Blog by Lisa Hough-Stewart
At the first WEAll Scotland event in Edinburgh this week I spoke about the need for a wellbeing economy with a farmer. And with an artist. As well as an investment banker, a civil servant, a teacher, a scientist – and so many more. This event really was for everyone, and one of the many things about it that made me feel hopeful was the rich diversity of views and experiences in the room.
Keynote speaker Jacqueline McGlade (former Chief Scientist of UNEP and currently of University College London and Maasai Mara University) struck a chord with the Scottish audience when she called for a “a juggernaut of change” to bring about a systemic shift. Crucially, this change must be global and inclusive, but she and other speakers highlighted the potential for Scotland to play a leadership role.
The purpose of the day was to launch the concept of a wellbeing economy and WEAll as an alliance that aims to connect, enhance and amplify the work of the existing movement in Scotland. Katherine Trebeck, of the WEAll global Amp team and WEAll Scotland team, delivered an inspiring presentation showcasing some of the amazing “chinks of light” projects and ideas around the world demonstrating that a wellbeing economy already exists. She also emphasized that the event was happening as part of Challenge Poverty Week – and during Climate Challenge and Good Money Weeks, too. All great examples of people recognizing change is needed, across linked agendas that WEAll is working on.
Doreen Grove from WEAll Scotland said in her talk: “We know what people care about – having meaningful lives, having agency. When we talk about changing the system though, everyone needs to be there not just those with power.”
Perhaps not everyone in Scotland was there for the inaugural WEAll Scotland meeting but a meaningful cross-section of Scottish society brought their experience and voices to the room. After hearing the global perspective from Jacqui and Katherine, it was over to the participants to analyse what can be done in Scotland to advance the wellbeing economy agenda.
There were healthy challenges from participants about the value WEAll can add, and no shortage of ideas for action. The WEAll Scotland team has an exciting to-do list as a result of afternoon discussions about prioritization! We heard that support is needed to help accelerate the good work already happening, help people connect and collaborate, and to support those going against the current system, because it is hard tiring work.
As Carol Tannahill (Head of Social Policy for the Scottish Government and director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health) summarized, hope was an overarching theme for the day, with positive energy and optimism brimming from all discussions. This is, participants agreed, a unique moment for Scotland. Political will, public engagement and capacity to change seem to be intersecting, and together they provide fertile ground for Scotland to act as a leader in the shift to a wellbeing economy.
The event was an important milestone on the route to a wellbeing economy for Scotland – to follow this journey or get involved in Scotland check out www.wellbeingeconomy.org/scotland