When people are able to create good lives for themselves, their families and their communities, and when nature is able to flourish and teem with life, only then can we say we have a healthy economy.
Every election year invites us to decide which track to go down when considering our communities and papatūānuku.
What is currently working well?
What are our most pressing problems?
What can we prioritise to enhance the wellbeing of people and nature?
We write this open letter as a diverse group of organisations and individuals united in our belief that Aotearoa New Zealand has exciting opportunities for designing economic policies that invest in the public good to promote greater wellbeing for people and nature. Where we step away from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as our measure of success and instead look around us, to our mokopuna and the whenua.
There is a decent basis to build from - in Aotearoa we see the enterprise of communities, Iwi, workers and businesses that are ensuring prosperity within planetary boundaries. We want to support and strengthen these sorts of enterprises and enable more communities to live fulfilling lives connected to nature.
However we hear the cries of people and nature in distress. Despite rising levels of GDP people are caught in cycles of poverty and despair, unable to find warm and safe housing or to buy sufficient food for the whole family. Nature is groaning under the weight of human exploitation and wasteful behaviour.
We hear the voices of future generations asking us to be good ancestors. We hear the urgency of our responsibility to address the climate crisis, so that we don’t pass on climate debt, but instead pass on fair opportunities for our grandchildren to create good lives.
We know that our economy is a product of decisions and design. Our elected representatives have the power to redesign our economic systems and policies to meet our aspirations for people and nature. We therefore endorse five principles of a wellbeing economy:
Dignity: Everyone has enough to live in comfort, safety, and happiness.
Nature: A restored and safe natural world for all life.
Purpose: Institutions serve the common good and create real value.
Fairness: Justice is at the heart of the economy.
Participation: Citizens are actively engaged in their communities and locally rooted economies.
In this election year, let us listen carefully to how Aotearoa New Zealand can design economic policies to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality, support workers, see justice and fairness, restore nature, and increase connection and social cohesion. Let us refer to these long-term, critically important goals as our ‘bread and butter issues’.
Let us this year draw inspiration from our history. Te Tiriti o Waitangi is our foundational document empowering movements of decolonisation, social justice and environmental care. New Zealand led the world when women won the right to vote and workers accepted a levy to fund social security.
More recently, New Zealand has been a leader in the Pacific for a nuclear-free future. We have been at the forefront of implementing new measures to monitor living standards and trialling new policies based on Social Investment and Wellbeing Budgets.
1. Listen to and follow Indigenous wisdom
2. Embed and strengthen a wellbeing approach within government that encourages long-term thinking
3. Use tax and budgets to build a meaningful wellbeing economy
4. Empower citizens and communities
5. Prosperous businesses in a thriving Aotearoa
6. An economy connected to nature
We can protect the places we love and ensure a good life for everyone, today and into the future, by building an economy that works with and for nature. New Zealand is currently living well beyond its share of planetary boundaries. We can use circular design principles and enshrine the rights of nature in law, like we did with the Whanganui River. Through policies such as a Ministry of Green Works, a new Natural Environment Act and driving a decarbonized economy, we can kick-start a just transition.
Spreading and amplifying powerful narratives of hope to change the debate and inspire New Zealanders from all walks of life and strengthening; and supporting and connecting existing mahi to build a movement for a Wellbeing Economy.
Members have participated in global forums, collaborated internationally to craft the Wellbeing Policy Design Guide which was launched in 2020 and trialled in Aotearoa.
The WEAll Aotearoa Hub has been active hosting webinars and events across Aotearoa, commenting in the media and speaking at conferences. In 2023 WEAll Aotearoa planning an Economy for Public Good campaign, Economics Listening tour and hosting the Economy for the Public Good conference at AUT August 31 to promote policies to advance a Wellbeing Economy.