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Bob Willard is a member of WEAll who has just recently published his first white paper. You can learn more about Bob and his work by visiting his website here

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Here are the opening paragraphs of my first white paper, “7 Bold Strokes To Save Our World.”

“We are at a pivotal point in the course of human civilization. We need to acknowledge that the system that got us into this global quagmire is not fit for our future. Let’s capitalize on this rare opportunity to truly transform global systems.

“It’s easy to criticize the status quo. There have been glaringly obvious national and global failures to mitigate our current crises effectively, let alone prepare for them. But it’s time to challenge ourselves to propose what we would do if we were in charge of the world. If we had a magic wand, what are the actions that we would immediately take to transform our world to a more resilient, just, inclusive and safe socioeconomic system?”

A 16-page paper is too long to be a blog and too short to be a book, so I decided to make it a “white paper.” According to Wikipedia, a white paper “is an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.” That summarizes my intent perfectly.

Donella Meadows’ famous advice is that we should work on the highest leverage points in the system that we want to change. Her most effective and highest leverage point is: “The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, power structure, rules, its culture — arises.” The seven bold strokes take direct aim at the mindset / paradigm of our current global system. They are:

  1. Replace the GDP with an SDG-based GPI for governments.
  2. Mandate a multi-stakeholder wellbeing purpose for all corporations
  3. Implement SDG-based sustainable procurement
  4. Implement a fair and consistent global tax system
  5. Ensure gender equality in public and private sector leadership positions
  6. Implement a Green New Deal
  7. Reform the banking and securities systems

There are 28 specific actions within the seven bold strokes. We can all work on whichever bold strokes and actions we are closest to, have the most energy for, or have the best possibility to influence. I expect that you are already working on a couple of them, as am I.

We do not have a deficiency of understanding; we have a deficiency of bold, paradigm-shifting action. The urgency of the self-inflicted global crises gives us the courage and duty to act. Collectively, we can accomplish the necessary transformation of our global systems, in time. Let’s get on with building back better.

What do you think? Are the actions too bold, or not bold enough? Are any missing? Please feel free to add your comments, suggestions and questions using the “Leave a reply” comment box. For email subscribers, please click here to visit my site and provide feedback.

Protect, Repair, Invest and Transform

The fractures of the economy in the US are writ large in any sector you choose. From one of the largest civil rights movements to inequality to climate change, it is obvious that change is needed. Now.

The Climate Justice Alliance has recently released “A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy”, a report which outlines pathways to solutions that challenge the dominant theories of capitalism, white supremacy and ecological justice. These pathways are designed to shift our collective thinking toward an economy that prioritises people and planet ahead of profit: a regenerative economy.

The report outlines critical intervention points for community-led frontline organizations, advocates, policy makers and workers. This graphic outlines their ‘theory of change’, beginning with developing the Narrative for change and ends with Direct Action.

Following on from this, the Climate Justice Alliance offers a framework for a Just Transition, to Protect, Repair, Invest and Transform.

This guide is vital for organisations based in the US which are working to shift our thinking toward an economy focused on wellbeing or regeneration. Read the full report here.

This month, the UK House of Lord’s COVID-19 Committee launched its first inquiry on Life Beyond COVID. The Committee is interested in the long-term impact of the pandemic on people’s daily lives as well as on society as a whole.

In its first inquiry, the Committee is inviting people to share their hopes and fears about what the pandemic might mean in the long-term for our home and working lives, and for how we function as a society – what might it mean for social cohesion, for (in)equality, for our environment or for arts and culture?

If your organisation is interested in engaging in some direct policy impact, make a submission (including stories/ material on lived experience) to inform the Life Beyond COVID initiative.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 31 August.

If you have any questions or would like any further information, contact Alex McMillan: mcmillana@parliament.uk

A new report from the Global Solutions Initiative strongly urges G20 countries to assess wellbeing and environmental metrics alongside GDP.

The organisation is a key advisor to the G20, and it has also developed a new Recoupling Dashboard which is intended to offer a new measurement of wellbeing beyond GDP.

The report state that there is an urgent need for all nations to use the dashboard to dramatically increase their focus on social prosperity, as a key tool in the fightback against growing political extremism across advanced economies.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian to mark the launch of the report, Dennis Snower (President of Global Solutions Initiative) said: “The financial crisis of 2008 made all these issues much more salient. Lots of people are now saying ‘I’m sorry but this system sucks’.

