Experts back call to transform Scotland’s economy, protect the planet and provide wellbeing for all

25 Feb 2022

Calls for radical, transformative changes to Scotland’s economy in order to ensure wellbeing for all within our environmental limits have been backed by almost 40 leading economists and environment academics.

In advance of the publication by the Scottish Government of its new economic strategy on Tuesday 1 March, these experts have endorsed Ten Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy produced by the ‘Transform Our Economy’ alliance. 

These ideas outline a new purpose at the heart of our economy: providing wellbeing for all within environmental limits. They will require the government to set the trajectory for the economy and present a credible plan for delivery using all the powers at their disposal.

The alliance, comprising Scottish Environment LINK’s Economics Group, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, is also calling for much more extensive public debate about the direction of our economy and believes that participation from workers, affected communities and those who are in greatest need of economic transformation is badly needed to achieve the transformation required.

Matthew Crighton, Sustainable Economy Adviser at Friends of the Earth Scotland said, 

“In the midst of climate and nature emergencies, with too many people trapped in poverty and businesses still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, there is no question that economic transformation is needed.

“In the face of these challenges, the Scottish Government must plot a new direction in building a truly sustainable and just economy that can meet people’s needs.

“Recent history has shown us there is a persistent gap between high-level aspirations and the actual performance of the government in effectively intervening in the economy in Scotland. The fear is that the new economic strategy won’t redesign the economy, but will instead continue to deliver inequality and environmental destruction.

“We look forward to a transformative economic agenda that can provide sufficient investment to deliver a just transition to zero carbon, integrate the protection of nature into economic decision making and ensure social equity and participation by currently marginalised groups.”

Professor Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey and acclaimed author of Prosperity Without Growth said:

With the forthcoming 10-year Strategy for Economic Transformation the Scottish Government has a unique opportunity to make Scotland a global example of an economy that is fit to address the challenges of the 21st century, delivering wellbeing for all within environmental limits.

To do that, the Strategy needs to put at its heart care for people and planet, it needs to build on meaningful participation of those at the sharp end of our economy, and it needs to put in place measures which will give priority to ensuring people’s wellbeing rather than the pursuit of GDP growth for its own sake.”

The ten points proposed by the ‘Transform our Economy’ group offer a robust framework for building such a strategy. The Scottish Government would be well advised to take note.”

Professor Jan Webb, Professor of Sociology of Organisations, University of Edinburgh, and one of the 38 signatories, said:

“Orthodox economic strategy aims to maximise GDP, and then to make some adjustments for fairness and environmental harms. A transformative strategy, fit for addressing climate emergency and major inequalities, has to direct all economic action to achieving a fair, and sustainable, society. This means all investment prioritises decent work, zero waste, biodiversity and climate protection. I hope the Scottish Government will respond promptly and constructively to the Transform Our Economy alliance.”

The headings of the Ten Key Points are:

  1. The goal: wellbeing for all within environmental limits
  2. Setting specific economic objectives to care for people and the planet
  3. Using all the tools available to government to meet those objectives
  4. Policies must show how the objectives can be achieved
  5. Combat economic pressures which are helping cause the problems
  6. Public priorities must lead the direction of development of the economy
  7. Clear tests for all investment programmes
  8. Measure performance through metrics which matter
  9. An economic strategy for all sectors – economic transformation as a national mission
  10. An inclusive and participatory process


They have been endorsed by the following 38 leading academics:

Mike Danson,  Professor Emeritus of Enterprise Policy, Heriot-Watt University

James Curran,  Visiting Professor, Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Strathclyde

Victoria Chick,  Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London

Dan O’Neill,  Associate Professor in Ecological Economics, University of Leeds

Julia Steinberger, Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change, University of Lausanne

Malcolm Sawyer, Emeritus Professor, Leeds University Business School

Molly Scott-Cato,  Professor of Green Economics, Roehampton University

Prof Christine Cooper,   Professor of Accounting, Edinburgh University

Laurie Macfarlane, Head of Patient Finance, Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, UCL

Camilla Toulmin,  Professor in Practice at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University

Beth Stratford,  Fellow New Economics Foundation and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Gregor Gall,  Affiliate Research Associate at the University of Glasgow

Grace Blakeley, Author and journalist

Nancy Folbre, Professor Emerita of Economics, University of Massachusetts

Eurig Scandrett,  Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen Margaret University

Andrew Mearman,  Associate Professor of Economics, Leeds University

John Barry, Professor, Queen’s University Belfast

Gary Dymski,  Professor of Applied Economics, Leeds University

Yannis Dafermos, Senior Lecturer in Economics, SOAS

Mark Huxham, Professor, School of Applied Sciences, Napier University

Elizabeth Bomberg, Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Edinburgh

Dennis Mollison, Emeritus Professor of Applied Probability, Heriot-Watt 


Karen Bell, Senior Lecturer in Urban Sustainable Development, Glasgow University

Elena Hofferberth,  PhD student, Leeds University Business School

Tim Hayward,  Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

Miriam Brett,  Director of Research and Advocacy, Common Wealth

Andy Watterson,  Professor, Public Health Researcher, Stirling University

Danny Wight,  Professor, Institute of health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow

Claire Duncanson, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Edinburgh

Donald McKenzie,  Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Josh Ryan-Collins,  Senior Research Fellow in Economics and Finance

Maria Nikolaidi,  Associate Professor in Economics, Greenwich University


Contact details

Matthew Crighton,
07851 348426 


Editors’ Notes

(1)  The Scottish Government’s announcement of its National Strategy for Economic Transformation can be found here

(2) The statement with Ten Key Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy can be read here

(3) Concerns raised by the Transform Our Economy alliance about engagement in the process of preparing the strategy can be read in this blog

(4)  Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with over 35 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society

(5) The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is a collaboration of organisations, movements and individuals working to transform the economic system into one that delivers social justice on a healthy planet. Our Allies network includes businesses, national NGOs and grassroots movement.

(6) Friends of the Earth Scotland is: Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation; an independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland; part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups


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