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In February 2019, UK-based Happy City released their all-new Happiness Pulse web-app, with support from the National Lottery Community Fund.  The Happiness Pulse is a free online survey that combines a range of academic measures of wellbeing into a simple and interactive five minute survey.

For too long we have focused on a vision of progress centred on consuming more, individually and collectively, to drive ‘economic growth’.  Happy City have, for almost ten years, been at the vanguard of a movement to recalibrate this collective compass, towards the wellbeing of people, place and planet.

Much of that work is about challenging the core local conditions for people to thrive – now and in the future, via our Thriving Places Index.  But at the heart of such change we must also measure, and as the adage says, therefore ‘treasure’ what matters most – the experienced lives in our communities.  The Happiness Pulse does just that.

No longer do you need a fleet of academics to gather and understand information on the complex web of factors that most influence our capacity to thrive.  Neither do you need deep pockets, or a PhD in wellbeing.  Happy City alongside a range of academics, leading experts, local decision makers and ordinary members of the public, have done the hard work for you.

Anyone can use the Happiness Pulse to quickly gather the key information from group or groups of any size, and produce accessible data reports to guide their work, and demonstrate the impact their organisation has on people’s lives.

The Happiness Pulse measures what matters – the things that both academic research and communities themselves say matter most to their lives.  They are grouped into three easily understood domains, ‘Be, Do and Connect’, to unearth the nuance often hidden behind simple happiness or life satisfaction surveys.  Are people, feeling, behaving and connecting, in ways that are helping or hindering their capacity to thrive?  The Happiness Pulse helps really spot ways to target time and resources where they are needed most.

This new tool also supports organisations to demonstrate social impact.  Those at the coalface of work in community organisations, or workforces have long known the ripple effect that work has on people’s lives beyond simplistic economic measures – now they can demonstrate the detail of that impact in an easy, reliable and trusted way.

And importantly it gives back to those whose lives it explores. This is more than a simple survey – it instantly shares the results in really accessible and thought provoking ways to the individuals who take it, the teams who deliver it, and the leaders who commission it, helping each to take their part in the vital job of improving wellbeing.

Joseph Stiglitz wisely said that ‘If we measure the wrong things, we strive for the wrong things’.  For too long we have not valued wellbeing enough to invest in really measuring and understanding it.  The Happiness Pulse can change all that at any scale from a tiny community group or enterprise, up to a multi-national organization or an entire city.

The Happiness Pulse can help you right now, to measure, understand and improve the wellbeing of your family, your workplace, your community or your town or city.  It is designed to:

  • MEASURE: Map and track wellbeing strengths and needs to better tailor interventions to support individuals, teams and communities to thrive
  • UNDERSTAND: Evaluate the social impact and value of interventions, projects and programmes to understand the detail of works and demonstrate this to funders, staff, boards, partners and communities themselves with accessible, shareable reports.
  • IMPROVE: The easy to use dashboard helps build a picture of wellbeing changes, informing and evaluating actions, interventions and investments and easy ways to share learning.

Happy City and their partners have worked tirelessly to make this new tool practical and useful – for individuals, groups, businesses, communities and policy makers.  The basic version is entirely free to use – at any scale – to support usage across sectors and communities UK wide.  Together, users will help start shifting our collective compass to improving lives, not just lining pockets.

In addition there are a wide range of additional features that can support more in-depth understanding and more bespoke outcomes for those organisations deeply committed to building a wellbeing culture and economy where they are.

So take your Happiness Pulse today – and see how you could start improving lives – your own and those around you. Visit happinesspulse.org for more information and to sign up for your free account.

On Tuesday 26 March, WEAll Scotland teamed up with Rethinking Economics to co-host an event in Edinburgh discussing economics education and how Scotland can champion a more pluralist approach to economics.

Rethinking Economics is a WEAll member, and comprises an international network of students, academics and professionals building a better economics in society and the classroom.

The event was full of students, civil society professionals, academics and interested members of the public keen to discuss economics curriculum reform.

The panel was chaired by Ross Cathcart from Rethinking Economics, and included:

  • Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Professor Robert McMaster, Professor of Political Economy, University of Glasgow
  • Lovisa Reiche, Rethinking Economics and APEG Member; Economics Student at University of Aberdeen
  • Dr. Katherine Trebeck, Research Director, Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Gary Gillespie kicked off by explaining his background as an academic economist who joined government to try to apply his economics skills to real world issues, particularly health issues in Scotland. Gary was clear that the central objective of the Scottish Government economics directorate is to improve economic and other outcomes for the people of Scotland. He said: “as an academic economist, I used to use policy to show how good the models were, not the other way around!” In later remarks, he stressed the importance of being responsive to the issues of the day, and of the need for economics and other graduates working in the public sector to be motivated by real world concerns.

