Wellbeing Economy

Social Enterprise Scotland recently published a fantastic article ‘Taking action to protect future generations’ on the Wellbeing & Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill that launched in December. We wanted to look at the concept of a well-being economy that is discussed in the article and what policy is currently in place to make this a reality in Scotland. 

So what is a well-being economy and what does it mean for Scotland if it can be achieved? 

Angel Gurría, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General in the September 2019 commentary ‘The Economy of Wellbeing’ notes that 'we can’t measure about 40% of the 169 SDG targets for OECD countries – meaning we can’t tell whether we are on track to meet them by 2030 or not.’ 

The SDG targets are linked to the well-being economy so it is highly important that we have the processes required to measure our progress towards achieving them. Unfortunately, many OECD states still have huge inequalities in education, pay, healthcare and social care, meaning more needs to be done to address these issues and create a better society in the future.

The Stanford University Innovation Review writes that ‘A well-being economy provides people with equal opportunities for advancement, a sense of social inclusion, and stability—all of which contribute to human resilience—and, importantly, sustains and supports harmony with the natural world.’ The OECD as a result is advocating for all member states to adopt an Inclusive Growth Framework.

Adopting this framework signals a move away from GDP as the key indicator of a country's prosperity, to one that looks at natural capital indicators like C02 gas emissions and biodiversity, as well as human capital factors like low education attainment, child poverty and social capital issues such as the gender pay gap. It allows Scotland to prosper in all areas of society in a much more sustainable way. 

What is Scotland doing to create a well-being economy?

Scotland has developed its own version of the Inclusive Growth Framework, the National Performance Framework which aims to achieve the following outcomes: 

  • create a more successful country 
  • give opportunities to all people living in Scotland 
  • increase the well-being of people living in Scotland 
  • create sustainable and inclusive growth 

To complement this, a Wellbeing Monitor has been developed to provide a baseline for assessing progress towards the development of a well-being economy in Scotland and the national outcomes. Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy writes; ‘Our Wellbeing Economy Monitor has been developed to look beyond GDP to measure how Scotland's economy contributes to improving things that people really value, such as health, equality, fair work and environmental sustainability.’

The framework, the monitor, the current consultation on well-being and sustainability and the appointment of a Future Generations Commissioner means we are moving in the right direction, but there is still work to be done. 

Social Enterprises already have the values of the Inclusive Growth Framework and the National Performance Framework at their core. They support communities to advance, and they work to protect the environment. This is why we were so pleased to see Scottish Parliament welcome the publication of the new Social Enterprise Census report and recognise the need for increased support of the sector and its contribution to achieving a well-being society in Scotland.