An economics of happiness

Directors of the Economics of Happiness conference
Greenhouse PR
An international conference in Bristol will explore how we can put wellbeing and sustainability before profit.

Rather than attempting to solve every problem by growing the economy, we need to focus instead on meeting real human and ecological needs. This is what we mean by the economics of happiness.

An international Economics of Happiness conference, co-hosted by Local Futures and Happy City, will bring prominent and respected thinkers, activists and innovators to Bristol later this month to debate the creation of a new economy that supports flourishing lives and a thriving planet. 

Hosted across multiple city centre venues from 19-21 October 2018, the conference will coincide with the annual summit of the Global Parliament of Mayors, which is also taking place in Bristol.

The Economics of Happiness conference - the eighteenth in an international series - will explore and explain how we can shift direction from a globalised system of inequality and environmental degradation towards local cultures and economies that put wellbeing and resilience first.

Tipping point 

Internationally-recognised experts will come together with local leaders and activists for a series of plenary talks, panel discussions and workshops on the global-to-local theme. Topics include local food systems, the role of business in a wellbeing economy and the future of cities.

Pioneer of the new economy movement and conference co-host, Helena Norberg-Hodge said: “This conference is a unique opportunity to discuss the ‘big picture’ - moving beyond the narrow Left/Right parameters of conventional economic thinking to look at root causes and root solutions.

Rather than attempting to solve every problem by growing the economy, we need to focus instead on meeting real human and ecological needs. This is what we mean by the economics of happiness.

“Rather than attempting to solve every problem by growing the economy, we need to focus instead on meeting real human and ecological needs. This is what we mean by the economics of happiness.

“The world is at a tipping point - culturally, socially and economically. We urgently need to reclaim our sense of community and our connection to place.”

Writer and broadcaster, Jonathan Dimbleby, who will be moderating at the conference, added: “Events like this, which are driven by a fierce passion for doing good in the world, are always a strong draw for me. I chaired a Local Futures conference in London some years ago,and found the combination of expert speakers, real world examples and practical solutions highly stimulating.”

Keynote speakers 

  • Stewart Wallis– co-founder of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance and a former director of the New Economics Foundation, Stewart is well known for advocating the transition to a new economic system and was awarded an OBE in 2002 for his work with Oxfam.
  • Colin Tudge – biologist by training and writer by trade, Colin established the Campaign for Real Farming in 2008, the Oxford Real Farming Conference in 2010 and the College for Real Farming and Food Culture in 2016.
  • Liz Zeidler – chief executive and founding director of Happy City, Liz and her team recently launched the Thriving Places Index, the most comprehensive analysis of how well local authorities are doing at creating the conditions for people to thrive ever undertaken.
  • Andrew Simms – author, analyst and campaigner, Andrew co-founded the New Weather Institute think tank and is a research associate at the Centre for Global Political Economy.
  • Stephan Harding– respected author and director of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College, Stephan is renowned for his inspirational teaching on deep ecology.
  • Chloe Hardy – director of policy and communications at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, Chloe has an impressive track record in campaigning and currently leads The Social Change Project, aimed at strengthening civil society’s ability to bring about change.
  • Michael Schuman – author, economist and attorney, Michael is a globally recognised expert on community economics, a founding partner of Local Analytics and an adjunct professor at Bard Business School.
  • Helena Norberg-Hodge – pioneer of the new economy movement and recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize, Helena is a highly regarded and outspoken critic of economic globalisationand has hosted 16 Economics of Happiness conferences across four continents.


Grassroots activism 

Against the backdrop of an increasingly gloomy news agenda dominated by Trump, Brexit and the impacts of extreme weather events, you could forgive people for feeling helpless. However, the speakers will demonstrate that grassroots activism can bring about real and lasting change.

Mike Zeidler, director of Bristol-based charity Happy City and conference co-host, commented: “We are exactly ten years on from a banking crisis that highlighted fatal flaws at the heart of our economy, yet we still haven’t seen the systemic changes needed to tackle them.

“Rising inequality and climate chaos are clear alarm bells that tell us the current system is no longer fit for purpose. We believe it’s time to look beyond outdated single-issue approaches and harness the power of local initiatives to tackle global issues.

“Come along to inspire and be inspired as we learn how people like us are challenging broken ways of doing things with better, practical and shareable alternatives.”

For more information about the conference, visit its website

This Author 

Marianne Brooker is a contributing editor for The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Greenhouse PR. 

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