing Suffering is Important to Flourishing and Fundamental Peace

“The key message is simple – it is neither necessary nor desirable to eliminate human struggles and frailties to pursue a flourishing human life. Creating a proper attitude and response to our limitations, challenges, and suffering is the best way to a flourishing life.”

Relationship-to-Profit: A Theory of Business, Markets, and Profit for Social Ecological Economics – Jennifer Hinton

“The result is a new theory about how relationship-to-profit (the legal difference between for-profit and not-for-profit forms of business) plays a key role in the sustainability of an economy, due to the ways in which it guides and constrains actors’ behavior, and drives larger market dynamics.”

21st Century Sustainable Enterprise Force Field

“The desired state for a company is being a truly sustainable enterprise that partners with other organizations to lead society to a more just, safe, healthy and resilient future. The 21st century sustainable enterprise force field is a dashboard of sustainability-related forces that affect companies”

UNCTAD Technology and Innovation Report 2021

Human development has been spurred by changes in technology. But so has inequality. Today’s staggering inequalities began to appear with the industrial revolution. The pace of technological change is accelerating due to digitalization and frontier technologies. New technologies can have severe downsides if they outpace a society’s ability to adapt.

2019/2020 Action Plan For The Office of The Youth Envoy (OYE)

“The Youth Envoy mission is to lead advocacy and champion youth agency in the prioritization of youth issues within continental, and other decision-making and
governance spaces.”

Beyond Race and Rota (January 2021) It Takes a System- The Systemic Nature of Racism and Pathways to Systems Change

There are three central pillars to race thinking as a mental model. The first pillar is that humanity can be differentiated along the lines of the category called ‘race’. The second is that there exists a racial hierarchy in which being white is the highest form of humanity. The third is that populations racially minoritised as ‘other than’ white are deeply and irreversibly biologically and/or culturally flawed. In other words, the racial order is largely fixed.

Job Openings & Opportunities

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Upcoming Events

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Blogs:

Publications:

From the Archives

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.

See more from the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP)

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.

See the full text and find out more here

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

The Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) has published a new working paper making the case for an early zero carbon target for the UK.

‘Zero Carbon Sooner’ by Tim Jackson addresses the question of when the UK should aim for zero (or net zero) carbon emissions. Starting from the global carbon budget which would allow the world an estimated 66% chance of limiting climate warming to 1.5o C, the paper derives a fair carbon budget for the UK of 2.5 GtCO2. The briefing then analyses a variety of emission pathways and target dates in terms of their adequacy for remaining within this budget.

A key finding is that a target date for zero carbon is not sufficient to determine whether the UK remains within its carbon budget. Policy must specify both a target date and an emissions pathway. For a linear reduction pathway not to exceed the carbon budget the target year would have to be 2025. Nonlinear pathways, such as those with constant percentage reduction rates, have a higher chance of remaining within the available budget provided that the reduction starts early enough and the reduction rate is high enough. It is notable that reduction rates high enough both to lead to zero carbon (on a consumption basis) by 2050 and to remain within the carbon budget require absolute reductions of more than 95% of carbon emissions as early as 2030. On this basis, the paper argues in favour of setting a UK target for net zero carbon emissions by 2030 or earlier, with a maximum of 5% emissions addressed through negative emission technologies.

Download and read the briefing paper here.

Are you interested in nature and in writing about nature? Do you think nature writing can help us understand more about environmental threats from habitat loss to climate change—and inspire people to take action on them? And what does ‘nature writing’ have to say about sense of place, community and the good life? Are there aspects of our relationship with our environments that nature writing has neglected?

If you’re excited by the new wave of nature writing over the past two decades, CUSP hopes you will want to submit your work as a potential contribution to a forthcoming publication: Nature Writing for the Common Good.

They’re looking for unpublished authors who can offer new perspectives on our relationships with the natural world and the ways in which these can be re-imagined, changed and sustained for the common good.

