After the “Changing the Narrative” and the positive feedback and comments I received I was asked what a wellbeing economy looked like. So let me honest, I don’t know, yet. But I do know we can design it together as a community.
The Purpose of the Economy Is?
Let’s start by asking what would you like the purpose of the economy to be? I would love to know your answers.
Recently Yannick Beaudion from the David Suzuki Foundation described economics as a religion. He said if he asked someone about news reports on economic growth, their reaction would be this is good news. But when he asked them why economic growth was good there was no answer and their opinion was simply grounded in belief and faith.
And that’s the key point – the changes we need in society and our way of lives are not going to come about simply through evidence and scientific facts. That is not how change works. All of us hate change and we are resistant by varying degrees to change.
But when necessary we embrace change. It’s worth noting that we have seen significant changes in economic models in the last 100 years. For example the creation of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1944 came about in three weeks with 730 people involved (interestingly almost all white men) without internet, without smart phones and no access to google.
More recently we have seen other big economic changes such as the adoption of the Euro, Britain leaving Brexit. Change is possible. Look how we have adapted to life with Covid. Who thought we would be working remotely, socially distancing and wearing masks in public? When there is a will there is a way.
Are We Facing Environmental Problems?
You may be familiar with the famous quote by Gus Speth a leading American Climate Change Scientist. He said “I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.” But we, the people, do and if ever there should be a will for change, surely now is the time for change.
I find this is both positive and negative. It’s positive, because this lies within our gift. All we need to do is change our behaviour. And there’s the rub. We know how hard it is for humans to change. Education on its own is not sufficient to change behaviours.
So how do we bring about change? What if we reached out and created a group of different people with different backgrounds and different perspectives to create a picture of what we would like the economy to look like in Guernsey.
This isn’t foolish, naïve or foolhardy. This is what the David Suzuki Foundation did in Canada during 2020. They had planned to work with just 20 people originally. With Covid of course the in-person events weren’t possible so they expanded the group to over 80 people using digital technology and lo and behold this worked superbly. The outcomes far exceeded their expectations.
Everyone participating was an expert in the sense that they are real people and able to contribute from their experiences. Answering questions such as how was the economy meeting their needs, what were they going to do about it and what did they want done about it? At its core was recognition that we, the people, have a lot of power through our imagination. I firmly believe it is our collective imagination that will drive the redesign of our new economic system, if only we have the courage to try.
A Sneak Preview
The outcomes from the Canadian work haven’t yet been published, but having had a sneak preview they are going to inspirational. They did identify a number of transformational pillars that underpinned the outcomes that they wanted to achieve as a community. The discussions were informed by people as humans with families and relationships. Roles and titles were irrelevant. What was important that everyone spoke from their personal voice rather than from the professional piece and that was so important and vital. It meant that they were able to imagine the unimaginable when they face such an opportunity in their history. I may not have reached the mountain top, but I might have glimpsed a possible future. Watch this space when the report is published.
We are all experts on what matters to us
Before concluding I would like to share one last analogy that Yannick used that I particularly liked. If we think about it, economists are only experts because we’ve allowed that to happen. If as he suggests we think of economics as an art instead of a science (and it isn’t a science) then we are all artists.
So finally in conclusion. What’s the takeaway? It’s not just Canadians having these conversations about what is essential in our lives. There are big meaningful conversations taking place in communities all around the world. We all have a voice and we shouldn’t be left out.
Let’s all bring a brush to this canvass and paint a picture of our future and that of our children.
If you want to get involved, please reach out and together let’s imagine and create a better future.