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Let me start by telling you a secret, you can’t tell my boss though. When I first got a job at The Equality Trust I didn’t really know what inequality was. This is probably partly down to my privilege, but if you asked me to define it, there and then, as I was being interviewed, I’d have been toast. 

So when I started at The Equality Trust, I did what everyone does, I googled it. Then I read books on it, really good books. Then I watched Ted Talks on it and listened to podcasts but still it couldn’t quite stick. I couldn’t quite make sense of it in my head. Until I heard a story about it

Then I got it. Inequality is everywhere, every time you get that sick feeling of injustice in your stomach, the feeling you can’t define when you are a child, the feeling of sadness at the state of the world, that’s inequality. It’s everywhere and ever present. 

So how do we fight inequality? Well how about stories? After all, it worked for me.  

At The Equality Trust we have created a new platform to hear people’s stories about their experience of inequality… and it involves you. It’s called Everyday Inequality and brings home all the stats: think Humans of New York meets Everyday Sexism, but we’re talking about inequality in all its forms. 

We are facing unprecedented changes to our world. The climate crisis, shockingly unfair  levels of income distribution, insecure work and unequal pay. Inequality is entrenched in all these issues, yet there is no platform or forum providing information or access to the lived experience of inequality or its everyday impacts. Amongst the statistics, policy briefings and panels of experts, we forget real people’s voices and stories of inequality are lost. 

Everyday Inequality aims to change this. We are bringing together blogs, interviews, podcasts, poetry, music, art, videos and photography that showcase the real, diverse stories of what inequality feels like.

Videos, words, poems, performances – all forms of creative storytelling are welcome. Anyone can contribute, you don’t need any experience or a specific story to tell. You just need to be open to starting a conversation and talking about your personal experience, in whatever form you are most comfortable. We want this to be diverse and unique. Because inequality is bad for all of us, not just for people at the sharp end but those at top as well.

To find out more about the project, please get in touch with  frankie.galvin@equalitytrust.org.uk or visit our sign up form here. 

Frankie Galvin is Campaigns and Administrative Assistant at the Equality Trust

By Henry Leveson-Gower, Founder and CEO of Promoting Economic Pluralism

Thank you to everyone who took the time to get involved in the first round of nominating and voting for the #NotTheNobel Prize. We have been really pleased with how many people have taken the time in nominating, commenting and voting. We hope you have found the process so far fun and interesting.

I was really pleased to see some nominees that I had never come across before, which is great. I hope to follow up with them and feature them in The Mint, our magazine, in future issues.

We have now selected seven finalists. You can see their details and related information here. We decided to choose seven finalists to have a diverse field and there was a clear gap in voting numbers between the top seven and next most voted for.

I hope you find it interesting learning more about them. We have tried to summarise their achievements from the nomination and comments, and add links to further information and related articles in The Mint. You can also go back to look at the original nomination and comments.

In the 1st round, it was possible to vote for as many nominees as you liked. We have taken a different approach in the final round. You can vote for your top 3 and order them into 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Your 1st choice will get 3 points, your 2nd 2 points and so on. We hope this approach will ensure the winner is supported by a wide range of those who vote, while not requiring people to range all seven.

You can now start voting and even change your mind later! The button to go to the page to vote is on the same page here. We are using google forms as having looked at a lot of options this seemed the most straightforward while also ensuring people only vote once! You do though need a google email to login and you can find out how to get one here. You can also change your mind and edit the form up until voting closes at the end of our final event on 3rd October 7-8pm UK time. More details to come on that very soon…

Ultimately though clearly the point of this prize is not to select a winner but to create a broader discussion about different ways of understanding and organising our economies. Please do provide comments on the finalists at the bottom of their pages and join the debate on twitter and facebook, #NotTheNobel.

Thanks very much again for taking the time to give your view on the solutions we need to survive and thrive in the 21st century. I think we definitely need some positive visions in what can seem like an every more frightening and challenging world.

Vote now

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.

This blog has been reposted from Happy City

Why is it that almost all the radical approaches to delivering a new economic vision are being led by women?

From Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand to Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, there is a North-to-South shared agenda calling for wellbeing to be put at the heart of government thinking.

