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Today, 22 June 2020, the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery published its report, ‘Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland’.

As an organisation whose purpose is to support the creation of a wellbeing economy in Scotland we are excited to see the prominence given to this goal in the report’s title.

Our initial sense is that there are parts to praise and unfortunately parts that fall short in recognising the type of transformation that could truly transform Scotland into a wellbeing economy.

We welcome the ‘four pillars’ approach laid out in the report, which gives business, people, community, and the environment balanced priority. This is an important step to designing a wellbeing economy, although a true wellbeing economy approach goes one step further to say that business and economic activity must be designed to serve people and planet, not thrive alongside them. After all, what is the benefit of an economy if it does not directly serve the people who sustain it?  We would also add that conflating business with the economy in the four pillars seems to miss the vital role of unpaid role of care and social reproduction in families and communities in supporting the market economy. This would be a serious blind spot for a country where the gender equality discussion is better than in other localities.

We are also concerned at the extent to which a desire for ‘growth’ still features prominently in the report’s language. What kind of growth? And for whom? Simply adding ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.

Indeed, the answers are the crux of what separates a traditional, growth-driven system from a true wellbeing economy. A wellbeing economy is one that is purposed and designed explicitly for human and ecological wellbeing – economic activity in service of these higher order goals.

In the report’s foreword, Benny Higgins (who led the group tasked with compiling the report’s recommendations) states: ‘Scotland had the ambition to become a robust, wellbeing economy. That is one that generates strong economic growth… and that does so with an unequivocal focus on climate change, fair work, diversity, and equality’. We disagree that a wellbeing economy is about generating “strong economic growth” – a wellbeing economy would ask: ‘what sort of growth – and for whom – is needed for collective wellbeing?’ It is about the economy (and growth where necessary) being in service of delivering collective wellbeing.

For example, we welcome the emphasis on conditionality in business support and recommendations such as a jobs guarantee: the post-covid economy cannot be one where businesses get away with social and environmental harm while young people see their future ebbing away.

Recognition that a wellbeing economy attends to climate change, fair work, diversity, and equality is promising to hear. The report rightly gives prominent focus to green recovery tests, and to circular economy principles.

Again though – and crucially – to truly initiate a wellbeing economy, the restructure must be designed to enable people and planet to flourish while being agnostic to economic growth, not dependent on it.

The Advisory Group’s report is a good starting point, and we welcome the embrace of the ‘wellbeing economy’ concept. The conversation can’t end here – not least when creating a wellbeing economy requires substantial economic transformation. We look forward to continuing the conversation with Government, businesses, and the wider public as we all move into this new era of economic recovery. Scotland has an opportunity to lead the world in truly putting collective wellbeing at the heart of economic policy making and creating an economy that delivers for people and planet first time around.

By Denisha Killoh, WEAll Scotland

This piece was originally published by The Herald on 9 June 2020

The barbaric murder of George Floyd has sparked a surge in global outrage at the violence and racism people of colour are forced to endure. What began as an aversion to an untimely death has rapidly spread to become a mass movement across country boundaries.

As the whole world navigates the repercussions of a pandemic together, the sense of community amongst local citizens has been invigorated. The extrajudicial killing of George Floyd has contextual significance as citizens everywhere are beginning to scrutinise their own establishments to demand a systemic revolution.

This fight against the injustice inflicted on black communities resonates deeply with me as a woman of colour in Glasgow. My family emigrated to Scotland as part of the ‘Windrush generation’. At first the diversity this generation of immigrants brought was celebrated as their talents were deployed to fill the shortages in the post-war labour market. People of colour played a crucial role in reviving the British economy and restoring harmony to society. Yet, the 2018 Windrush scandal unearthed rife systemic racism. The introduction of the UK government’s hostile environment policy led to an abundance of BAME British citizens being wrongly deported disregarding their lifelong contribution to society.

I spoke to family members living in Scotland and a friend who lives in England about their direct experiences of racism. Although there is a generation gap, they voiced harrowingly similar stories about the impact of racism on their aspirations and self-esteem.

My friend told me that for as long as she can remember, she’s felt inferior due to her race. She spoke of repeatedly suffering at the hands of strangers who hold negative views towards “people like her” stating, “my whole life people have said to me that as a black woman, I have to work twice as hard as my white friends just to show I have the same abilities”.

One of my family members spoke of a time where she had been made to feel unwelcome at work. A colleague said to her, “you come here to take our jobs and what’s worse is that you are black”. They discussed the constant struggle to be heard and respected because of the inherent assumption that they were “dumb and incapable” due to their skin colour.

The world faces an ultimatum; we can either #BuildBackBetter or go #BacktoWorse in the recovery from COVID-19. The pandemic and the symbolic case of George Floyd have revealed how entrenched our current systems are with inequality as they breed injustice and exist in conflict with the interests of BAME communities.