Katherine Trebeck was clear that economics is at its best when it is pluralist and not “constrained by narrow bandwidths”. She re-imagined the famous Ronald Reagan quote (“the only limits to growth are the limits to our imagination”), saying that our imaginations are presently limited by fixation on growth but can go further. However, it’s not just a question of growth or no growth, but of opening minds – which the university system is particularly well placed to do. She also raised the question of elitism in economics, calling for people from a more diverse range of backgrounds to engage in the topic both as a degree subject and a career.

Robert McMaster explored the interplay between ethics and economics – which, he says, not enough economists are interested in doing. As a Professor who has taught economics at university level for a number of years, he believes that issues start on day one when students are required to focus straight away on “economic scarcity vs. unlimited wants”. He implored the audience to consider that economics, as currently taught, “tacitly condones those who wish to shape our wants”, and ignores power structures beyond market power.

Fourth year Economics undergraduate student Lovisa Reiche had the last word. In her view, economics should be about creating a system that works for as many people as possible. She said: “Economics isn’t all bad: but there are clear problems in the way it is being taught”. For Lovisa, some of the teaching has felt “artificial” and far removed from recognisable human behaviour and values. Frustrated with what she perceives to be the stripping away of relevance from the subject and profession, Lovisa and her fellow students at Aberdeen University have been campaigning for changes – from simple shifts in focus to curriculum overhaul.

The panel coalesced around the notion of the political coming back into economics – though none of them advocate losing the technical rigour of the subject. As Gary summarised, however, “what’s the point of economics if it’s not about addressing the big challenges we’re facing?”

Spirited questions from the audience continued the conversation, and it was clear that nobody wanted the discussion to end! It doesn’t have to: keep up with the work of Rethinking Economics and support the campaign for economics curriculum reform.

You can also find out more about the Scottish Government’s approach to wellbeing economics and the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership here.

Last week, WEAll and the Amp Team Knowledge and Policy lead Katherine Trebeck were the subjects of one of the first features for Emerge. Emerge is a new independent, non-profit media platform which describes itself as “highlighting the initiatives, individuals and ways of thinking that are sowing the seeds of a new civilisation.”

The piece, entitled “Time for an upgrade: a new operating system for the global economy” outlines WEAll’s mission, as well as exploring Katherine’s life and her years of work contributing to the wellbeing economy agenda. With examples of how the wellbeing economy is already being put into practice, the feature has been garnering plenty of interest on social media already.

Read the piece here, and follow Emerge for more content like this.

Image by Robert Ormerod for Emerge

Based on the book Enough Is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, this film lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth — an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Featuring interviews with leading sustainability thinkers such as Tim Jackson, Kate Pickett, Andrew Simms, Ben Dyson, and Natalie Bennett. Enough Is Enough is produced and directed by Tom Bliss, with illustrations by Polyp and animations by Henry Edmonds.

Find out more about Enough is Enough here.

This article was first published by New Statesman

By Sarah McKinley, Democracy Collaborative

Against a backdrop of Brexit uncertainties, Labour members this week launched a grassroots campaign urging the party to adopt a Green New Deal. Their campaign calls for an economic stimulus programme to decarbonise the economy, create green jobs in struggling regions and invest in public infrastructure. It was a welcome respite in a week of disaster news.

As one of the Labour group’s organisers told the Guardian newspaper, “climate change is fundamentally about class, because it means chaos for the many while the few profit.” Indeed, the “Green” in Green New Deal can be misleading. This isn’t just an environmental proposal, but one designed to protect peoples’ livelihoods and confront economic inequality.

The only way to address the climate crisis is to fundamentally change our current political economy – something that people including Gus Speth of the Democracy Collaborative have long argued. While partisan political rhetoric pits environmental concerns against economic growth, proposals for a Green New Deal opt instead to secure employment and confront structural inequities.

For those of us who have been working for years on economic and climate justice, it’s exciting to see these proposals capture public imagination and enter mainstream political discourse.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement have championed the Green New Deal in the US, but this set of ideas is by no means new. Since 2007 the UK’s Green New Deal Group has argued for a transition towards a clean energy future that puts job protection and human rights at its centre.

The group, whose members include economist Ann Pettifor, tax campaigner Richard Murphy and the leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, first published its Green New Deal proposals in July 2008, months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Ten years later, after a decade of austerity and political and social upheavals, it seems the world is finally ready for their ideas.

We cannot talk about climate change as a “long-term” prospect any more: the Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change warns that there are less than 12 years left to avert climate disaster. The world’s most vulnerable communities are already bearing the unjust brunt of environmental breakdown—as seen in post-Katrina New Orleans and post-Maria Puerto Rico and, most recently, Cyclone Idai in Africa.

Tackling the climate crisis with the kind of rehashed neoliberal tactics attempted by French President Emmanuel Macron, with his policy of “green taxes”, is a recipe for double disaster. Carbon taxes are both inadequate for addressing environmental breakdown and guaranteed to exacerbate tensions in an increasingly unequal economy. It is time to stop tinkering around the edges and present comprehensive and systemic solutions to the onset climate crisis.

