“Wellbeing Economy Governments” (WEGo)

From: Martin Oetting, Omnipolis <martin, Berlin

Last November, the governments of Scotland, New Zealand and Iceland publicly launched the “Wellbeing Economy Governments“ initiative (short: “WEGo“) at an OECD forum in South Korea. The idea of the project: governments collaborating on policy approaches that see national success as being defined by the quality of life of citizens rather than the growth rate of the respective countries’ GDPs.

In the past months, two interesting things happened there — the New York Times reported about New Zealand’s first „Wellbeing Budget“, and the Policy Lab of the WEGo came together for the first time to start their actual collaboration. At this first Policy Lab, the two government heads of Scotland and Iceland made some very “Beyond GDP” interesting statements in their opening speeches. I have summarised these developments in a brief blog post on the website of our film project about Wellbeing Governments, which some of you may hopefully find interesting:

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Degrowth vs. the Green New Deal – Briarpatch Magazine

The May/June 2019 issue of Briarpatch is an excellent compilation of articles on a Just Transition. I highly recommend it. Subscribe at http://briarpatchmagazine.com/subscribe or call 1-866-431-577

By Aaron Vansintjan
The Green New Deal has gone mainstream. The idea is to combine a massive federal job creation program with bold action to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels and protect Indigenous rights. Long a buzzword in the U.S. Green Party, a Green New Deal resolution was introduced in February by insurgent Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’ve solidified its scope and demands. Now, Canadian leftist organizations like Courage are presenting their own proposals for a “Green New Deal of the North.” And in March, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh began voicing support for the Green New Deal idea.

But some are wary of proposals like the Green New Deal – they say that it only “greens” the capitalist imperative of perpetual economic growth, which is the true cause of environmental destruction. These critics – degrowthers – believe that to reduce our environmental impacts, we need to scale down energy and material use throughout the economy. This will likely lead to a downturn in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, so we need to restructure the economy so it doesn’t rely on economic growth as an indicator for well-being.


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The Green New Deal: Whither Capitalism?

Socialist Project Toronto, Developing Economics Blog, UK, New School for Social Research, New York,
June 7, 2019

Excerpts from a longer read by Güney Işıkara and Ying Chen

To Grow or Degrow? Or Is There a Third Way?

The way Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and many others phrase the problem in the broader context of social, economic, and environmental grievances caused by capitalism is crucial for setting the terms of debate and struggle. This opens up space the left can use to address such issues in a systematic way rather than being content with symptomal healing. In fact, countless contributions have already been made on theoretical and tactical grounds.1

In this piece, we build on those contributions, and unpack the dynamics inherent to the capitalist system that would need to be addressed in the ongoing discussions. We also shed light on the limitations of a market-based and growth-centered approach to tackling climate destabilization, while offering other domains of political intervention such as property relations and demarketization of subsistence….

The problem asserts itself as a political question insofar as both growth and degrowth are necessary for different domains, industries, social classes, and countries in a differentiated and selective way….

Today, the U.S. holds sufficient economic surplus to support a GND. The real problem lies in that the surplus-owning class refusing to invest into the crucial domain that helps sustain the very ecosystem we currently inhabit, which is as essential as food, clothing, shelter and transportation, if not more so….

One example would be Cuba, which ranks among the top countries according to the human development index as calculated by the UN, mostly contributed by high life expectancy and literacy rate rather than GDP per capita, and still has one of the lowest per-capita ecological footprints globally….

The fact that the living standard of wage labourers has been delinked from GDP growth has an important implication: their well-being can be substantially increased under circumstances of a constant, or even shrinking GDP….

Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. What is to be done? Interrupting the Logic of Capitalism…


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Canadian NGOs launch a “Pact for a Green New Deal”

Canadian NGOs have launched a “Pact for a Green New Deal.” Will they build the movement that’s needed to win real changes?

Socialist labor activist David Camfield, author of We Can Do Better: Ideas for Changing Society, says only a “a social movement larger and more powerful than any in Canadian history,” can win the needed changes.


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Lola Seaton – Green questions (from the New Left Review)

This is an excellent essay summarizing the debate around the Green New Deal and degrowth, and questions of political strategy:

As time rolls on and the ipcc’s deadlines for reducing the rise in global temperatures get closer, the prospect of climate catastrophe looms larger, and the problem of how to avert it becomes ever more pressing. This is the question that has been under discussion in recent numbers of New Left Review. The debate has featured interventions from a number of distinct positions, on both sides of the Atlantic and across different political generations. One way of comparing the contributions is to regard them as providing different answers to the question: what does the world need to cut in order to avoid global disaster?


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Andreas Malm: Revolutionary Strategy in a Warming World

A quite interesting (and long) review of climate change and revolutionary responses, looking at the political, social and economic dynamics of Syria, the seventeenth century Ottoman empire and the Arab spring as examples.

How can climate justice activists stop capitalism’s drive to catastrophe? The author of Fossil Capital considers lessons from past revolutions and proposes an action program for today.


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Has the politics of climate change finally reached a tipping point?

People increasingly see the environmental crisis as a national priority. This is an opportunity for bold action from government


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