We have the opportunity to create wellbeing economies that prioritise long-term human health and ecological sustainability. It’s no coincidence that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is gaining such momentum in the wake of the pandemic: it is a unique moment to ensure that those who have historically been marginalised can have a leading role in rebuilding our economy and wider society.

In repurposing our systems to have compassion at their core, we must proactively confront systemic racism by radically transforming institutional practice to be in service of black lives, not at war with them.

I’d like to thank my Grandma Carmina and my friend Marta for bravely sharing their invaluable experiences of systemic racism. The way in which they have maintained their determination and strength in spite of lifelong discrimination is my biggest inspiration.

We must #SayTheirNames and honour the legacy of those taken from us too soon and create a world that is radically different, truly valuing black life.

Ahmaud Arbery

Belly Mujinga

Breonna Taylor

Eric Garner

George Floyd

Mark Duggan

Michael Brown

Rashan Charles

Sandra Bland

Sarah Reed

Sheku Bayoh

Shukri Abdi

Stephen Lawrence

Tamir Rice

Trayvon Martin

 

Header image: Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Reposted from Open Democracy

By Luca Coscieme, Katherine Trebeck and Lorenzo Fioramonte

The Covid crisis seems to confirm what policy analysts have argued for some time: female leadership may be more engaged on issues of social equality, sustainability and innovation, making societies more resilient to external shocks. We have run some statistical analyses on available data on the Coronavirus pandemic and a series of dimensions of public health, social progress, basic human needs and economic resilience, with stunning correlations.

First of all, current data shows that countries with women in a leadership position have suffered six times fewer confirmed deaths from Covid-19 than countries with governments led by men. Moreover, female-led governments were more effective and rapid at flattening the epidemic’s curve, with peaks in daily deaths roughly six times lower than in countries ruled by men. Finally, the average number of days with confirmed deaths was 34 in countries ruled by women and 48 in countries with male-dominated governments.

Of course, correlation is not causation, but when we look at most female-led governments’ approach to the crisis, we find similar policies that may have made a difference vis-à-vis their male counterparts: they did not underestimate the risks, focused on preventative measures and prioritized long-term social wellbeing over short-term economic considerations.

Taiwan is a case in point, where the government of Prime Minister Tsai Ing-wen built on its previous experience with SARS to immediately introduce targeted measures and medical checks, which massively reduced the risk of an outbreak and therefore made a lockdown unnecessary, unlike in most other East Asian countries, including the equally small Singapore, which instead suffered several waves of contagion. New Zealand’s government of Jacinda Ardern was also prompt in implementing restrictive measures early on, resulting in limited contagion and a much shorter lockdown than neighbouring countries in the Pacific. A similar pattern occurred in Denmark, Norway and Finland, all ruled by women, as opposed to Sweden, where economic considerations trumped health concerns, resulting in the highest death toll per capita in Europe.

Over the past few years, most women-led governments have also placed a stronger emphasis on social and environmental wellbeing, investing more in public health and reducing air pollution (which seems to be closely associated with Covid deaths). Our analysis shows that countries with higher female representation in national parliaments perform better in terms of greenhouse gas emission reduction, air pollution containment and biodiversity conservation. Some of these governments have also launched an international alliance to promote ‘social and ecological wellbeing’ as the cornerstone of their economic policies. These are all important features that make societies more resilient vis-à-vis external shocks.

Confirmed deaths

Confirmed deaths of Covid-19 (left) – Number of days with at least one reported death of Covid-19 (centre) – Peak in daily deaths (right). Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Basic Needs

Basic Human Needs 2019 score (Nutrition and Basic Medical Care, Water and Sanitation, Shelter, Personal Safety), Source: Social Progress Imperative (left) – Gini coefficient of income distribution, Source: The World Bank (centre) – GDP growth rate per cent reduction forecasts for 2020, Source: European Commission and national central banks.

Against this backdrop, it is perhaps unsurprising that women-led countries are also likely to suffer the least from the ensuing economic recession: GDP growth forecasts for 2020 indicate that they will experience a decline lower than 5.5 percent, while countries with male leaders will shrink by over 7 percent.

There is probably not enough hard evidence yet to demonstrate that there is a clear ‘female factor’ at play, but we cannot simply dismiss such stark differences as casual. Some women leaders have understood that placing social and environmental wellbeing at the core of national policymaking has positive effects on society’s resilience and benefits the economy too. It’d be wise for their men colleagues to take note.

Notes: countries with female leaders include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece (President), Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia and Taiwan. Countries with male leaders include Austria, Bulgaria, Brazil, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.

Thanks go to Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, Jacqueline McGlade, Ida Kubiszewski, Kate Pickett, Richard Wilkinson, Enrico Giovannini and Robert Costanza for their contributions to this article.

Reposted from Open Democracy

Photo: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks in Wellington, New Zealand, April 20, 2020. | Xinhua/Pa. All rights reserved.

