Posts

Active travel, green space, connected communities … these are not new ideas! 

Katherine Trebeck recently delivered the Sir Patrick Geddes Commemorative Lecture, for the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) on the role of place and planning in creating a wellbeing economy.

She urged us to learn from planning pioneers, like Sir Patrick Geddes, and to find real life examples of planning that is bringing wellbeing economy to life at the local level.

Who was Sir Patrick Geddes?

Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was a designer widely regarded as the founder of modern town planning, ecological planning and design and bioregionalism.

He believed the role of the designer was to:

  1. Ensure that the material development of the places that people inhabited, reflected their specific needs and;
  2. To transform culture through education

Sir Patrick Geddes’ Map of how to conceive of and relate to ‘place’

(From ‘Cities in Evolution’, Source)

He understood that we need to have knowledge of the ecological, social and cultural factors of a place, in order to plan that place to meet peoples’ needs: dignity, nature, connection, fairness and participation.

During the lecture, Katherine shared ‘7 Tips for Designing a Wellbeing Economy’ that Sir Patrick Geddes would have shared himself, if he were alive today:

  1. “See the whole”

“We need to look upstream… [to] see how things fit together… It’s about understanding the whole picture

2. Beyond the era of “squirrel millionaires”

3. Local Context Matters

4. Community Involvement. Always.

“A wellbeing economy is about people feeling connected and in control.” – Katherine Trebeck

5. Beyond examinations: better measures

6. “Magnificent failures” are necessary boldness

7. Follow your heart – and live life in line with your passions

How can we use these tips to plan a wellbeing economy?

Katherine pointed to signs of hope in participatory processes that involve the community in ‘building back better’. One such model is the doughnut economics model introduced by Kate Raworth.

During her recent talk on the ‘Wellbeing Economy and Doughnuts’ with the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network, Katherine introduced the Doughnut Economics Model, developed and popularised by Oxford economist (and WEAll Ambassador) Kate Raworth.

‘The Doughnut’ … Have you heard of it?

The ‘doughnut’ is a way of thinking about economics based on the priorities set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and balancing the needs of people and the environment.

The key aim is to ensure no one falls short on the essentials of life (in the doughnut’s hole) while also living with within ecological boundaries that aim to preserve the Earth’s resources (represented by the outside circle of the doughnut). 

The doughnut shape left in-between those two circles is the sweet spot – where everyone on the planet has a good social foundation and the Earth’s resources aren’t being overexploited.

Striking this balance is key to ‘building back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.

(City) Life and the Doughnut

“Life is the underlying process that connects culture to nature.” – Sir Patrick Geddes

The Amsterdam City Doughnut takes the global concept of the Doughnut and turns it into a tool for transformative action, on the ground, in the city of Amsterdam. The tool asks:

Katherine discussed 4 interdependent questions used in the Amsterdam City Doughnut to help answer this question, to guide city planning:

Inspired by those who came before us and frameworks like the Doughnut, we have the tools to plan an economy that is designed to deliver social justice on a healthy planet – starting right at the community or city level.

Learn more about the Amsterdam City Doughnut, Amsterdam’s long-term vision and policymaking, the Amsterdam Donut Coalition and other global initiatives putting the Doughnut model into action: the Lake Erhai catchment in China, for the nations of South AfricaWales and the UK, and for a comparison of 150 countries.

You can learn more about Katherine’s work on her website and find her on Twitter.

Blog by Isabel Nuesse

Busy as ever, Katherine Trebeck, WEAll’s Influencing and Advocacy Lead, has been speaking on panels, podcasts, webinars and academic lectures to encourage stakeholders to take a hard look at the feasibility of building back better to a wellbeing economy.

In Scotland, she continues to work alongside the WEAll Scotland Hub to influence the Scottish Government to move beyond GDP, to adopt wellbeing economic policies and serve as an example for the rest of the world.

Diminishing Marginal Returns

On August 28th, Katherine Trebeck spoke at the SURF Festival, opening with a few major issues in the current system, which are underpinned by our dependence on growth and GDP.

Those countries that have ‘arrived’ (i.e. have the capacity to provide decent living for their residents) experience diminishing marginal returns of growth i.e. where growth is no longer improving our quality of life. Instead, growth is driving failure demand: public spending on patching up the damage created in the pursuit of more growth.

An example of this reactive and avoidable spending is in the ‘guard labour’ industry, which is thriving because widening inequalities has made people afraid of one another. Meanwhile, individually, we are spending on pseudo satisfiers to fulfill our need of belonging – something that our economic and social system should be enabling.

Watch her entire presentation here.

Demographics and COVID

Most recently, Katherine spoke to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee in Scottish Parliament. She begins by speaking about what demographics in our economy are most affected by the COVID pandemic.

She cites research which concludes that Black and Minority communities have shouldered more risk during the pandemic, as have women. Women were already more likely to feature in front-line sectors or service-based sectors of the economy. In addition to this increased exposure, as a result of the pandemic, women have also had to take on additional burdens of childcare and domestic work.

Hope for the future

However, Katherine also sheds light on positive developments, like the now mainstream questions around the necessity of business travel. She also mentioned the enormous increase of the gift economy. That has kept communities and families going, even though this is not accounted for in the GDP measurement.

Watch the full video of Katherine and the other prominent speakers discuss Building Back Better in Scotland post COVID-19.  

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

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

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

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

Photo by brotiN biswaS from Pexels