1.3 original

1.3 Quality of Life

Manfred Max Neef, a Chilean economist, has spent 30 years researching people’s needs and how those needs are met. He describes 9 basic human needs.

Quality of life arises when you can fulfill all your needs

Manfred Max Neef

Some examples

  • Needs of life * (basic needs) – food, drink, shelter, clean air, health
  • Safety – social security, health care, work, safety in your neighborhood or home, working conditions
  • Love (affection) – friendships, (family) relationships, closeness to nature, affection, contact
  • Development – learn, discover, understand, deepen
  • Participate – participate, influence, participate
  • Leisure – fun, parties, peace of mind, sleep, leisure, rest, sports
  • Creativity – express yourself, make something, build, invent, design
  • Identity – language, religion, work, customs, values, norms
  • Freedom – equal rights, autonomy

* All needs are equally important. Only the basic needs mentioned under ‘needs of life’ are an exception to this and are above the others. The other eight are equivalent. When one of these needs cannot be met, we speak of poverty. You do not experience a good quality of life.

Needs are the same everywhere, how you fulfill them is different for everyone and everywhere

Every person has the same nine needs. It doesn’t matter what your background or culture is, whether you live here or far away. 100 years ago or today. Your needs are unchangeable, only the way in which we fulfill a need differs.

We all need a roof over our heads. You want to protect yourself from the elements (rain, wind and sun).

There is room to choose

You cannot choose needs. They are part of being human. Needs are always there, for everyone and everywhere. You cannot deny or neglect your needs, because then a form of poverty arises.

However there is room is in the choices we make; the way we meet our needs. This is the “needs-satisfier.” By looking for need-satisfiers (ways to fulfil needs) that respect the boundaries of the earth, you can make sustainable choices.

You can only make sustainable choices if you know what is “unsustainable” is or know what the limits of the earth are. We will first take a look at our relationship with nature. Why is it important to know those limits?