Here in the UK, of the five largest national parties, only the two led by women have come out in support of the fast growing ‘wellbeing economy movement’ that is challenging the foundation stones of our economic and social systems. In July this year, Caroline Lucas called on parliament to take seriously the urgent need to move ‘beyond GDP’ in our measures of progress and to better assess and prioritise the wellbeing of people and planet. Yesterday, Jo Swinson used her first party conference as leader to announce that the Liberal Democrats would introduce a Wellbeing Budget to tackle climate change and social inequality.

And this trend goes beyond the headline makers.

Having led a pioneering wellbeing economy organisation, Happy City, for the last 10 years, I have seen this pattern repeated at every level and around the world.  Within global organisations like OECD to national ones like ONS, it is women who are leading on the serious work being undertaken to challenge the central role of GDP as a reliable measure of societal progress.  NGOs and campaigning organisations, such as Wellbeing Economy AlliancePositive MoneyDoughnut Economics and New Economics Foundation, all have powerful female leadership blazing a trail for a new way to do policy and practice.

What began as a personal curiosity about an emerging pattern, is fast becoming a blindingly clear thread running through the wellbeing economy movement.

There is, however, a real risk that policy makers and the media may once again fall into the misogynistic pothole some of our current leaders seems to keep disappearing down.  Whenever ‘wellbeing’ or ‘happiness’ are mentioned it is usually alongside a slight snigger about anyone serious wasting their time thinking about such frivolities. The notion that suggesting a Minister for Happiness, or a Wellbeing Budget might be the action of a ‘big girls’ blouse’ is so far from the truth that our politicians, institutions and media giants need to catch up.

Increasingly, economic heavy-weights and leading environmentalists are pointing to wellbeing economics as the only way to address our current social and environmental crises.

This is no fluffy stuff.  It is one of the most urgent actions of our time, and women leaders need to be supported for their courage in stepping up and saying so.  I for one, am with them every step of the way.

Liz Zeidler

Co Founder and Chief Executive

Happy City

Marine Tanguy is CEO of MTArt

Contemporary research into future cities tends to focus on technology, architecture and infrastructure.  Art in Smart Cities  is a recent study that highlights the importance of public art projects for our future cities.

Very little evidence and academic studies exist to determine whether or not public art is core to the life and demand of citizens. My co-author Vishal Kumar and I collected data at two public art initiatives organised by MTArt Agency. We found that 60% of the sample audience were willing to pay at least £5 for the implementation of more public art in their local area, with 84% willing to pay at least £2, and 84% of our sample said regular public art initiatives would increase their wellbeing.

The main motivations of this work are to shine a light on the value of public art initiatives. The smart city concept is inclusive and based on cross-pollination: public art projects are representative of this complexity as they should involve art experts, urban planners, economists, sociologists, political scientists as well as citizens.

It is important to understand the economic value of public art initiatives within the smart cities context because it will allow policy makers, urban planners and developers to implement such initiatives in the future. The dialogue must be open and eclectic in its methodological approach. It calls for a different, much closer, relationship between cultural institutions and empirical researchers than has been the case to date.

Our study is here to encourage economists to work and value public art projects: it shows a demand which can be expanded to all future cities and worth studying while the public art value reveals itself to be key to citizens.

Hopefully this study is also encouraging to more cultural institutions to partner up with data analysts to lead stronger research into their audiences, the impact these projects generate and the support that they may get from them. Historically, the unwillingness of cultural institutions to engage with the tools of economics has resulted in little progress in valuing art projects, specifically public art ones. No doubt this is in part due to the unfamiliarity at using the language of consumer surplus and willingness to pay and we hope this study helps making it a more familiar method.

We also wish that this study could be the start to a long-term aim of systematically building a rigorous body of evidence which can be used to understand the value of public art projects in its various forms.

Founded in 2015, MTArt Agency is an award-winning talent agency which represents the top visual artists. While the art world concentrates on selling art on walls for a few, we focus on investing in the top artists who could inspire everyone. Every month, the agency reviews 200 portfolios of artists. Our selection committee select artists with innovative techniques, inspiring content and strong visions. Find out more.

