Shake up the world with a new business model

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The fight against the environmental crisis also has a crucial economic dimension. Dominic Ryan speaks with Dr Katherine Trebeck of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a collective dedicated to “bringing social justice to a healthy planet”

They sound like a revolutionary band and The Amplifiers are certainly rocking the world, with a message attached to volume 11: let’s turn the economic system into a system that ensures human and ecological well-being.

They are part of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), a collective of organizations, alliances, movements and academics, and Dr Katherine Trebeck is one of the main voices.

“A few days a week, I work for the whole world team,” explains the Australian who now lives in Glasgow. “We call ourselves the ‘amplifiers’, short for ‘the amp team’,” she jokes before adding, “But we take this job very seriously. Our role is to amplify the amazing work. already done across the world to transform the economy This is not a step in the dark, we know the kinds of changes we need to make.

With the rest of her time, Dr Trebeck, who has over eight years of experience as a researcher and policy specialist at Oxfam GB, supports WEAll Scotland, one of the many geographic centers.

“These hubs are local manifestations of the global effort. Other hubs are bubbling up, including WEAll Canada – it’s especially nice because they can be called “We All Can”.

This holistic approach allows WEAll members to operate collaboratively across many different sectors – not in silos but working together to try to transform the economic system.

“The welfare economy is a program that, at its core, aims to seek social justice on a healthy planet,” said Dr Trebeck. “It comes from the recognition that if we don’t transform how the economy works – who wins, who loses the economic system, how we price things, what we promote, how businesses operate, how we build our infrastructure – we will have no chance of achieving that goal: social justice on a healthy planet.

For Dr Trebeck, PhD in Political Science and Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Strathclyde and Distinguished Fellow of the Schumacher Institute, WEAll is about working with a wide range of partners, friends and allies. to think about what can be done, what needs to be done more and what constitutes good practice.

“It’s about how can we learn from it,” she says. “It is about carefully examining the purpose of the economic system. What are the goals we set for ourselves? How do we judge the economy? What are our measures of progress?

In a context that saw Britain’s GDP fall to a record 20.4% in the second quarter and plunge the country into its biggest recession on record, she points out that a welfare economy will never have been achieved that if we have ensured environmental sustainability, the fight against climate change. breakdown and regenerated our environment.

She says it is not sustainable to continue with the way things were done in the past, adding, “It was already taking us into catastrophic terrain and we are already seeing the impacts. As an Australian, I am still heartbroken to have seen my country go up in flames last summer. To continue as if nothing had happened is not good.

At the heart of the welfare economy are issues of environmental protection and social justice, and Dr Trebeck believes that much of our environmental degradation is rooted in social injustice: with huge levels of inequality resulting in huge amounts of consumption and therefore emissions, especially by the very rich.

“A lot of work has been done to demonstrate these links and also how inequality undermines political mobilization on these issues. So we see that it is the less unequal countries that are more likely to be more proactive in solving environmental problems.

“The environmental crisis is a matter of social justice and both are linked to the way we think about our economy. If we transform the economy into a welfare economy, it will help us take action on social justice and the environment. ”

Dr Trebeck believes that the world can learn a lot from Scotland. “The global movement has its eyes on what’s going on here and people have taken notice of our program. They look to Scotland for leadership on these issues and are excited about some of the flagship statements and policies, but are also now saying, ‘Okay let’s see this adds to something powerful. Let’s see these interim steps become something really concrete.

“I think Scotland also needs to learn from what’s going on in the world, so there is a two-way movement and collaboration in terms of learning, inspiration and hope.

“It is important that Scotland has shown leadership in reaching out and learning from friends around the world rather than competing and seeing the whole world as some kind of zero-sum game.”

Dr Trebeck underlined that Scotland is the initiator and holder of the secretariat of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership – a partnership with New Zealand, Iceland and Wales. This has been put in place to enable governments to collaborate, share and learn from each other, taking into account collective welfare issues around protecting the environment and how to put it in the spotlight. heart of economic policy making.

It paints an upbeat and compelling picture, but can it really make a difference for Earth Overtake Day, pushing back the date when we exhaust nature’s budget for the year? “Not yet! However, I think Scotland has taken steps in the right direction. We have the seeds for the changes we need to make.

“Businesses have played a huge role in transforming and building a wellness economy. Scotland has a good track record of supporting the kind of business models most aligned with this. Things like co-ops, community benefit societies and charitable societies are springing up in Scotland. And this is another example where we have taken interim steps in the right direction. I think we just need to breathe more life into them with a lot more vigor, more oomph.

“I sometimes say to my colleagues: ‘Scotland is awake but it is still hiding under the covers. It’s probably a better place to be than a lot of other countries around the world. It’s definitely better than where we were, but it’s also not good enough for what we need to be.

“We need to keep the conversation going about what kind of economic growth we want rather than that feeling of carte blanche if we just step on the accelerator and the economy picks up speed, that will solve all of our problems.”

“We need to have a much more qualitative view of the kind of economic growth we need. What do we want to develop specifically? I think if we’re going to measure ‘payback’ beyond Covid, we can’t measure it with old, outdated instruments like GDP metrics that don’t match what a lot of people want to see for Scotland . ”

Such a change presents challenges, but Dr Trebeck has support. “What keeps me optimistic is spending time with some of the amazing young people in Scotland and around the world who are so passionate, so articulate and so brilliant. Climate degradation is something they don’t question because they’ve grown up knowing it’s a reality. . . and so they roll up their sleeves and collaborate.

Could it be our young people, listening to The Amplifiers soundtrack, who ultimately persuade Scotland to get out of bed?


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