white and red cross flag in front of snow covered mountains

Wohlbefinde – “Wellbeing”

Eh Ökonomie fürs Wohlbefinde – “A Wellbeing Economy”

Swiss German

Switzerland is a country that always scores very high in rankings such as “the world’s happiest countries” and “best standards of living”, and that people living elsewhere often associate with beautiful nature, tasty chocolate, and very expensive prices. In many ways, Switzerland is the perfect example of a country that could fully implement a Wellbeing Economy, and in some aspects, it does. But not all that glitters is gold. 

So here, along with examining what is already happening in Switzerland that contributes towards a Wellbeing Economy, I will also dive into the possibilities for the future, drawing on my experiences and knowledge of my hometown, Zurich. 

So, where would Switzerland rank highly among countries on progress towards a Wellbeing Economy? 

Education 

The Swiss educational system allows most young people to choose a career that they like, because of the many possibilities available to them after graduation. Apart from having schools for students that are planning on going to university, there are three levels of secondary schooling: A, B, and C. In the B and C levels, students need more support in education. Because of the availability of these levels, the teachers can give more specific attention to the needs of the students, to help them graduate without failing. Moreover, apprenticeships after completing high school are more common in Switzerland than going to university. Most often, young adults are able to choose an apprenticeship from across a wide range of professions and exciting companies. During the apprenticeship, youth go to specific schools some days per week to deepen their learning. Some of the schools also offer the possibility to go to university after finishing the apprenticeship, so there are various pathways that one can take to pursue further education. 

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The Limmat in the Summer (Source)

Social Life

In Switzerland, cities organise a lot of social activities which increase social wellbeing, because they offer opportunities to come together and to share happy experiences. In Zurich, for example, we have a city-festival every four years and in the winter, we have beautiful Christmas markets spread out through the whole city. Many stands in the Christmas markets are local crafters and artists selling their handmade products and foods. Of course, the next step would be to ensure these events implement high sustainability standards around energy consumption and waste management. But I think in terms of a Wellbeing Economy, and looking at the aspect of the wellbeing of People, using the profit of a country for organising Christmas markets and other festivals for the people is a great way to put value back into society. Next to these events, there are a lot of possibilities for people to enjoy their leisure time. We have the “Limmat”, a large river that is clean, so it is amazing to swim in and is free to access. 

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Christmas Market in Zurich (Source)

Where is there potential for improvement in Switzerland?

On the 29th of November this year, important political referenda took place, which, if they had been accepted, would have fit perfectly into the Wellbeing Economy agenda.

There was a vote on ending arms deals that are financed by Swiss funding, but the majority voted against this. 

There was also a vote on the heavily anticipated Initiative for Industry Responsibility, which would have made corporations liable for breaching human and environmental rights. This initiative was accepted and voted for by the majority of the general public. However, Switzerland is made up of so-called “cantons” (similar to states) and when there is an initiative that would change the federal constitution, votes from the majority of the number of cantons are needed. And this is where the initiative was rejected.

That the majority of people voted for an initiative, but not by the majority of cantons, has only happened once since the Swiss constitution was founded. 

This means that Swiss banks’ support for institutions and concepts that are not aligned with the principles of a Wellbeing Economy will remain strong, because power flows where money goes. 

Therefore, in the near future I would like to see true moral values be reflected in the economic structure of financing and foreign trade. In the day-to-day life of Swiss citizens, we are on our way towards a Wellbeing Economy. We must continue this progress by challenging and demanding strict transparency in banking and investment in Switzerland, as an influential sector globally, to accelerate sustainable development for people and planet.

On a positive note, in Switzerland, any initiative that receives over 100,000 official signatures is nationally voted for and can be constitutionalised. So, if you have an idea for an initiative that can directly contribute to a Wellbeing Economy, let me know and we can work to get 100,000 supporters and help to partly restructure the Swiss system. That’s how easy it should be for people in any country to directly demand political and economic change. 

We have the power. It’s just about inspiring and working together for something greater… Join the WEAll Youth community to keep the conversation going. 

I am Cosima, 19 years old, and I was born and raised in Switzerland. Right now, I am studying “Global Project and Change Management” at the Windesheim Honours College, in Zwolle, The Netherlands. Fun fact, WEAll Youth was founded here! I joined WEAll Youth because it is a global network of young people that inspires each other and works together for a better tomorrow. My personal motivation towards a Wellbeing Economy is that life and all that lives, has infinite value. and I want to bring this understanding into people’s daily lives. With three other girls, I have re-established the local WEAll Youth hub in Zwolle. I am excited to organise lots of activities for people living here to become involved in co-creating the Wellbeing Economy we all envision deeply. 

Connect with Cosima on LinkedIn: Cosima von Seefried

Learn more about WEAll Youth here.

There is not one blueprint for a Wellbeing Economy; the shape, institutions and activities that get us there will look different in different contexts, both across countries and between different communities within countries. However, the high-level goals for a Wellbeing Economy are the same everywhere: wellbeing for all, in a flourishing natural world. Visions of a Wellbeing Economy is a series highlighting voices from the diverse WEAll global network on describing their visions of what a Wellbeing Economy might look like in the context of their countries and how the meaning of the words ‘wellbeing’ and a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ in their respective language impacts this vision.

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