Movements intent on transforming our economy have gained traction in recent years; community wealth building efforts are overhauling local economies on both sides of the Atlantic and broadening ownership of capital and resources. New networks like the Wellbeing Economy Alliance are examining alternatives to our current economic system.  These initiatives articulate a new economic paradigm that confronts inequality and encompasses nature and community, rather than merely focussing on short-term profit and GDP.

To truly address environmental breakdown, we also need wartime-levels of investment and state intervention. If the Green New Deal were to become government policy, it would represent a huge victory for pro-environmental politics and a fusion of economic and environmental justice on a scale unprecedented in Europe. It would commit governments to an economic model that put planet above profit.

Some national governments are taking tentative steps towards a new economic paradigm: New Zealand has unveiled a wellbeing budget, Finland has an Economy of Wellbeing strategy, and Scotland is convening a group of progressive governments through its Wellbeing Economy Governmentsinitiative. Wales has recently introduced a Community Wealth Building Fund, and Labour has created a Community Wealth Building Unit to support towns and cities implementing local solutions.

But electoral cycles (to say nothing of Brexit cliff-edges) do not lend themselves to tackling systemic problems. As the climate strikes of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and other school students have shown, young people are fearful that politicians are ignoring the impending crisis. With eyes firmly fixed on the future of their planet, their protests have magnified government silence.

To confront climate change, we can’t leave it all up to politicians. We need civil society, business, local government, finance and academia to mobilise and collaborate; to cross borders and build regional and international networks and platforms. Gatherings such as the New Economy and Social Innovation (NESI) Global Forum, the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies and Ctrl+Shift in the UK provide a collaborative space to replicate local experiments.

Let’s encourage politicians to champion a just transition to a better future, but let’s not leave it all up to them. To build an economy that is appropriate for life on a finite planet, we need to listen to the young climate strikers and implement their rallying cry.

Sarah McKinley is Director of European Programs at the Democracy Collaborative.

Image: Getty Images

This blog was first published by CUSP

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

By KATHERINE TREBECK and JEREMY WILLIAMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The NESI Forum 2019 takes place 24-26 April in Malaga, Spain – but the work to build a wellbeing economy together starts even sooner. Through a series of webinars with subject experts from around the world, you can participate actively in the “Discovery” phase prior to the forum and explore, learn and share about the existing solutions and early innovations that will enable us to Dream, Design and DO the change we want to see in the world, at NESI and beyond.

NESI is structured around five themes that will be explored in the webinars: The energy that powers all our activities; what we eat and how we produce it; where and how we choose to live in or work and get around; what we wear and how we access it; and where we invest and how money circulates. Across all six themes, we need radical transformation to co-create a wellbeing economy. This is what we are here to do together.

Join us in the journey by attending all or any of the available free webinars.

Use this Zoom link to join all of the webinars: https://zoom.us/j/756911946

  • Tuesday 12th March (4pm to 5pm) – Lars Mortensen speaks to us about “Textiles in a circular economy” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-textiles-in-a-circular-economy-139690

  • Wednesday 13th March (4pm to 5pm) – Johnny Azpilicueta shares his insights about “La desmaterialización de la economía: una visión holística radical” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-la-desmaterializacion-de-la-economia-una-vision-holistica-ra

  • Thursday 14th March (4pm to 5pm) – Susana Martín Belmonte introduces the topic of “new financial and monetary systems to create new economies” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-nuevos-sistemas-monetario-y-financiero-para-crear-nuevas-eco

  • Tuesday 19th March (3pm to 4pm) – Ana Huertas helps us understand the role of “Food sovereignty for eco-social regeneration” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-food-sovereignty-for-ecosocial-regeneration-429221

  • Wednesday 20th March (4pm to 5pm) – Benoît Lallemand invites us to discover how to “Make finance serve society” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-making-finance-serve-society-547229

  • Thursday 21st March (4pm to 5pm) – Iñaki Alonso introduces the “Treble balance architecture for new co-housing and co-working developments” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-arquitectura-triple-balance-para-los-nuevos-desarrollos-de-c

  • Tuesday 26th March (4pm to 5pm) – Jonathan Schifferes  makes us reflect about “Who shapes our cities?, learning from London, Boston and Tuxtla Gutiérrez” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-who-shapes-our-cities-learning-from-london-boston-and-txutla

  • Wednesday 27th March (4pm to 5pm) – Fabian Wallace-Stephens will helps us discover “What lies ahead in the future of work – thinking beyond mass automation” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-what-lies-ahead-in-the-future-of-work-thinking-beyond-mass-a

  • Thursday 28th March (4pm to 5pm) – Andrea Somma shares her own personal journey “From sustainable fashion to the wellbeing economy” (Spanish)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forumarquitectura-triple-balance-para-los-nuevos-desarrollos-de-co

  • Martes 2 de Abril (4pm to 5pm) – Nicola Cerantola helps us understand “Energy & resources flows in the circular economy” (English)

https://www.enterticket.es/eventos/webinars-nesi-forum-energy-and-resources-flows-in-the-circular-economy-21183

Blog by Stewart Wallis, WEAll Chair

 

 

Seven years after first speaking at a Global Alliance on Banking and Values (GABV) summit in Vancouver, it was wonderful to be back doing the same again.

