Review 2019


In mid-April 2019 the first BEST ECONOMY forum took place in Bolzano, organized by Bioland, the association BIO HOTELS and Economy for the Common Good. Vivian Dittmar from Terra Institut Südtirol moderated the entire forum.  During three days, about 200 entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, students and interested people met at the Bolzano Eurac Research to exchange ideas and concrete proposals for a new sustainable economic world.

The participants have elaborated a manifesto that contains concrete actions for representatives of the economy and politics to achieve the Agenda 2030. The development towards a sustainable economy is only possible with political support.

All events with a YouTube Livestream label were streamed live on YouTube. Click on the respective label for playback.

These were the focus groups from 2019

More and more people are longing to bring their professional actions into harmony with their ethical convictions. To exchange their lifetime for money alone is for many the most toxic context imaginable. What they are longing for is, on the one hand, to serve a higher, meaningful mission, with behaviors that express relationships at eye level, and on the other hand, the self-confident person of today is also interested in raising his or her own potential and expressing his or her talents, insights, feelings and learning processes in professional activities. This tension between the current status quo in the economy and the always clearly perceptible longings/developments of the increasingly conscious people is increasing and generates a great creative potential.

The goals:

In 2 years: Ethical business should be mentioned and promoted as a value in politics, media and education. The election of the “most successful” manager of the year (e.g. in South Tyrol) is to be replaced by the election of the “successful ethical manager” of the year. In chambers of commerce and professional associations, at business schools and at the university, opinion-forming dialogues on the value formation of ethical management take place.

In 5 years: Public institutions apply dialogue-based review procedures to determine ethical business practices. In future, the payment of subsidies will be linked to ethics, just as the tax rate is linked to it. Banks are instructed to provide ethical companies with much easier access to liquidity and to offer them significantly improved financing conditions.

In 10 years: Ethical companies are winners all around: They work with tax breaks, win the battle for talent, simply benefit from public subsidies and bank financing. In moments of crisis, they enjoy the support of the public sector. The laws of the economy have completely changed in favour of giving priority to ethical enterprises.

A “circular economy” is a vision of a future society where waste is transformed into resources and circulated in smart and sustainable ways. The vision has the aim to enable us to continue producing goods within the planet’s boundaries. Circular economy has the last few years risen on the agenda with actors as Ellen MacArthur foundation, the development of EU´s Circular economy package and companies taking the lead presenting circular solutions fueled by e.g. the Cradle to cradle methodology and certificate. At the same time, only 7 % of business leaders in Sweden have heard of the concept of circular economy, revealing that we have a long way to go to make it a natural part of every business practice. The circular economy development has had a focus on design and developing material being a good first step. We now have to take the next step. How do we make circular businesses more profitable than linear alternatives? How do we enable the legal structure to be adjusted from a linear to a circular economy without compromising environmental protection? How do we shift the minds of consumers and enterprises to start using resources instead of owning and/ or consuming them? How is the circular economy scaled- and speeded up?

Resource consumption within the planet’s boundaries – EU has led the way transforming global business practice from a linear to a circular economy – Reuse and up-cycling are fueled by renewable energy and at a high degree done locally – The most profitable businesses in Europe are circular – There is a clear and long-term strategy troughout EU supporting a circular development and making it more expensive to use virgin and scarce resources – A broad variety of circular business practices such as product as a service, regenerative agriculture and forestry, industrial symbiosis etc. are well known among business leaders.


Coming just recently back from Africa I am more than ever convinced, that this Continent will mainly shape the future of mankind.The reasons are: Africas political systems are in many cases not stable at all. This may cause great conflicts which endanger bigger and even worldwide conflicts.

Africa and the global south is mostly endangered by climate change.This, together with conflicts may cause huge streams of refugees… Africa is a big rason for hope. There are strong, young and very creative populations that can make this continent a cradle of Innovation for sustainable Solutions for the future. For that reason it is not only a duty for humanitarian reason but also for the future of mankind to support and cooperate with the global south.

Most important is education with future oriented curriculae and fostering especially the role and rights of women.

