Paving the way to the New Economy

19 March 2014

Natalie Nicholls of the New Economics Foundation was in Auckland recently talking about what role we all play in creating an economy where people and planet matter. Read on to find out 5 top things we learnt…

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) is a UK based think tank which works to create social, economic and environmental justice.  Natalie Nicholls, Associate Director of NEF Consulting, has been in New Zealand working with various sectors (local government, civil and corporate) to understand what role they play in the new economy and how they can support it.  This year SBN is working to put community at the heart of business, and we believe this is an issue in which everyone has a role to play.

However, it can be hard to understand how you can create change and how to measure your impacts.  Here are our top five tips from the New Economics Foundation’s presentation:

1.       Individual wellbeing and happiness is key to a more just economic environment

NEF was commissioned to do an in-depth analysis of what wellbeing means, and how it relates to societal development.  It has developed a dynamic model of individual wellbeing, which identifies the key path to wellbeing.  Statistics show that whilst GDP has increased, life satisfaction has decreased and pay inequality is soaring.

NEF graph for story

2.       Know what the value is that you provide

In order to be able to articulate what benefit you have (whether this is required for suppliers, customers, shareholders or your own satisfaction), you need to understand and talk about the value that you are adding to your communities.  This is different from your vision –  it’s how you are making sure that you achieve that vision in everything you do. 

3.       Measure your impact

Once you know why you do what you do, you must be able to prove it.  Whether you’re a social enterprise working with disabled communities, or a corporate with the fittest, happiest employee base in NZ, if you can measure that, you can show why you are a valuable partner to have.   

The measurement of social and environmental impacts is still debated, but there are various systems available.  Carbon foot printing, social return on investment, and environmental accreditation systems like Enviro-Mark and Environmental Choice are a good starting point.

 4.       Be in the positive

As long as the value of your work is providing more social and environmental benefits than the costs of delivering on them, you’re providing value, so celebrate it!

5.       Transformation won’t happen if we work alone 

We all realise that there are significant environmental problems that we need to address (for information about those, see our Doughnut Economics article).  If we continue to work as individual organisations we are in danger of becoming overwhelmed, however we have a great opportunity to work collaboratively through key framing of the issues to galvanise and create a movement. 

 Click here to see the video of Natalie’s session at Auckland Council’s Conversation series.