Wellbeing economy toolkit: supporting place based economic strategy and policy development

This practical guide sets out a stage-by-stage diagnostic process designed to aid decision making and prioritisation of economic interventions to facilitate the transition to local and regional wellbeing economies.

How do we transition to a wellbeing economy?

The Scottish Government is working to make the transition to a wellbeing economy that is based on four principles: prosperity, equality, sustainability and resilience. Models and frameworks for building a wellbeing economy vary, though they share some key aspects and goals. Features of the approach that the Scottish Government is working to apply across our strategies and policies include:

  • Taking an open, transparent, participatory approach to developing strategy and policy, involving those impacted by the policy, empowering citizens and diverse communities
  • Setting a clear purpose and vision for economic policy and activity, focused on collective wellbeing
  • Establishing clear outcomes and metrics for measuring if and how our economy is delivering wellbeing for people, place and planet (see Annex A on Scotland’s national-level Wellbeing Economy Monitor)
  • Taking an evidence-based (qualitative and quantitative), whole-systems view to understand the key drivers of wellbeing outcomes, how they interrelate, and which have the greatest impact
  • Adopting a preventative approach by focusing interventions on upstream parts of the system to avoid negative impacts on outcomes downstream and building long-term resilience
  • Embedding inclusion, equality and fairness into economic policy from the outset, working with and empowering communities and citizens to gain a greater stake in the economy and removing barriers to participation
  • Monitoring, evaluating and encouraging continuous learning, being open to innovative and experimental approaches
  • Being guided by our values, set out in the NPF, to treat people with kindness, dignity and compassion, to respect the rule of law, and to act in an open, transparent way.

The Scottish Government’s strategic priorities provide clear direction for economic policy. These include tackling child poverty and addressing the twin nature crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Scotland’s targets and legislation designed to drive progress towards these priorities and the National Outcomes, supported by a wide range of strategies, policies and regulations, can be considered important building blocks of a wellbeing economy. Within the local and regional economic development context, the Scottish Government has adopted the internationally recognised Community Wealth Building (CWB) approach as a key practical means by which we can achieve our wellbeing economy objectives.

A balanced, holistic approach should be taken to address the wellbeing of both people and planet. A broad range of environmental sustainability issues should be considered, including opportunities for protecting and restoring natural assets, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a circular economy – also recognising the range of wider benefits this can create for improving health and wellbeing, tackling inequalities and supporting green jobs and businesses. The Environment Strategy for Scotland provides an overview of the range of environmental sustainability issues that can be considered.

While the principles of a wellbeing economy are relevant across the country, different localities and regions within Scotland face different opportunities and challenges. Each area has unique geographical features – which can impact on transport links or natural assets – varying types and sizes of both economic and social institutions, and diverse populations with unique demographic and skill profiles.


Email: NSET@gov.scot

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