Modern economies are built on the illusion that exponential growth on a finite planet is possible. They assume that it is desirable to live in a world of ever increasing levels of consumption and commodification. They are premised on the idea that an increase in financial wealth and market transactions is a good proxy for wellbeing. And, finally, they are built on the faith that science and technology will provide fixes to problems like climate change or poverty. The single obsession of traditional economics is how best to promote growth—by country, by region, by industry, by sector, by brand, often pitting one against the other.
PROJECT DAWN is based on the understanding that ongoing exponential growth is neither possible nor desirable. Increasingly, the fixation on GDP growth leads to uneconomic growth—growth of ecosystem destruction, species extinction, addiction, dislocation, poverty, and inequality. The challenge of a wellbeing economy is how to promote wellbeing for all, with input from all, and in harmony with what allows life in the first place, a healthy ecosystem. While this agenda may currently seem politically impossible, we have little doubt that it will soon become ecologically, economically, and politically inevitable.
What is needed is a fundamental change of direction – away from indiscriminate growth, and toward wellbeing, prosperity, and sustainability for all. A wellbeing economy is based on the realization that an economy is necessarily embedded in society, and a society is necessarily embedded in nature. There can never be a successful economy in a disintegrating society, much less in a dying ecosystem.
More is not enough. Increasingly, more is actually less—less nature, less time, less cohesion, less resilience. Instead of more, the sole purpose of economic activity should be better—improving everything from security and transparency to resilience, sustainability, and human capabilities: a fairly shared wellbeing on a healthy planet. Quality instead of quantity.
PROJECT DAWN does not seek to compete with any of the rapidly growing number of initiatives worldwide to promote aspects of a wellbeing economy. Instead, we see our work in support and solidarity of such efforts—networking, facilitating, researching, and informing, and to do so along ten crucial categories of wellbeing: (1) governance (2) ecosystems (3) energy (4) food (5) production (6) distribution (7) education (8) work (9) transportation, and (10) housing.