The Wellbeing Economy in Brief #7: Getting the component parts in order



“…we will take the next step to develop Tasmania’s first Wellbeing Framework…we will engage with Tasmanians, and ensure their wellbeing priorities are Government priorities, supported by the right targets, measures, policies and services” Jeremy Rockcliff, Premier of Tasmania 

There is an important sequence in terms of goals and in terms of government action in regards to the wellbeing economy agenda and its implementation.

As shown in Figure 1 below, building a wellbeing economy is, of course, just the penultimate goal. The topmost objective is a context in which everyone can thrive and the natural world is cherished and protected: the needs of people and planet being met. The economy needs to be designed in a way that enables that. 

In turn, an economy in service of people and planet requires that government incorporates wellbeing goals across the policy cycle, and harnesses policy instruments to shape the economy accordingly. Wellbeing in government is a necessary component of the wellbeing economy project, but not the same as it: it is part of attaining it, not a substitute for it.

Figure 1. The sequence of government contribution to the development of a society that meets the needs of people and planet.

Embedding wellbeing into government

As shown in Figure 2, bringing wellbeing into government itself has an important sequence: 

  • Firstly, understanding what matters to citizens of a country – their vision for what sort of country they want to live in and leave to their grandchildren.
  • Secondly, measuring how far or how close the reality is to that vision.
  • Thirdly, utilising this picture of the current scenario to understand the reasons why attainment is less than desired in certain realms, by looking upstream.
  • Fourthly, utilising the measures and holistic analysis to inform ways of working and policy design that brings to the fore activities aligned with the wellbeing of people and planet and reduce those that are not aligned.
  • Finally, utilising budget mechanism to direct resources and fiscal measures in ways that encourage the various pieces of the wellbeing economy jigsaw.
Figure 2: The sequence of wellbeing into government

A focus on people and planet

As VicHealth explains, the wellbeing economy agenda requires integration into “every corner” of government decision making and supporting decision makers in government to take account of how policy impacts people and planet over the longer term. VicHealth suggests that doing so can help people and policymakers with:   

“Pursuing solutions that have holistic benefits for individuals and communities; Protecting our most marginalised people while also protecting the planet; Taking into account the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs; Addressing challenges that often fall between governmental departments.”  

Similarly, the OECD is clear that that a wellbeing approach can support better policy-making by helping to: “1 Refocus policy actions on the outcomes that matter most to people and the most urgent priorities; 2 Redesign policies and programs taking a ‘triple win’ approach (well-being, sustainability and inclusion); 3 Realign policy and practice across government silos; 4 Reconnect people with the public (and private) institutions that support them.”

About the Wellbeing Economy in Brief Series

These mini-briefings look at the idea of a wellbeing economy, how it relates to other ideas for economic change, and what some of the core elements of a wellbeing economy are. They reflect on why Australia needs to build a wellbeing economy.

This series of ‘mini-briefings’ attempts to clarify terms and expressions and associated wellbeing economy ideas so that discussions can take place from a basis of shared understanding and language.

Read the rest of the series