This paper by the New Economics Foundation (nef) aims to explore how we can forge a fairer and more equal society to meet the challenges of the twenty- first century, and why fairness and equality matter when it comes to tackling climate change and the global financial crisis.

The paper marks the beginning of a new programme of work at nef that will explore the connections between society, economy and the environment, and draws out their implications for social policy. The central premise of this work is that policy and practice must aim for sustainable social justice.

The paper sets out a suggested framework for a transformed welfare system, reviews the evolution of Britain's welfare system, and sets out six steps with examples to get things moving in the right direction. It argues for a new social settlement that will: promote well-being for all, putting equality at the heart of social policy; give priority to preventing harm so as to concentrate scarce resources on meeting unavoidable needs; make the most of the core economy - human resources that are abundant and yet currently undervalued; seek to make carbon work for social justice, so that measures to reduce carbon emissions help to narrow inequalities; insist that public services are sustainable; and measures success by valuing what matters in social, environmental and economic terms, for the medium and long term.