“In addition to being materially prosperous, we need empowerment and agency – that is the ability to shape our destiny through our own efforts – and we need solidarity – that is we need to be embedded within our social circles.”

The new dashboard finds that Wellbeing Economy Government (WEGo) countries Iceland and New Zealand perform well, as does Finland. India, China and Mexico are among the worst performers, but the USA “dramatically underperforms its levels of GDP per capita”, according to the Guardian.

Its creators say that the dashboard “sheds light on the decoupling of societies and provides an empirical basis for mobilizing action in government, business and civil society to promote a recoupling of economic and social progress.”

 

Please see exclusive Guardian coverage of the report launch here

Find out more about the dashboard and report here

No founder will ever forget the day their business legally came to life. The birth of this new entity comes with a great sense of responsibility. Many business owners feel a great deal of emotional attachment to their creation as it unfolds, develops and grows. 

Ownership and governance play a crucial role in business as we attempt to transition towards a wellbeing economy. Holding on to what is most important can require reimagining what it means to own something. Here are 3 important elements to consider: 

  1. Decision making
  2. Growing pains
  3. The Social and the Environmental

How can ownership support effective decision making?

Recent research has shown that more than two thirds of employees are not fully engaged in their work, affecting motivation, commitment and ultimately also productivity.

James Priest, Co-developer of Sociocracy 3.0, LearnS3

“Collaborative endeavours will be more effective if people affected by decisions are involved in making them, or at least that they are able to influence decisions that affect them, on the basis of sound reasons for doing so.”
 James Priest, Co-developer of Sociocracy 3.0, LearnS3

 

According to a recent McKinsey survey, we spend about 37% of our work time on decision making.

Decision making, made in the absence of an understanding of the full picture, can affect the level of agility to respond to a changing environment (changing market demands, risk factors, regulations etc.). 

In commonly used ownership structures, influence and business information are mostly centralised to a few decision-makers. As a result, employees, customers, and affected communities and the planet are often left out of decision-making processes.

“Management hierarchies centralize decision making. While this is effective in some contexts, collaborative endeavours are more likely to succeed if you shift responsibility for significant elements of decision making close to where value is created.”
 James Priest, Co-developer of Sociocracy 3.0, LearnS3

 

Ultimately, ownership should not be a roadblock to productivity. It should enable it by delegating governance to those affected.

How can ownership affect our trajectory?

Many companies started out life in response to a social need – sometimes influenced by their founders’ religious beliefs. The UK confectionery Cadbury’s was begun by a Quaker. The Spanish cooperative Mondragon by a Catholic priest. The UK retailer Marks and Spencer by an impoverished Jewish boy from Belarussia. These organizations, like many others, have struggled through organisational growth and change of ownership to stay true to, and serve, their initial purpose. 

An ownership and governance structure that supports affected key stakeholders to have a voice in decision-making can help organisations to stay true to their mission. 

Katherine Trebeck, author of The Economics of Arrival

“Investor demands on business can take away from a business’s original mission. Without ownership and governance models designed to protect the interests of all stakeholders, there is a risk that actions focussing on the short-term will prevail.”
says Dr. Katherine Trebeck, author of ‘The Economics of Arrival’

 

As companies grow, they often start to be viewed as commodities, controllable by the highest bidder. Business-as-usual governance models are designed to maximise shareholder influence and often ignore stakeholder interests.

 

Martin Rich, FutureFit

“Listed companies are owned by nobody because they’re ostensibly owned by everybody, the result is a lack of responsibility.”
Martin Rich, FutureFit

 

This means economic interests and short-term profit gains can often overrule organisational values and principles, social and environmental concerns and even the long-term success of the business.

Even Patagonia, often held up as the poster child of sustainability, is wrestling with these questions as they head north of the $1bn mark in annual sales. They are beginning to question whether their scale is a hindrance to being truly regenerative.

Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions

“Scale is a real problem for change.”
Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capital Solutions

 

As a business grows and occupies a new role in the market, there is a need to evolve to a model of stewardship. This means influence is delegated to a range of stakeholders to ensure informed decisions can be made by those affected.