GABV is a member of WEAll and in turn WEAll is a partner of GABV, working together to pursue economic system change and transform the financial system within that.

Hosted by GABV member bank Vancity, this year’s summit was a huge and dynamic gathering with between 400-500 participants. The theme spoke to the multiple challenges of our era: “Migrants, #MeToo, and Melting Icecaps…Redefining Banking for a Radically Different Future.”

It was a privilege to share the stage with wonderful keynote speakers:

Sheila Watt-Cloutier: Author and Activist, Canada from Inuit Nation who spoke so movingly about climate change. “If you protect the Arctic, you save the plan

et,” she said. “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Everything is connected through our common atmosphere, not to mention our common spirit and our common humanity.”

Tima Kurdi: Author of “The Boy on the Beach” and aunt of Alan Kurdi, whose tragic image shocked and moved the world in 2015. Tima evoked the most powerful expression of our common humanity and our common responsibility I have ever heard. The whole room was in tears following her speech.

Musimbi Kanyoro: CEO of the Global Fund for Women. She issued a clarion call for more power for women and girls worldwide combined with practical next steps.

John Fullerton: President of Capital Institute (a WEAll member organisation and we’re working together closely on hubs.) John gave the public address on the first evening and brilliantly laid the ground for my panel the next day. He stressed clearly the need for system change rather than incremental reform

In my panel I focused on the need for the economic system to be based in human and ecological wellbeing. I started by saying that yesterday humanity exploded 250,000 Hiroshima size level atomic bombs in our oceans…not literally, of course. However, the latest research shows the heat being released in the oceans is equivalent to 3-6 atomic bombs per second.

I then talked about income inequality, highlighting that last year the richest 28 people on the planet had the same wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion and the wealth of the billionaires went up last year, while the wealth of the poorest went down.

When we consider how these crises are interacting, we shouldn’t be surprised that our politics is going the way that it is. Fundamentally, the economic system we’ve got is broken, it’s dangerous and it’s violent. We’ve got to call it as it is and urge those with imagination to create a different economic system: one that’s got well-being of both the planet and humans and that puts regeneration at its heart.

The economic system had been changed twice in the 20th century and with collaboration, determination and imagination we could do so again. A new movement may never have an elite power base and billions of dollars in funds behind it, but it can have millions of hearts and hands. What WEAll is trying to achieve is bold, vital and entirely possible.

After the panel, I led a breakout group on changing the system through partnership. The interest in system change can be judged by the fact that about a quarter of the participants joined this group when they had 12 groups to choose from! A key proposal from this group to the GABV CEOs was that GABV banks could lead in their communities/cities/regions in bringing together other actors to form system change hubs. This is an exciting idea for WEAll and we will be exploring this further with GABV.

As always, some of the joys of such an event are the contacts and discussions outside the conference hall. I had discussions with some of the GABV member banks about specific collaboration, initiated conversations with four potential WEAll member organisations, identified potential participants for the Finance Cluster and agreed a set of detailed collaborative actions with Sandrine Dixson-Decleve , Co President of The Club of Rome (another WEAll member). Perhaps most energising of all were discussions with the Young Leaders Delegation at the Summit. They want to form a Youth hub in Vancouver so I can’t wait to put them in touch with WEAll Youth.

Finally, it was so refreshing to be with a group of bankers who want to change the world!

 

WEAll Member Circulous has launched an exciting new podcast focused on achieving a zero waste future – listen to the first episode here:

To truly understand the concept of zero waste, it’s essential that we dig into the current state of waste and waste management. In this, the first episode of Love Zero Waste, you’ll learn more about why the amount of waste is increasing every year, what happens with your waste after you chuck it and we introduce you to the 12…ish Rs of zero waste. We’ll even tap into the unknowns of “invisible waste”. You’ll meet Anna-Carin Gripwall, head of communication at the Swedish Waste Management Association (Avfall Sverige) and we’re paying a visit to Jochen Pach, head of projects and material flow management at Holding Graz Waste Management.

Guest blog from WEAll Scotland

The launch of new book ‘The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a grown-up economy’ by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams this month provided a great opportunity for WEAll Scotland to engage with the public on how to create a wellbeing economy by putting on launch events in collaboration with Oxfam Scotland.

