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Helena Norberg-Hodge

The Economics of Happiness

Sweden

Local Futures believes that modern societies have taken a fundamentally wrong turn: policymakers, mainstream economists, and business leaders have consistently pushed us in the direction of ever more growth, while ignoring the ecological destruction and spiritual poverty that have been the price of rampant consumerism, massive scale, and escalating speed.

We believe that a radically different paradigm is needed. Rather than attempting to solve every problem by ‘growing the economy’, we need to focus instead on meeting real human and ecological needs through awakening to our deep ties to community and nature – through an ‘economics of happiness’.


Author and filmmaker Helena Norberg-Hodge is a pioneer of the local economy movement. Through writing and public lectures on four continents, she has been promoting an economics of personal, social and ecological well-being for four decades. She is a widely respected analyst of the impact of the global economy and international development on local communities, local economies, and personal identity, and is a leading proponent of ‘localization’, or decentralization, as a means of countering those impacts. For this work she was awarded the prestigious Goi Peace Award in 2012 and the Arthur Morgan Award in 2017.

Helena’s seminal book, Ancient Futures, has been described as “an inspirational classic”, offering guidelines for a better future. Together with the film of the same title, it has been translated into more than 40 languages and sold about half a million copies. She is also the producer and co-director of the award-winning film, The Economics of Happiness. Helena has written numerous articles, essays, and book chapters, and is the co-author of two groundbreaking books on food and farming: Bringing the Food Economy Home and From the Ground Up: Rethinking Industrial Agriculture.

The Earth Journal counted Helena among the world’s ‘ten most interesting environmentalists’, while in Carl McDaniel’s book Wisdom for a Liveable Planet, she was profiled as one of ‘eight visionaries changing the world’. Since 1975, she has worked with the people of Ladakh, or “Little Tibet”, to find ways of enabling their culture to meet the modern world without sacrificing social and ecological values. For these efforts she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, or ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.

Educated in Sweden, Germany, Austria, England and the United States, Helena specialized in linguistics, including studies at the University of London and at MIT. She has lectured in seven languages at numerous Universities including Oxford, Harvard, Melbourne, Tokyo, Stockholm, Munich - and was Regents’ Lecturer in the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at the University of California, Berkeley. She has also taught regularly at Schumacher College and appeared in broadcast, print and online media worldwide, including MSNBC, The London Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian.

Helena is the founder/director of Local Futures and The International Alliance for Localization (IAL). She is also a founding member of the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture, the International Forum on Globalization and the Global Ecovillage Network. She is on the Global Advisory Board of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, and a member of the Global University in Hong Kong.