 

Who’s responsible for the social and the environmental?

Traditionally, consideration of social and the environmental impacts was an afterthought for businesses, once the business of the economic i.e. financial had been taken care of. That has begun to change with statements from various business groupings that profit maximisation will no longer be the sole focus for their business.

Patrick Andrews, Co-Founder of Human Organising Co.

As a general rule, ownership brings responsibility. So it’s something of an anomaly that the owners of companies have no legal responsibility for their actions. If you own a share in a company that breaks the law, pollutes the environment or even kills someone, you can’t be touched. Is this not strange? 
Comments Patrick Andrews, Co-Founder of Human Organising Co.

 

However, saying it and actually doing it are two very different things. One way to help ensure we move from words to action is by bringing other voices into the governance model. Check out our first case study – Riversimple for such an example. Another is employee ownership, a model discussed in our second case study, that of Auchrannie Resort.

The below is the introduction to the report ‘The state of the growing movement fighting inequality‘. reposted from the Fight Inequality alliance

In the 21st century so far, levels of inequality within and between countries have been rising. The neoliberal economic system has enabled an explosion in the concentrations of wealth and power in our societies: 26 individuals now hold the same wealth as the 3.8 billion poorest people.1 Interconnected and systemic forms of oppression and inequity such as racism, patriarchy and homophobia shape the daily realities of the majority of the world’s population.

Rising authoritarianism is fuelled by growing inequality and concentration of power. It is resulting in attacks on freedoms and protections on assembly, association, and speech— rights that peoples’ movements exercise in order to organise and influence action—as well as the enhanced targeting of particular marginalised groups and minorities by many regimes.

The Fight Inequality Alliance was formed to fight this growing crisis of inequality. Numerous groups came together to establish the Alliance: leading international and national non-profit organisations, human rights campaigners, women’s rights groups, environmental groups, faith-based organisations, trade unions, social movements, artists, individual activists and other civil society organisations. They had a shared vision for radical, systemic change and tackling the root causes of inequality through a people powered movement2.

This research was initiated by Fight Inequality Alliance with the support of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme at the International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. Fight Inequality Alliance partnered with Rhize to lead the research, building on their experience in studying multi-country social movements3.

This study was conducted in response to the evident gap in existing research on inequality, which has to date has focused on tracking and analysing its rise in different forms. Much less attention has been given to the analysis of campaigning and organising against inequality. This research aims to widen and deepen our collective understanding of movements fighting inequality around the world.

The research findings are based on 138 responses to a 30 minute survey and over 40 in-depth interviews conducted between 2018 and 2019 with people in 23 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Read the report here

A landmark new briefing from the European Environment Agency published this week has revealed that consumption of clothing, footwear and household textiles in the European Union (EU) uses annually about 1.3 tonnes of raw materials and more than 100 cubic metres of water per person.

The report recommends that a wide-scale change towards circular economy in textiles production and consumption is needed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, resource use and pressures on nature.

The EEA briefing ‘Textiles in Europe’s circular economy’ presents the latest evidence on environmental and climate impacts from the consumption of textile products ranging from clothing and footwear to carpets and furniture in the EU. The briefing is based on a technical report by the EEA’s European Topic Centre on Waste and Materials in a Green Economy (ETC/WMGE).

According to the EEA study, the production and handling of clothing, footwear and household textiles that were sold in the EU in 2017 used an estimated 1.3 tonnes of primary raw materials and 104 cubic metres of water per EU person. About 85 % of these materials and 92 % of the water were used in other regions of the world.

For water consumption and the use of primary raw materials, clothing, footwear and household textiles represent the fourth highest consumption category in the EU, after food, housing and transport. The same product group causes the second highest pressure on land use (after food), and also a considerable amount of chemical and water pollution, including plastic microfibres released through washing, as well as various negative social impacts.

The EEA briefing also shows that the production of clothing, footwear and household textiles for Europeans caused an estimated 654 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions per EU capita, making textiles the fifth largest source of CO2 emissions linked to private consumption. About three quarters of these emissions took place outside of the EU.

Circular economy policies and principles, such as eco-design and reusing, hold potential to mitigate the environmental and climate impacts of textile production and consumption, the EEA briefing states. Current EU policies require Member States to collect textiles separately by 2025 and ensure that waste collected separately is not incinerated or landfilled.