This is a project led by CUSP, the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, an international research partnership funded by the Economic and Social Research Council—engaging people, politics, business and NGOs across the UK and beyond.

This collection of short pieces will use nature writing to explore environmental and social challenges facing Britain and the world today. It hopes to harness the power of good writing about nature to help us understand our relationship with the natural world—and to motivate change.

While nature writing is hugely popular in the UK—as a visit to most bookshops would suggest—it is also open to criticism as tending to be nostalgic, concerned mainly with certain types of landscape, and dominated by a well-established set of authors and themes—with a paucity of writers who are of colour, working class or women.

Given the vast challenges posed by climate breakdown, threats to wildlife, changes in farming, pressures of many kinds on the land, nature writing is entangled with difficult and far-reaching political, economic and social issues. We hope to see entries that engage with this complexity.

We’re looking for nature writing—from anyone yet to be published—that can open up new perspectives on the state of our relations with land, wildlife and one another, and help us to see engagement with nature, often profound and individual, as part of a ‘common good.’ We want to include a wide variety of contributors, landscapes and types of writing.

Call for entries

The competition begins on 15th April 2019 and the closing date for submissions is 17th June 2019. We welcome contributions up to 2,500 words. The genre is ‘essay’—but this can include many non-fictional approaches—including a work of reportage, a memoir—and we are looking for innovative ways of reflecting on our connections with nature, place and other creatures. The winners will be published in an open-access online collection by CUSP. We are developing plans for a later print publication and further rounds of calls, including possibly taking a selected new author to publication of their first book.

Entries will be shortlisted by Kate Oakley and Ian Christie. Our final judging panel for pieces to be included in the collection comprises well-known authors and environmental writers Madeleine BuntingJessica J LeeLouisa Adjoa ParkerRichard SmythKen Worpole and CUSP Director Tim Jackson. We look forward to your submissions!

Guidelines

  • The competition is international in scope and open to all—but essays must be written in English and unpublished for the duration of the competition.
  • We are seeking to support authors who are unpublished yet in print up to and during the competition. We especially welcome submissions from writers of disadvantaged communities. Entries are invited from all age groups.
  • The length of the essay should not exceed 2.500 words.
  • For conceptual background on New Nature Writing, please see the project introduction by Ian Christie and Kate Oakley.

Get involved here: https://www.cusp.ac.uk/themes/a/naturewriting/

This blog was first published by CUSP

The last century has seen unprecedented economic and social progress for many people in many parts in the world. In light of climate change, and social and economic instability, the challenge is now to make ourselves at home with this wealth, to ensure, in the interests of equality, that everyone is included.

By KATHERINE TREBECK and JEREMY WILLIAMS

In 1890 the political economist Jean Charles de Sismondi published Nouveaux Principes dEconomie Politique. It was a powerful work of humanitarian protest against an economy that saw wealth accumulation as an end in itself. Wondering if economic expansion looms too large in the political imagination is by no means a new idea, and in the 130 odd years since de Sismondi wrote about it, the problem has only become more acute.

Financial wealth can be a major tool in human development and emancipation. The 20th century saw decades of steady growth in the industrialised world, and unprecedented economic and social progress along with it. Between the economic collapse of 1929 through to the late 1970s, growth was accompanied by policies to close the gap between rich and poor. It was a time of economic equalisation, as union rights expanded and workers enjoyed a greater share of the wealth through their wages. Women entered the workforce in large numbers, reducing gender inequality. Levels of education rose, improving job quality and raising wages for low skilled workers. Progressive tax regimes were implemented, and social welfare programmes expanded. While poverty and hardship have not been eliminated altogether in industrial economies, many people are richer, healthier and better cared for today than previous generations could ever have imagined.

Having come this far, it is troubling to consider how much of this progress is threatened by climate change, inequality, environmental decline and extreme politics. After all these gains, the next generation may see achievements slipping away. Others, still on the outside of that progress, may find the door closing on them as competition for resources and the mounting damage of climate change begin to erode gains as fast as development can proceed.

