Feasta was launched in Dublin in October 1998 to explore the economic, cultural and environmental characteristics of a truly sustainable society, and to disseminate the results of this exploration to the widest relevant audience.
The position Feasta has adopted is that many of the world’s problems are caused not by bad people but by dysfunctional systems and it sees its purpose as designing better systems. For example, the economic system demands continual growth if it is not to collapse into a catastrophic depression, and this leaves politicians with little alternative but to pursue short-term economic growth more-or-less regardless of the damage that that pursuit might be doing to longer-term environmental and social sustainability.
Feasta has spent a lot of time examining the reasons for this growth compulsion to see if an economic system can be devised without it. Feasta has also looked at money systems, agricultural systems, carbon systems, energy systems, taxation systems, rationing systems, land tenure systems and democratic systems and come up with ideas for these.
We take it as given that sustainability must benefit everyone in a society, rather than merely those who are financially or otherwise privileged. We consider a society to be sustainable if it can expect to survive for several hundreds of years without being forced to change because it is currently destroying or undermining something on which its survival crucially depends.
The name ‘Feasta”, meaning ‘henceforth’ or ‘in the future’ in Irish, is strongly associated with a early 18th-century Irish poem that expresses profound grief over the deforestration, biodiversity loss and mistreatment of the vulnerable that marked the colonialist period. The poem ends with a strongly-expressed desire for restoration, including the restoration of community bonds, and their continued preservation.
A more detailed discussion of the word ‘Feasta’ and the historic role of forests in Irish culture, along with the text of the poem, can be read here.