Posted: Tue 9th Jul 2024

Welsh economy needs shift in focus to people and planet says think tank

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) and Oxfam Cymru have issued a call for a new economic strategy in Wales, emphasising the need to prioritise both people and the planet.

Their publication, “A Wales That Cares for People and Planet,” warns that transitioning to a greener economy could exacerbate existing inequalities unless the Welsh Government takes decisive action.

The report, launched to coincide with the publication of the Welsh Government’s Legislative Programme, argues for a departure from traditional economic metrics like Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Instead, it urges Ministers to adopt a new economic path that places well-being at the core of economic policies.

“Existing metrics such as GDP miss vital parts of a successful economy, failing to consider the quality of life of the people who contribute to it,” the report states.

“They do not account for care, which encompasses activities such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, and caring for children. These activities are unpaid and invisible, yet they enable the economy to function.”

Labelling care as a “hidden subsidy” to the economy, the report highlights the need for a greener and more robust care infrastructure.

It draws lessons from countries prone to natural disasters, where climate change is already significantly impacting marginalised communities, to demonstrate why Wales must pivot from current economic systems.

Moreover, the report calls for the Welsh Government to embed a feminist approach in its policymaking.

This approach would address power imbalances, acknowledge how different genders experience economic policies differently, and ensure equal opportunities and rights for everyone, regardless of gender.

Joe Rossiter, Co-Director of IWA, emphasised the necessity of abandoning outdated economic models. “We will not achieve a just transition by recycling old economic models founded solely on GDP. In Wales, much of our everyday life depends on forms of work that do damage both to people and the environment. We need to do things differently, starting from the very foundations of our economy, using an approach based on climate and social justice.”

Sarah Rees, Head of Oxfam Cymru, echoed this sentiment, stressing the urgency of the challenges faced today. “The challenges facing our world today are unprecedented both in scale and urgency. Conflict, climate change, inequality, and environmental degradation threaten to unravel the very fabric of civilisation. In Wales, we have a chance to defy the odds and emerge as a beacon of hope in these turbulent times by prioritising policies that put people and the planet first.”

Rees added, “National success isn’t just about money, but about happy communities and a healthy environment. It’s time for the First Minister to pursue new ways of growing our economy that value caring for each other, protecting our climate, and making sure everyone has an equal shot at a good life. Together, we can lead the way in building a fairer, greener world.”

The report calls for a new economic strategy that includes new indicators capturing well-being rather than prioritising GDP. It also recommends that the Welsh Government establish a cross-sector working group to explore practical applications of alternative economic models in Wales.

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