Just back from the conference in Ancona, Italy, bearing the title of this post, papers from which can be accessed at http://fromgdptowellbeing.univpm.it/doc/final_programme.pdf. I gave a plenary talk on "Complex ecologic-economic dynamics and sustainability: Post Keynesian perspectives." Audience dominated by happiness researchers, who are split between happiness and satisfaction, with a smaller group of "capabilities" people arguing with them, who are in turn split between followers of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. Fewer sustainability types, with some trying to link to the happiness people, with one paper arguing that people in Latin America are happier when temperatures in winter are warmer, but are not much happier if highest temperatures in summer are cooler, although too much cloudiness and rain makes people less happy (so much for the psychological benefits of fighting global warming). I posed a "Principle of Appropriate Management Scale" based on the work of Elinor Ostrom, which triggered a lot of heated discussion.
This crowd was dominated by many policy wonks and technical statistical types (another plenary was by Enrico Giovannini, pres. of the Italian Statistical Association), with a lot of focus on how to redo national income accounts to account for happiness and sustainability, with Giovannini claiming that the "1980s social indicators movement failed" without explaining how or why. Much of what people there were discussing looks similar: laundry lists of things that should counted using all kinds of indexes, with a lot of funding for this and stated political support from UN, G-20, OECD, and EU. Bottom line may still be bottom line, however, with Finance ministers opposing. After all, suppose a member country of the EU is found to have high happiness and high sustainability, but low GDP and lousy budget balances: should it receive EU aid or provide it? Oh, and "social leisure" increases happiness, while unemployment lowers it.