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).

The BBC has done an in-depth report on Iceland’s ambitions to build a wellbeing economy as part of the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative (alongside Scotland and New Zealand).

Watch the report here to learn some lessons from Iceland on how we can move forward:

Photo by Matt Hardy from Pexels

 

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.

 

By Donnie Maclurcan of the Post Growth Institute 

The coronavirus outbreak makes one thing abundantly clear: we’re interconnected and in this together.

Yet our greatest vulnerability comes from a system in which money, resources, and power have accumulated for far too long.

For those in positions of privilege, here are 10 steps you can take to restore the circulation that all living systems need in order to thrive:

  1. Be outstandingly generous to those disproportionately impacted. Consider your privilege and actively support communities that don’t generally have an accumulation of resources, are discriminated against, or are overlooked: the elderly, sick or infirmed; healthcare workers; single parents; undocumented, underemployed, self-employed, contract, gig, low-wage or laid-off workers; Black, Indigenous and People of Color; immigrants; the homeless and displaced; incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals; veterans; people with disability; and LGBTQ+ populations. This helps people understand who is most affected, helps us allocate resources more efficiently and helps to right systemic wrongs. (See here how the coronavirus outbreak affects Black people disproportionately)
  2. Reduce rents for tenants and small businesses. Don’t evict. Delay rental payments. Rent vacant properties. This allows everyone to maintain homes and businesses through challenging times. (See here how this landlord is offering financial relief)
  3. Freeze or cancel loan and bill repayments from individuals and small businesses. At a minimum, put a hold on accruing interest or penalties, and extend loan and bill repayment dates. Offer no-collateral, zero-interest or depreciating loans to individuals, small businesses, and nonprofit enterprises in need. This ensures that we don’t penalize people and businesses because of unforeseen circumstances. (See here how the U.S. administration has temporarily halted interest payments on federally-held student loans)
  4. Support your employees and teams. Provide or advocate for: remote working opportunities (where possible); childcare support; paid sick leave; flextime; early and unplanned bonuses; and an employment guarantee for the coming months. Reduce the top-to-bottom salary ratio. Reject racism and have extra patience with inefficiencies, mistakes, stress and tension with your employees and colleagues. This provides people with security and a better ability to cope with work and family demands. (See here how this company is shutting down its stores but continuing to pay all its employees)
  5. Keep your money local. Purchase from nearby businesses, especially those smaller in size. Tip generously. Purchase gift cards and pre-pay for future services. Support people whose activities and events are being cancelled — through online purchases, subscriptions and patronage. Decline refunds or donate refunded money to an associated cause. Move your personal and company’s money to a local credit union or community bank. This keeps money moving within our communities, and services operational. (See here for comprehensive data on why doing business locally matters)
  6. Increase your charitable giving. Offer before people ask. Provide support to individuals, families and frontline social services, as well as those working to create a more equitable and resilient economic system. If you benefit from investment fluctuations, use the gains to finance your generosity, and donate stock to nonprofits. This reduces the likelihood of people falling through the cracks. (See here how some leaders are ramping up their giving right now)
  7. Volunteer virtually and in-person (where safe). Offer online support to nonprofits and check in via phone or social media with people who might feel particularly alone. Where social distancing is possible, volunteer at your local food bank, shelter or other frontline service provider and pick up shopping, post mail, or offer childcare for people in need. Donate blood (if you’re healthy). This gives everyone an opportunity to take action. (See here for hundreds of virtual volunteering opportunities)
  8. Share spare resources. Make an inventory of your supplies and a timeline for distributing what you’re willing to share. Drop off food, essential items, high-end healthcare products, and gift cards to individuals, your local food bank, meal delivery groups and other supportive services. Share excess produce from your land and provide access to your yard or property for a community garden to emerge. This ensures there is enough for everyone, and that resources aren’t idle. (See here how hundreds of Mutual Aid Networks are mobilizing in response to the coronavirus)
  9. Support aligned programs and legislative proposals. Champion programs and laws that support tenants, small businesses, workers, and nonprofits, while prioritizing assistance for: the elderly, sick or infirmed; healthcare workers; single parents; undocumented, underemployed, self-employed, contract, gig, low-wage or laid-off workers; ; Black, Indigenous and People of Color; immigrants; the homeless and displaced; incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals; veterans; people with disability; and LGBTQ+ populations. This helps reinforce the structural changes our system needs. (See here how Twitter has banned hateful speech around age, disability and disease)
  10. Lead by example. Inspire others with privilege to follow you. This creates a snowball effect. (See here how this woman’s coronavirus campaign is inspiring #viralkindness)

With thanks to the following people, from around the world, who helped crowd-edit this article: Dien Vo, Natalie HolmesCrystal ArnoldKatia SolTía Laída Fé, Victoria Saint, Claire Sommer, J’aime Powell, Bonnie Cohen, and Kokayi Nosakhere.

