By: Isabel Nuesse

Are you ready to unlearn everything you knew about economics?

One of our 36×36 womxn, Della Duncan, hosts a truly revolutionary, informative and visionary radio documentary – Upstream – that offers themed episodes exploring a wide range of topics related to our current economic system.

Season 4 of the podcast just launched. In their first episode, Homo Economicus, or economic man, Upstream questions our core assumptions about who we are as people, and how we’re seen in the current economic system. Does the story that we’ve been told about how we interact with our economic system truly reflect us as people?

One of the interviewees Bayo Akomolafe speaks to the image of the atlas man.

He says, this image is homo economicus – “This is man hard at work, spinning wheels.” He states that, “It is a rude suggestion that this universe depends on this activity,” and the thinking that increased productivity and rational solutions are what is needed to fix things.

The podcast draws on various perspectives of the embedded problematic nature of thinking that we are inherently selfish, greedy individualists. Upstream then shares the reasoning why this is wholly untrue.

David Sloan Wilson who is an evolutionary biologist says “What sets us apart from other primates is that we’re so cooperative…our ancestors found ways to suppress disruptive behaviors within groups.” He highlights how this attribute sets us apart from other mammals – and our cooperation is what has enabled us to evolve to the species that we are today.

Upstream then travels to meet with George Monbiot who immediately shares his outrage in how much we’ve been lied to about what we’ve been told about human beings. He says, “We’ve been shown a dark view of humanity – which is a totally false one.” He emphasises how spectacularly unusual humans are in relation to other animals – particularly when it comes to altruism.

Throughout the podcast, Upstream shares a wide range of perspectives and research on this topic of homo economicus. This journey shares a new way of thinking on how we relate to one another – and what our most human traits actually are. Do check out the podcast here, and follow their incredible Instagram account if you’re looking for memes that call it how it is.

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.

In last week’s expertise building module, 36×36 participants explored their visions for the future of the network in creative and inspiring ways. Sarah Gamrani was moved to write this beautiful poem, which she shared with the group in a performance.

 

i was born on a waxing moon

 

i was born on a waxing moon

which means my life will only be

more beautiful 

 

i started doubting about this 

when, growing up, 

i have noticed 

that all we can do is destroy 

what surrounds us 

and any kind of joy 

 

i am an emotional being

whose emotions have been buried

in the soil of a society 

that has decided 

to value everything that is wrong

 

it took us courage and time

to realize that other

emotional beings

needed a space to shine

 

a new space, we did create,

care and tolerance

have made it possible

to forge powerful links

 

and like the waxing moon 

on the day I was born 

these links continued to grow

until they reached a full wisdom.

 

sarah gamrani

 

 

 

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.

Issue Theme Articles:

The love of money

Plumbers and pedagogues

The K in recovery

She dared to meddle

Long covid

People count

Gap analysis

 

Full Magazine 

 

 

• Grado académico – Profesión: Máster en psicología industrial y ciencias políticas de la Universidad de Hamburg. Doctora en Transformaciones a la Sostenibilidad de la Universidad de Twente.

• Lugar actual de trabajo: Fundadora y Directora Ejecutiva del Instituto de Liderazgo Colectivo. Miembro del Comité Ejecutivo del Club de Roma.

• Líneas de investigación: Transformación hacia la sostenibilidad. Desarrollo de metodologías y articulación de espacios para su plena ejecución.

https://congresofuturo.cl/petra-kuenkel/

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.

Previously published by Capitals Coalition hereBy Natalie Nicholles, Senior Director at the Capitals Coalition.

The pandemic is hard to sum up. It is full of tragedy and heartbreak, of resilience and courage, and of humanity and solidarity. Things that were deemed impossible have become reality – social distancing is the new norm, vaccines are developing at breakneck speeds and some elected officials transformed into bold leaders by choosing to prioritize health over the economy. But what stands out most prominently to me amongst the terrible and incredible moments is that we have sleepwalked into a crisis of values.

In this crisis, market values have steadily infiltrated societal values so much so that our understanding of value has come to mean success and prosperity through wealth maximization, commodification and externalization of social and environmental impacts. To be considered valuable, an asset or activity must be captured in the market, and anything that sits beyond the economy’s reach is essentially worthless. We’ve been steadily moving from a market economy to a market society.

Despite the warnings from climate change and the loss of our natural world growing louder and mounting demands from scientists and civil society for urgent action, policymakers and capitalism have trundled along, unwilling to admit – or face – necessary radical change. It’s taken the human tragedy of a global pandemic and its deep impacts on our friends, families and communities to realize that the values underpinning current economic thinking are, at worst, responsible for gross inequalities, massive biodiversity loss and the destabilization of climate and, at best, poorly designed to solve them.

Signs of change

The calls to Build Back Better for our people and planet continued to grow throughout 2020 and beyond. CEOs and civil society groups authored letters to political leaders, campaigns to RESET the economy went global and more articles than I can cite called out the failures of contemporary capitalism in search of a more meaningful, holistic and people-centric approach. Whether it’s donuts or missions or pathways to a resilient economy, the work of economists such as Kate Raworth and Mariana Mazzucato, think tanks like New Economics Foundation and global movements such as the Wellbeing Economy Alliance are being increasingly recognized as possible alternatives to common economic thought.

As Mark Carney stated in his 2020 Reith lectures, we need our economic system to find a new equilibrium where the market is organized in pursuit of what society values. 2020 has demonstrated that what is truly valued and valuable are our relationships, solidarity, fairness, responsibility and our connection to the planet. Such intangibles are invisible in this economy and yet fundamental to human prosperity.

