2 Questions: 1) Purpose building Narratives - What are the empowering narrative and vision for the network? 2) Dynamic Structures: How do we build collective action around first issue-based exchanges and come together around a process for change?

by Elisabeth Kühn, CLI Managing Partner and 36×36 project lead

The Covid-19 pandemic has only been the last in a series of events that have simultaneously brought us together and isolated us as human beings across the globe. Caused by an invisible virus, it has taught us what it means to live in an interconnected world. This is more than a lesson in global health issues. It invites us to realize that understanding our world from a systemic perspective is necessary. We are connected in a multitude of ways, and just as these invisible connections can bring about destruction, they can also be leveraged for building wellbeing on a healthy planet for all humankind.

Recognizing our interconnectedness is the starting point for building the 36×36 transformation network. As part of the second expertise building module on “Strategizing Transformative Change” in the project, the womxn in the network came together for a strategic session around the big question: How can we become not just an exchange network of professional femxle change makers passionate about driving new economic approaches, but be a transformation network that drives strategic action? This is a daunting task. But while it is true that a network of 36 passionate womxn cannot change the world alone, they can be the powerful starting point. Consciously leveraging the expertise, action, strategies and connections between womxn towards a deliberate and action oriented network is the first step in bringing about the transformation towards wellbeing on a healthy planet.

This question was explored in a module that was both an expertise building and a strategic working session. The overall guidance was provided by the six Network Enablers, the design elements necessary for transformative networks that bring about aliveness in systems. They are derived from the same conceptual background (see FAQ here) that is also behind the larger six strategic questions guiding the process towards the network’s manifesto. In addition, three key success factors focused the womxn’s work in the module: a) successful, transformative network action needs to start in small collective action teams. Building thriving connections starts in small teams of network members, such as regional teams. From these teams, connections across the whole network can be built, which brings in the second success factor: b) a shared vision of the network. The creative process of defining how the 36×36 network wants to be in the future provides an anchor to collective action teams and ensures against working in silos. And finally, the big task of how to start action in the face of such complexity is done with c) first theories of change for the network, developed in said collective action teams. Theories of change, while not without its limits as a tool, provide a powerful record for an intervention logic, and support the coherent development of goals, strategies, results and activities around a common vision.

The womxn’s strategic work on a shared vision for the network as well as theories of change developed in regional collective action teams will be integrated and developed further over the following weeks – towards a solid foundation for an action-oriented network that drives and leverages connections among its members, and that prepares the way for expanding to further connections and networks beyond 36×36.

By Anna Haw and Isabel Nuesse

This image which sparked memes all over the internet in the last month may compel more people to rethink our consumer-driven habits and current state of our economy….or so we hope.

As consumers, we rarely give much thought to how the multitude of things we buy make their way across the planet and into our homes. That is, until the Ever Given (400m long packed with up to 18,000 containers) stopped $9.6 billion dollars’ worth of products each day that it was stalled in the Suez Canal. That’s $6.7 million a minute.  This debacle reveals the true scale of our global supply chains, and broader global economic system.

How is it that one ship can have such an impact? That so many goods depend on a single waterway, and that 6 days of disruption can amount to over $50 billion in losses? 

With so much money being lost, resources were swiftly mobilised to solve the frantic halt of the Suez Canal. It’s remarkable really, that our dependence on this consumer culture and our need to keep trading goods catalysed a global upheaval. 

The focus on incessant GDP growth has necessitated a relentless drive to create and trade goods, no matter the cost to the environment or human wellbeing. 

This shipping fiasco serves as a clear metaphor of our current economic system. We have an economy that lacks resilience, makes little practical sense and is so heavy that changing direction is almost impossible, despite obvious imminent danger. 

The comparatively tiny tug boats and bulldozers working together to dislodge the massive ship are akin to the many initiatives that are working to dislodge the current economic system. What’s needed to uproot the current economic system is a rising tide to provide much-needed support and create an enabling environment to the many profoundly positive new economic initiatives that are desperately trying to change the course of our damaging economy. 

We can create this rising tide.

It will take incredible mobilisation, bold action, risk and ultimately embracing long-term goals. 

There was support and media attention at all angles covering the crisis of Ever Given. Yet our current economic framework is a part and parcel of causing these crises. Rather than applying a band-aid at vast expense, or incessantly reporting on how many billions of dollars are being lost, let’s focus on the root of the problem. Are we throwing resources at a framework that is too centralised, single-minded and outdated?

What if a potentially catastrophic  global trade event can be viewed instead as an opportunity to give our  system a re-think? Do we need to keep purchasing goods at the current rate that we are? Can consumers buy less, share more and redistribute our wealth to support initiatives working towards achieving social justice on a healthy planet?  

As the Ever Given moves forward towards its destination with hundreds of other laden ships in its wake, let us not miss the opportunity to think about what our society’s priorities are, and where we’re mobilising our resources.

We do have the capacity to catalyse, dramatically shift and re-route our economic system, so what’s stopping us?

Image: Suez Canal Authority via AP

 

By Isabel Nuesse, WEAll Engagement and Content lead and member of 36×36 project team

Have you been curious about the #36×36 project? We’ve engaged an incredible cohort of womxn in a programme to design the architecture of a new economic future for the world. While inevitably a very tough ask, these womxn have dove right in. 

During an early “meet and greet” call where the womxn were getting to know each other – we asked the question, “If you were an economy tsarista, what policy would you put in place?” Below are some of the ideas that came up in our discussion. From gender parity, to binding codes of conduct for Multi-National Corporations – the visions of these womxn are vast, radical and with enough power, entirely possible.  

