Nation’s focus should be growth in wellbeing not economic growth, conference will say

Speakers at the Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, will consider how to shift the country’s focus from economic growth to growth in wellbeing

The former Archbishop of Canterbury will address hundreds of delegates at the Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing in October to talk about shifting the country’s focus from economic growth to growth in wellbeing.

Rowan Williams will speak at the Bishopsgate Institute, London, as part of a day-long event focusing on what Satish Kumar, editor-in-chief of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, believes should be priorities for the future.

Other speakers scheduled at the festival include Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva, who will speak about seed freedom; former Friends of the Earth executive director, Tony Juniper; outgoing head of the European Environment Agency, Jaqueline McGlade, and chief executive of Good Energy, Juliet Davenport.

Kumar said: “There is a lot of focus on economic growth and concern about whether growth is fast enough – people focusing on being more busy, drinking more, more pollution. But why not increase wellbeing? This day is about looking at that in more detail.”

He said he hopes the audience will be as buoyed this year as last. “There were some encouraging themes and presentations in 2012. Fiona Reynolds spoke about how people can engage to stop government action and even organise themselves to change policy, such as rising up against the sale of forests and putting enough pressure on so that the government did a U-turn.

“This year, there will be some very important thinking from Rowan Williams. We are saying how the environment needs to have spiritual underpinning; you can’t expect to fix the environment with technology, we need spirituality, imagination. We will talk about that. I’m also looking forward to the poet Ruth Padel, who is going to celebrate nature and the environment.”

Kumar said he thought the government’s attempts at showing an interest in and measuring wellbeing were poor. “I would say about 1% of their focus is on wellbeing and the rest is on trying to fix society with technology and economic growth.”

The Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing will be held on 12 October at the Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London. Tickets are priced at £60 and all proceeds go to The Resurgence Trust.