Image: MTArt ‘Don’t Think Twice’ project by Jennifer Abessira at London Bridge

Our economic system is driving us towards a perfect storm. We are facing ecological breakdown. Rising debt is threatening a new financial crash. Inequality is pulling societies apart.

WEAll member Promoting Economic Pluralism (PEP) is challenging the scientific prestige of the Nobel Prize, which for 50 years has given authority to economic ideas at the heart of this system. And even though the stark consequences of the 2008 financial crisis are still felt today, these out-dated ideas remain dominant.

We urgently need to reroute society away from this catastrophic path. That starts with fresh economic thinking.

Who are the thinkers and doers finding the economic solutions we need to meet the challenges of the 21st century? Help PEP find them and celebrate them.

And join the discussion about whether economics, as it stands today, is worthy of a Nobel Prize.

Find our more about the Nobel Prize in Economics and its influence in PEP’s blog here.

HOW?

You can now get go to the new online platform here where you can nominate, discuss and vote on who you think are providing the thinking and action we need for the 21st century.

Read articles on Nobel Economics Prize winners here in PEP’s magazine, The Mint. Join the discussion on social media #NotTheNobel.

Voting for the three finalists for the Not the Nobel Prize will open on 23rd September.

WHEN? WHERE?

The winner of the Not the Nobel Prize 2019 will be announced at an event in London on Thursday 3rd October between 7pm and 8pm (GMT/UT). This will follow a panel discussion of the finalists. It will be live-streamed around the world.

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel – often called the Nobel Prize in Economics – will be announced on Monday 14th October.

 

This piece was first published on the Wellbeing Economies film blog

Since early 2018, we have spent a lot of time with our protagonist Katherine Trebeck. In the summer of last year, we also traveled to Costa Rica together, to film her while she was speaking at a conference about sustainable fashion, and while she met the Costa Rican First Lady.

On that trip, she told us about an idea that I forgot about later, and that I was again reminded of recently. It is a beautiful thought that very convincingly illustrates how much we must change our notion of what progress actually means.

You have a very tough challenge to overcome when you try to move away from an economy that is measured by the “growth” it produces, in terms of financially measurable output. Or, in other words, by how much it increases GDP every year. GDP is such an established measurement: Everyone has heard of it, it seems so incredibly familiar (even though most people have no idea what it really is), and that’s why people have a really hard time letting go of it.

Now, how does the growth of GDP tell us that a society is improving?

Well, it measures how much a society makes every year, in terms of how much money is being spent on things in that society. And then it assumes that we are doing better if more things are made and sold next year. And so on. Forever. More stuff is better. It’s as simple as that.

We are now finding out that more is not better. Up to a certain point, yes. But after that, more just hurts more: It hurts nature. It hurts equality in society. It hurts the psychological health in a population. It hurts the climate. Etc.

In the western world, and after we’d broken everything in World War II (“thanks” to the nation I come from, Germany), looking at the GDP was probably a good idea, for a while. We could simply count how much we are making and then assume that we’re doing better if we are producing more next year. It meant more people in jobs, more people could afford things, life was getting better. But those days are gone. We are no longer better off if the GDP keeps growing, we’re actually worse off, nowadays. And we’re clearly ruining the planet this way.

So we speak a lot about what might be a better measure. There’s not going to be a single thing that replaces GDP, of course. But if you ask Katherine which single measure she would pick if she could use only one, to analyse if a society is actually doing better year after year, she’ll say this:

‘Why not get countries to measure the number of girls who bicycle to school?’

Ok, this may seem very strange at first glance. What? Rather than looking at how much economic output our country is producing, let’s count girls on bikes?

Think about it. It makes a heap of sense:

If more and more girls ride a bike to school, it means it’s safer and safer to cycle in traffic.

If more and more girls ride bikes to school, it means that bikes are increasinly accepted as a means of transport. And it means less parents’ cars — who are now doing the “parent taxi” thing (a big issue here in Germany) — are polluting the air and creating dangerous traffic jams outside schools.

If more and more girls cycle to school, it means that more and more girls are actually going to school and getting an education, period. That’s an important achievement in many countries.

If more girls are cycling to school, it means that they’ll get used to this mode of transport, it will translate to better health for them in the future, and to less pollution in society in the future.

If more girls go to school on bikes, it means that they are not afraid to be attacked by predators who do them harm.

