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Katherine Trebeck (WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead) has been advocating alternative measures of progress to GDP for a long time – including her work on Oxfam’s Humankind Index.

One alternative metric she’s become known for championing is the number of girls riding bicycles to school. Just think, she urges us, of the number of policies that need to be working for the benefit of people in order for higher numbers of girls on bikes – and in education – to be possible.

This month Katherine spoke with The Alternative UK about this idea and the vision of a wellbeing economy more broadly. Watch the “fascinating, informative and warm exchange”, part of their “The Elephant Meets” series, below or find it on The Alternative here. 

 

BBC Radio Scotland has aired an in-depth feature exploring wellbeing economics, community wealth building and how Scotland can build back better post-covid.

Featuring interviews with WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck and WEAll member Sarah McKinley of the Democracy Collaborative, the report by BBC Scotland Economics Editor Douglas Fraser explores the need to reconsider our approach the economy.

Katherine  says: “Our economy wasn’t delivering for enough people. Covid has shone a very harsh light on the economic system we had prior to the pandemic. It has created a necessity to look for different ways of doing things”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is also quoted, speaking in her 2019 TED Talk about the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership.

There is also a spotlight on the new Community Wealth Building strategy of North Ayrshire Council, an economic development approach which focuses on the needs of communities and building thriving local economies. WEAll Scotland’s Sarah Deas was this week named as Chair of the expert panel advising North Ayrshire’s approach – read more here.

Listen to the BBC Radio Scotland feature here (from 1:32:15).

Lois Cameron was one of over 200 people who attended a recent joint event organised by the RSA and WEAll, where Katherine Trebeck and Jamie Cooke were in conversation about what it will take to Build Back Better and create wellbeing economies. You can watch their discussion here.

Lois was so inspired by what she heard that she was moved to write this beautiful poem:

Build Back Better  

 

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

Care, kindness, love do they appear?

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

Time to shop local and be neighbourly

To slow down, connect , bring others cheer

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

 

Making money is not all it’s cracked up to be

People feel redundant as they lose their career

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

Can you see the butterflies, hear the bees?

Listen to clean water tumble over the weir

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

 

The change will be hard for all to agree

But to ‘build back better’ we need to be clear

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

Changing what matters is going to be key

In this woman lead, make sure you hear

Our nation’s success is measured in GDP

Why don’t we count things important to me?

 

May 2020     Lois Cameron

Today, two members of the WEAll Scotland team have been appointed to influential economic advisory roles in Scotland.

Dr Katherine Trebeck has been appointed to the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Renewal Advisory Group, and Sarah Deas is chairing the economic advisory panel for North Ayrshire Council’s pioneering Community Wealth Building Strategy.

The Sustainable Renewal Advisory Group is chaired by Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunninghame. It has been tasked with identifying opportunities to embed sustainability in Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 and with exploring the new challenges and opportunities we face in achieving a 75% reduction in emissions within a decade.

Ms. Cunninghame said: “In anticipation of a ‘new normal’, we have a chance to re-imagine the Scotland around us, and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy. Our starting point has most definitely changed but our ambitions need not and I remain deeply committed to our ambition to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045. ”

Joining Katherine on the panel are MSPs from all parties at Holyrood, and other expert leaders from across academia, industry, business, trades union and environmental organisations.

North Ayrshire Council launched their bold Community Wealth Building Strategy last Thursday – becoming the first in Scotland to adopt this economic approach – as they set out their radical new vision for shaping the economy now and post Covid-19.

The strategy sets out how the Council and other ‘anchor’ organisations – including NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Ayrshire College and wider partners – will work in partnership with communities and businesses to build a strong local economy which supports fair work, encourages local spend and uses the land and property we own for the common good.

And with such a new, different ‘take’ on how to galvanise and overhaul the local economy, the Council has enlisted the support of some important and well respected economic thinkers who lead in aspects of Community Wealth Building from across the globe.

Leading the Expert Panel will be  WEAll Scotland trustee Sarah Deas.

Sarah said: “The vital work that North Ayrshire is doing in pioneering local economic development is even more important in these challenging times. I’m delighted to chair this expert advisory panel which will act as a critical friend in developing a model that spreads wealth within the community.”