Sold-out audiences in Glasgow and Edinburgh listened to an inspiring talk by the authors on the idea of ‘Arrival’ – the point at which economies can stop focusing on growth and instead focus on how to make ourselves at home in this place of plenty.

The concepts in the book resonated with participants, who were full of questions and ideas. Can Scotland follow in New Zealand’s footsteps and create a wellbeing budget? What can Scottish businesses do right now to contribute to this agenda? From a local councillor, what can councils do to encourage more participation? And, from the youngest participant who was just 9 years old, how can we make sustainable solutions more affordable for everyone?

All these questions and more were discussed in interactive sessions after the talks, with people contributing ideas and solutions for how Scotland can become a ‘grown-up economy’.

As with previous WEAll Scotland events, the diversity of perspectives in the room was very encouraging, with not only politicians, activists and business people taking part but also citizens who are increasingly concerned about the current system and keen to contribute to making change.

As one attendee put it: “I’m just a mum with a normal job, but recently my daughter has helped me realise about inequalities and unfairness and I want to play my part.”

Another, a student at Edinburgh University, said that the event and the connections with people there helped him feel hopeful for the future at a time when it seems like there’s a lot of cause for despair.

‘Arrival’ is the idea that a society collectively has the means for this. Growth has reached a point at which a decent standard of living could, theoretically, be universal – and countries like Scotland could lead the way. This week’s events certainly helped the WEAll Scotland team feel like this is not only possible, but already starting to happen.

The book is available from Policy Press here.

Guest blog by Henry Leveson-Gower, Promoting Economic Pluralism

As a follow-up to our blog for WEAll from last December, we wanted to invite you to join the online dialogue about an accreditation scheme for masters programmes taking a pluralist approach to economics. The dialogue is now open and live here.

We are currently debating what teaching pluralism in understanding the economy should be about. You can get a flavour of the debate so far here. Please join by going to the page linked above and have your say in this discussion.

We promise, the platform is set up so it won’t take up much of your time! Have a look at the short introductory video (<7mins; also on the page linked above) & find out how you can contribute your own ideas, vote on other people’s ideas or express your views about them in the form of points in favour or against them.

Some of you may not have the time to read the full blog above, but still want to get some more general information about this project first. In this case you can always go to our website to find out about why we think the co-creation of this scheme is crucial for the creation and enhancement of genuine wellbeing economies.

Don’t miss this opportunity to set common standards for pluralist economics education worthy of its name. We need your input so this scheme is truly co-created. So please join!

If you don’t have time right now, you can always sign up here to keep in touch with the debate and join later.

 

In November, Sistema B hosted the first world meeting of the BCorp movement in Puerto Varas, Chile.

The organisers shared this letter with all who attended:

Greetings from the president of Chile 

The president of the Republic of Chile, Sebastian Piñera didn’t want to miss out on Encuentro +B. He even sent us greetings from afar. Let’s check it out!

Open Letter to the governments of the G20 nations

One of the important milestones of Encuentro+ B was the presentation of the open letter to the G20 nations , which will meet in Argentina on November 30 to discuss the global economy.

Today, more than ten years after the global financial crisis, a group of business leaders, purpose-driven entrepreneurs and impact investors have come together to summon G20 countries to help build an economic system that is useful to people and the planet.

You can check it out and join at change.org  to see the open letter signed by The B Team, B Lab , GSG and Sistema B, supported by the We-All Global Alliance.

Help us share the message on social networks to reach out to world leaders. Here you will find posts and graphs that will help you.

Missed the lectures?
If you missed the lectures, do not worry because everything is recorded here:

Thriving Resilient Communities (TRC)
2019 Movement Strategy Dialogue

The Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory (TRCC) invites you to join them in exploring this question as we enter 2019:

What would you like to learn about building thriving, resilient communities, and how can we better support those doing so across the world?

This is a participant-led conversation taking place now through January 7, 2019 and you can be part of it.

Zoom calls take place on a schedule that evolves to meet participant needs. The Dialogue process also makes use of Facebook, Google docs, and Slack. Details when you register.  See the current agenda (which is developing on an ongoing basis) here.

About the TRC Movement Strategy Dialogue

This is the fourth annual iteration of the Dialogue, which is hosted by the Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory (TRCC), a network of regional and national organizational leaders who are working to revitalize local communities across the USA.  Its purpose is to learn more about how we can support those who are building thriving, resilient communities across the US and the world.

Intended results of this collective inquiry include:

  • Creating a space for shared learning on the connection between local scale transformation and regional/national/global structures for collaboration, as well as on ways to democratize philanthropy
  • Connecting people and organizations within and beyond the TRCC community, both for general networking and to onboard new TRCC member organizations (see the next page for a list of current member orgs)
  • Celebrating our work over the past year, and nourishing our souls so we move into the new one with greater energy and solidarity
  • Supporting the 2019 cycle of the collaborative funding initiative facilitated by the TRCC in partnership with the Threshold Foundation.  
    • This includes identifying overall strategies for our grantmaking, potential grantee nominees, and potential funding partners.
  • Seeding new collaborations

TRCC is especially excited about the participation of new people in this year’s engagement, as they seek to learn from Thriving Resilience work being done around the world, and to expand their core community of US-focused organizational leaders.  

