IGP Stories

Prosperity in the 21st Century

Professor Henrietta L. Moore

22 June 2023

A 21st century economy needs to produce and to assure supply of the essential goods on which we all depend: soil, water, biodiversity, healthcare. Today I am proud to announce the publication of the IGP’s first book focussed on this challenge: Prosperity in the 21st Century: Concepts, Models and Metrics.

The volume presents a compilation of research and thinking from people at the IGP, drawing on our work in Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Lebanon, and the UK. Prosperity in the 21st Century develops new concepts, frameworks, models and metrics for prosperity across diverse contexts, and explores innovative practices, stemming from this novel framing of prosperity that allow us to address inequalities in new ways by reformulating what the economy is for.

If you’re interested or actively engaged in social transformation you may find this read insightful and hopeful. It provides somewhere to turn if, and when, one feels daunted by the many challenges we currently face. The book outlines a whole systems approach to transformation focusing on delivering improved quality of life for people and planet.

The central premise of the book is based on an innovative conceptual understanding of prosperity. We formulate what we need to do to make prosperity a realisable proposition for specific people living in specific locales and outline why this entails a rethinking of economic value and systems change. This is linked to an interrogation of the language and etymology of prosperity, helping us to explore what a new discourse on economics and prosperity can and should do in creating pathways to social transformation.

From our work in east London, we describe the prosperity approach in action emphasising prosperity as a lived experience. This was a consistent and critical finding of the research which showed how livelihood security is central to prosperity and dependent upon a combination of institutions, social networks, community and care facilities, as well as key public services like transport, healthcare and education providers.

The research in Lebanon highlights a co-designed urban intervention in places of displacement, to foster community cohesion. We also explore decentralised renewable energy policy and practice in Lebanon as a pathway to prosperity, looking at how we can restore a depleted energy supply but also implement a whole-systems approach to the energy crisis, mass displacement and climate change.

Moving to Africa and our work on natural prosperity and regenerative agriculture, we look at how the history of colonial and development-based tropes in Kenya and Zambia which have thwarted livelihoods over time. Farming practices in the Marakwet of Kenya provide an example of the emergent nature of prosperity as a complex assemblage through space and time.

What is most important about this book is it showcases how the IGP is guided and inspired, not just by the citizen scientists and communities who shape and engage with our work, but also by engagements with other stakeholders in government, business, academia and civil society.

I would like to thank all contributors in this book who have worked through a process of collaboration and co-design founded on diversity, and committed to improving quality of life around the world. This ethical approach is at the heart of the book and forms the core of the IGP. We cannot reimagine an economic system for the 21st century without locally-grounded collaboration. Our hope is for this book to provide innovative tools and insights for the ongoing transformation for the better.

The IGP is committed to open science and Prosperity in the 21st Century: Concepts, Models and Metrics is now available to download for free from UCL Press.

Professor Henrietta L. Moore is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity and the Chair in Culture Philosophy and Design at University College London (UCL). A leading global thinker on prosperity, Professor Moore challenges traditional economic models of growth arguing that to flourish communities, businesses and governments need to engage with diversity and work within environmental limits. Her work crosses disciplines, from social science to the arts to business innovation and she applies these different perspectives to inform research and policy at all levels.

Picture Bamagal on Unsplash

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