Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll)
Lifley has become a member of WEAll (Wellbeing Economy Alliance), where an ambitious group of intellectual people are trying to change the narrative about interactions between the economy, GDP, the general wellbeing of society and the environment.
Our current economic system is based on an outdated and harmful narrative – that we are separate from nature and each other. When the truth in fact is that each are codependent.
If we truly want to salvage what nature we have left and avoid further societal breakdown, we need to radically transform our economy – which means changing the narrative.
Dignity: Everyone has enough to live in comfort, safety and happiness
Nature: A restored and safe natural world for all life
Connection: A sense of belonging and institutions that serve the common good
Fairness: Justice in all its dimensions at the heart of economic systems, and the gap between the richest and poorest greatly reduced
Participation: Citizens are actively engaged in their communities and locally rooted economies
The economy belongs to all of us, not just the bankers and politicians. Taxes and other rules shape how the economy is designed, but really the economy is jobs, schools, housing, the stuff we buy and the money in our pockets. Everyone participates in the economy, but the economy isn’t working for everyone. Today’s economic system is centred on growth — the same way many businesses are set up to extract profit.
Growth can be good, but if we only value growth we fail to focus on what really matters. For example, in a growth economy, war can be good as it drives up arms sales just as ill health boosts the bottom line of pharma companies. But more sales and bigger bottom lines might be bad news for our future. Scientists are telling us that the planet can’t handle more and more. We can’t keep growing the pie when the oven is only so big – we need to share the pie more equally.
Right now, we spend a lot of time and money trying to fix the harm caused by an economy which puts growth as the top priority. This harm can be seen in pollution, carbon emissions into the atmosphere, jobs that stress people out and jobs that don’t pay enough to live on. In the face of this damage, it often seems like the best we can hope for are small steps that might make things a little better in the short term and help people cope with things for another day.
But this vastly underestimates our ability to enact big-picture change. A wellbeing economy would deliver good lives for people the first time around, rather than requiring so much effort to patch things up. It would be an economy that values what matters: health, education, communities, nature. We’re not starting from scratch. Many of the ideas and examples needed to build a wellbeing economy are already out there, they just need more support, and to be more joined-up with one another.
Costa Rica delivers longer life expectancy and higher wellbeing than the US with just a third of the ecological footprint per person. New Zealand is showing how to design government budgets for a wellbeing economy, focusing on quality of life and kindness over GDP. Alternative business models like cooperatives show us how success beyond profit can be embraced.
When it all boils down to it, a wellbeing economy is designed with a different purpose – it starts with the idea that the economy should serve people and communities, first and foremost. We designed the current economy, so we can design a new one: the only limits are our imagination. We all have a role to play in building a system that works for us – you can be part of it today.
The building blocks…
- Extends global commons & restores damaged ecosystems.
- Circular economy & products serve needs rather than driving consumption.
- Environment tilled with lessons from agroecology, circular & blue economy.
- People safe & healthy in their communities, rather than necessitating vast expenditures on treating, healing & fixing. Powered by renewables, often generated by local communities or public agencies
Cooperative & Collaborative
- Democratic economic management (in terms of power, scale, and ownership).
- Technologies create communal wealth rather than concentrating wealth & ownership.
- Property & ownership informed by notions of stewardship & rights of future generations.
- Participative, deliberative democracy with governments responsive to citizens. Civil society space protected. Global compact to address imbalances between global North and the global South.
- Purpose-driven businesses with social & environmental aims in their DNA, using true cost accounting & leveraging supply chains & innovation for collective wellbeing.
- Economic security for all & wealth, income, time & power fairly distributed rather than relying on redistribution.
- Jobs deliver meaning & purpose & means for a decent livelihood.
- Recognises & values care, health & education in the ‘core economy’ outside the market.
- Individuals recognised for meaningful contribution rather than being motivated by acquiring large sums of money.
- Exchange of goods & services in a context of fairness & transparency, conducted as locally as possible. Ethical markets with social & ecological footprint reflected in prices.
- Financed by a stable, fair & socially useful financial & monetary system serving the real economy.
- Positions growth of income, profit, trade & production as a means to these goals in certain circumstances & selective in what needs to grow.
- Focuses on measures of progress that reflect real value creation.
The question is, are you with us? Check out Stories For Life and help us develop a narrative for an economic system that is in service to life.