This article has been reposted verbatim from Medium

The Edelman Trust Barometer has been measuring public trust in institutions for over 20 years. Its new 2020 report reveals that a “sense of unfairness in the system” is driving lack of trust in governments, businesses, NGOs and the media.

More than half of respondents globally believe that capitalism in its current form is now doing more harm than good in the world.

Edelman describes a mood of fear over hope, with 83 percent of employees saying they fear losing their job.

The barometer also found that “trust is undeniably linked to doing what is right.” Edelman said:  “After tracking 40 global companies over the past year through our Edelman Trust Management framework, we’ve learned that ethical drivers such as integrity, dependability and purpose drive 76 percent of the trust capital of business, while competence accounts for only 24 percent.”

These responses send a clear message that the current economic system is not working for people. It’s time for a wellbeing economy: these latest Edelman Trust Barometer findings simply underscore the urgency of the need for change.

Find out more on the Edelman site here.

From NHS Health Scotland website

NHS Health Scotland welcomes the First Minister’s move to prioritise a wellbeing approach to Scotland’s economy.

The economy plays an important role in our health and wellbeing because we know that poverty and income inequalities are major causes of health inequalities. Redesigning the economy with equality of outcomes for all, to ensure everyone is able to participate fully in society, is fundamental to improving health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities.

NHS Health Scotland therefore supports the new Public Health Priorities, including the development of a sustainable and inclusive economy which puts the health and welfare of people and communities first. This work will continue in Scotland’s new lead agency for improving and protecting health and wellbeing, Public Health Scotland, from the 1st of April.

Gerry McCartney, Head of the Scottish Public Health Observatory, NHS Health Scotland said:

“Public health isn’t often the first thing you thing you think of when talking about the economy. But, public health in Scotland is changing and we must do things differently across all the factors that have an influence on our health.

“Living in poverty is hard and damaging to our health. Having sufficient money is one of the many things that matters to health, along with being socially connected, feeling safe and secure, living comfortably and access to sustainable services. All of these are at the centre of a wellbeing economy and are part of the inclusive right to health.

“Moving towards a wellbeing economy where health, wellbeing and people-led outcomes are the drivers for all policies is a needed shift for everyone to have a fair chance to thrive. It’s a welcome change that puts the wellbeing of people in Scotland first and GDP second. When people are well and thriving, so will the economy. ”

Sarah Deas, Trustee, Wellbeing Economy Alliance (Scotland) said:

“A wellbeing economy is one that delivers for people and planet. Our current economic system is not doing this – it is creating physical and mental health issues. We have designed the economy this way, so we can redesign it with a different purpose; that of collective wellbeing.  We welcome NHS Health Scotland’s support for systems change such that the economy delivers good lives for people first-time around, rather than requiring so much effort to patch things up.”

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.

 

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

WEAll Wales founder Duncan Fisher has written a series of four visionary articles on the Institute of Wales Affairs website, designed to encourage and guide Wales towards becoming a wellbeing economy.

Last week we shared the first of the series here.

You can now read all four at the links below.

  1. Unhappiness threatens our democracies: the data proves it
  2. Beyond GDP – welcome to wellbeing
  3. Wellbeing worldbeaters: New Zealand, Scotland and Iceland
  4. Welsh wellbeing – where we need to go from here

If you’re interested in getting involved with WEAll work in Wales, contact Duncan here. He is in the process of establishing a new WEAll hub in Wales and is keen to connect with like-minded people and organisations to build momentum.

French press agency AFP has written a news piece exploring the need for economic system change and has included WEAll, following an interview with WEAll Executive Chair Stewart Wallis.

This is a great example of mainstream news outlets having an increasing interest in wellbeing economy ideas.

Check out the piece here.

Reposted from Club of Rome 

New York – September 24th. 

As national leaders meet in New York for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, the Club of Rome has issued a statement proposing nations declare a planetary emergency for climate and nature in 2020. The statement – the Planetary Emergency Plan – makes the case for immediate and wide-ranging action to protect the global commons – the rainforests, ice sheets, oceans and atmosphere. At the same time, the authors say, the global economic system must undergo an equitable transformation in order to properly value a stable planet.

Download the press release here.

The Planetary Emergency Plan, issued by the Club of Rome with the scientific support of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), sets out 10 urgent commitments to save our global commons and immediate underpinning actions for the necessary social and economic transformations needed to secure the long-term health and well-being of people and planet.

The action countries are taking is utterly inconsistent with what the science is saying. We need to reduce risk of dangerously destabilising our planet. Our school children deserve better from this generation of leaders,” said Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome.

In 2020 we have a unique moment on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations to rethink our relationship with our planet,” she added.

Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a co-author of the plan said, “Scientifically we can say with confidence that this is an emergency. We have a narrow window to reduce risk of triggering irreversible changes that would commit all future generations to a destabilised planet with potentially catastrophic consequences.”

