We recently attended an event on the Wellbeing Economy as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival of Politics. The event was hosted by Paul McLennan MSP, with panellists including Miriam Brett, research fellow at the Democracy Collaborative and Wellbeing Economy Alliance; and Gemma Bone Dodds and Thobile Chittenden of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

Following this event SCSN has applied to become members of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

We’re applying because we know that the current economic system based on ever increasing growth measured by GDP is unsustainable and contributes to a wide range of entrenched social problems, including crime, violence, anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drug deaths, homelessness, unintentional harm and injury, human trafficking, fuel poverty – as well as contributing to existential threats such as the climate crisis.

That’s to say nothing of the myriad other health problems caused by a system which over stretches and stresses us almost from cradle to grave, whilst making unhealthy behaviour and choices inevitable – including a mental health (and youth mental health) crisis, an increase in developmental disorders such as ADHD, alcohol and drug problems, and an obesity crisis.

Globally, Western/Northern hemisphere demand and consumption has also continued to exploit and place an unsustainable burden on other parts of the globe, especially the global south – with unpalatable rings of an evolved version of colonialism. The global south is also bearing the brunt of the more immediate consequences of climate change largely driven by Western/Global North consumption and carbon emissions – raising issues around climate justice.

In basic economic jargon, these unpalatable outcomes of the economy are referred to rather coldly as ‘externalities’. Whilst economic externalities can be positive or negative, our current version of capitalism is failing to produce positive outcomes for society – and as we can all see right now, is producing externalities which some scientists say may threaten our human civilisation, as well as comparatively more mundane considerations such as our health or wellbeing.

For all of these reasons, SCSN supports a move to a Wellbeing Economy, where we focus on wellbeing in the population rather than increases in GDP. And we’ve put our money where our mouth is by being early adopters of a four day week for our staff . It was a no brainer really, when all of the research shows that a four day week boosts productivity as well as staff wellbeing, and could be helpful to the environment.

We’d strongly encourage others to follow in our four day week footsteps, as well as thinking about joining the Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

David Barbour, SCSN Communications Officer