What a month it’s been for wellbeing economics. For an organisation that’s spent ten years campaigning for a societal commitment to wellbeing, it’s been heartwarming to watch the trickle of ideas turning into a roar for action.
First over 200 leading academics sent an open letter to the EU demanding a shift away from their ‘growth and stability pact’ towards a ‘sustainability and wellbeing pact’. The call for Europe to ‘stop growing and start growing up’ includes a major challenge to the ‘king GDP”, as well as major specific recommendations around taxation, production, service delivery and transparency.
Then the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Wellbeing Economics called on the UK government to replace growth with wellbeing as the main aim of UK spending.
Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, last week, the New Zealand government, lead by their bold and inspirational Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, published their first national ‘wellbeing budget’.
Every dollar spent by their treasury going forward has to be justified by its impact on the wellbeing of people and planet. Across government departments they are using the lens of ‘growth’ in human, social, natural, financial, cultural and physical ‘capital’ to shape investments, policy and action. Why? Because “simple economic measures aren’t indicative of the wellbeing of our people or our environment” as said by the Prime Minister herself.
New Zealand are part of a small but growing group of pioneering national governments responding to the call of the UN, OECD, EU and multiple academics and experts to rapidly shift our economy beyond GDP. The pioneering nations moving towards a wellbeing economy recently launched “Wellbeing Economy Governments (WeGOV)” movement and momentum is building across sectors to do the same. .
Here in the UK we need neither hope nor wait for ideas applicable to our local and national context – as we at Happy City have already developed a clear, rigorous and practical framework to support the transition to a wellbeing economy.
The Thriving Places Index (TPI) measures how well each local authority in England and Wales is doing at providing the conditions for people to thrive, in a fair and sustainable way.
All the data in the TPI is gathered from major national data agencies including the Office for National Statistics, and is chosen for being robust, proven to significantly influence wellbeing, consistently available across nations and something that is locally actionable.
This complex web of factors is then brought together into a highly accessible framework that provides a set of shared goals for all stakeholders in place-based change, and sufficient detail to give everyone a role in delivering it.
The TPI is already being used by a range of local authorities, funders and civil society programmes across the UK by supporting them to find and share best practice, understanding the interplay of factors and measure real progress.
It can be used to support that bigger shift towards wellbeing budgets, planning and resource allocation and perhaps most crucially in today’s highly squeezed Local Government funding environment, works as a powerful tool for cross-sector collaboration – providing shared goals, a practical framework for change and collective measures of success.
The UK is in the unique position globally where LOCAL government are showing national government the way when it comes to the urgently needed shift to a wellbeing economy. Momentum is building for widespread and deep rooted change to how we measure and understand prosperity.
To find out more and explore the results for your area go to www.thrivingplacesindex.org