Ecological Economics: Since the 1970s, researchers from various economic, social and natural science domains have sought to formulate new approaches to questions of economic development in response to environmental challenges, increasingly framed as the problems of sustainable development. This new perspective has become known, since the creation of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) in 1987, under the name Ecological Economics.

Ecological Economics does not constitute a new single unified theory for or of sustainable development. The emergence of this field of activity signals, rather, the need for economic, social and natural science analyses to be brought together in new perspectives, responding to the concerns expressed worldwide for ecological, social, economic and political dimensions of sustainability. It represents a new practice of economics responding to a specific problem domain which may legitimately be addressed in a variety of ways.

Ecological Economics thus envisages the use of analytical tools and concepts coming from many different disciplines and fields of experience. Among these, the results and techniques of neoclassical economics can be appropriate if their conditions of applicability and limits are made clear and they are placed in a wider framework of interpretation. At the same time ecological economics insists that economic science needs to open out to the insights and analytical techniques that may be offered from other fields such as the life sciences, the humanities and technology assessment.

The social dimension in Ecological Economics: Proponents of ecological economics in the initial years have, sometimes, tended to neglect the socio-cultural and political dimensions of economic development and change, while focussing on the biophysical analyses of phenomena. The starting point of the ESEE is recognition that economic activities are embedded in and dependent upon the ecosphere. It is necessary, however, to move beyond the simple recognition of biophysical limits to economic growth, in order to explore how, in what ways, and to what degrees the socioeconomic objectives traditionally associated with growth can be reconciled with concerns for environmental quality and preoccupations with social justice and variety of cultural forms.

ESEE: This is why the European Society for Ecological Economics insists for its raison d’être on the infusion of the social dimension, including cultural diversity and intergenerational preoccupations, into all ecological-economic analyses. The Society has also, through this, the ambition to promote an innovative research agenda in Europe and a wide reflection that can help decision-makers and citizens in the implementation of policies for sustainable development.


The aims of the European Society for Ecological Economics are to:

  • foster transdisciplinary discourse and research among the social and natural sciences regarding problems of nature and the environment;
  • provide an European network for activities in ecological economics;
  • produce and disseminate information on policies for sustainability globally, nationally, and locally through electronic, printed, oral and other publication means;
  • promote education, graduate research and research funding in ecological economics.

This statement of aims was adopted by the Inaugural General Meeting (Assemblée Générale Constitutive) of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE), held on 24 May 1996, during the International Conference Ecology Society Economy / Ecologie Société Economie hosted by the Université de Versailles St Quentin en Yvelines, Guyancourt, France.

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