Check out this harvest “Prezi” for a sense of what emerged from last year’s Dialogue.

This document provides a full overview of the 2018 Dialogue, along with links to notes and videos from the nineteen conversations that took place, an annotated resource list compiled by participants, and a set of seven “mini-learning journey stories” that capture some of the essence of what was learned and experienced.

Current TRCC Community Member Organizations

 

Bloom Network
Center for Economic Democracy
Compassion Games
The Connection Partners
Cooperative Development Institute
Daily Acts
The Gaiafield Network
Geoversiv Foundation
The Grassroots Fund
Institute for Evolutionary Leadership
Integrative Permaculture
Local 20/20
Movement Generation
Music as Medicine
New Economy Coalition
New Stories
NorCal Resilience Network
Permaculture Action Network
Post Carbon Institute
Regenerate Change
Shareable
Social Transformation Project
Sociocracy For All
Sustainable Economies Law Center
Threshold Foundation
Transition US

 

Towards a Global Impact Economy: Letter to G20 Leaders #GlobalImpactEconomy

WEAll is supporting some of its members and friends (Sistema B, The B Team, B LAb and GSG Impact Investment) in calling on the G20 country leaders to prioritise a wellbeing economy. Get involved with the petition on Change.org

From Change.org:

“The traditional economic system has many advantages, but it has also contributed to increasing inequity, to the extent that the top 1% of the population now own two-thirds of global wealth. In addition the environment continues to be seriously threatened, and more corruption is being uncovered that was always there. In this context, building a sustainable and inclusive future demands urgent redesign and change.

For this reason, a group of global organisations have joined together to write an Open Letter to governments of G20 member countries. The purpose of the document is to demonstrate, with concrete actions, that millions of people can be part of global scale solutions. Given that our world leaders will meet this month to discuss the global economy, we call on them to recognise and address the fact that today’s economy is not aligned with many of the real needs of society and the planet.

We need the economy to always have a positive impact on people and the planet

Concrete proposals:

1. Create a working group, as part of the G20 structure, to propose net positive impact economic policies.

2. Create mechanisms and a legal framework in all G20 countries for establishing ‘for-benefit” corporations.

3. Convene Leaders of global businesses, funds and NGOs to work with G20 governments over the long term on economic transition.

We invite you to join with your signature and echo this call.”

Sign the petition to add your voice now

By Desta Mebratu (Prof.), member of WE-Africa

African nations have been importing economic theories to fit realities on the ground, with little to show for it. But it is never too late to adopt a “Well-being Economy,” one that takes stock of opportunities and limits of local resources and external opportunities, writes Desta Mebratu (Prof.) (desta@africaleapfrog.org), CEO of African Transformative Leapfrogging Advisory Service. 

This article first appeared in Addis Fortune

Neo-classical economics, with its different forms and scope and with market and trade liberalisation at its core, has been the dominant economic theory since the first industrial revolution. Despite all its inherent theoretical and practical limitations, it has been successful in driving economic growth in some parts of the world.

It has also been key in the globalisation of national economies in the second half of the 20th century. In recent decades, however, its dominance was significantly challenged by prominent economists, including some Nobel Laureates in Economics.

The challenge took a new dimension and scope with the growing inequality observed within and between countries as its trickle-down effect failed miserably. This has been mainly caused by the exclusive focus on economic growth as measured by the growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP).

The emergence of global environmental challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, has also been another source of challenges faced by the dominant economic thinking. This was again mainly caused by its principle of externalising all costs related to environmental pollution and degradation.

Since independence from European colonial powers, international development organisations led by the World Bank and the International Monitory Fund have been at the forefront of promoting and stipulating neo-classical economic principles of market and trade liberalisation on African countries.

The infamous structural adjustment programs that were imposed by these institutions in the 1970s and 80s led to extensive socio-economic havoc in many African countries. Despite the enormous effort made by these organisations and the stated commitment of successive African governments to laissez-faire market economies, not a single African country that took a Bretton Woods’ prescription succeeded in becoming a developed or a transitional economy.

As it was eloquently stated by the prominent Pan-Africanist and Kenyan Lawyer P.L.O. Lumumba, what we have in the region is more of a “voodoo economics,” which is an African version of neo-classical economics. Hence, we saw for decades economies that are either in shambles or seemed to be developing but are under state capture, benefiting a small group of people.

Experiences of the last half a century have clearly shown that neither neo-classical economics nor its African version, “voodoo economics,” helped Africans to achieve an economic development that meets the needs of their people.