If more and more girls ride bikes to school, more and more boys will do that, too.

If more and more girls cycle to school, it means that more of them are empowered and unafraid.

I think I agree with Katherine: This is an incredibly convincing measure of progress. And one that deserves serious consideration as a replacement for GDP. And I am not joking one bit.

The biggest story yet to be told – how we transform our economies
  • If advertisers were selling a more sustainable future to the mass public, how might they do it?
  • If film-makers, musicians, poets, and journalists were tasked with making a sustainable and just economy resonate with their audiences, how might they tell that story?
  • How can the vision of a new economy that protects people and restores the planet start to feel real, relevant and desirable to the average citizen?

Social and environmental crises have already started to take hold around the world. Yet there seems to be no public narrative that explains how we can fix our predicament. We lack a story of solutions. Two global networks working on economic transformation – the Green Economy Coalition and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) – have come together to build that new narrative. We and our partners recognise that before change can happen, we need a convincing and credible story of change.

Our ambition is to tell the story of transition to a better economy, a better environment, and a better future for everyone. We want to convene some of the best communicators out there and inspire them to tell this story: the biggest story yet to be told.

By “communicators”, we mean everyone from the commercial space (marketing, advertising, social media, public relations professionals), to the cultural space (film makers, script-writers, musicians, artists), to the media (journalists, bloggers, writers, photographers), and beyond.

Although both the Green Economy Coalition and WEAll are global in scope, we plan to first pilot an approach in the UK (more on that within the Terms of Reference). Defining key messages and audiences will be a key first step.

We know that our mission is bold and will take time and resources. But existing narratives are failing to inspire sufficient action, and time is short. We have some initial seed funding to kick-start our approach, and we will leverage further contributions from funders and industry as we get underway.

That’s where you come in.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for an exceptional person or organisation, based in the UK, to help us get this mission underway. You will know the media / marketing / comms world intimately, and are happy to draw on those contacts. You are:

  • Well connected in the ad / marketing / cultural space;
  • Skilled in developing compelling briefs that would appeal to comms professionals, businesses and industries;
  • Confident and experienced in convening and leading collaborative working sessions;
  • A bold and imaginative thinker able to take this idea as far as it can go;
  • Experienced in identifying the right audiences and executing delivery of campaigns.

Download the full Terms of Reference here for full details on the proposed project and how to apply.

Reposted from Junxion 

Capitalism is suffering from a crisis of legitimacy and nowhere is that truer than in the banking sector. Following the 2007/8 crash, banks have focused on compliance and getting their house in order, but they have broadly failed to win back the trust they lost.

Working together in a process convened by the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a group of 30 banks have developed the Principles for Responsible Banking—a framework for all banks to show that they understand their purpose is to serve and contribute to meeting society’s needs and individuals’ goals. Following a six-month global consultation, the final version of the Principles and supporting documents were released this week (July 25, 2019). The Principles will be opened for signature on 22 September 2019 at the UN General Assembly.

To cite r3.0—the multi-stakeholder platform that promotes Redesign for Resilience and Regeneration of which Junxion is an Advocation Partner—it’s the kind of ‘radical collaboration’ needed for system change. The Principles for Responsible Banking aim to create nothing less than the sustainable banking system of the future.

Who’s involved?

The 30 founding banks come from around the globe and include China’s ICBC—the world’s largest bank—BNP Paribas, Barclays, Citi, National Australia Bank, BBVA and South Africa’s Land Bank. A further 40-plus banks have committed to becoming signatories and these include Standard Chartered, ABN-AMRO and Amalgamated Bank from the US.

There are also a number of non-bank endorsers of the Principles—banking organizations such as the European Banking Association and the World Savings Bank Institute as well as specialist service providers such as Datamaran and responsible investment advocates such as ShareAction.

What are the Principles for Responsible Banking?

The Principles for Responsible Banking are a framework for all banks to show that they understand their purpose is to serve and contribute to meeting society’s needs and individuals’ goals.