Gender

  • Pay adequate wages for care labor and data labor in order to reduce inequality 
  • Reinforce the mechanisms that ensure gender parity in decision making

Education

  • Invest a larger portion of money into transforming education systems to incorporate topics such as climate change and gender equality 

Financials 

  • Institute Universal Basic Income (UBI) 
  • Defund militarism and redirect funds towards other more impactful sectors such as education, health and agriculture 
  • Change our metrics of prosperity from GDP to Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP)
  • Greater transparency of financial flows to see what’s happening so countries can align actions with values – and put participatory budgeting at all levels 
  • Global debt jubilee for the Global South
  • Get rid of taxes as a whole – and find more creative ways to make up for it – i.e. using non-profit models.
  • Close down tax havens. Make sure the taxes are spent in local areas where they were created.  
  •  Write off all the loans that are owed to the World Bank 

Process/ Collaboration

  • Facilitate a global dialogue around the world to discuss and collaborate on our collective wants and needs 
  • Fewer bureaucratic processes to ensure greater efficiency when dealing with paperwork 
  • Create a structure that supports grassroots community initiatives

Production of Resources

  • Binding code of conduct for multi-national corporation (MNCs) 
  • Make prices reflect the true costs of products and services  to actually reflect the environmental and social externalities 
  • Withdraw subsidies and tax cuts from the largest transnational corporations and use that money for seed funding for not-for-profit businesses

Wellbeing 

  • Take care of wellbeing surrounding the self- and allow that to ripple out across the world. Meaning, the energy of wellbeing to transform from person to person. 
  • Make indigenous wisdom the default
  • Ask the question of what behaviours do we want to encourage?

These  ambitious ideas are some of the seeds from which the 36×36 network will grow. The womxn are now participating in learning modules, thematic exchanges and peer-led sessions to deepen their collaboration. We are so excited to be on this journey with them.

If you’d like to keep up to date with the project and be the first to hear about ways to engage further with 36×36, sign up to our newsletter below.

Blog by Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, WEAll Ambassador and Professor of Sustainability Science at the University of Iceland

Previously published on the WEAll website here

June 2, 2020

A few years ago a  guy called me up in Iceland and asked: “Why do the leftists own the environment?“  My answer was: “They do not but they have taken environmental issues to the forefront of their politics.  All parties should do that.“ He went on to found the Right Green Party which never took foothold in Icelandic politics.  But it was a step in the right direction.   Healthy environment and sustainability is tantamount for everyone’s wellbeing.

I was party to a similar discussion in an international WhatsApp group recently:  “Why is it that left-wing governments are promoting the wellbeing agenda?  In doing so it will be rejected by those to the right in politics.“

My response was: “In Iceland there is a broad political base behind the new wellbeing policy which has a focus on prosperity and quality of life and is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development goals.“

Our Prime Minister is from the Left Green Movement, but her coalition government encompasses the whole political spectrum – with the Independence Party (conservative right wing) led by Bjarni Benediktsson who is Minister of Finance and and Economic Affairs, and  the Progressive Party led by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson and is Minister of Transport and Local Government.

This broad based coalition government agreed the Wellbeing policy agenda in April 2020.  It has 39 wellbeing indicators that are to be collected and followed by Statistics Iceland.  This is very important when considering what may happen in the next election – when the Left Greens may no longer lead the government.  Then the wellbeing agenda is already engrained in policy with civil servants and public institutional support.

What about the other countries in the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership?

In Scotland, the wellbeing economy agenda is being supported and followed by the National Performance Framework (NPF) which was presented to the Scottish Parliament by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Sturgeon is from the Scottish National Party (SNP) – which is considered to be a centre-left party and wants Scotland to become independent and and have closer ties with Europe and the EU.

Importantly, the NPF was passed unanimously with support from all five political parties in the Scottish Parliament.  Again, with this broad base of support in parliament the wellbeing economy agenda has a chance to survive if the next elections do not return the SNP as the leading party.

In New Zealand, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set the first wellbeing budget world-wide in May 2019 with a central question – how well are our people? The focus is on five priority areas where evidence indicates greatest opportunities to improve the lives of New Zealanders.  The PM´s political party is Labour (left).  Labour is in a coalition government with the New Zealand First Party (right wing) and the Green Party (left wing).  This again, is a broad-based political coalition, giving strength to the wellbeing agenda.

Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand are all members of WEGo – the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership – which is an offspring of WEAll.  A new member has just joined WEGo – Wales.  The First Minister of Wales is Mark Drakeford and he leads the Labour (left wing) government in Wales.  Wales has had the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act since 2015 that has seven wellbeing goals.  Therefore the wellbeing agenda is firmly in Welsh policy – and has been set in law for five years.

The Wellbeing Economy agenda is therefore neither left wing nor right wing.  It is for us all, so that all people and our planet can prosper.  Now that governments across the globe are finding their feet to lead their nations out of the COVOD-19 health and economic crisis – let us remember that pandemics hit us all, wherever we stand in politics. We also know that we cannot go back to business as usual.

In the worlds of professor Frank Snowden, a historian:  “By creating the myth that we could grow our economy exponentially and infinitely, by almost 8 billion people living on earth, excessive travel, environmental pollution, by pushing back nature more and more, we created almost ideal conditions for the coronavirus to emerge, spread and hit us especially hard.“

Let us join hands across political spectrums and make the Wellbeing Economy the new economy for the 21st century.  Would you like to learn more? Then see the WEAll ten principles of Building Back Better.