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said:

“This is one of the most progressive panels of economic experts that has been put together anywhere and we will tap into all their knowledge to put our CWB ambitions into action to deliver our new economic model. The knowledge, perspectives and ideas they bring will be important and timely given the economic crisis we are currently facing, and the climate crisis we’ll face moving forward”

Joining Sarah on the Expert Panel are: Miriam Brett, Common Wealth, Joe Guinan, The Democracy Collaborative,  Laurie Macfarlane Economics Editor at openDemocracy,  Ian Mitchell, Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS), Jess Thomas,  Co-operatives UK,  Roz Foyer,  Scottish Trade Union Council, Sarah McKinley, The Democracy Collaborative and the  Next System Project and Neil McInroy, the Centre for Economic Strategies.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] By Katherine Trebeck (WEAll) and Peter Kelly (The Poverty Alliance)

First published by Bella Caledonia

 

 

This year started with masks and it is likely to end with masks.

As Scottish people woke up on Hogmanay morning, Australians were going to bed to the latest news of the bushfires spreading across the east coast of the country, taking people’s homes, wildlife and acres and acres of native vegetation with them.

In Australia’s capital city, Canberra, the rolling hills surrounding it meant smoke from nearby blazes settled in the city streets, endangering the lungs of locals. Many went out to buy masks and the ones of apparently high enough spec to filter out the carcinogenetic particles quickly sold out.

And now multiple governments are telling their citizens that wearing masks is part of the steps they need to take to control the transmission of covid-19, part of the so-called ‘new normal’ we’re all going to have to fall into step with.

And as lockdown measures are slowly, hesitantly wound back, attention is being turned to how economies can recover from one of the biggest kicks in the guts it is possible to imagine: workers and customers being told to stay home.

The stakes are high – people have lost jobs, businesses are no longer viable, and personal and government debts have stacked up. Emergency measures cannot continue indefinitely – in due course the direction is going to have to be set for the post-covid economy.

What covid-19 revealed was that the economy of pre-covid days was one that stood on the shoulders of an army of low paid workers eking out a livelihood in very precarious work. The early stages of lockdown revealed that what kept communities ticking over was the foundational economy, local supply chains, and the generosity and kindness of neighbours helping each other get by.

What will ensure Scotland builds back better? Certainly not reverting business as usual – in fact, that will be impossible, what is more likely is a more toxic economic model than the one of pre-covid days. So instead, what is necessary is a proactive, concerted effort to use all the levers the Scottish government has to create a wellbeing economy: one that delivers social justice on a healthy planet.

Scotland has already created of the mechanisms that can enable this – they’ve just been underutilised. Now is the time to breathe life into them, doubling down on the timid steps already being taken rather than ditching them with a misplaced deference to old way of doing things which didn’t require too much prodding to be revealed as inadequate.

Here are some examples:

  • Conditionality needs to be the name of the game in government support for businesses. Some businesses merit public funds because they are the sort of enterprises that can play a part in building a wellbeing economy. Some won’t and thus don’t. No business that is unable to demonstrate its relevance to the wellbeing economy agenda should be in line for public funds. But in making that real, fortunately the Scottish Government has a Business Pledge, sitting on the shelf quietly that could be bolstered and used as a lens through which to evaluate the requests for help. The work of Scottish Enterprise constitutes another nascent move that needs more oomph: nurturing more inclusive business models into existence and the 2019 shift in strategy to making ‘job-related grants contingent on fair work practices, including job security and payment of the real living wage’.
    *
  • But in contrast to businesses, all people merit public support when the chips are down. So reskilling is needed to help people reposition themselves in a profoundly changed economic landscape. But not just reskilling but providing a backstop so people don’t slip too far as they step into the new reality, via robust social protection. Making permanent the improved resources made available through the Scottish Welfare Fund would be positive, but significantly increasing Child Benefit using Scotland’s scope to top up reserved benefits would provide the cushion that many families have been lacking in recent weeks.
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  • Communities know what needs to be done: how their localities need to change and what sort of economy will be in service of that. So perhaps the best role of a post-covid state is to underwrite community-led solutions? Again, there are the glimmers of existing practice to build on – not least in the form of the Climate Challenge Fund. Ramping up such initiatives will ensure the activities that emerge as lockdown is lifted are those aligned with sustainability and community need.
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  • Jobs themselves need to be redesigned – to deliver decent pay (it beggars belief that two in five care workers did not earn the real Living Wage as the corona crisis set in) and to distribute the available paid work more fairly across people who want it. The Scottish Government can encourage this through support for those firms that embrace employing more people rather than working fewer staff harder. For example, business rates could be recalibrated, subsidies and procurement could be better aligned with certain business practices, and basic bread and butter encouragement of necessary practices all matter.
    *
  • Covid-19 and the economic disruption it has brought is no reason to put dealing with environmental breakdown on the backburner – in fact, it makes the need even more stark if the likes of Covid-32 and Covid-97 are to be kept at bay. Again, Scotland has the beginnings to build on: ambitious climate targets and the work of the Just Transition Commission to map a way to support communities while powering down those industries incompatible with a low carbon economy. The very existence of Zero Waste Scotland is something to celebrate – a post-covid economy needs to be a circular one. The just transition agenda needs to be at the heart of economic and social policy making as Scotland seeks ways to move into a new economic era without people being left on the wayside.
    *
  • Other mechanisms that offer the means to bring about the sort of changes needed, were they just to be drawn on with more vigour, include the Sustainable Procurement duty, the Community Empowerment Act, and the community wealth building efforts. Community wealth building in particular, when combined with the efforts to bolster the population of inclusive business models flagged above, constitutes an important way to ‘get the economy to do more of the heavy lifting’ – or predistribute – resources in a way that is fairer than current circumstances allow.
    *
  • The Citizens Assemblies – for example on Scotland’s future and on climate change – are examples of the sort of robust, deliberative mechanisms to distil and develop the views of people in Scotland. With the First Minister talking of having an ‘adult conversation’ about responding to covid-19, the test will be the extent to which they feed into policy decisions and become a core part of decision making strategy.