These societal values are needed to determine how we develop and appraise policies for our public resources, where we invest our savings and investments, how we run our businesses and deliver public good. Rebalancing the system and redefining value has the potential to transform the economy from exacerbating our most pressing challenges to becoming a problem-solving mechanism for them.

To make this reality, we must reframe the roles, structures, and social contracts within and between business, finance and government, ensuring that the information used to make decisions represents what we value.

Accounting for nature, people and society – our natural, social and human capital – as Capitals Coalition organizations know well, transforms decision-making.

A way forward

I believe the capitals approach can help us to realign market values and reform capitalism. The Coalition’s vast community of business, finance, government, accounting and standards, civil society and science and academic organizations have been applying and championing a capitals approach across the world for over a decade.

Today, there are initiatives to ensure that financial accounts and accounting reflect a company’s financial, social and environmental performance (see European Union’s Transparent Project and Harvard’s Impact Weighted Accounts Initiative). There’s  innovation in financial products to account for natural, social and human capitals and there are leading companies, such as Olam and Kering, who have been working to internalize their externalities. How we integrate the value provided by nature, people and society in our economic decisions has been the focus of many.

We’re seeing movement at the national level, too. “We cannot recover better without better information to guide us,” says Elliot Harris, United Nations Chief Economist when explaining the new Ecosystem Accounting standard. “It is high time we moved beyond GDP and measured our wealth and success with tools that recognize the value of nature and people.” This was echoed by the UK Treasury’s Dasgupta Review which called for the adoption of an inclusive wealth approach to economic planning and decision making by measuring a country’s wealth in terms of all assets, including natural, social and human capital.

What we need now

While the capitals approach has captured the minds of so many, there remains a momentous shift needed in the mainstream if we are to remedy the crisis of values.

We need deep cultural change to drive recovery packages and commitments. We need to boldly evolve our understanding of capitalism as, not an end to itself but, a means to deliver public good. We need adaptive accounting processes that include our impacts and dependencies on natural, social and human capital. We need an enabling environment that promotes a culture of ethical business, greater connection to communities and a sense of accountability for successes and failures. We need deeper collaboration between business, finance, government and civic actors to develop new rules, provide clear incentives and accountability and be good stewards of our planet and of one another.

I feel that we’re at an inflection point in our crisis of values. To be more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable, we must power a shift in values if we are to recover from the COVID crisis and shape the economy of the future.

 The 36×36 project has officially commenced! This exciting initiative brings together femxle leaders from around the world to co-create a revolutionary architecture for the global economy. 

 

The neoliberal economic “story” has proliferated around the globe for decades, legitimising a huge concentration of wealth and power and the destruction of our environment. This story, based on “trickle-down”, free-market ideas, was crafted by a group of 36 men in 1947, at a resort in Switzerland. Despite the widely recognized failures of this economic ideology, it continues to dominate the way that we organise and govern systems of production and exchange. 

 

The Schumacher Institute, Collective Leadership Institute and Wellbeing Economy Alliance collaborated around the exciting notion that if 36 men could shape the old economic system, womxn could come together to transform it and create the new economy we all need. 

 

The three partner organisations were energised by the idea of a network of femxle leaders – a network that, far from being a closed shop like the “boys’ clubs” of old, would be diverse, collaborative and inclusive from the start. The first 36 womxn would be just the beginning of a femxle revolution in economic thinking – hence the idea of 36 by 36: a multiplier effect. 

 

“Up until the 21st century women’s voices were almost absent in the economic and finance discourse and decision making.  This project is a step in the direction for women to have an equal say.  It is absolutely crucial for the future of people and planet.” – Vala Ragnardottir, Schumacher Institute

 

After months of project development, outreach and dozens of incredible applications, the 36×36 project has now brought together a cohort of impressive womxn involved in a diverse range of pursuits to co-create this new vision. From 24 countries and a hugely diverse range of backgrounds, these womxn are already leading the way to a new economic system. Together, their change-making power multiples – find out who they are here.

 

What will they do?

The womxn will participate in a certified leadership program, interrogating the dimensions of a new economic system and what it will take to get there. They will host a series of public events to bring wider knowledge into the process, and they will collaborate on their shared challenges to advance their own work. All of this will culminate in a visionary manifesto that will lay out what is needed to change our economic system. 

 

 “Womxn have been in the forefront of naming the problems with prevailing economic thinking and practice. It is time that they take the lead in reinventing the purpose of economy: caring and serving life on this planet. And it is time that they become the drivers of transformations.” – Petra Kuenkel, Collective Leadership Institute

 

How can I get involved?

 

Over the next 9 months, these womxn will embark on a journey together to spark a femxle-led revolution in economic thinking. We invite all of you into this process: the programme and manifesto aim to reflect the wider new economic movement. 

 

“Economics continues to be dominated by old, white men and if we are serious about rebalancing the world, we must also rebalance the economics discipline. 36×36 provides an opportunity to build a transformative network, demonstrating that a different economic system is not only possible but just a few strategic decisions away” Amanda Janoo, WEAll 

 

To stay updated about the progress of 36×36, and hear about ways to get involved, check out the following:

 

36×36 Website

36×36 Newsletter

WEAll Citizens Platform, “36×36 Femxle Economic Revolutionaries group”

(WEAll Citizens > Groups > “36×36 Femxle Economic Revolutionaries”)