A big week for the Wellbeing Economy movement: parliamentary debates and environmental law

This has been a week of big milestones / ‘firsts’ for the Wellbeing Economy movement – from being seriously debated in the UK Parliament to being recognised in law in the EU. Let’s dive into some of the highlights:

The UK’s first ever Parliamentary Debate on a Wellbeing Economy

On Tuesday, MP Caroline Lucas of the Green Party led the UK’s first ever Parliamentary debate on the topic of a ‘Wellbeing economy approach to meeting climate goals’. As she put it,

“The GDP figures we’re using to measure economic success also measure the rate at which we’re barrelling towards climate catastrophe.”

The debate was made possible by over 65,000 signatures from across the UK on a petition, to urge the Government and Treasury prioritise the health and wellbeing of people and planet, by pursuing a Wellbeing Economy approach.

The debate displayed strong cross-party support for the need for economic system change – and for a Wellbeing Economy approach to tackling both the climate emergency and social inequalities in the UK.

This is a big milestone in the road to making real change, because, as MP Patrick Grady put it,

“If we agree that the aim is to reduce inequality, to improve wellbeing and to meet climate goals, we can have a debate about how best to do that.”

Watch the recording of the full session here and read the full transcript here, and the briefing paper that informed the debate.

Here are some of the key highlights from the debate:

Key highlights from the ‘Wellbeing economy approach to meeting climate goals’ debate

The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee launches new inquiry into moving ‘beyond GDP’

Also this week, the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee launched a new inquiry on the case for moving beyond GDP and to explore viable alternative measures. The Committee will undertake hearings in 2022 to examine how the UK Government could incorporate environmental sustainability into its leading measures of economic success.

This is a strong opportunity to build cross-party political support for a Wellbeing Economy and practical steps that the UK Government and Treasury can take in the right direction. The call for evidence covers the UK, but also international policy and action too. Experts are requested to send in written submissions by January 7th at https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/646/.

A Wellbeing Economy is recognised in EU law for the first time

The EU’s 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) sets the objectives for EU environmental policy up to 2030, and lays down the conditions to achieve them.

Yesterday, after months of negotiation, a deal on the EU’s 8th EAP was made. While the agreement fell short in setting an end date for harmful subsidies, the overall result was very promising.

“For the first time, the EU recognises the need to shift towards a Wellbeing Economy. EU institutions have committed to ensuring policy-making is guided by indicators which give a better picture of social and environmental progress than only GDP growth.”

Rebecca Humphries

Key takeaways from the deal are summarized by WWF EU here and the ZOE Institute below:

Here’s hoping these significant strides in promoting the creation of a Wellbeing Economy build stronger momentum for the movement worldwide.

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