The goal of a wellbeing economy has been set in the National Performance Framework, the creation of WEGo, the First Minister’s TED talk, and the rhetoric about the February budget being a wellbeing budget (a dubious claim, but the sentiment counts for something).

If the NPF can be used more concertedly to guide the objectives of policy making and accountability of policy making, then the economy coming out of covid will begin to be one that could be described as a wellbeing economy.

If the learnings from others can be harnessed via WEGo and if the bold statements in the First Minister’s TED talk create space for civil servants wanting to be part of the transformation necessary, then the economy coming out of covid will begin to be one that could be described as a wellbeing economy.

And if next year’s budget truly is a wellbeing budget – featuring long term goals, cross-departmental collaboration, with an outcome focus and attending to root causes of wellbeing deficits – then the economy coming out of covid will begin to be one that could be described as a wellbeing economy.

And that brings us to the task force set up to guide the government on economic recovery post-covid. Others have raised an eyebrow at its composition and lack of unusual suspects (and, dare we point out, the lack of expertise on addressing poverty and ways to bolster Scotland’s renewable sector, let alone an economic system change expert). This is surely an own-goal – diversity will enable better ideas. But not wanting to judge it prematurely, its merit will depend on the extent to which it discards outdated recipes, recognises the dual goals of social justice and sustainability and that the best initiatives deliver on both fronts to deliver collective wellbeing for current and future generations.

Scotland has the talk and the templates for building a wellbeing economy. There are tentative moves in the direction of what is necessary. Now is not the time to turn away from them. Now is the time to breathe life into them, roll them out, scale them out and up in order to build back better.

Katherine photo credit: Martin Oetting

Peter photo credit: Maverick photo agency[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

On 7 May WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Katherine Trebeck was part of The RSA’s webinar series.

Katherine had a lively discussion with Jamie Cooke, Head of RSA Scotland, about the urgency of prioritising wellbeing over economic growth in order to build back better to create wellbeing economies, during and after the covid emergency response.

Watch the event below or find it on The RSA’s YouTube channel here.

WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead was recently interviewed by Social Value UK for their series “Social Value Always Matters”.

Katherine spoke about the current coronavirus pandemic and the urgent need for emergency recovery efforts to deliberately build back better and create wellbeing economies.

Watch it below or find it on the Social Value UK YouTube channel here.

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance and the Poverty Alliance have today written to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to task the recently appointed Advisory Group on Economic Recovery with putting social justice at the heart of their work.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear First Minister,

Economic Recovery and Covid-19

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we have witnessed in action the values that we all share. We have seen the compassion, kindness and solidarity that will be required to make it through this crisis.

But we have also seen that our economy is failing to live up to these values. Our social security system and labour market have failed to protect too many of us: particularly women, disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic communities.

It is clear that as we move through and beyond the current phase of the crisis, we must commit to redesigning our economy and systems to better reflect our shared values of compassion and justice. Instead of returning to the economy we had going into the Covid-19 crisis, we must build back better by creating a wellbeing economy that puts our collective wellbeing first.