Today, Africa is faced with multitudes of economic, social and environmental issues which have made the development challenges more complex. These challenges are expected to be further aggravated in the coming decades as a result of the extremely high rates of population growth coupled with an increasing percentage of youth.

In this context, African countries and their development partners need to recognise that existing and emerging socio-economic challenges could not be resolved with the same approaches and prescriptions of the twentieth century. That is why it is important for African countries to channel their effort toward the development of a “well-being economy” that responds to the reality of the region.

A well-being economy is an economy that strives for the continuous fulfilment of basic human needs and aspirations of its people within the limits and possibilities of its resources and available external opportunities. This would require deploying a national development strategy that is home-grown and organic but at the same time adaptive to global dynamics.

It also requires governance mechanisms that are equipped with transformative leadership that is based on adaptive learning and inclusivity. A well-being economy addresses both the distributive and participatory justice of its people through their active involvement in the planning and management of the development process.

Progress toward a well-being economy is measured by actual and perceived improvement in the well-being of its people rather than solely relying on the growth rate of GDP and foreign direct investment. Achieving this would require the development of distributed local economy networks in combination with national backbone industries that are low-carbon and resource efficient.

Its primary operational objectives would be job creation and value addition at the local level, which are extremely crucial for African countries. Such an economy also recognises the critical importance of maintaining the well-being of the natural ecosystem as the foundation for the fulfillment of its developmental objectives on a sustainable basis.

In essence, the Well-being economy provides a fundamentally new vehicle for the effective implementation of Agenda 2030 on sustainable development goals with a qualitatively higher outcome. Hence, it is time for African leaders and policymakers to provide the creative space for the development of a Well-being economy in Africa rather than continuing with the same versions of ‘voodoo economics’ and expect a different outcome.

Political dysfunction, violence, floods, droughts, hurricanes and opioid addictions.

The news headlines are depressing and the problems seem overwhelming. From Russia to America; India to Turkey; Italy and most recently from Poland to Brazil — growing numbers of people have voted for authoritarians — presumably as a way to return to a simpler and better past.

Meanwhile, the challenges and threats keep mounting. Inequality has reached morally indefensible heights, power concentrates in ever fewer corporate hands, poverty continues to crush souls and according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the environment is beginning to crash. If the globe was a person, we would rush them to the emergency room.

And yet, just below the surface, hidden by partisan rancor, hope and solutions can be found everywhere. Surveys continue to show that most Americans agree on far more than they disagree. They want the young to be able to thrive. They believe all people deserve real opportunities. They know our environment needs serious protection. They believe old people should live out their lives in dignity and that illnesses deserve treatment without risk of poverty or despair. Above all, they keep caring, inventing, problem-solving, together.

Collectively, we have accomplished a great deal. Mountains of wealth; medical breakthroughs; technologies that give us access, organize us, connect us. And yet debilitating poverty persists, basic medical problems remain untreated and people disappear in dark tunnels of loneliness and depression.

With so much knowledge, so many tools and such good intentions and values, how is it that we can go so wrong?

The core problem is this: the overarching, single most important goal of modern societies is growth, not human and ecological wellbeing. Our primary mandate is to increase “efficiency” and “productivity.” Make it cheaper, faster and above all, make more of it.

Busy speeding up a runaway train, we see our dominant gauges of success continue to point in a positive direction. Unemployment is down, GDP is up. The stock market keeps hitting record territory. In service of growth, the economy and with it politics, no longer adequately reflect our realities.

The deeper reality is this: today, in an overpopulated world choking on stuff, a focus on more has become both absurd and dangerous. Three recent international studies all came to the same conclusion: We have reached very real limits to growth.

Our train needs a new track.

One focused on a greater vision of human and ecological wellbeing, one leading to real human prosperity anchored in environmental health and sustainability. An emphasis on what is actually good for us — more connection, more opportunities, less inequality. Above all: a healthy environment and stable communities.

There is little difference between Democrats and Republicans, but neither can answer a simple question: how to grow indefinitely on a finite planet? Neither can answer why growth would even be desirable, when its drawbacks range from resource depletion to pollution, from accidents to addictions, from more miles commuted to more hours worked?

No we must grow, as economists and politicians keep telling us. Trust the market. Trust science and technology. Trust something, just so long as you don’t question growth.

As more aspects of our lives turn into contributions to the growth mantra, our focus on quality of life — on community, on meaningful work, on family and love, on a natural world that can nurture our children — inevitably shrivels.

The good thing: There is a growing number of people whom are building companies that don’t depend on fossil fuels, cities that serve people rather than cars, communities that don’t generate poverty or homelessness, health-care systems that don’t leave anyone behind, regions that provide security and jobs for everyone. On the frontiers, we’re learning how to create prosperity without waste — waste of resources, people, potentials.

