Economics of Happiness Conference 2018

Permaculture magazine
Tuesday, 9th October 2018

Our editor Maddy Harland, and a long list of speakers will be demonstrating that grassroots activism can bring about real and lasting change, at the Economics of Happiness Conference in Bristol, in October 2018.

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.

With the distinct lack of change from Government to transform the economy to improve wellbeing, the Economics of Happiness conference is a huge opportunity for pioneering activists, leaders and thinkers to come together in Bristol to debate the creation of a new economy that supports flourishing lives and a thriving planet measured not along GDP but based on other happiness indicators.

The Economics of Happiness conference - the 18th 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.

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.

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.”

Speakers include Tedx speaker Helena Norberg-Hodge (Tedx Video link), the pioneer of the new economy movement and recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize and is co-hosted by Mike Zeidler, director of Bristol-based charity Happy City. Our very own Maddy Harland, PM editor and co-founder will also be speaking, alongside Colin Tudge (cofounder of Oxford Real Farming Conference), Peter Macfadyen (Flatpack Democracy - a DIY guide to independent politics), Dr Stephan Harding (Animate Earth), Tracy Worcester (Farms not Factories), Marina O'Connell (Apricot Centre) and many more inspiring change makers.

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, visit

This will be an engaging and inspiring weekend.

Useful links

A sustainable approach to the world's economies: centralise happiness and well-being

Government Announces Happiness Survey - permaculture has key role