The general definition of economic sustainability is the ability of an economy to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely. This can only be achieved as a long term international goal if humankind takes from Earth what its ecosystems can provide indefinately. This kind of economy, which recognises Earth’s ecological limits, can be called a natural economy in that it can only be established by moral certainty or conviction. Whilst accepting that science is the engine of prosperity there is now general agreement by the international community that humanity must move towards a natural economy where production is aimed at satisfying the consumer’s own needs, and is not driven by wants. The former would include the needs for food, clothing, shelter and health care. Wants are goods or services that are not necessary but that we desire or wish for.
The Welsh Natural Economy Research Unit (NERU) was set up as a charitable trust in the 1980s by Professor Denis Bellamy to focus the concept of natural economy at the centre of education at all levels. It was instrumental in creating the International GCSE subject called natural economy, marketed by the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate. NERU also established (SCAN) to encourage students to have an input into the Local Agenda 21. SCAN has developed into an online network of UK schools monitoring local climate change. NERU is now an integral part of the Bellamy Fund, which promotes International Classrooms On Line (ICOL). ICOL showcases educational wikis about living sustainably. The Bellamy Fund also sponsors projects that have the potential to provide educational exemplars in the fields of cultural ecology, microfinancing, mobile phone networking, community development and conservation management.
The overall aim of the Bellamy Fund is to provide an educational framework for the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment