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Growth without wellbeing brings no lasting progress, Business Day 06.10.2015

by Lorenzo Fioramonti, GovInn director

Lorenzo Fioramonti

Lorenzo Fioramonti

THE world economic outlook is pretty grim. Not only have we not come out of the 2008 crisis, but the deceleration of the Chinese “powerhouse” is now threatening to sink the global economy into a prolonged double-dip recession that may last for decades.

The Chinese debacle, just like the one in the US that started the global downturn, has been caused by the obsession with economic growth. Both bubbles overheated in the decades preceding the burst, fuelled by huge spending through the accumulation of debt. This madness was celebrated by mainstream economists, analysts, global institutions and influential media as a sign of progress: it was the golden age of growth.

It was a fake and some of us have been saying that all along. Not only did the global economy accumulate unprecedented debt, but it did so at a huge cost to society and the environment. The social debt is evident in the rise of inequality globally and within countries. Extreme inequality in the US is well documented and China is catching up. The most recent surveys of income distribution indicate that China is among the most unequal societies in the world. Moreover, the Chinese leadership fears that the social debt will soon trigger unrest.

Read the full article on Business Day: “Growth without wellbeing brings no lasting progress”

Lorenzo at the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

Strategies for sustainable wellbeing: Lorenzo Fioramonti at the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

The Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0 officially kicked off with a two day workshop in Berlin (Germany) in early February 2015. The Lab aims to shift institutions beyond the pursuit of narrowly measured parameters of economic progress (such as growth) to broader aims that translate into sustainable wellbeing for our societies.

GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti  was among the 25 innovators invited to the Lab from all over the world. He had the opportunity to discover new ways of looking at leadership, sustainable development and wellbeing, as he tells us in this interview.

Lorenzo at the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

Lorenzo Fioramonti speaking at one of the sessions of the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0, Berlin 2015

 

What is the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0?

Lorenzo Fioramonti: These Labs are an initiative of the Global Leadership Academy, a programme funded by the German government to convene “thought leaders” and innovators from all walks of life and from all over the world to discuss, network and share ideas about promoting change at the global scale. In particular, the Wellbeing Lab focuses on new approaches to economic progress and what type of cultural, social and political change we need to build a different economy. It is led by Prof. Otto Scharmer, from the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) and world renowned for his Theory U, and co-hosted by the Presencing Institute in Boston (USA) and the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan.

What happened in Berlin?

The Berlin kick-off event was a very enriching gathering of extremely motivated individuals, from very different backgrounds. There were young innovators from the Silicon Valley, like Nipun Metha, who gave a very inspiring TED Talk on the economy of generosity watched by tens of thousands of viewers. We had the first lady of the State of Oregon, Cylvia Hayes, who is a dedicated environmentalist and has led the introduction of the Genuine Progress Indicator in Oregon.  There was also my friend Katherine Trebeck from Oxfam, who has developed the Humankind Index (another great Ted Talk to watch).
We had managers from the clothing giant Eileen Fisher and Google’s sale manager, Alfred Tolle. We then had representatives of various governments, from Costa Rica to Brazil, USA, Vietnam and the UK. From South Africa, I was joined by Louise Van Rhyn of Symphonia and Mary Jane Morifi from the Nelson Mandela Children Hospital Trust.

We were invited to spend a few days, in almost complete isolation, in the beautiful ecological resort of Landgut A. Borsig, one of the hallmarks of the civil resistance against Hitler. It was a great opportunity to share ideas on how to foster a well-being based economic transition for our countries.

Lorenzo Fioramonti from Presencing Institute on Vimeo.

How does the Lab work?

LF: This first meeting gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better. Indeed, the Lab will continue for 2 years and will become a ‘journey’ taking us to different locations around the world. It’s designed as a space for reflection, but also as an incubator for action. It is based on the Theory U approach, which shows how collective change is ultimately the outcome of a journey. This journey includes personal change as well as continuous interaction with likeminded individuals from different cultural backgrounds. We all share a conviction that the current economic system is not delivering on wellbeing, but the journey will help us identify a common ground on how to make the change happen in practice. Academics, business leaders, government officials and civic activists are all brought together to shape this intellectual and personal journey over the course of the next two years.

What is happening next?

LF: We will start scanning interesting social innovations in South Africa and then bring them back into our global debate. We will also need to identify ideas for change that could become prototypes for action. In May we will then meet again in Bhutan, where we have been officially invited by the government. After that, the journey will take us to other destinations. In the end, the initiative aims to build a strong network of leaders and innovators with a set of shared practical ideas to change the world!

2015 Africa Prosperity Summit: “Promoting Wealth and Wellbeing”

Legatum InstituteAn interesting event for those who, like us at GovInn, are researching new economic governance.
The 2015 Africa Prosperity Summit: Promoting Wealth and Wellbeing, promoted by the Legatum Institute with the support of the Ford Foundation, is taking place in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on 20-21 May 2015.

 

The conference will focus on four key themes:

  • How data can promote shared prosperity
  • Stoking African innovation: ways and means
  • Business values for prosperity
  • Personal safety and national prosperity

Keynote Speakers

  • Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the Royal Africa Society
  • Marieme Jamme, CEO of SpotOne Global Solutions
  • David McGinty, Team Manager of Human Development Innovation Fund

Registration closes on 20 February 2015.
For more information on how to take part in the summit check the Legatum Institute website

About the Legatum Institute

The Legatum Institute is an international think-tank and educational charity. Its aim is to promote prosperity by revitalising capitalism and democracy. The Legatum Prosperity Index, our signature publication, ranks 142 countries in terms of wealth and wellbeing.