2. Goals:

  • In the next years we must learn, that the global south is the place where the future of mankind is going to be decided. My Goal is to inform people in my Country about this issue.
  • For the education of next / future generation the issues of fairness, sustainability, common googs, community and common survival I want to implemented new goals for mankind in curriculae.
  • I want to replace the aim of profit by common good.
  • Fight climate change to give a chance to the global south
  • Support small sclae agriculture and the regeneration of souls and soils in all parts of the world
  • Tbd and tbd

We are often confronted with the sentence “organic food is too expensive”. However, in the context of climate change and limited planetary resources, it is conventional food that should be considered too cheap, as it does not properly account for the true costs of food production, i.e. the environmental, health and social costs. We therefore need a paradigm shift in thinking about agricultural practices where prices reveal the true cost of production and consumption, including so-called “externalities”, i.e. hidden costs such as water pollution which the society as a whole currently bears.

Consumers currently pay four times for the (unsustainable) food they buy: when they pay the product prices at the shop, in terms of taxes used to subsidize unsustainable agricultural practices, in terms of taxes to mitigate the negative externalities (e.g. cleaning polluted water), and finally in terms of health costs. In order to transform this clearly inefficient and unsustainable economic and agricultural model, costs and benefits of food production should be accounted for. In other words, positive and negative external costs should be imbedded in the final price. In order to achieve this, food and farming actors along the food supply chain have to work together with policymakers to develop a unified framework of indicators for true cost accounting and value pricing which helps reward practices that deliver public benefits. Only in this way will we achieve real prices for fair markets.

Goals in the short and medium term (2-5 years)

  • Through better communication about the environmental, social and health benefits of organic production, consumers globally are increasingly aware of the benefits of buying organic, the true costs behind the food they buy, and the origin of their food. Ultimately, consumers turn more towards local and organic foods.
  • Farmers increasingly convert to organic and agroecological practices. In Europe, this is enabled by a reformed CAP which ensures that environmental and socio-economic outcomes delivered by farmers are fully incentivised and rewarded. Access to land for farmers applying organic and agroecological practices will also be prioritised.

Goals in the long-term (10 years)

  • Organic is on every table and half of the agricultural land in Europe is managed according to organic and agroecological practices. Particularly, stark improvements have been made in the criteria for green public/private procurement which ensure sustainable diets in public canteens and private sector mass catering.
  • A thorough review of EU food-related legislation ensures that there is increased coherence between policies related to food, farming, health, education and the environment. It will no longer be the case that consumers pay for their food more than once due to the external costs of unsustainable agricultural practices.
  • The true cost of foods will be known to consumers via a unified framework for true cost accounting and value pricing.

New forms of ownership are the focus of the focus group “new forms of organisation for new business”. Wolfgang Gutberlet, son of the founder of tegut, has set up two foundations in order to secure the long-term management of the company and to be able to use parts of the available company income for charitable purposes. In this way he has secured the family business and made continuity possible. The Purpose Foundation, founded by Armin Steuernagel, supports and encourages companies to follow similar paths. Profit orientation is not an end in itself but a means to achieve an end that serves people, the environment and future generations. Its aim is to make private property available to people who bear responsibility for it. This includes employees and customers who become co-entrepreneurs in the sense of Armin Steuernagel. The focus group is designed with elements of sociocratic consensus moderation in the spirit of lived practice. It is thus a wink for all companies that take employee participation seriously.

Here you can find the results of the Focus Group: GELD MIT SINN

Especially in the tourism sector there are many challenges to be met. For us, sustainability begins with the arrival and continues through the management of the hotel to the satisfaction of employees and guests. Therefore we choose for this forum the “more” that we believe will occupy us the most in the coming years.

The “more” stands for:

– Workplaces in which the employee can develop.
– A hotel stay that is digitally prepared and emotionally touching on site.

Ecology and economy and thus Best Economy begins, works and ends with an employees who is constantly developing and a guest who recommends us.

In this focus group we show ways that this can work.

