ToBe is a Horizon project that supports the EU vision of becoming the first climate-neutral continent with the implementation of sustainable development goals. In the current socio-economic climate, there is an urgent need measure and assess policy guides and paths to an inclusive sustainable wellbeing economy, including ecological outcomes and historical trends.

ToBe involves 15 organizations spanning 9 countries and lasting 3 years.

ToBe aims to build an understanding of a sustainable wellbeing economy by developing integrated policies and transformative indicators. The project’s goal is to contribute to theoretical and empirical knowledge in the field of sustainability transformation, as well as advance understanding of sustainable wellbeing and inclusive economy beyond GDP. Together with researchers, policymakers and citizens in Europe, Africa and South America, ToBe studies how mindsets, indicators, innovations and policies could better work together towards the sustainability paradigm.

IPE team of researchers works on the theoretical segment of the project, developing a theoretical framework for the sustainable wellbeing paradigm shift. We work on fundamental (ontological and epistemological) aspects of understanding transformation and changing mindsets, and lessons from the historical debates on planning for sustainability vs. planning for growth.

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Project goals

Transformation towards the sustainability paradigm is not an easy or quick task to accomplish. Our ambition is based on frustration with this slow process of change and on our understanding that sustainable development policy involves contradictory but interrelated issues. We identified three major knowledge gaps:


Realisable policy goals

Concepts such as sustainable wellbeing, doughnut economics, degrowth and postgrowth have been developed at the margins of the existing growth paradigm, yet they carry significant transformative potential. However, a more sustainable wellbeing economy is still a policy idea without shared, scientifically robust and realisable policy measures.

ToBe contribution:

By bringing green growth and postgrowth initiatives together, we aim to construct a novel growth paradigm that supports sustainable welfare states, producing wellbeing within planetary boundaries. Through a conceptual framework, meaningful indicators, we hope to identify innovative policy guides allowing stakeholders to assess policies multidimensionally.


New databases and systemic empirical analysis

It is unclear whether and to what extent traditional pro-economic growth policies are effective in promoting sustainable wellbeing as well as how different social, economic and environmental policies are connected and what kinds of consequences these connections have. Synergic sustainable development policies have been difficult to establish due to a lack of policy coherence and knowledge gaps regarding the interrelationships between different dimensions.

ToBe contribution:

Combining quantitative indicators with qualitative concepts, we aim to create a thorough knowledge base through statistical methodologies that implement new technologies such as AI or image-processing algorithms.


Knowledge of paradigmatic changes and their implementation

Theories of sustainability transformation do exist, sharing the awareness that transformation requires actions at many different levels and places and is driven by various actors. This massive change involves a lot of “unknowns” and implementation challenges, calling for further research.

ToBe contribution:

We aim to develop a multidimensional typology that provides a systemic and dynamic understanding of how changing policy goals, mindsets, indicators, innovations and policies could work together in a virtuous way for accelerating sustainable development.

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Funded by the European Union in the framework of the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement Nº 101094211.