A Wales that cares: People, planet, and green skills – A focus on sustainability and equality

We recently participated in an event organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) and Oxfam Cymru highlighting fair work.

At Cynnal Cymru, we recognise that we are not the only organisation in Wales working to make sustainability challenges, and their solutions, visible and relatable.

Engaging with others is a key part of what we do and what we learn we try to share – through our advice and action planning, training – and posts like these.

We recently participated in an event organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) and Oxfam Cymru which highlighted the importance of acknowledging and valuing unpaid (or poorly paid) labour, a form of work that is predominantly undertaken by women across the globe and is often unrecognised.

This intersection of work and justice is close to our hearts. Cynnal Cymru is the Living Wage accreditation partner for Wales and we see Fair Work as a critical cornerstone of any equitable society and economy.

If this issue also touches you, please read on for more insights from the event from our Sustainability Strategist Karolina and further resources around the care economy, alternative economic models, inequality and climate.

A Wales that cares: People, planet, and green skills – A focus on sustainability and equality – IWA and Oxfam Cymru April 2024

I was curious and excited to attend this event and to explore how a Wales that prioritises people and the planet could be constructed. A key takeaway was that this cannot be done without first recognising and fairly rewarding unpaid (or poorly paid) labour, a form of work that is predominantly undertaken by women and is often unrecognised.

The event featured a series of debates and conversations, ignited by thought-provoking presentations by:

  • Anam Parvez , Head of Research, Oxfam GB, on care, climate justice and inequality – a perspective from the UK
  • Leah Payud, Portfolio Manager, Oxfam Philippines, on care, climate justice and gendered dimensions – a perspective from the global South.
  • Erinch Sahan, Business and Enterprise Lead, DEAL, on doughnut economics and alternative economic models
  • Helen Lucocq, Head of Strategy and Policy, Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, on doughnut economics and alternative economic models in Wales.

The takeaways that we’d like to share, including resources from the event or found subsequently, are:

Necessity of a Paradigm Shift:

It’s crucial that we progress beyond using GDP as the only indicator of success. This measure has shown to be patriarchal and has been globally implemented with devastating consequences. To truly understand its impact on our climate, it’s worth listening to Mia Motely’s discussion on the imperative need for systemic change and a compelling story from Gabon.

Significance of the Care Economy:

It’s undeniable that women bear a disproportionate burden of caregiving duties. For a just transition to occur, it’s essential to recognise and appreciate these contributions. During periods of transition, it’s crucial to consider all forms of paid and unpaid labour, as the most overlooked types are often the most affected and necessary. To gain a deeper understanding, visit Oxfam’s website dedicated to care in the UK and listen to these two insightful podcasts here and here, plus an episode about the staggering amount of money women in the care sector send back home.

Making change in Wales:

If you are in a position where you can help reset this balance in Wales you can watch how one social care provider became a Living Wage employer here.

Interconnection of Climate and Inequality:

Climate change tends to exacerbate existing social inequalities, with minority groups often bearing the brunt. Those burdened with caring responsibilities are often left to protect and rebuild with little or no external support. Thus, climate action and disaster preparedness plans should be inclusive, considering those with caring responsibilities and people with disabilities. In this regard, developing nations have made significant strides, providing valuable lessons for developed nations. For further information, you can read stories of preparedness with gender in mind, about the impact of climate on women in rural areas, listen to the episode about preparedness in Bangladesh, heartbreaking stories about the impact on women due to climate; and about the lack of consideration for people with disabilities in action plans.

The Doughnut Model – A New Business Paradigm:

The Doughnut Model is an innovative framework for redesigning businesses to address both environmental and social needs. System thinking skills are indispensable for facilitating this transition. To learn more, visit the Doughnut Lab.

Green Jobs & Just Transition Across All Sectors, Including Care:

The definition of green skills needs to be broadened to prevent exacerbating existing social inequalities.

Real Stories of Possibility:

There are countless solutions out there; they encompass technology, politics, socio-cultural changes, and are entirely achievable. Let’s make sure to share these inspiring stories! For a wealth of uplifting and inspiring stories, I recommend People Fixing the World.

The event spurred numerous questions:

  • What could these alternative metrics to GDP look like, and how can they be effectively implemented?
  • How can we ensure a just transition that benefits everyone, not just those with privilege?

We look forward to seeing these insightful discussions developed into a comprehensive position paper, which IWA should soon publish.

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