Wellbeing economy

Well-being, measuring what makes life worthwhile!

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When someone asks you if you are happy, healthy, safe or satisfied. Do you ever answer by mentioning your countries current GDP per capita? I am going to make a pretty solid guess that your answer is no, no you don’t. Because measuring the wellbeing of an individual or country in something as limited as the GDP is simply ridiculous. But still, for many governments around the world, this is the leading and often the only measurement that reflects the “wellbeing” of the individuals in a country.

Luckily, individuals and governments around the world are starting to understand the limitations of measuring only the GDP. You can jump over to our previous jargon buster “what gets measured gets managed…”, to read more about the history of the GDP, its limitations and new alternative more holistic measurement methods.

In today’s jargon buster, we are going to explore the driving force behind the well-being economy and the informal group of countries that embraced the principles of wellbeing beyond GDP.

Well Being Beyond GDP 

Welfare is commonly referred to as the state or condition or an entire country or economy. Many economists, unfortunately, choose to measure welfare against the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), even though it is widely understood that welfare goes far beyond the financial situation of a country, region or individual. 

“Gross Domestic Product measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile” – Robert F. Kennedy 

Well Being Economy Alliance (WEALL) 

The Well Being Economy Alliance aims to catalyse and accelerate systems change, leading to the realisation of Well Being economies around the world. It’s a ten-year project born out of a number of local and global movements.

WEALL’s vision 

“Within a decade, the WEALL project is no longer needed, as it has catalysed economic system change in multiple countries towards a Wellbeing economy”. Source: weall.org

In wellbeing economy’s 

  • Policy will be framed in terms of human and ecological well being, going far beyond simple economic growth. 
  • Businesses exist to meet social needs, contribute to regeneration and provide dignified lives for all their stakeholders.
  • The rules of the economy are shaped around collaboration between government, business and society. 

WEALL’s approaches to creating wellbeing economies 

  1. Create new power bases. 

Meaning that we need to redesign institutions, infrastructures and laws in order to promote activities that support well being of people and the planet and relegate entities that undermine the wellbeing of people and the planet for the sole purpose of profitability. 

  1. Building a Coherent knowledge & Policy Evidence Base 

Create a solid accessible sharing platform where knowledge, studies and evidence supporting the wellbeing economies and activities that will lead to this future. 

  1. Sharing New Positive and Empowering Narratives 

We are in dire need of new stories. At the moment our only “truth” is the current economic system. We can only make this system obsolete if we create a new and better system, including empowering and positive narrative. Only with a clear vision and empowering narrative can we change the future. The goal is to make the well-being economical system the one that just makes common sense to most people.

Well Being Economy Governments (WEGo)

The informal WEGo group was launched at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) World Forum in 2018 and has since then grown to a group of five governments; Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand, Wales and Finland. Note that Four out of Five of these governments are led by a woman.  

New Zealand, led by Jacinda Ardern, was the first nation to officially include measures of well-being on governmental levels, including measures for education, the environment and the health of the population. These indicators are not replacing the GDP but are added to the GDP. 

The objectives of the WEGo governments are in line with the objectives and vision of WEALL. 

  • Collaborative pursuit of innovative policy making and enhancing and accelerating the development of wellbeing. Sharing knowledge to get a deeper understanding on the role of economics and its influence on wellbeing focussed policies. 
  • A strong focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, primarily focussed on goal 17, fostering partnership and cooperation to identify approaches to delivering well being.. 
  • Addressing the urgent economic, social and environmental matters of our time. 

The pursuit of greater well-being for all must become second nature in policymaking. – Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary General

Focusing on wellbeing in addition to, or completely as replacement of GDP doesn’t mean that we aren’t striving for prosperity anymore. There are many overdeveloped countries around the world. In these countries, GDP is still increasing but the well-being of its citizens is not. Well-being is crumbled under the seemingly unstoppable pressure of economic growth. 

Katarina Trebeck, part of the WEALL amplification team, writes in her book The Economics of Arrival about the issue of over-development. The lavish lifestyle of people in over-developed countries is simply the biggest driver of climate change and other ecological disasters.  Climate change in many ways is a direct result of our almost unlimited needs for production and consumption. 

Economic growth is often compared to a plane taking off, it follows a similar path. The difference is, planes can land whereas so far economy only seems to know how to survive by flying higher. Trebeck argues that it’s time for economies to land or in other words to arrive. We created a world in which, once we tackle the inequality and distribution issues, there is enough wealth for everyone to live a healthy and satisfying life. Growth beyond this point will just, as we are all experiencing right now, lead to environmental and societal issues. After this point, we are constantly battling the immense challenges we created ourselves. It is time for the world economy to find a landing platform and arrive. 

Businesses play a crucial role in the transition to a new structure driven by wellbeing economies. In wellbeing economies, businesses and finance exist to serve society and the environment.

Which actions are you undertaking to prepare your mind, business and life to get ready for the landing? 

Happy Sprinting 

Minou & Pamela


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