This special issue showcases the rich diversity of livelihood practice and more-than-capitalist economic activities enabling communities to ‘survive well’ in the Asia-Pacific. In times of intense social and environmental challenges, where inequality is rife throughout the region, it seems more appropriate to speak of seeking to ‘survive well’ than to ‘flourish’ or ‘thrive’. It is not that flourishing or thriving are not worthy goals, but that the words ring hollow when humans flourish at the expense of non-humans, or when some groups of people flourish at the expense of others, and when so many are seeking merely access to a ‘decent livelihood’ (Duojie, 2022). We return to Miller's (2013) point that in thinking about surviving well we must distinguish between necessity and sufficiency (see also Vunibola et al., 2022). While we have shied away from speaking of flourishing or thriving, bare survival – where species and ecosystem get only what they need to continue in coercive and terrible conditions – is not what we mean by surviving well. Rather, surviving well implies sufficiency – where species and ecosystems, including humans and their environments, get what they need for surviving well together. Togetherness entails effort to achieve justice, equality and ongoing sustainability not just in and between human communities but in wider more-than-human networks of labour, value and livelihood. In this collection of articles, we see the ingenuity and empathy of communities throughout the region, seeking to survive well not only as individuals, but as collectives.