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February 21, 2023

From theory to practice

For many years now we’ve seen the emergence of a plethora of frameworks for measuring the relative health of society – from national and even global perspectives all the way down to community scale. Almost all of which seem to be a response to what is now widely recognised as the inherent weakness of GDP as the primary or even sole unit of measurement. Interesting work by the Centre for Thriving Places which suggests that most of these frameworks are all just variations of the same thing. The much bigger challenge is how to move from the theoretical to practical.

Centre for Thriving Place, Carnegie UK

The Shared Ingredients of a Wellbeing Economy

For the purposes of this discussion paper we have focused on eight different frameworks that are currently widely used at the local, national and international levels around the UK and beyond. We will explore whether, beneath their different visualisations and descriptions of a new economy, they are actually talking about the same thing: the same ingredients, mixed slightly differently. Three of the frameworks are currently used extensively at a local level in different parts of the UK: 

  • The Thriving Places Index (from Centre for Thriving Places) 
  • The SEED model (from Carnegie UK) 
  • The Doughnut Economics Model (from Kate Raworth and Doughnut Economics Action Lab) 

We have also outlined (in less detail) five frameworks used at global, national and sub-national levels: 

  • Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act
  • The National Performance Framework (Scotland) 
  • The ONS Wellbeing Dashboard (UK) 
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals (International) 
  • The OECD Better Life Indexv (International)


If you are leading change – in your organisation, your neighbourhood, your town, city or region – then now is the time to act. You don’t need to do this alone. 

  • Join up with others in the movement through the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). 
  • Start using a different set of measures of progress, such as those behind the Thriving Places Index (TPI) as a shared goal across departments, sectors and places. 
  • Start focusing on the quality of the local economy and its capacity to support thriving and sustainable lives with the help of any of the organisations listed in the resources section below. 
  • Engage communities in co-designing a new economy where they are, using the tools and resources provided by the Doughnut Economy Action Lab. 
  • Get in touch with the writers of this report for guidance, practical support and signposting to shift policy AND action towards outcomes for people and planet. 
  • Start collaborating more! 


If you agree with this shift, resist the urge – built into us by the current consumption based system, to compete for scarce resources – and instead step into the space of the new economy and collaborate in a circular, regenerative economy powered by the best ideas and resources that we collectively have for change.


The Shared Ingredients of a Wellbeing Economy