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wellbeing 2 246Let's continue to create community - a wellbeing economy

From an article by the The Solutions Journal.

Our current economic systems have become addicted to “growth at all costs”, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). They assume that GDP growth is synonymous with increasing wellbeing and prosperity.  However this approach has led to growing inequality, an escalating climate crisis, and the depletion of natural and social capital.  Our approach to economics and development needs fundamental transformation.

A global movement is coalescing among a large number of individuals and organizations around the need to shift economies away from a narrow focus on marketed goods and services (i.e. GDP) to one more broadly focused on ‘sustainable wellbeing’ with dignity and fairness for humans and the rest of nature. 

At a meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, in Oct. 2017, a group of governments including Scotland, Costa Rica, Slovenia, and New Zealand committed to creating an organisation through which to share good practice in wellbeing policy making and to champion wellbeing as the goal of development. This initiative is supported by a global Wellbeing Economy Alliance that brings together the many organizations, networks, academics, businesses, NGOs, and individuals that are already working on elements of the new economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having devastating effects on vulnerable communities around the world but there are now many voices urging us to “build back better” by ensuring basic needs and protecting our natural environment.

Wellbeing is the outcome of a convergence of factors, including good human mental and physical health, greater equity and fairness, good social relationships and a flourishing natural environment.

Only a holistic approach to prosperity can therefore achieve and sustain wellbeing. A system of economic governance aimed at promoting wellbeing will therefore need to account for all of the impacts (both positive and negative) of economic activity. This includes valuing goods and services derived from a healthy society (social capital) and a thriving biosphere (natural capital).

True freedom and success depend on a world where we all prosper and flourish. Institutions serve humanity best when they foster our individual dignity while enhancing our interconnectedness. To thrive, all institutions (including businesses) and society must pivot toward a new purpose: shared wellbeing on a healthy planet.

To achieve a wellbeing economy, a major transformation of our world view, society and economy are needed to:

  • Stay within planetary biophysical boundaries – a sustainable size of the economy within our ecological life support system.
  • Meet all fundamental human needs, including food, shelter, dignity, respect, education, health, security, voice, and purpose, among others.
  • Create and maintain a fair distribution of resources, income, and wealth – within and between nations, current and future generations of humans and other species.
  • Have an efficient allocation of resources, including common natural and social capital assets, to allow inclusive prosperity, human development and flourishing. A wellbeing economy recognizes that happiness, meaning, and thriving depend on far more than material consumption.
  • Create governance systems that are fair, responsive, just and accountable.

There are many individuals and groups who have espoused versions of these basic ideas for decades. They may have used different approaches and different languages, but all share common approaches and, above all, a common goal.  Perhaps more important are the many individuals and groups already putting the ideas of a wellbeing economy in practice.  These include millions of activists and social entrepreneurs of various types from around the world.

“Building back better” will require great creativity and coordination. Concerted effort is needed to truly value wellbeing and ecological sustainability simultaneously and for all.

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From an article by the The Solutions Journal, 02/06/2020

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