For 10,000 years, human civilisation has grown and thrived because of Earth’s remarkable climate stability and rich biological diversity. These are our essential global commons, yet we are dangerously undermining them.” he added.

Dixson-Declève said, “We can see this as opportunity to not just avert disaster but to rebuild, improve and regenerate economies. We can emerge from emergency to a world that benefits all species, within planetary boundaries and leaving no one behind.”

WWF International supports the need for an emergency declaration for people and planet.

“Leaders meeting in New York will have the chance in 2020 to secure a sustainable future for people and nature. The decisions they make in the next year will continue to have impacts for decades to come. Most urgently, leaders must recognise today’s planetary crisis we now face by working to secure an ambitious and science based emergency plan for nature and people.” says Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.

The ten 10 commitments included in the plan are.

TRANSFORMING ENERGY SYSTEMS

1. Halt all fossil fuel expansion, investments and subsidies by 2020 and shift investments and revenues to low-carbon energy deployment, research, development and innovation.

2. Continue the doubling of wind and solar capacity every four years, and triple annual investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies for high-emitting sectors before 2025.

3. Set a global floor price on carbon (>30 USD/ton CO 2 and rising) immediately for developed countries and no later than 2025 for the most advanced transition economies, that internalises high-carbon energy externalities in all products and services.

SHIFTING TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY

4. Agree in 2020 to halve consumption and production footprints in developed and emerging economies and close loops in inefficient value chains, by 2030.

5. Internalise externalities in unsustainable and high-carbon production and consumption through targeted consumption taxes and regulation, as well as consumption-based accounting, by 2025.

6. Develop national and cross-national roadmaps for all countries towards regenerative land-use and circular economies, including a reduction in global carbon emissions from basic materials to net-zero, by 2030.

CREATING A JUST AND EQUITABLE SOCIETY FOUNDED IN HUMAN AND ECOLOGICAL WELL-BEING

7. Introduce economic progress indicators that include socio-ecological and human health and well-being by 2030, recognising that the latter depends on the flourishing and stewardship of natural ecosystems.

8. Provide legal tools by 2025 that allow indigenous, forest and tribal communities to secure their rights to traditional land, recognising their vital role as stewards of these lands in mitigating climate change and ecosystem degradation. Such mechanisms must include funding and legal aid to guarantee that these communities have access to justice.

9. Shift taxation from labour to the use of all natural resources, final disposal, emissions to land, air and water by 2020.

10. Establish clear funding and retraining programmes for displaced workers, rural and industrial communities by 2025.

The manner and priority in which these actions are implemented will vary from country to country and between developed economies and economies in transition, but the overall objective of rapid carbon emissions reduction and nature regeneration should be a common goal over the next decade,” said Dixson-Declève.

Journalist and author George Monbiot has delivered a compelling new TED Talk: “The new political story that could change everything”.

TED explains: “To get out of the mess we’re in, we need a new story that explains the present and guides the future, says author George Monbiot. Drawing on findings from psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology, he offers a new vision for society built around our fundamental capacity for altruism and cooperation. This contagiously optimistic talk will make you rethink the possibilities for our shared future.”

Monbiot is talking about the need for a new narrative about our economic system: a core component of WEAll’s strategy for system change. You can find out more about our narratives work in the WEAll vision brochure.

View on TED website here.

Image from https://www.monbiot.com/about/

By Lisa Hough-Stewart, WEAll Communications and Mobilisation lead

On Wednesday 10 July, Caroline Lucas MP secured a debate in the UK House of Commons about ‘Economic growth and environmental limits’.

The Green MP made a powerful speech, focused on “why and how our current economic model, which puts GDP growth above everything else, must change fundamentally, fast.”

Quoting Greta Thunberg’s famous statement that ‘our house is on fire’, Lucas argued that “the GDP growth obsession is the obstacle blocking the door to the emergency exit.”

Speaking on behalf of the UK Government, The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick gave a response which continued to be centred on economic growth, stating that “it is now more important than ever that the Government and institutions such as the Treasury, which is at the heart of this debate, confront head on the question of how we continue to grow the economy while protecting our environment and tackling climate change.”

However, Jenrick did agree with the importance of moving beyond GDP, going on to say that “GDP undoubtedly has its limitations and should not be seen as an all-encompassing measure of welfare and wellbeing, and we entirely accept that it was never designed to be”.

Representatives of other parties taking part in the debate also supported this sentiment.

Ahead of the debate, Caroline Lucas published a piece in Politics Home which set out her arguments in full detail, and referenced Katherine Trebeck’s ideas as well as those of other WEAll members and partners.

Considering alternatives to GDP, she wrote: “To do all this we need to start measuring what matters. The economist Katherine Trebeck has one suggestion: ‘Why not get countries to measure the number of girls who bicycle to school? What clearer yardstick could convey so much about progress in women’s education, green transport, health and poverty alleviation in a single number?'”

