Wellbeing Economies: A new economic approach for human and planetary health

Thursday 2 June
09:30-10:45 CEST
Stockholmsmässan, Room 4

Organizers: Organizer(s): European Environmental Bureau, Wellbeing Economy Alliance, WWF International, Club of Rome, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Global Call to Action Against Poverty, International Cooperative Alliance, IBON, Trust Africa, Wales, Kingdom of Bhutan, European Commission

Archived video: Watch

About: The 1972 Stockholm Conference highlighted the centrality of the environment for human wellbeing. However, our planet, societies and economies are under growing pressure. Human activities overshoot several planetary boundaries whilst governments struggle to meet all societal needs. It is time to reimagine policymaking and to make our economies serve human and planetary wellbeing. Although the contexts, concepts and pace vary, governments around the world are engaged in reimagining their economic model. Wales has adopted the Future Generations Act. Bhutan orients its policies at Gross National Happiness. The European Commission has declared a wellbeing economy its objectives and is designing a Beyond GDP dashboard. Such innovative actions illustrate concretely how wellbeing-focused economies can drive sustainable development.

The purpose of this event is to showcase concrete measures that governments are taking to redefine the priorities for a new economic system. It will discuss how to initiate and enable the transition towards wellbeing economies and what innovative policy practices look like. The event strives to encourage a debate on how to reimagine our economies in respect of the planet’s ecological limits.

Moderator(s): Patrizia Heidegger (European Environmental Bureau)


  • Sandrine Dixson-Declève (Club of Rome)
  • Virginijus Sinkevičius (European Commission)
  • Sophie Howe (Wales)
  • Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor (Kingdom of Bhutan)
  • Terhi Lehtonen (Finland)
  • Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo (IBON)
  • Nina Gualinga (Amazon Watch)
  • Georgina Munoz (Global Call for Action Against Poverty)
  • Bruno Roelants (International Cooperatives Alliance)
  • Ebrima Sall (Trust Africa)
  • Johanna Sandahl (Swedish Society for Nature Conservation)

Contact person: Patrizia Heidegger (patrizia.heidegger_at_eeb.org)

Event outcomes (Key transformative actions):

  • Better metrics for economic progress: Governments are already looking into different metrics of development - and we must go beyond the “development as catching-up paradigm”. Stockholm+50 delegates shared examples of how metrics are used in practice for big decisions taken in the various countries. What is missing is a better global coordination - which could come from an Intergovernmental Panel on Wellbeing, Inclusion, Sustainability and the Economy, to among other things adopt a better progress indicator than GDP. Wellbeing Economy governments, EU, regional and international organisations should push for an IP-WISE in the next 1-2 years, building on the SNA revision work on a broader framework for wellbeing and sustainability and the SNA process on Beyond GDP for the SG of the UN. Throughout the Stockholm+50 process, stakeholders have stressed the need for better metrics of progress and we expect this to be mentioned in the Stockholm+50 concluding remarks.
  • A High Ambition Coalition for wellbeing economies: The Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership currently consists of Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand, Finland, Wales and Canada. There is room to formalise and grow this alliance, for example with Bhutan (who was also on the panel) and the EU as a bloc. Together, they could form some sort of a High Ambition Coalition. Any Coalition should engage with feminist principles as well as learn from and collaborate with indigenous people and local communities, which hold much of the knowledge required to build Wellbeing Economies, living in close relationship, respect and balance with the land. During the event we heard about traditional concepts such as Buen Vivir and Ubuntu that Western economies can learn from. We also heard from Bhutan how they were able to transition to a middle-income-country without exploiting their natural resources or  disregarding their cultural heritage.
  • Redefining prosperity and enshrining wellbeing in national legislation: National Governments and EU policymakers should learn from Wales and explore the possibility of enacting legislation which enshrines the rights of future generations (social and environmental justice) in policymaking. The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is a successful piece of legislation which leads to transformative policy and decision-making processes, and others can learn from this innovative example. Such legislative instruments require public bodies to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions and meaningfully include communities in their planning processes. As in Wales, Future Generations Commissioners could be appointed to support institutions in the application of the legislation, and monitor and assess the extent to which wellbeing objectives set by public bodies, instead of GDP growth, are being met. This means long term goals are not just policy aspirations but are enshrined in law, with institutions required to meet them.



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