2020. There’s no denying it’s been a year of struggle. But like a bright candle in an otherwise dark room, it’s also been a year of opportunity.
As lockdown loomed and work was waylaid, more and more people began to think about who “the economy” really serves. Does it benefit the millions of people, including key workers, who work every day to keep it running? And what about the many people who are unable to work? Or does it tend to benefit a privileged few at the expense of other people and the environment?
We’ve been advocating for Scotland’s transition to a wellbeing economy—a system which delivers social justice on a healthy planet—for a long time now, but the need for its realisation has never been greater. That’s why it’s so encouraging and uplifting to mainstream sources adopting language like wellbeing economy, build back better, and green recovery into their everyday discussions, from journalists to politicians.
In May, for example, Fiona Hyslop (Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs) declared in Parliament that “the time of a wellbeing economy has well and truly arrived.”
The wellbeing economy concept then took centre stage a month later when the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery published its report, Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland.
At WEAll Scotland, we were delighted to see wellbeing-economy language featured so prominently. But it’s important to remember that we exist to advocate for and enable a wellbeing economy, not simply celebrate its becoming a buzzword.
We were concerned with how prominently the reliance on growth was referenced throughout the report. What kind of growth, we ask, and for whom? Simply adding “inclusive” and “sustainable” modifiers to growth does not answer either of these vital questions.
It’s time to move away from outdated metrics like growth to GDP and instead focus on the indicators which truly measure quality of life: social justice, a healthy environment, and the opportunity for everyone to pursue the life they wish to live.
Life is for learning, and we’ve certainly learned a lot in 2020. As we look to the future by looking back, we wanted to end the year (and this article!) by sharing some positive stories from lockdown.
Ostrero is a research and advocacy body that raises awareness of what the circular economy is and why it’s vitally important to Scotland’s economic and environmental wellbeing. Earlier this year, they gathered quotes from children across Scotland on what they learned during lockdown and how we can work together to build back better. Ostrero were kind enough to allow us to share some of those quotes here.
Thanks for reading and for helping us advocate for a wellbeing economy in 2020.
Here’s to a bright new year.
“Although lockdown has been hard there’s been many positives, for instance when I go on a bike ride with no traffic on the road, I can go down the Mound without a single car in sight, the air is fresher and cleaner and it’s lovely to hear the birds sing.”
Millie, age 12
“When I was at school, every lunch, we used paper plates. So every day, we threw away our plates, our cutlery and our glass. It wasn’t reusable, so it was harmful for the planet. Now I use a real plate to eat with my family, and it is better for the environment.”
Arthur, age 10
“I had my 10th birthday during Lockdown and it was different, but also good as it was a new way to spend my birthday. My parents arranged for my family to sing to me on Messenger. It was nice and my mum made me a cake. I think that using technology is helping people be able to see each other and also help me to do my school work. I have been learning Spanish during this time using an app and it has been a lot of fun.”
Ethan, age 10
“I have online classes, so teachers can’t print documents anymore. It strikes me because having documents online already pollutes a lot and by printing them in addition, you only harm nature more by using unnecessary paper. I hope it will help people be more careful when using our planet’s resources.”
Salomé, age 15
“I never really talked with my neighbours (I didn’t even know some of their names) but now we do because we check everyone is ok and we help a neighbour with her shopping, recycling and anything else she needs and in return she bakes us delicious cookies.”
Archie, age 13
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