Both in the article and in the Westminster debate, Lucas heavily cited the new report from WEAll member The European Environmental Bureau (EEB)  which demonstrates that efforts to decouple economic growth from environmental harm, known as ‘green growth’, have not succeeded and are unlikely to succeed in their aim.

The full transcript of the Westminster debate can be accessed via Hansard here.

This piece was originally published by UN Association 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) speak to an agenda that is familiar the world over, even though different terms might be used to describe the key ideas: quality of life, flourishing for all people and sustainability for the planet. These ideas are increasingly coalescing around the notion of wellbeing, in all its dimensions.

This shared vision for a better way of doing things can be found across a range of sources. It is embedded in the scripts of many religions. It is contained in the world views of First Nations communities. It can be read in the scholarship of development experts and in research findings about what makes people content. This vision echoes in evidence from psychology about human needs and from neuroscience about what makes our brains react. Perhaps most importantly, it can be heard loud and clear in deliberative conversations with people all over the world about what really matters to them. It is set out in the 17 SDGs, and perhaps is best captured by the overriding mantra of ‘leave no one behind’.

An economy that leaves people behind
This is a call to ensure that everyone is included, that no one is marginalised. ‘Leave no one behind’ implies that it is the system, our collective institutions and their interactions, which does the ‘leaving’ – not that it is those left behind who are to blame. Taking this system-wide viewpoint enables a conversation about the interconnected nature of people’s opportunities and conceptualisations of development, how they interact with the environment, and how shifts in one sphere have consequences in the other. In the worst-case scenario, these interactions can spark spirals that devastate lives, threaten human rights and undermine peace.

The systemic nature of these processes means that it is inadequate to keep plastering over “wounds caused by inequality by building more prisons, hiring more police and prescribing more drugs” (as Danny Dorling puts it in his book Injustice: Why Social Inequality Still Persists). Expenditure on such items is a grave testament to the failure to help people flourish and enjoy quality of life. This tally is even higher when one looks at the expenditure necessitated by environmental breakdown – cleaning up after climate-change-induced flooding or storms, treating asthma exacerbated by toxic particles in the air, and buying bottled water when rivers and streams are polluted.

Of course, such expenditures are the preserve of those fortunate enough to have the resources to spend. Environmental breakdown hits those without such resources the hardest due to their increased vulnerability. People’s ability to escape from sources of toxicity and risk is determined by whether they can command access to uncontaminated, safer land and food sources, or if they are among the great numbers of those who must make do with what is left.

The vulnerability of those who are least to blame reflects the unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunity: economic resources are as unequally shared as the impact resulting from plunder of natural ones.

An unequally shared harvest
One of the best-regarded authorities on economic inequality is the World Inequality Report. The 2018 publication revealed that in recent decades income inequality, measured by the top 10 per cent’s share of income, is getting worse in almost all parts of the world. Statistics compiled by Credit Suisse show that the richest one per cent own as much wealth as the rest of the world. The gap between the real incomes of people in the Global North compared to those in the Global South has expanded by approximately three times since 1960. Taking the broader definition of poverty adopted by Peter Edward’s ‘ethical poverty line’ (identifying the income threshold below which life expectancy rapidly falls, currently $7.40 a day) as many as 4.3 billion people live in poverty.

Those GDP-rich economies that most epitomise the current economic model provide some of the starkest evidence that the prevailing system distributes inadequately. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that 81 per cent of the US population is in an income bracket which experienced flat or declining income over the last decade. The figure is 97 per cent in Italy, 70 per cent in Britain and 63 per cent in France. People living in GDP-rich countries are struggling to get by. In the UK, for example, the use of food banks has risen dramatically in recent years.

Those who reap most of the rewards of this system are also those putting the planet in most danger. On climate change, figures published by Our World In Data show that the richest countries (high and upper–middle income countries) emit 86 per cent of global CO2 emissions. In the UK, emissions are strongly correlated with income, while in the US, the richest 10 per cent have a carbon footprint three times that of people in the poorest 10 per cent of incomes.

Rebuilding the system
It is not unusual to hear people who are concerned about the state of the world pointing to the levels of inequality. They cite the lack of sufficient job quality, bemoan the plunder of the planet and declare that the economic system is ‘broken’.

But if one peers beneath the symptoms, it becomes apparent that the root cause of so much of this is directly due to how the economy is currently and proactively designed. Our economic system does not sufficiently account for nature, is blind to distribution of resources, and elevates measures of progress that encompass perverse incentives (such as short-term profit and GDP at the expense of human wellbeing).

