By Dr Katherine Trebeck, Policy and Knowledge Lead at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance

THESE days it seems that more and more aspects of life are unpredictable and even scary – from extreme weather events, to elections, to job security. The majority of us increasingly feel that the factors that shape our lives are beyond our control, and the pressures we face continue to mount.

It’s little wonder, then, that more and more people are grasping for something different.

Individuals might be recognising that change is needed, but the economy writ large seems determined to go on with the same old methods that are starting to wear thin. At the same time, the methods of the 20th century economy are bringing fewer and fewer benefits (for fewer and fewer people) and even increasing harm.

Calls to “grow the pie” as a solution to poverty ignore the reality that the oven is only so big. A conversation about better sharing of the pie is more necessary than ever, within and between countries.

Today Oxfam revealed the poorest half of the global population (3.8 billion people) saw their wealth decline by 11 per cent last year. While they were having to make do with less, billionaires’ fortunes rose 12 per cent – or $2.5 billion a day. This inequality epidemic undermines the fight against poverty, but it is also contributing to the widespread desire for change.

Ideas for change were out in force at a conference convened by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in South Korea last November: their sixth Wellbeing Forum. Surrounded by experts and practitioners from around the world, Scotland’s Chief Economist, Gary Gillespie, took to the stage and gave cause for hope as he launched the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership.

WEGo brings together national and regional governments, including the likes of New Zealand and Iceland. It will promote sharing of expertise and best practice in designing an economy in service of collective good.

In our new book The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a grown-up economy, Jeremy Williams and I reimagine what global economic progress could mean if it stops meaning growth. We set out a vision of an economy that works for all, as well as the steps to get there.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves: what good is growth that damages the things we value most – community, relationships and our own health? Being obsessed with growth alone is the economic equivalent of asking a five-year -old’s parents how tall she is, but not caring if she can read, or if her social skills are coming along. And would you ask a 22-year-oldf she’s still growing?

After it has done its job, growth becomes irrelevant: we all reach a stage where we’re grown up. It’s time to have this conversation about the economy and imagine an economy not defined by or dependent on growth, one that has arrived and now needs to make itself at home.

Scotland is a prime candidate to be one of the first world economies to embrace this possibility – it can become a champion of sharing wealth better and making better use of resources.

The Scottish Government is well placed to lead the way in the fight against inequality, having already laid the foundations to begin building a fairer country. What’s needed now is for Scotland to keep building on this progress and demonstrate to the rest of the world that we may be a small country, but our ideas are big.