To solve the social, economioc, and environmental challenges we face today, we need to rethink the status quo. Governments and other institutions around the world need to embrace new ways of thinking and surely engage in widespread systems innovations to make real progress towards a healthier, more prosperous world. Yet most continue to to frame their work within traditional economic models, without recognizing the damage it’s causing to society and the planet. This framing often manifests in downstream measures. While efforts tomitigate the effects of larger problems are vitally important, they do not attend to their root causes and interconnectedness.
Instead, we need an economic system that takes a preventative approach to socail and environmental challenges to ensure that the kinds of related, follow-on problems mentioned above do not occur in the first place. Thankfully, the wheels are alredy starting to turn. Some countries are expanding how they measure economic success in a way that includes well-being and sustantiability. They are working together to envision and implement a new economic model called the “well-being economy”. The well-being economy has a diverse array of ideas and actions aimed at advancing social well-being through overnance structures that support peaceful co-existence and meet basic human needs. A well-being economy provides people with equal opportunities for advancement, a sense of social inclusion and stability.
-The Limitation of Economic Growth-
Over the past 40 years, human activity and the prioritization of economic growth over factors such as equality, education, health and social relationships has depleted Earth’s natural resources faster than they can replenish. According to the Living Planet Index, the planet’s biodiversity continues to decrease, while drought, wildfires, and extreme temperatures increase. This environmental degration has a profound impact on the global population’s health and economic security. An estimate 7 million deaths are linked to high pollution levels every year, for example, and by 030, between 68 to 132 million people will be living in poverty as a direct result.
The prevailing economic system of capitalism uses metrics such as the GDP (Gross National Product) to measure societies success, while frequently disregarding socio-economic inequalities and impacts on global health and well-being. According to the 2018 World Inequality Report, income inequality has increased at global levels since 1980. The same report estimates that that although the average income of the bottom 50% of the global population has risen during the last decades, those individuals earned half the income compared to 1% of richest individuals. Gender inequalities persist globally as well, with the United Nations estimating that women earn 16% less than men on average globally.
Economic inequalities harm societies; it can increase anxieties and illness and fuel social and political unrest. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated health, economic, and social issues, and has prompted some governments to rethink the definition of a healthy and prosperous societyand consider how the economy can support greater global well-being.