We therefore welcome that the Scottish Government’s Covid-19: framework for decision making recognises the need to look at the “social and economic reforms necessary to achieve the best future for Scotland” and commits not to repeat the mistakes of austerity. This commitment is most welcome but must be made real. In the months ahead we urge you to maintain your ambitious climate agenda to ensure the post-Covid-19 economy is a sustainable one, and to ensure it is socially just we urge you to prioritise:

  • Building a labour market that works for everyone: Too many people, particularly women and younger people, are trapped in poverty by low-paid and insecure work. Fair Work has been central to the Scottish Government’s approach to labour market policy, but more must be done to make it a reality for workers in Scotland.
  • Designing a more just taxation system: While this crisis is impacting every person across the country, the disproportionate impact on people on low incomes has highlighted the very real consequences of our deeply unequal society. It cannot be right that the wealthiest 1% of households in Scotland own more wealth than the poorest 50% at a time when almost 1 in 4 children are living in poverty. We must inject justice and fairness into our taxation system.
  • Securing adequate incomes for all: We have seen positive steps taken by the Scottish Government as it has started to deliver social security assistance. However, Covid-19 has highlighted that this support must not only be dignified, but should help deliver an adequate income too. The Scottish Government must use its powers creatively and to their fullest extent to ensure that our social security system can keep any one of us afloat during difficult times.

Even at this moment of crisis we must begin the task of investing in a better future, to ‘build back better’, with every policy decision we make helping us move towards a just society that’s in step with our values.

We must not return to the pre-Covid 19 economy that locked so many people into poverty.

The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery must not, therefore, simply seek to replicate the unsustainable and unjust economy that went before. Instead, it must focus on the steps we can take to create an environmentally sustainable economy that ensures a just distribution of income and wealth. We urge you to task the recently appointed Advisory Group on Economic Recovery with putting social justice at the heart of their work. In doing so the Advisory Group should liaise with the Poverty and Inequality Commission and the Just Transition Commission and collaborate with existing Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partners to show leadership in creating a wellbeing economy.

This time calls on us to reflect on the kind of country we want to live in. We believe in a Scotland in which wealth is justly distributed, our life chances are not determined by how much we earn, where our labour market guarantees Fair Work for every worker, and where everyone has enough money to get by. We hope you share this vision and will take the decisions in the weeks and months ahead to make it a reality.

We would welcome an early discussion with you regarding the role of the Advisory Group, as well as the broader concerns of our members regarding the long-term social and economic reforms we require.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Kelly, The Poverty Alliance
Dr Katherine Trebeck, Wellbeing Economy Alliance

New WEAll Briefing paper published today:

‘With your support we kept going, what else were we to do?’ Linwood as a microcosm of the beginnings of a wellbeing economy (click to download PDF)

By Katherine Trebeck, WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead with Kirsty Flannigan and Jim Boyle

For any new idea to be supported, let alone adopted, it needs to be visualised.

Sometimes that is via story telling that offers a coherent and compelling narrative. Sometimes that will be by seeing the idea played out in practice and getting a sense of what it looks and feels like.

Ideally, it will be both.

This applies to the diverse movement working to build a wellbeing economy: we need to work upwards from practical experience and outwards from conversations that open up people’s sense of the possibility that the economy can operate for, rather than against, humanity.

Rarely though (under the current economic system), is it possible to see the richness of an idea embodied in so many dimensions in one place. Fortunately, in Linwood, a town of just over ten thousand people on the outskirts of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, efforts to build what can be described as a wellbeing economy can be seen in action.

The Linwood story encompasses not just what a wellbeing economy might entail, but also why such a new economic model needs to be built, in Linwood and beyond.

In many ways, the story of Linwood reflects the story of the global economy. It has powerful actors in the form of corporate and institutional protagonists. And it has those who suffer from an economic model misaligned with what people need: local families who just want to get on with their lives and buy produce locally, play football on local pitches, share a cup of coffee together in a local cafe, and feel that the economy with which they interact is working for them.

The characters in Linwood’s story include heroic women fighting against an impersonal bureaucracy. It has heartache and triumphs, and its long history is still ongoing with the possibility of another instalment just around the corner.

Rather than telling the story of Linwood in a chronological sense, its story of the last few decades is set out here via challenges and objectives that will be familiar to those in the wellbeing economy movement around the world:

  • Deep systemic causes beyond the manifest symptoms
  • Local perseverance in resisting an imposed and inappropriate agenda, but so often coming up against power and system intransigence
  • The cultivation of business models that are designed for social benefit
  • Bottom up economic development; and
  • A bold new vision for how the economy can operate.