The six principles signatory banks commit to are:

  1. Alignment We will align our business strategy to be consistent with and contribute to individuals’ needs and society’s goals, as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and relevant national and regional frameworks.
  2. Impact & Target Setting We will continuously increase our positive impacts while reducing the negative impacts on, and managing the risks to, people and environment resulting from our activities, products and services. To this end, we will set and publish targets where we can have the most significant impacts.
  3. Clients & Customers We will work responsibly with our clients and our customers to encourage sustainable practices and enable economic activities that create shared prosperity for current and future generations.
  4. Stakeholders We will proactively and responsibly consult, engage and partner with relevant stakeholders to achieve society’s goals.
  5. Governance & Culture We will implement our commitment to these Principles through effective governance and a culture of responsible banking.
  6. Transparency & Accountability We will periodically review our individual and collective implementation of these Principles and be transparent about and accountable for our positive and negative impacts and our contribution to society’s goals
How will banks implement the Principles?

Within four years of signing the Principles banks must fully implement the three key steps of analyzing positive and negative impacts, target setting and implementation, and reporting on progress.

The impact analysis has to ‘identify the most significant (potential) positive and negative impacts on the societies, economies and environments where it operates’ and identify the business opportunities to increase the positive and decrease the negative ones.

Secondly, banks have to set two or more targets covering at least two of the priority impact areas. These targets have to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). Banks have to begin taking steps to meet the targets, including establishing a governance and oversight structure to monitor progress.

Thirdly, banks have to publish their impact analysis and report their progress in implementing the Principles and meeting their targets, and this self-assessment has to be subject to limited assurance.

So what?

A responsible business professional might say this is sustainability 101 for banks: Set a vision, improve performance with the help of some targets, engage with all the people that matter in the shape of your customers and stakeholders, look at how you make decisions and your company culture and report on progress.

But it’s not just any old vision that the banks can set for themselves: it’s a vision of what the world needs. The draft Implementation guidance for Principle 1 talks about ‘creating consistency between the bank’s value creation model and the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement …’. This is big: the Principles are normative, explicitly calling on banks to work towards how the world should be.

It’s not just any old vision that the banks can set for themselves: it’s a vision of what the world needs.

And this theme is continued in Principle 2 about measuring impact and setting targets. On the face of it, that looks like any sound sustainability programme. But those targets have to meet or exceed the targets in the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. Again, signatories have to contribute explicitly to what society needs.

And if those targets are judged to be failing to address that bank’s most significant targets or are not in line with the ambitions in the SDGs and Paris, then that bank can be removed from the signatory list. So, the Principles have teeth.

Will the Principles achieve any real change?

There are definitely reasons to be cheerful. The Principles elevate sustainability to the strategic level—this is more than some risk analysis on an individual transaction or an ESG (environmental, social and governance) screen on a particular portfolio. The Principles are saying society’s goals have to form an integral part of banks’ own strategic objectives.

And they are deliberately designed so banks can ‘start where they are’. No matter their starting point or context, developed or developing country, banks can get on board so the Principles create a framework for the global banking industry.

A key determinant of how much progress banks will make to delivering on the promise of the Principles lies  in the interpretation of ‘alignment’—a question that was raised In the public consultation that just closed. The official answer is that ‘Alignment requires that a bank’s business strategy is consistent with and geared towards making a positive contribution to the SDGs, the Paris Climate Agreement and relevant national or regional frameworks, where a bank is best positioned to do so through its business.’

This is clearly designed to leave space for individual banks to make their own judgement. But James Vaccaro, director of strategy at the ethical Triodos Bank, one of the founding banks that led the development of the Principles, is confident that the Principles are well designed to achieve change across the banking system:

“We have our ‘light on the hill’ in the shape of the SDGs and Paris and we have that ‘ramp effect’ where companies make progress as they individually go through their iterations of analysis, engagement and implementation. But crucially there is sharing between the individual signatory institutions as well. And that means you will have a race to the top, which creates the right conditions for non-linear change and the potential for the banking industry to take some really big steps towards the world we want.”

What’s the big opportunity here?

This is much more than a voluntary industry initiative that banks glibly sign up to, warns Madeleine Ronquest, Head of Environment, Social and Climate Risk at South Africa-based FirstRand Bank—also a founding bank of the Principles:

“We want to properly apply our minds so that the process and the information we publish will stand up to scrutiny. And there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be done in advance, engaging critical stakeholders, internally and publicly, spending as much time as may be required and being as inclusive as possible. The Principles are very aspirational and very ambitious and that was the intention in developing them. Signing them represents a serious commitment.”

