At the recent World Economic Summit in Davos, Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, announced that her government will publish the world’s first wellbeing budget in May this year.
Rather than being an add-on to a conventional budget, the wellbeing budget will permeate all aspects of government finance and have long-term goals and funding.
There will be key priority areas focused on intergenerational change, including living standards, human, social and natural capital, while areas of special concern will be mental health, climate change, digital transformation, social exclusion, health, housing and domestic violence.
Ardern believes neo-capitalism and the move away from kindness in social policy which we have seen in recent decades has created social problems which are giving rise to civil unrest, posing a threat to the world’s democracies and leading to the rise of nationalism, isolationism, protectionism and the abandonment of global institutions.
She said: “At a time when the international rules-based order is under strain and leaders around the world are grappling with understandably dissatisfied constituencies, I hope this wellbeing approach will provide a model which others, in turn might look to.
“I wholeheartedly believe that more compassionate domestic policies are a compelling alternative to the false promise of protectionism and isolation.”
Several governments have appointed ministers for happiness and wellbeing to bring a focus to this important area of policy, but this is the first time a government has opted to orientate all its major policies in this way.
It’s significant to hear our industry being proposed as part of the solution to such fundamental global issues and heralds challenging times, full of opportunities for us to be useful.