Together, the story of Linwood provides hope that a wellbeing economy can be built in the face of system resistance, by a few determined people with their eyes set on an economy that works for them.

Download the full paper here.

Image: Linwood CDT

This blog was originally published on the Wellbeing Economies Film website. Read it there – and find out more about the forthcoming Wellbeing Economies documentary.

By Martin Oetting

A few days ago, I had the chance to catch up with Katherine – one of the two key protagonists in our film – about her thoughts regarding our current crisis, and what it means for changing our economies. This is a summary of the things she mentioned in our call.

Corona is revealing to the wider community that its miserably paid armies of people in precarious work, hitherto dismissed as ‘low skill’, who really keep our societies going: the couriers, the nurses, the supermarket checkout staff, the care workers, the refuse collectors. They are now the ones who keep the shop open, who keep our streets clean, who deliver books and groceries to our door to help us get through lockdown. They are the ones who ensure our wellbeing these days.

Whereas the highly paid top managers are nowhere to be seen in such a terrain.

This should make us take a renewed interest in rather boring seeming and less glamorous aspects of our economy: schools, hospitals, the food industry (the so-called ‘foundational economy’). We should hold on to a new recognition of the importance of local supply chains.

And also ask ourselves new questions: what is the Care Economy really worth to us? How much do we value the “gift economy” — i.e. all the services that are provided in everyday life without payment (child supervision among neighbours, care for the elderly in the family, help here and there in the neighbourhood), which keep so much of our lives as individuals and as communities together.

And we should note that despite the vital role these things play, so many of them are not calculated anywhere in the GDP of a country.

That is why now is the time to think new thoughts and imagine a better economy post-corona than the one we had going into it. This phase of crisis enables us to ask questions and give answers that were unthinkable only a short while ago. For example, the current UK Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to be thinking — or at least there were hints of this in some of his press conferences – in terms of the rich having to carry some of the burden of the mammoth income support programmes the government is having to bring in. We’ll see where that ends up, but it would have been hard to have imagined just a few weeks ago.

The risk is that this window of possibility will close again very quickly – that a “rollback” will come as people rush to return to how things were — forgetting or ignoring how grim that was for so many and for our planet. 

There is a similar diversity in the corporate world — the wheat separating from the chaff: some companies are now putting profits aside and trying to live up to their responsibilities. One example that has caught my eye is the supermarket chain Morrisons which has promised all its suppliers that from now on they will pay all deliveries immediately, to help them with their cash flow. This is significant because supermarkets are notorious for slow payment. Another example is whisky distilleries reconfiguring their operations to produce hand sanitisers — and making it available at cost or for free to front line workers. But there are others going in the opposite direction: Amazon has fired people who didn’t dare to come to work because of Corona, a chain of pubs forcing its staff to work when the government was advising against it.

This is exactly why we must do everything we can to start creating a better world now. The opportunity is to build back better as my former colleagues working in humanitarian situations would say. 

A lot of folks have been thinking long and hard for many years — decades even — about how our economy should be. Covid-19 may have just transformed the economic and political landscape so much that these ideas get the hearing they so urgently deserve.

Dr Katherine Trebeck is Advocacy and Influencing lead for WEAll

Images: Martin Oetting

First published on Bella Caledonia

By Katherine Trebeck

History is being made by the hour. The current crisis is era-defining to that extent that we are soon likely to talk in terms of “pre-covid” and “post-covid”. The decisions being made now by those in power will ripple through the years and determine what kind of society we go on to live in.

The spread of covid-19 shines a light on our economy – its inequalities, power structures and absurdities. The opportunity is to address some of the cleavages between parts of our society by building a wellbeing economy instead of reverting to the same old structures: building back better rather than returning to business as usual.

Covid-19 means that the reality is setting in that ours is an economic system which depends on an army of low paid workers. These are the workers Guy Standing described as the ‘precariat’: without decent security in their work, let alone sufficient pay. Those on zero hour contracts in the gig economy or eking out a living as self-employed, but with little command over the rates or regularity of that work. These are the front-line staff of our hyper-flexible economy where humans are treated as just-in-time inventory just as much as oat milk for the salariat’s flat whites is. The precariat are already the first losing their hours and their jobs as business dwindles – as bars close, as people delay haircuts and as events are cancelled. Without savings, they will be amongst the hardest hit and thus compelled to go into work if the work is there – a form of economic conscription if there ever was one.