The real opportunity of the Principles is to convince a sceptical world that businesses can and will collaborate for the common good.

So, they are not going to be easy to implement—but we all know they are necessary. The Principles represent an outstanding opportunity for the banking industry to do the right thing. To demonstrate that they are serious about backing up their social purpose statements with real impact that ‘achieves shared prosperity for both current and future generations’, as the Principles’ mission statement says.

And given the crucial role that finance plays in society’s collective efforts to create a better future, there is a lot riding on how banks step up here. It’s more than securing their own legitimacy and creating the sustainable banking system of the future, it’s about financing the change we need to see in the world.

Even more than that, we need these industry initiatives—these ‘meso-level’ activities in r3.0 parlance – to succeed and society has to see that they do. The real opportunity of the Principles is to convince a sceptical world that businesses can and will collaborate for the common good.

It’s what we at Junxion call being ‘audacious, together’. It is leadership.

 

Adam Garfunkel is an owner and Managing Director at Junxion. For more than 20 years, he’s been involved in corporate sustainability initiatives and led the team that created the communications strategy for the Principles for Responsible Banking.

What are you willing to teach others in the WeALL network?

We all have amazing things to offer the wellbeing economy movement. And when we share what we have to offer, making change becomes easier for us all!

In this virtual event, community members come together to identify and exchange their knowledge, skills, resources and needs. Whether you are offering to share tips on beekeeping, a list of climate-change journalist contacts, or organize a zero-waste event, this is a fun and safe way to meet others in the Citizens community. You can share both personally and on behalf of an organisation. We will unearth the variety of talents and expertise that is at our fingertips. 

Join us Monday, August 19 at 12pm EST// 5pm UK  for the first WEAll Citizens Offers and Needs Market. 

The second event will be on Wednesday, September 4 at 2pm Perth (Australia)/7am UK.

These events are a free, fun and effective way to connect, get more comfortable expressing your offers and needs, and begin conversations with interesting people.

The events are presented as a partnership between WEAll and the Post Growth Institute. You can find out more about the Offers and Needs model here.



Click here to register on Monday, August 19 at 12pm EST//5pm UK 

Click here to register on Wednesday, September 4, 2pm Perth (Australia)//7am UK

 

 

 

On the one year anniversary of WEAll’s first member gathering – which took place in Malaga, Spain, last summer – the Amp Team reflected on progress made since then thanks to the efforts and commitment of WEAll members around the world.

Network and Wellbeing lead Ana Gomez created a celebratory document to share with members and showcase these achievements – download the Thank You message here.

 

 

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

They explain the purpose of the book as follows:

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

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

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

Order from Local Futures online store

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

Is economic growth compatible with ecological sustainability?

A new report from WEAll member the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) shows that efforts to decouple economic growth from environmental harm, known as ‘green growth’, have not succeeded and are unlikely to succeed in their aim.

Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability’ was released on 9 July 2019.

In the words of the EEB:

“In recent decades, economic growth rose to become the leading measure of changes in prosperity and wellbeing. For that reason, governments have sought to maximise the growth of their gross domestic product (GDP), which tends to involve greater resource use and more pollution.

As the climate crisis and environmental degradation worsened, policy-makers sought to square the circle of maintaining prosperity while reducing the environmental impact of economic activity by decoupling resource use from economic growth. This policy choice has become known as ‘green growth’.

Assessing green growth

Although decoupling is useful and necessary, and has occurred at certain times and places, ‘green growth’ cannot reduce resource use on anywhere near the scale required to deal with global environmental breakdown and to keep global warming below the target of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold established as part of the Paris Agreement.

This is the conclusion of ‘Decoupling debunked: Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability’. Published by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the report reviews the empirical evidence and theoretical literature to assess the validity of the decoupling hypothesis.

The report, whose lead author is Timothée Parrique of the Centre for Studies and Research in International Development (CERDI), finds that there is no empirical evidence supporting the existence of an absolute, permanent, global, substantial and sufficiently rapid decoupling of economic growth from environmental pressures. Absolute decoupling is also highly unlikely to happen in the future, the report concludes.