Wealthy economies still pursuing growth are like a man in an orchard with an armful of apples, who can’t stoop to pick up any more without dropping what he’s already carrying.

Of course, it’s easy to say that a country has ‘enough’ wealth and resources, but that doesn’t imply that everyone has what they need. Wealth may be distributed very poorly—the richest 10% of households in Britain own more wealth than the first eight deciles put together.

Neither does it feel like an age of prosperity. The number of people on zero hour contracts has quadrupled since the financial crisis, and earnings can feel insecure and precarious. The little victories of consumerism are short lived. Our prized possessions rapidly lose their gloss – the iPad 4 came out just eight months after the iPad 3. We’re always one more purchase away from happiness, the advertisers tell us: just a gym membership short of physical perfection, one insurance policy short of the peace of mind we long for. But satisfaction through consumption is a false promise, and it marginalises those who can’t afford to participate.

De Sismondi argued that the world needed a new set of principles for the political economy, and that remains true today. One of those principles is what we call ‘Arrival’—the possibility that GDP-rich countries can reach a point of maturity where they have enough wealth and resources to provide a good life to all their citizens. Having arrived, they can refocus from quantity to quality, ensuring that everyone is included. We call this ‘making ourselves at home’.

We would argue that many of the world’s richest nations have indeed arrived and could be considered ‘fully grown’. The task now is to pay more attention to distribution and inclusion, pursuing improvement rather than enlargement. This would not be a mythical end of progress, but the beginning of a new chapter. J M Keynes hinted at this when he described a future people who would be free to cultivate ‘the art of life’, once the ‘means of life’ had been secured. With the survival priorities taken care of, they could look to other forms of progress, such as increased leisure time, more participative democracy, or a shift from consumerism to ‘experientialism’.

Despite its historical roots, this remains a provocative idea. The forces acting against such a shift are formidable. Political success is measured in GDP growth. The economy collapses into recession and job losses without it. International institutions ascribe voting rights or places at the table on the basis of economic power. And there’s our own psychology to contend with—there is a human tendency to think of more as better, and growth as good. Keynes warned that it would be hard to adjust.

So did J K Galbraith. “To have failed to solve the problem of producing goods would have been to continue man [sic] in his oldest and most grievous misfortune” he wrote. “But to fail to see that we have solved it and fail to proceed hence to the next task would be fully as tragic.”

It would be tragic enough if society failed to notice and appreciate the abundance it already has. But it could be worse. By pursuing the goals of the 19th and 20th centuries into the 21st, despite them being ostensibly met, the economic models of developed countries may begin to undo the hard work of previous generations. To abuse that abundance, and in so doing pass on a poorer future to future generations—not to mention the ongoing injustice of so poorly sharing the benefits around the world today—constitutes a huge betrayal of the opportunities and possibilities of today’s world.

Katherine Trebeck is a researcher and member of the CUSP Advisory Committee, she works as the Policy and Knowledge Lead for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. Jeremy Williams is a sustainability writer and activist who blogs at makewealthhistory.org. Their new book, The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown-up economy, is out now from Policy Press.

Mural by Akarat (and Hoax), Bristol. Image courtesy of scooj.org, 2015

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck writes for CUSP on “Making transformation tangible”.

Excerpt:

“The vision underpinning so much of this work is not far away. You hear it if you take the time to listen to what people identify as most important in their lives. You read it in certain texts of the world’s religions and development scholarship. You see it if you look at brain scans or reflect on the findings of psychologists and epidemiologists about human stress and flourishing. It flows from what Tim Jackson often refers to as what makes us ‘innately human’.

Essentially, the messages from these diverse quarters point to the need for a ‘wellbeing economy’: an economy in service of human and ecological wellbeing. It is about meeting the needs of all. It recognises that the economy is embedded in society and the rest of nature rather than nature and society being in service of the economy. A wellbeing economy is about more than tweaking and fixing the harm caused by the current model.”

Read the full blog here