The system is not broken: it is doing what it was set up to do. The roots of inequality and environmental breakdown are found in a heady mix of institutions, processes and power relations that shape allocation of risk and reward. Decisions taken over many years by successive governments have resulted in: inadequate minimum wage levels and inadequate social protection; different rates of tax on income compared to capital; relatively low rates of top income tax (particularly in the UK and US compared to other OECD countries, and compared to previous levels); loopholes inserted in legislation that enabled tax avoidance; undermining of unions’ scope to collectively bargain and fight for workers’ pay and conditions; narrow ownership of many firms; and corporate governance that fixates on short-term profit.

The same system dynamics are seen in the links between inequality and environmental impact. These links arise through: the pressure to consume status items to maintain the appearance of wealth; the consumption patterns of the richest; the way inequality undermines collective efforts to protect environmental commons; and the break that inequality exerts on pro-environmental policies. These structures are deliberate, even though the side effects may not be. Although they stretch back many decades (centuries even), they can be dismantled and designed differently.

Building a wellbeing economy
The patterns highlighted above suggest that while the vision might be to leave no one behind, today’s reality is that some might be too far ahead – hoarding economic resources and doing much damage to natural ones. This arrangement is a construct that reflects political decisions and choices by enterprises.

A wellbeing economy can be built that would deliver good lives for people from the beginning, rather than requiring so much effort to patch things up, to cope and recover after the damage is done, and to redistribute what is unevenly shared. A wellbeing economy can be achieved by reorienting goals and expectations for business, politics and society.

A wellbeing economy is one that is regenerative, that is cooperative and collaborative, and that is purposeful. It will have equal opportunity at its core: not simply by meekly redistributing as best one can the outcomes from an unequal economic system, but by structuring the economy so that better sharing of resources, wealth and power is built in. For example, it would entail:

  • regenerated ecosystems and extended global commons;
  • a circular economy serving needs rather than driving consumption from production;
  • people feeling safe and healthy in their communities, mitigating the need for vast expenditure on treating, healing and fixing;
  • switching to renewables, generated by local communities or public agencies wherever possible;
  • democratic economic management (in terms of power, scale and ownership);
  • participatory, deliberative democracy with governments responsive to citizens;
  • purpose-driven businesses with social and environmental aims in their DNA, using true-cost accounting;
  • economic security for all, and wealth, income, time and power fairly distributed, rather than relying on redistribution;
  • jobs that deliver meaning and purpose and means for a decent livelihood;
  • recognising and valuing care, health and education in the ‘core’ economy outside the market; and
  • focusing on measures of progress that reflect real value creation.

A growing movement is forming around the idea of such an economy. It comprises academics laying out the evidence base, businesses harnessing commercial activities to deliver on social and environmental goals, and communities working together not for monetary reward, but following the innate human instincts to be together, to cooperate and collaborate. Such efforts will be made so much easier as pioneering policymakers are emboldened to step away from the constraints imposed by a 20th century vision of ‘development as GDP’. Instead, they must embrace a new agenda for the 21st century – an economy geared up to deliver human and ecological wellbeing. This work bodes well for the creation of a world in which no one is left behind.

WEAll’s Chair Stewart Wallis is a proud signatory of an open letter this week in The Guardian, calling for the next Bank of England Governor to serve the whole of society.

Stewart’s endorsement comes alongside that of 94 other leaders inlcuding many WEAll members, Ambassadors and friends.

See the whole letter below and in the Guardian here.

“94 academics and representatives of civil society organisations call for Mark Carney’s successor to be someone who will foster a pluralistic policymaking culture
Mark Carney
 ‘The next governor must build on Mark Carney’s legacy,’ say the signatories to this letter. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Eleven o’clock on Wednesday evening is the deadline for applicants to put themselves forward to be the next governor of the Bank of England. Candidates are asked to commit to an eight-year term lasting until 2028. By then the world will be a very different place. Three key trends will shape their time in post.

First, environmental breakdown is the biggest threat facing the planet. The next governor must build on Mark Carney’s legacy, and go even further to act on the Bank’s warnings by accelerating the transition of finance away from risky fossil fuels. Second, rising inequality, fuelled to a significant extent by monetary policy, has contributed to a crisis of trust in our institutions. The next governor must be open and honest about the trade-offs the Bank is forced to make, and take a critical view of how its policies impact on wider society. Third, the UK economy is increasingly unbalanced and skewed towards asset price inflation. Banks pour money into bidding up the value of pre-existing assets, with only £1 in every £10 they lend supporting non-financial firms. The next governor must seriously consider introducing measures to guide credit away from speculation towards productive activities.

As the world around it changes, the function of the Bank itself must evolve. Its current mandate and tools are increasingly coming into question, and a future government may assign the Bank with a new mission. The next governor must meet this with an open mind, not seek to preserve the status quo. To equip the Bank to meet the challenges of the future, the new governor will also need to ensure it benefits from a greater diversity of backgrounds, experience and perspectives throughout the organisation. The Bank of England’s own stated purpose is to promote the good of the people. We need a governor genuinely committed to serving the whole of society, not just financial markets.