‘Decoupling debunked’ highlights the need for the rethinking of green growth policies and the urgent necessity to identify alternative approaches that can safeguard prosperity and wellbeing while protecting the environment.

The report will be available online from 9 July 2019 at: https://eeb.org/library/decoupling-debunked/

‘Decoupling debunked’ will be officially launched in October in Brussels.”

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.

First published on Local Futures website

Imagine a world where food routinely gets shipped thousands of miles away to be processed, then shipped back to be sold right where it started. Imagine cows from Mexicobeing fed corn imported from the United States, then being exported to the United States for butchering, and the resulting meat being shipped back to Mexico, one last time, to be sold. Imagine a world in which, in most years since 2005, China has somehow managed to import more goods from itself than from the USA, one of its largest trading partners.

This may sound like the premise of some darkly comic, faintly dystopian film – albeit one geared towards policy wonks. But it’s no joke – in fact, it is the daily reality of the global economy.

The above examples are all instances of ‘re-importation’ – that is, countries shipping their own goods overseas only to ship them back again at a later stage in the production chain. And these are far from the only instances of this head-scratching phenomenon. In the waters off the coast of Norway, cod arrive every year after an impressive migratory journey, having swum thousands of miles around the Arctic Circle in search of spawning grounds. Yet this migration pales in comparison to the one the fish undertake after being caught: they’re sent to China to be fileted before returning to supermarkets in Scandinavia to be sold. This globalization of the seafood supply chain extends to the US as well; more than half of the seafood caught in Alaska is processed in China, and much of it gets sent right back to American grocery store shelves.

Compounding the insanity of re-importation is the equally baffling phenomenon of redundant trade. This is a common practice whereby countries both import and export huge quantities of identical products in a given year. To take a particularly striking example, in 2007, Britain imported 15,000 tons of chocolate-covered waffles, while exporting 14,000 tons. In 2017, the US both imported and exported nearly 1.5 million tons of beef, and nearly half a million tons of potatoes. In 2016, 213,000 tons of liquid milk arrived in the UK – a windfall, had not 545,000 tons of milk also left the UK over the course of that same year.

On the face of it, this kind of trade makes no economic sense. Why would it be worth the immense cost – in money as well as fuel – of sending perfectly good food abroad only to bring it right back again?

The answer lies in the way the global economy is structured. ‘Free trade’ agreements allow transnational corporations to access labor and resources almost anywhere, enabling them to take advantage of tax loopholes and national differences in labor and environmental standards. Meanwhile, direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels, on the order of $5 trillion per year worldwide, allow the costs of shipping to be largely borne by taxpayers and the environment instead of the businesses that actually engage in it. In combination, these structural forces lead to insane levels of international transport that serve no purpose other than boosting corporate profits.

The consequences of this bad behavior are already severe, and set to become worse in the coming decades. Small farmers, particularly in the global South, have seen their livelihoods undermined by influxes of cheap food from abroad; meanwhile, their climate-resilient agricultural practices are actively discouraged by the WTO and ‘free trade’ agreements. And food processing and packaging – both critical for food that’s going to be shipped a long way from where it was produced – account for a significant proportion of the global food system’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Food is not the only product that accrues unnecessary miles of shipping. The components of a typical smartphone, for example, have traveled a collective half-million miles – touching down on three continents – before landing in your pocket. This kind of excessive trade is why carbon emissions from international transport are growing nearly three times faster than emissions from other sources. At current rates of growth, international trade by sea and air will, by 2050, emit about as much CO2 as the entire European Union does today.

The link between liberalized trade policies and carbon emissions is clear and straightforward: A recent study from Japan’s Kyushu University found that when countries reduce or eliminate their tariffs – particularly on resource-intensive industries like mining and manufacturing – they see corresponding increases in the amount of carbon emissions associated with imported goods.