According to the EEA, circular business models in textiles — such as leasing, sharing, and take-back and resale — need to be scaled up with the support of policies addressing materials and design, production and distribution, use and reuse, collection and recycling. This can include policies such as sustainable production and product policies, eco design and durability standards,  green public procurement, safe and sustainable materials, waste prevention and  extended producer responsibility, and labelling and standards.

Download the report here

A message from WEAll Youth:

“We are thrilled to announce that Wellbeing Economy Alliance Youth (WEAll Youth) has been selected as one of the 50 Youth Solutions featured in the Youth Solutions Report 2019. 4300+ solutions originating from 170+ countries were submitted and based on a rigorous review process, 50 were selected to be featured in this year’s report. We are so excited to be selected among many inspiring youth solutions. Young innovators all over the world are working towards a sustainable future – we’re proud to be part of the change!

You can read all about us at www.youthsolutions.report (WEAll Youth can be found on p85).

We are so proud we have been selected and can’t wait to see what the future will hold. All of the solutions selected are so promising which is amazing to see as our world often portrays all the negative sides. We are excited to see so many young people getting involved @ their future.”

More about the report:

NEW YORK, USA; September 26: The third edition of the ​Youth Solutions Report,​ which identifies ​50 youth-led projects that are accelerating global progress on the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)​, has been released today, at the ​74th UNGA High-Level Side Event on Social Business, Youth and Technology.

This year, the selected solutions have been chosen by an advisory panel of 24 leading experts across all SDG sectors and geographical regions, among a pool of applicants that included over 4,300 submissions from ​174 countries​. Winning projects were particularly focused on introducing innovative approaches to lifting vulnerable communities in developing countries out of poverty, with solutions targeting areas such as digital health and education, financial inclusion, innovation in agricultural practices, sustainable livelihoods, and circular economy.

Like its 2017 and 2018 predecessors, this year’s Youth Solutions Report provides ​selected initiatives with a powerful platform to secure funding, build capacity, communicate experiences, and scale efforts. In addition, the new edition includes an in-depth analysis of the role of youth-led innovation in achieving the specific SDGs that have been reviewed at the July session of the 2019 High-Level Political Forum, focusing on the role of young people in improving access to quality education, promoting decent work for all, reducing inequality, combating climate change, promoting peaceful societies, and supporting a renewed global partnership for sustainable development.

One key aspect of the Report consists of its discussion of cross-cutting challenges to youth-led innovation and the importance of seeing young people as a fundamental component of the broader innovation systems that are required to implement the 2030 Agenda. ​

Mariana Mazzucato, Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London​, said: ‘The SDGs are the world’s challenges, and can only be achieved through directed, mission-oriented, innovation activities, taken on through bold new partnerships between the public sector, business and civil society. The Youth Solutions Report provides a loud, dynamic forum for youth to be heard and learned from in this critical solutions-oriented process.’ Ms Mazzucato’s auspices were echoed by ​Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and recent founder of Imagine,​ who recognized that ‘creating the right policy frameworks for engaging young people in SDG implementation will a big enabler of the entire Agenda’. According to Mr Polman, ‘the Youth Solutions Report serves as a platform that will increase exposure to youth-led projects that will hopefully push policy reform in the future.’

Siamak Sam Loni, Global Coordinator of SDSN Youth​, added that while young people are already contributing to the implementation of the SDGs, they still face common challenges that prevent them from realizing the full potential, including the lack of visibility, limited access to finance, and the lack of training and technical support. ‘The 2019 Youth Solutions Report will help investors, donors, and supporters better understand the multi-faceted role of young people in sustainable development and give them additional opportunities to showcase and scale their work’ concluded Mr. Loni.

As further testimony of SDSN Youth’s commitment to concretely supporting its growing global cohort of young innovators, this year’s report was prepared in collaboration with Junior Chamber International (JCI), which ensured that ​5 of the selected solutions could be provided with grants from the Global Youth Empowerment Fund. ​The Fund, founded by JCI in partnership with the UN SDG Action Campaign, offers grants and training to youth-led projects that advance theSDGs.​EarlSawyer,Interim Secretary-GeneralofJCI​,said:‘JCIisproudtocollaboratewith SDSN Youth on their 2019 Youth Solutions Report. We are excited to offer young people the recognition, tools, training and resources needed to scale their SDG-focused projects in order to tackle global problems’.