It is the precariat who drive the delivery vans keeping the salariat stocked with avocados and hand wipes, who keep the Amazon-orders flowing in, and the Uber-Eats sushi on the table. It is the precariat tending to the frail in nursing homes or stocking the shelves in supermarkets so the rest of society can fill up on necessities while self-isolating.

In contrast, many of the ‘salariat’ (or the ‘proficians’ in Standing’s lexicon) have the relative luxury of moving their work from pot-plant filled offices to online conference calls at home. Lonely? Perhaps, but without the risk of bailiffs chasing unpaid bills so long as salaries are still paid.

Covid-19 is putting into sharp relief the contrast between those with sufficient resources and ‘human capital’ to command a toe-hold in the economy and those who are simply knocked about by taps on an app and the ‘Free Next Day Delivery’ obsession.

Precarious work shouldn’t exist – work should be a route to economic security and sense of purpose. Workers shouldn’t be compelled by economic necessity to work when sick and possibly contagious. Government should do all it can to ensure workers don’t face the choice between spreading covid-19 and being kicked out of their house because they can’t pay the monthly rent or mortgage.

There is a serious risk that, with eyes firmly fixed on a return to ‘business as usual’ beyond the current situation, the first queuing up for bailouts are the very entities which should be powered down in the face of the climate emergency. Meanwhile, those that most need it are left to make do with the already frayed social safety net that masquerades as social protection in the UK these days. Around the world governments are recognising the needs of vulnerable workers – not just the vulnerable elderly. For example, Ireland is paying 203 euros a week to those who lose their job or income or who are self-employed and losing contracts for the next six weeks. The Swedish government is also paying sick pay, rather than putting it at the feet of employers and increasing the amount of cover it provides to short-time workers. Even in Australia – one of the toughest welfare regimes in the OECD – the government is paying $AUD750 tax free to those on benefits and to all pensioners.

Yet these are the sort of measures that are short term amelioration – they help take the edge off an economy that doesn’t do enough to support everyone.

They are also a sign of how far away the current scenario is from a wellbeing economy – one purposed for and hence designed in a way to deliver good lives for people first time around.

Fortunately, just as covid-19 is showing us the stark divides in our economy – between those who can readily work from their kitchen tables and those forced to deliver to them – it also is showing us the outline of a better economy – a wellbeing economy.

The economic activities most needed at times like these are not the glittering cocktail bars and massive concert venues. They are the unglamorous but necessary pillars of the foundational economy – the schools, supermarkets and hospitals that can’t threaten to up and run at the lightest change in the tax system, entities which require considerable labour input and hence offer local jobs. The places prioritising those who need them most, profit or no profit (the supermarket Morrisons’ recent effort being a good example).

Local supply chains are coming into their own as global ones are disrupted by border closures and plane groundings.

And, perhaps most beautifully, covid-19 is showing the importance of community ties and informal support – none of which will do much to boost the usual measures of economic ‘success’ in the form of Gross Domestic Product, but which undeniably will be vital in helping individuals and families survive.

Local supply chains, the foundational economy, and community support in the care economy are three of the pillars we’ll all need to get through it. They are also three pieces of the jigsaw of a wellbeing economy weall need beyond covid-19.

Communities and individuals are stepping up to the challenges presented by covid-19, recognising that we all need each other and prioritising togetherness even as we are forced to be physically apart. As the inequalities in our economic system are laid bare by this crisis, rather than returning to business as usual, countries such as the UK would be well-served to instead build back better by creating a wellbeing economy.

 

WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Katherine Trebeck was recently invited to be a featured guest speaker at the latest session of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, on Saturday 18 January.

The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland (the Assembly) is a group of 100 citizens from across Scotland that are broadly representative of the country and are coming together to address the following three questions:

  • What kind of country are we seeking to build?
  • How best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit?
  • What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

Katherine has now adapted her contribution to the Assembly into a new WEAll Ideas paper entitled “A wellbeing economy for Scotland”. You can download it here.

You can also watch the whole session on the Assembly’s Facebook page here (or below) – Katherine’s contribution starts at 30:53.

WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead Dr Katherine Trebeck recently gave a powerful new talk at TEDx Munich on why the future economy has to be a wellbeing economy

Watch her talk below or on YouTube here – and share far and wide to spread the message of why we need a wellbeing economy

Image from TEDx Munchen

WEAll Scotland’s Wealth of Nations 2.0 event, held in Edinburgh last week, didn’t just energise the packed out room – it generated buzz across Scotland and beyond about wellbeing economy ideas.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered a groundbreaking speech where she declared that Scotland must “redefine what success means as a nation”, and endorsed the approach of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. Along with Iceland and New Zealand, Scotland is leading the pioneering Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative. You can read the full text of her speech here.

Sturgeon’s words, and the messages of the conference, generated extensive media interest. Here’s a roundup of the coverage so far:

Have we missed some coverage? Share links in the comments below!

Photo by brotiN biswaS from Pexels

 

WEAll Scotland hosts its second large scale event – Wealth of Nations 2.0 – in Edinburgh today.

The conference will be addressed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and attended by experts and practitioners working to transform the economic system from across Scotland.

Ahead of her speech, Nicola Sturgeon has issued a clear statement that “wellbeing is as important as economic growth” and that Scotland must “redefine what success means”. Read about her commitment to building a wellbeing economy in this BBC coverage.

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck has written in today’s Herald newspaper about the significance of the conference and the urgent need for governments and all of us to take action in order to transform the economic system. She says that “Scotland also has a role to play on the world stage, demonstrating that humanity can determine economics instead of the other way around.”

In The Times, Head of Oxfam Scotland Jamie Livingstone writes about the injustice of unpaid care, and why valuing caregivers should be a litmus test of whether we are succeeding in building a wellbeing economy. Oxfam Scotland is one of the key partners and sponsors of the Wealth of Nations 2.0 event. Earlier this week they launched important new research into the value of unpaid care in Scotland.

Keep up with the Wealth of Nations 2.0 event as it happens by following @WEAllScotland on Twitter. This page will be updated with further media coverage as it emerges.

 

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck was a featured guest speaker at the latest session of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, on Saturday 18 January.

The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland (the Assembly) is a group of 100 citizens from across Scotland that are broadly representative of the country and are coming together to address the following three questions:

  • What kind of country are we seeking to build?
  • How best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit?
  • What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

The session on Saturday was the Assembly’s fourth meeting, and it focused on sustainability – applying economic, social and environmental lenses to Scotland’s sustainability challenges.

Katherine was invited to address the Assembly and outline the vision of a wellbeing economy, the role of growth and WEAll’s ideas for Scotland’s future.

You can watch the whole session on the Assembly’s Facebook page here (or below) – Katherine’s contribution starts at 30:53.

Session four of weekend 3 – Sustainability: environmental, economic and social lenses. We're LIVE at 14:45.

Posted by Citizens' Assembly of Scotland on Saturday, January 18, 2020

Reposted from OpenDemocracy 

By Katherine Trebeck

Back in the 1800s, scholars in the field of economics cast an envious glance at their colleagues in science.

They envied physics, with its laws of gravity. They looked with green-eyes at those studying chemistry, with its elements and atoms. And they longingly admired their biologist chums with their categorisations and evolutionary adaptation.

Now more than a century on, as we begin the third decade of the third millennium, economics no longer seems to take heed of science, let alone defer to scientific realities.

It is (invariably mainstream) economists with their contentions and blind spots that drive so much policy making, not scientists with their evidence-based models and forecasts.

The tables have well and truly turned. And nowhere is this so sorely – and painfully – acute as in Australia in the summer of 2019 and 2020.

Bushfires rage across the country, fuelled by record heat, and are now surging through acres of parched land dryer than ever after the worst drought in a generation.

In response, the Australian Prime Minister has held fast to a vision that a growing economy is the only option. He told a national TV station that “What we won’t do is engage in reckless and job-destroying and economy-crunching [green] targets which are being sought”.

What Morrison is effectively asserting is that the economy matters more than the science – in fact, that a certain model of the economy matters more, one in which the sole purpose of the environment is as an input to production and where it is assumed that growth will translate to benefits for all. This positions the economy at the top of the food chain, dropping crumbs to communities and extracting from the planet rather than something that is dependent on society which operates as a sub-set of the natural world.

Believing that the economy’s pre-eminence warrants downplaying all other concerns is a mindset that dismisses reams of scientific evidence and warnings. It turns a blinkered eye to why communities are being told to take shelter on beaches, why the Australian Navy is being brought in to rescue them and why a toddler was given a medal to posthumously honour his firefighter father who was killed with two other volunteer ‘firies’ (as us Aussies affectionately term them) when a tree fell on their vehicle.