Fran Boait Positive Money
Josh Ryan-Collins UCL IIPP
John Sauven Greenpeace UK
Tom Kibasi IPPR
Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)
Will Hutton Author and academic
Patrick Allen Progressive Economy Forum
Faiza Shaheen Class
Ann Pettifor Prime Economics
Kate Raworth University of Oxford
Christopher Pissarides London School of Economics
Yanis Varoufakis University of Athens
Prem Sikka University of Sheffield
Danny Dorling University of Oxford
Asad Rehman War on Want
Guy Standing Soas
David Hillman Stamp Out Poverty
Catherine Howarth ShareAction
Maeve Cohen Rethinking Economics
Jonathan Michie University of Oxford
Natalie Sharples Health Poverty Action
Joe Guinan The Democracy Collaborative
Nick Dearden Global Justice Now
Steve Keen UCL Institute for Strategy, Resilience & Security
Jason Hickel Goldsmiths, University of London
Tony Greenham Royal Society of Arts
Johnna Montgomerie Kings College London
John Weeks Soas
Frances Coppola Financial commentator and author
Dimitri Zenghelis Cambridge University
Rick Van Der Ploeg University of Oxford
Molly Scott Cato University of Roehampton
Ben Carpenter Social Value UK
Philippe Aghion London School of Economics
Felix Fitzroy St Andrews
Marianne Sensier University of Manchester
Christine Cooper University of Edinburgh
Elisa Van Waeyenberge Soas
Roberto Veneziani Queen Mary University of London
Andrew Denis City University
Stewart Lansley University of Bristol
Dimitris Sotiropoulos Open University UK
Ulrich Volz Soas
Panicos Demetriades University of Leicester
Maria Nikolaidi University of Greenwich
Julia Steinberger University of Leeds
Sue Konzelmann Birkbeck University
Roger Seifert Wolverhampton Business School
Ozlem Onaran University of Greenwich
Neil Lancastle De Monfort University
Yannis Dafermos University of the West of England
Alberto Botta University of Greenwich
David Tyfield Lancaster University
Kate Pickett University of York
Philip Haynes University of Brighton
Richard Wilkinson University of Nottingham
Peter Sweatman Climate Strategy & Partners
David Graeber LSE
Richard Murphy City University
John Christensen Tax Justice UK
Anna Laycock Finance Innovation Lab
Colin Hines Green New Deal Group
Sarah-Jayne Clifton Jubilee Debt Campaign
Line Christensen Jubilee Scotland
Stewart Wallis Wellbeing Economy Alliance
Benjamin Braun Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG)
Fiona Dove The Transnational Institute
Annelise Riles Buffett Institute for Global Studies
Ellen Brown Public Banking Institute
Johan Frijns Banktrack
Benoît Lallemand Finance Watch
Joshua Farley International Society for Ecological Economics
Ole Bjerg Copenhagen Business School
Stephany Griffith-Jones Columbia University
David Boyle The New Weather Institute
Mark Blyth Brown University
Bernard Barthalay Université Lumière (Lyon)
Giorgos Kallis Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Jean-Marc Ferry Alliance Europa
Joseph Huber Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
Ladislau Dowbor Catholic University of São Paulo
Livio Di Matteo Lakehead University
Marc Lavoie University of Ottawa
Mark Sanders Utrecht University
Sergio Rossi University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Michel Lepetit The Shift Project
Dirk Ehnts Technical University of Chemnitz
Johann Walter Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen
Steven Hail University of Adelaide
Ludovic Desmedt University of Burgundy
Terrence McDonough National University of Ireland Galway
Rodrigo Fernandez Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)
Jean Luc de Meulemeester The Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management”

New Zealand has been making headlines this week after announcing its new Wellbeing Budget.

The government of New Zealand says it is “is committed to putting people’s wellbeing and the environment at the heart of its policies, including reporting against a wider set of wellbeing indicators in future Budgets.”

The official website of the New Zealand Government goes on to state:

“The Budget provides an annual opportunity to review New Zealand’s performance across some high-level indicators, place the Government’s programme within the context of the economic and fiscal outlook, set out the Government’s strategy for the future and draw links to specific actions that have been, or will be, taken.

Budget 2019: The Wellbeing Budget, will broaden the Budget’s focus beyond economic and fiscal policy by using the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework to inform the Government’s investment priorities and funding decisions. The Government will measure and report against a broader set of indicators to show a more rounded measure of success, as a country and as a Government. This will be supported by Budget processes that facilitate evidence-based decisions and deliver the Government’s objectives in a cost-effective way. The Wellbeing Budget represents an important step towards embedding wellbeing in New Zealand’s public policy.”

Find out more about the budget on the website here.

Read The Guardian article about the new budget here.

New Zealand is one of the founding members of the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative, alongside Scotland and Iceland.