Solutions come from every part of society: socially and environmentally responsible investing (ESG), builders and architects creating improved LEED standards in construction, doughnut economics that explains how to create human prosperity within the boundaries of natural systems, to cyclical production systems that eliminate waste. Across the spectrum, people are working on ways to build regenerative economies focused on human and ecological wellbeing rather than blind growth.

The future is bright — if only we can get politics to catch up with what is already happening all around us.

Dirk Philipsen is an economic historian teaching at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and author of “The Little Big Number – How GDP Came to Rule the World, and What to Do About It” (Princeton UP, 2015).

This article was originally published on TheHill.com 

WEAll members submitted their recommendations for ‘must-read’ books  to understand the case for, and path towards, a wellbeing economy.

Here’s the result – 15 important books that provide answers, inspiration and hope.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive – comment below with your own recommendations.

 

Alphabetically by author:

  1. An Economy of Wellbeing: Mark Anielski
  2. Change Everything: Christian Felber
  3. Wellbeing Economy: Lorenzo Fioramonti
  4. The Divide: Jason Hickel
  5. New Economy Business: Margo Hoek
  6. The Age of Thrivability: Michelle Holliday
  7. Prosperity Without Growth: Tim Jackson
  8. The High Price of Materialism: Tim Kasser
  9. A Finer Future: Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, John Fullerton and Anders Wijkman
  10. Economics Unmasked: Manfred Max-Neef
  11. The Spirit Level: Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
  12. Doughnut Economics: Kate Raworth
  13. Small is Beautiful: E.F. Schumacher
  14. Local Dollars Local Sense – Michael Shuman
  15. How to Thrive in the Next Economy: John Thackara

Guest blog by Henry Leveson-Gower and Teresa Linzer (Promoting Economic Pluralism)

Post the Crash, we seemed set for economic revolution. 10 years later and here we are – still waiting, entangled in an economic system that is just as addicted to GDP growth as it was 10 years ago. So, how best to bring about the long overdue revolution? What ways are there to contribute to shifting and opening up the narrow systemic focus, from mere growth for its own sake to sustainability, wellbeing and genuine prosperity?

At Promoting Economic Pluralism, we think that part of the answer is changing economics education. The language of economics is the language of power and many students are required to learn it both in economics departments and as part of interdisciplinary masters. At the moment it is generally taught as if there was only one way of thinking about economics and that certainly involves endless growth.

However that is not true of all courses: some lecturers are more pluralist in how they teach economics. This means recognising that there is more than one way of thinking about the economy and encouraging critical reflection. These lecturers draw from a wide range of economic traditions such as ecological, institutional, complexity and post-Keynesian economics. Although this is often referred to as new economics, in fact its roots go back to the 1930s and further. There is a wealth of scholarship and literature, which is largely ignored by the mainstream.

This provides the space for the main economic theology of growth, self-interest, shareholder dominance etc to be challenged. It gives students tools to then question the policy and perspectives based on economic orthodoxy that they are likely to encounter later in work. It also provides ideas on which to base new innovative approaches to tackling the social and environmental challenges we face. Students are likely to come ideas of social enterprise, wellbeing, ecological limits and more, that mainstream economics would ignore.

We are therefore planning to raise the profile and legitimacy of these types of courses so students are encouraged to join them and other universities are encouraged to put them on.

We have chosen to start with masters courses as university departments have much more flexibility over what they can teach at this level. Students from these courses will also be entering the ‘real world’ very soon to use their learning.

There are many departments and centres teaching these courses as can be seen here. It is happening in the same high ranking universities where the economic departments themselves defend the status quo. However the courses have a whole range of labels. For the uninitiated, it is not obvious they take a pluralist approach to economics.

Hence we want to co-create an accreditation system so they can have a common identity and ‘brand’.  The point of this is not to determine what economics is ‘right’ or which courses are ‘best’. It is to build a shared sense between those inside and outside of academia of what economic teaching looks like that fosters creativity and critical thinking to address real world issues and genuinely transform the economic system. Then potential students can easily and confidently find these courses.  We will also of course work closely with Rethinking Economics and the student movement to magnify this effect.

To turn this idea into reality, we want to invite you to participate in actually co-creating the scheme.

This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to get involved in the detail or devote huge amounts of time to it. We will ensure people can give their views on the principles and broad approach as easily as possible. Please sign-up here to be involved and if you first want to find out more, sign up for a webinar here. And please make sure to also register your public support for this initiative here! It is crucial that we demonstrate a diverse and wide-ranging support for this initiative. Your voice matters.

Join a webinar.

For more info about why we think this is the road to much needed change in economics check out our website and have a look at our latest blog here.

On 15 September 2018, the ten year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, #WEAll campaigners gave away free money outside the bank’s former building in New York. The purpose: to urge people to rethink our relationship with the economy, and to promote sharing, collaboration and dialogue. #FreeMoneyDay #10yearson

Photo and video by Create the Remarkable