What is happening in Australia is unprecedented.

It is what scientists have warned would happen.

It is going to be the new normal.

Perhaps most importantly, it is the loudest wake up call mother nature could send humanity to tell us that the wounds we have inflicted on her are taking an untenable toll.

Many times in the past I have heard those advocating for a new economic model say that when a ‘crisis’ comes, the movement for a more humane economy needs to be ready with ideas and visions, as that is when these ideas will finally get traction. That tactic always jarred – it seemed a rather privileged perspective that ignored or discounted that for many years many people around the world have already been suffering from the impacts of an economic model that treated people and planet as inputs to production. But, admittedly, such ostensible lack of solidarity or empathy may have come with some real politik. It recognises – perhaps implicitly – power imbalances.

And many of those impacted by the Australian fires are powerful. Many are wealthy. Many are people who have benefited from the growth-ist economic model because they are perched at the top of the pile. The coast houses of bankers, doctors, and property developers have been destroyed. New Year’s Eve parties have been moved from balconies with their harbour views indoors to escape the smoke. Corporate sponsored cricket matches have been called off because visibility got too bad. Yes, these are the folk with the resources to cope and recover, but maybe they’ll help nudge the balance of the conversation.

While Australia continues to burn, we can hope that what most Australians have been recognising will finally be heeded: that this monstrous cry for help from the planet is what flips back the agenda, so that economics returns to its deference to, and awe of, science. That scientific and natural laws will trump dubious dreams of trickle down. That now that wealthy and powerful people are also being hit by nature’s fury, they will join the ranks of frontline communities around the world and lend their voices and resources to mobilising for the transition that countries like Australia need to make towards an economy that respects the planet and priorities social justice and a healthy environment.

Building this new economic model doesn’t need to be disruptive – it can and must be just. There are ways and resources to protect livelihoods and, even better, to ensure that those most shafted by the current economic model are first served. But no longer can it be dismissed as ‘reckless’ to protect one sector – coal – at the cost of so many houses, lungs, biodiversity and precious wildlife.

Here’s hoping that 2020 is the year that new alliances come together to recognise that this crisis is one that hurts us all, and that a more humane economy that is gentler on the planet is one that will be good for everyone.

WEAll’s Katherine Trebeck recently gave the evening keynote lecture at the Nourish Scotland conference in Edinburgh.

This new talk takes an in depth look at the role of food in our economy. In it, Katherine examines what our food systems would look like and do in a wellbeing economy.

Watch her fascinating talk HERE from 23:30.

A new WEAll Ideas paper has been published today, setting out what a wellbeing economy is in a variety of styles.

Compiled by Lisa Hough-Stewart, Katherine Trebeck, Claire Sommer and Stewart Wallis, this ten-page PDF document aims to make wellbeing economy concepts accessible and clear to all readers.

All the material contained in the short paper has emerged from conversations and discussions with people in the WEAll family and beyond. Much of it is synthesised from their reports, papers and vision documents. There are too many minds and ideas to acknowledge them all individually, but their work is vital in informing understanding of a wellbeing economy.

Download the paper “What is a wellbeing economy?” here

What are WEAll Ideas papers?

Little Summaries of Big Issues

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance seeks to make the economy more humane and more sustainable. With over 100 affiliated groups across the world, we are as broad as the current model is narrow – diverse in our experience, expertise, focus, strategy, and our spheres of influence.

We agree that not only do we need to collaborate to have the impact we need – ‘togetherness above agreement’ – we also share a sense of what a wellbeing economy is. Different parts of the movement will emphasise different elements and add more details as their experience, knowledge, and focus allows – but they will do so from a common sense of what a wellbeing economy is all about.

The ‘WEAll Ideas: Little Summaries of Big Issues’ paper series is an attempt to share some of that sense in different formats that are useful for different audiences.

The content in this paper is drawn from the wellbeing economy community in its broadest sense. Our founding members contributed to the goals/fundamentals/building blocks – themselves drawing on processes of engagement, dialogue and discussion with their networks. People from all over the world have added to the Old Way Vs New Way matrix. And WEAll’s communications group has helped draft the everyday explanation.

 

Wellbeing economy ideas are making a splash around the world. Global and national media outlets are giving them more and more attention.

This week, the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership of Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand had positive coverage from Australia to the US.

And our own Katherine Trebeck went down a storm as a panellist on BBC Debate Night in the UK.

Check out all of the coverage from the past week here:

Image: SBS World News