These were the speakers from 2019

The BEST ECONOMY forum is designed by its speakers. The following personalities have significantly shaped the BEST ECONOMY forum through their participation in 2019:

This was the program:

Press conference

Doors open and registration

Opening of the event
Greeting by Manfred Jotter (public interest economy), Carola Petrone (BIO HOTELS), Jan Plagge (Bioland), Greeting patron: Arno Kompatscher (Governor of South Tyrol)

Keynote “We have the responsibility” about “Sustainable action – making sense” YouTube Livestream
Dr. Auma Obama
ensuing open discussion

What drives us – more than just a vision Departure into a new economy
Antje von Dewitz (CEO VAUDE Sport)
Fritz Fessler (Board of Directors of the GWO Cooperative)
Dr. Franz Ehrensperger (organic pioneer and chairman of the Quality Association for Organic Mineral Water)
Julia Mayer (Focus Future)
Dr. Bettina Richter (Global Business Manager, 3M)
Ramona Desert (Friday for future)

Afterwards “get together” with the supporting programme, South Tyrolean organic specialities and the South Tyrolean band “Homeless

08:00 Doors open and registration

09:00 Start of the event
“Because we are the instrument”
Markus Prieth

09:30 Keynotes
Martina Joseph (CEO Dr. Hauschka )
Christian Felber (Author and initiator of the public welfare economy) YouTube Livestream

Introduction to the focus groups
Jan Plagge (President IFOAM EU)

10:30 – 11:15: Break

11:15 – 13:15: FOCUS Groups Part 1


Christian Felber Author and initiator of the Economy for the Common Good
Antje von Dewitz CEO VAUDE Sport
Maurizio Gritta President Coop. Agr. Iris di Calvatone, CR
Moderation: Evelyn Oberleiter Head of Terra Institute South Tyrol


Günter Reifer Terra Institute South Tyrol
Jan Plagge President IFOAM EU
Moderation: Emma Dalväg Coest, Sweden


Boniface Mabanza Literary scholar and theologian
Ellen Ehmke oxFam Germany
Moderation: Fritz Lietsch Publisher of the magazine “forum Nachhaltig Wirtschaften” (forum for sustainable management)


Inca Sachse Soil & More Impacts, NL
Heini Staudinger GEA Waldviertler
Moderation: Eduardo Cuoco CEO IFOAM-EU


Wolfgang Gutberlet Executive Partner W-E-G GmbH & Co.KG
Armin Steuernagel Purpose Foundation
Moderation: Christine Brandmeir Bioland e.V.


Dr. Daniel Sieben Triodos Bank
Fritz Fessler Board of Directors Cooperative Society of GWO
Moderation: Bernward Geier Colabora


Michaela Reitterer Boutiquehotel City Hall Vienna
Prof. Harald Pechlaner EURAC Bozen
Moderation: Zita Langenstein GastroSuisse

13:15 – 14:30: Break

14:30: Group photo

15:00: FOCUS Groups Part 2

17:00: Flash light in a different way
Improvisational theatre “Theatersport Berlin”

18:00:  “Get together” with dinner

20:00: Movie night: “The Eco Rebels of the Himalayas”
(ZDF documentary 28 Min ) with subsequent talk show
with filmmaker Bernward Geier

21:00: Dancenight with Klaus Ennemoser

08:30 Presentation of results from the focus groups
Claims for today. tomorrow. the day after tomorrow.

09:30: GREEN Start-up Rally
10 start-ups present innovations in the field of environmental and social sustainability

10:15 – 11:00: Break

11:00: Thinking about the future:
This is how BEST ECONOMY becomes a driver of economic transformation
Wolfgang Gutberlet (Executive Partner W-E-G GmbH & Co.KG)
Dr Daniel Sieben (Triodos Bank)
Boniface Mabanza (literary scholar and theologian)
Michaela Reitterer (Botiquehotel Statdthalle Vienna)
Martina Joseph (CEO Dr Hauschka)
Ramona Wüst (Friday for future)

11:45: How do we bring together the best economy with the best ecology?

YouTube Livestream
Vandana Shiva

12:30: Signing of the Manifesto YouTube Livestream
Schlussworte Jan Plagge (Präsident IFOAM-EU)

13:00: End of the event



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Start-up competition 2019 – these are the winners.

Note: With a click on the logo you will get to the application folder.

These are the two winners of the 1st BEST ECONOMY forum. However, they decided to invest the prize money in a workshop with the sponsors of the WEG GmbH prize and to let all start-ups participate.

The finalists

These are the finalists of the 1st Best Economy Forum 2019:

Ein herzliches “Danke” gilt auch unseren Sponsoren aus 2019:


IFOAM EU Group Logo
Terra Institute

Press partner

Forum Nachhaltig Wirtschaften

Sponsors – PREMIUM

Sponsors – PLUS


Sponsors – BASIC

Fokus Zukunft
Voelkel Naturkostsafterei