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 piece was first published on OpenDemocracy

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Download the full briefing paper

7 Ideas for the G7

Economic policies to tackle inequality and deliver wellbeing

By Amanda Janoo

 

This week the heads of state of the economies that comprise the Group of 7 (the ‘G7’) gather in France to discuss the critical issues of our time – with the stated focus of fighting inequality.

The group first came together in the 1970s to find a collective solution to the oil crisis that was destabilizing economies worldwide. Since their first meeting, the leaders of the G7 have met annually to confront the economic challenges that bind us.

This G7 gathering could be historic, if they take the bold and swift action required to tackle inequality, as well as the climate emergency, and to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

As we brace ourselves for another financial crisis, inequality between and amongst countries continues to grow exponentially, breeding social and political unrest worldwide.

Within many of the G7 countries, affluence is not breeding happy and healthy societies but lonely and anxious ones. The global balance of power is shifting from nation states to Multinational Corporations threatening the very democratic principles that bind the G7 countries. All while the rapid rate of biodiversity loss and climate change threaten our very existence.

These existential issues cannot be solved by any single country alone. They are a product of a global economic system that desperately needs to be reformed. The G7 countries represent over half of global economic wealth and still have the power to change this system. Tinkering with exchange rates and select tax policies will not cut it.

We need our leaders to be brave at this critical juncture in history when the world is splintering, and to realize there is far more that binds us than divides us.

My new paper, published today by The Wellbeing Economy Alliance, offers 7 Ideas for the G7 in the spirit of hope and a belief that a more just and sustainable economy is not only possible, but a few strategic decisions away:

 

  1. Adopt alternative progress indicators to GDP:

Global obsession with Gross Domestic Product as a progress indicator has resulted in widespread confusion between means and ends. The G7 should abandon the objective of GDP growth and agree to focus on achieving real economic objectives that matter most to citizens.

  1. Reform international economic organizations to promote wellbeing economies:

Perhaps no one has suffered more deeply from our dubious notion of progress than the global south. The G7 should work to reform the international economic organizations to encourage locally-oriented, context-appropriate economic development practices. We must abandon the idea that development or progress is a one-way street and create space for experimentation to identify systems of production and provision that can bring wellbeing to all.

  1. Binding code of conduct for multinational corporations (MNCs):

For too long, the global economy has allowed multinational corporations to accumulate unprecedented wealth and power, leading to a “race to the bottom” amongst countries to adopt the lowest environmental, labour and tax standards to attract or appease these global giants. A binding code of conduct would create greater space for upholding democratic governance of economies, and ensure more ethical production practices worldwide.

  1. Global Competition Regulation:

Every sector in the global economy is dominated a handful of corporations. MNC controlled supply chains now account for over 80% of global trade each year. This level of economic conglomeration is economically unsustainable and ethically unacceptable. We need global competition regulation to minimize risk and ensure more equitable and balanced business development worldwide.

5. Create citizens wealth funds:

The rise of new technologies has created new wealth, much of it reliant on public funding for education and research. The G7 should recognize that technological development must benefit society as a whole and not just the select few – which requires a new tax and redistribution system. Through a windfall tax on technological breakthroughs G7 countries could develop Citizen Wealth Funds at the country level to fund universal basic income, public services and infrastructure development.

6. Ban and redistribute all off-shore bank account funds:

Due to lack of global economic coordination and oversight, it is now estimated that at least 10% of the world’s GDP is held in offshore bank accounts. We need an official ban of all off-shore banking, with the G7 using their collective intelligence to extract all money currently held within these institutions and put it directly into a “global citizens wealth fund” to combat climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

  1. Financial Transaction Tax (Tobin Tax or ‘Robin Hood’ tax):

Global financial markets now move at lightning speed, generating immense wealth and at the same time universal vulnerabilities. France and Germany have been pushing for a global financial transaction tax at the G7 but have not succeeded in gaining substantial traction. This policy agenda would tax international financial transactions, particularly speculative currency exchange transactions, reducing financial volatility and raising billions to combat the global crises of our time.

 

These bold ideas are fully feasible given the wealth and power of the G7 countries. During World War II, the Army Corp of Engineer’s had a motto: “the difficult we do immediately, the impossible will take a little while.”

There are moments in history when paradigms shift. We are at this moment and if the G7 promotes these policies, we would be well on our way to achieving the “impossible”:  a global economic system that ensures we all live long and healthy lives in harmony with our natural environment.

Download the full briefing paper here

Image: Lafargue Raphael/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

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.”

Reposted from Oxfam Scotland

Scotland is making mixed progress towards achieving the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, according to a unique new report by civil society organisations published last week.

On Target for 2030?’ assesses Scotland’s progress against the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing reviews on each goal, authored by expert organisations operating within each field in Scotland.

The UK and Scottish governments are completing their own national reviews, with these analyses expected to be released later this year. This report supplements these governmental reviews by capturing the independent assessments of a diverse range civil society stakeholders in Scotland working on issues as diverse as poverty, climate change, biodiversity, nutrition, equality, fair work, and education.

Co-ordinated by the UWS-Oxfam Partnership, in collaboration with the SDG Scotland Network, the report is believed to be the first such analysis in Scotland.

Organisations including the Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice Scotland, the Fife Centre for Equalities, Girlguiding Scotland, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and the Scottish International Development Alliance all provide commentaries on progress and outline what Scotland still needs to do to reach each Goal by 2030.

The SDGs were adopted by the 190 countries making up the United Nations in 2015 to create a healthy planet for current and future generations and for a world free from poverty, injustice and discrimination – while leaving no-one behind. The goals are universal in nature and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made Scotland one of the first countries to pledge to deliver them in 2015.

A clear thread that runs through many of the contributions in ‘On Target for 2030?’ is that the negative effects of slow progress on the goals are felt disproportionately by low-income households. This undermines the cross-cutting commitment of all SDGs to ‘leave no-one behind’.

The editors of the report want to contribute to renewed pressure to meet these goals for governments, as well as amongst businesses and civil society itself. They say that improving progress is not just the responsibility of government, action is needed especially from business and the third sector, as well as individuals, in order for Scotland to fulfil its 2030 commitments.

Dr Hartwig Pautz, from the UWS-Oxfam Partnership, said: “This snapshot review is the first of its kind in Scotland. It brings together experts on every one of the goals for an honest assessment of where Scotland is and what we need to do to get on target for 2030, in their own words.

“While the individual assessments, put forward by a very diverse range of civil society organisations, show that there is clear policy and political commitment on many of these goals, more needs to be done to actually achieve them.

“The report shows that poverty and inequality are common issues with regards to many of the SDGs, and making progress on them will be essential to ensure we can achieve sustainable development.

Rhiannon Sims, Policy and Research Adviser, Oxfam Scotland, said: “The Sustainable Development Goals will only succeed if every country signed up to them puts in place the measures needed to drive change. Whilst there is clear policy commitment in Scotland, more needs to be done to achieve the 2030 vision.

“Governments have a big role to play, but achieving this ambition is not just a responsibility for government, it also for businesses and civil society itself to contribute to this shared agenda.

“The action needed to achieve the goals by 2030 is not unrealistic or impossible. We hope that leaders at every level can use this report to redouble Scotland’s commitments to make the world free from poverty, injustice and discrimination.”

Paul Bradley, Project Coordinator, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “Scotland’s charities and wider civil society organisations have provided expert insight into where Scotland is on the SDGs and what we still need to do as a nation.

“Meeting these goals for 2030 is not just up to politicians, it is a responsibility for all of us and this report shows that work is being done in communities by organisations up and down Scotland.”

· Report available at: http://uwsoxfampartnership.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/On-Target-July-2019-Web-FINAL.pdf
· Sturgeon commitment: https://news.gov.scot/news/leading-the-way-in-tackling-inequality.
· The UWS-Oxfam Partnership has operated, since 2011, as a formally established relationship between the University of the West of Scotland and Oxfam Scotland. It revolves around the development of Oxfam’s anti-poverty advocacy and campaigning in Scotland and seeks to contribute to a more equitable and sustainable Scotland.
· The SDG Scotland Network is a coalition of over 230+ people and organisations from across Scotland committed to making sure that the Global Goals for Sustainable Development become every Scot’s business.

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!