What this means is that if we’re going to effectively combat the climate crisis, we’ll have to pay attention to trade policy. Specifically, we’ll need to change it so that unrestricted, unlimited ‘free trade’ is no longer an option. But policymakers currently have little incentive to reduce international trade because, bizarrely, emissions from global trade do not appear in any nation’s carbon accounting. There are plenty of ways to fix this – for example, emissions from trade could be assigned to countries on the basis of where goods start out, where they end up, or where the ships and planes transporting them are registered. All that countries would have to do is agree on a standard. But at the moment no country is assigned responsibility for these floating emissions. The result is a situation in which policymakers promise to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously working to expand global trade – even though these two goals are wholly incompatible.

If policymakers continue to drag their feet, the impetus for real change in the way we conduct global trade will have to come from peoples’ movements working together to make their voices heard. We must call for an end to the deregulatory ‘free trade’ and tax policies that make practices like re-importation and redundant trade profitable. One of the most critical steps towards sanity would be the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels. When taxpayers stop paying part of the cost of global transport, transnational corporations will have to radically reconsider the way they operate.

These changes will be vigorously opposed by big global businesses, which means that generating momentum for trade policies that promote community health and ecological stability won’t happen overnight. But the first step is raising awareness of trade as a climate issue, and overcoming the unwillingness of most major media outlets, politicians, and think-tanks to discussit critically.

To that end, Local Futures has released a new factsheet and tongue-in-cheek short film on ‘insane trade’ and its consequences. We hope they can help draw attention to the absurdity of the current system, point to healthier alternatives, and make the issue of global trade approachable and understandable for a wide audience. So please, share them with people you know, and start a conversation around this critical topic.

Back in January, Rethinking Economics and Doughnut Economics got together and launched a competition based on the ‘seven ways to think like a 21st century economist’ set out in Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics. The challenge that they threw down was this:

The judges were amazed and delighted to receive over 250 entries across three categories – schools, universities, and everyone else – covering a very wide range of themes. You can find out more about all 250 ideas and what happens next with them on the Doughnut Economics site here.

And the winners are…

‘Everyone Else’ winner – (WEAll member!) On Purpose with their short video ‘From Business Case to Systems Case’
School winner – Presence Tse with her video ‘From Division of Labour to Cohesive Partnership’
University winner – James Legg-Bagg with his video ‘Legal Rights for Nature’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-DZfl9pwUM&feature=youtu.be

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”

Last week, an enthusiastic crowd in London attended the sold-out event to promote ‘The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown-up economy’ by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams.

Hosted by WEAll members CUSP (the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity) and GEC (Green Economy Coalition), the event attracted academics, civil society professionals, activists, journalists and more, all keen to understand more about the need for economic system change and to engage in the debate about how we get there.

Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams inspired the audience with an overview of the book’s themes and concepts. Williams explained that the concept of ‘Arrival’ is “not a promise but the possibility of having enough.” The authors argue that for many countries, there are now diminishing returns to  growth and that they ought now to focus on ‘making themselves at home’ by prioritising human and environmental wellbeing.

Trebeck made the case that our global economic system is manifestly failing to deliver – on poverty, wellbeing, health, environment, and equality. “People feel their lives are out of control. The system isn’t working,” she said.

Sharing examples such as Japan and Costa Rica to demonstrate the potential of alternative economic approaches, and ending with a positive message that economic system change is possible, the speakers certainly got the room talking with this introduction to their work.

Questions and ideas came thick and fast from those in the room who were keen to delve further into the concept of Arrival.

A panel discussion featuring Professor Tim Jackson of CUSP and Irene Gujit of Oxfam GB, as well as Trebeck and Williams, gave an opportunity for more exploration, as the room considered the different applications of the book’s concepts in the global south as well as tangible ways to build a wellbeing economy in the UK.

‘The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a grown up economy’ is available from Policy Press here.

Watch a short video summarising the ideas in the book:

Images: Ben Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call for entries

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

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

Guidelines

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

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

WEAll Ambassador Kate Raworth has launched a competition with Rethinking Economics looking for the 8th Way to Think Like a 21st Century Economist.

Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist proposes seven mindset shifts to make economics fit for addressing this century’s challenges. But many other shifts are needed too so, in order to explore them, we decided to launch a competition based on this challenge:

They’ve got a fantastic panel of economic re-thinkers who are ready to review your entries and select the very best as winners. So get rethinking!

Find out more about the challenge and submit your idea here.

Deadline Friday 12 April at midnight UK time.