1. Editorial

  • Editorial - ESEE as our common patrimony?, by Olivier Petit   

2. News from ESEE and its members

  • Georgescu-Roegen Award - Unconventional Thinking Winner Inge Røpke
  • News on Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG)
  • ESEE Country Contact Network Update
  • Upcoming ESEE Board elections
  • Call for future ESEE Conference Organisers
  • Report from the European Alliance for Social Science and Humanities meeting, 9th May 2014, Berlin

3. Hot Topics

  • Towards ISEE 2014: Reestablishing equity and scale at the forefront of the environmental policy agenda, by Erik Gómez-Baggethun 
  • Under the skin: Ecosystem services, habits and human health, by Juha Hiedanpää

4. Events

  • Wetlands2014: Wetlands Biodiversity and Services: Tools for Socio-ecological Development
  • EUROPARC Annual Conference: Understanding the Value of Nature 
  • Biodiversity and Food Security – From Trade-offs to Synergies 
5. Publications
  • New book: Scale-Sensitive Governance of the Environment. Edited by Frans Padt, Paul Opdam, Nico Polman, Catrien Termeer, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2014. 

6. Students and early career

  • Postdoctoral Announcement - Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona
  • Valuing Nature Network Interdisciplinary Fellowships
  • Marine Ecosystem Services Summer School
  • Summer School in Ecological Economics

1. Editorial


   Editorial - ESEE as our common patrimony?

by Olivier Petit

We often consider our natural environment as a “common good” or “common heritage” which has to be conserved/protected and passed on to future generations. I would like to stress in this editorial the necessity to also apply this idea to ESEE. 

European languages designate with various words the idea that some (material or immaterial) objects, which are embedded in a specific territory, are characterized by the importance of their perpetuation in time and identified by a variety of persons, sharing common values, as an important element influencing their identity. This idea is underpinning the notion of “Patrimoine commun” in French,“patrimonio común” in Spanish, or “património comum” in Portuguese for instance . Although English is a very rich language, there is no such word to translate this idea in English: common heritage, common legacy, common good, common patrimony, … do not provide satisfactory translations… even if I will prefer here the last one.   

Considering ESEE as our common patrimony means that we need to keep alive the historical roots of Ecological Economics. Kapp, Boulding, Georgescu-Roegen, among others, have strongly influenced the way we look at environment-economy relationships. They have also insisted on several fundamental values that we have to keep in mind. In a context of a globalized science, we also need to ask ourselves what we collectively share (a critical and sometimes more radical way of thinking? the importance of governance mechanisms and institutions?) and what makes us different from our neighbors. To sum up: what is our identity as a community? How do we interact with decision-makers and society at large? The last important element I would like to raise is about transmission. Education is the cornerstone of the development of ecological economics in Europe.

Of course, under the ‘big tent’ of ecological economics, many visions co-exist and this is the reason why our debates are so rich. In any community, a variety of viewpoints is necessary to maintain a fresh impetus. This impetus is maintained thanks to a regular communication between the members of our society. The ESEE electronic newsletter is an elementary block that helps to prepare our meetings, research projects, publications teachings and conferences. It reflects the life of our society, our common patrimony. 


2. News from ESEE and its members

Inge Røpke wins the Georgescu-Roegen Award for Unconventional Thinking
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) felicitated the winners of the Second Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen Awards in February 2014 during the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2014. The Award comprises of two categories – Unconventional Thinking and Bioeconomic Practice. The Unconventional Thinking Category rewards contributions in academia, and publication of research and literature that reflects unconventional thinking. 
Professor Inge Røpke has been named the winner of the Georgescu-Roegen Award for Unconventional Thinking and is a sound example of an unconventional thinker. She has been conferred with the Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen Award – 2014 for her important contribution to the consumption literature, her service to the ecological economics school of thought. Her two-volume textbook in ecological economics, co-edited with Joan Martinez-Alier, is considered the best of its kind.
The European Society for Ecological Economics cordially congratulates!
Inge Røpke receiving the Unconventional Thinking
© India Education Bureau
In her Award Acceptance Speech Inge Røpke says on the relevance of Georgescu-Roegen today: “Georgescu-Roegen was known for promoting ideas that could be very inconvenient and at odds with mainstream economics. For instance, he was involved in considerable controversy on economic growth, emphasising the biophysical limits. More than ever, there is a need to be inconvenient and to emphasise that these limits call for sharing. Poor people need growth and increased consumption, but rich people do not. Sometimes it is argued that technological change ensures decoupling so the rich can carry on. But this is highly misleading, as for instance consumption-based emission accounts demonstrate. Technology should not be used to legitimize increased consumption for the rich, but to solve problems for the poor. The great challenge is that present social and economic systems generate large inequalities. Furthermore, due to global interconnections, improved living standards for the poor seem to depend on increased consumption also in the rich countries. This is absurd. Systems have to be changed. These system changes depend on inconvenient ideas. This is why Georgescu-Roegen is so relevant today.”
Inge Røpke is Professor of Ecological Economics at Aalborg University, Copenhagen. She trained as an economist and holds a PhD in social sciences. Røpke has written about the development of modern ecological economics, trade, economic growth and consumption. Most recently, Røpke has taken up ecological macroeconomics and the need for institutional change for a no-growth society. She is the co-editor (with Lucia Reisch) of The Ecological Economics of Consumption, the co-editor (with Joan Martinez-Alier) of Recent Developments in Ecological Economics, and has published in Ecological Economics, the Journal of Consumer Policy, Research Policy, and many other journals and edited books.

News on Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG)

The ESEE Journal, Environmental Policy and Governance, is developing really well, with the journal including some really high quality papers and special issues with much more international coverage. We are optimistic that the impact factor will increase this summer. The EPG website will soon be up-dated including the notes for authors to better reflect the journal’s policy of asking for papers with the major emphasis on broader debates and issues of cross-cutting interest and relevance, and the minor emphasis on case studies or more specific issues that will both illustrate and contribute to the development of the broader debates. We, as the ESEE board together with Andy Gouldson (EPG Editor), particularly thank authors and the many referees who have helped in the development of the journal in the last years.

Begum Ozkaynak, ESEE editor of EPG

ESEE Country Contact Network Update

The Country Contacts will:

  • Provide the first port of call to present and prospective ESEE members in their countries;
  • Promote ESEE membership in their country;
  • Provide and channel news, announcements and other information to ESEE Newsletter;
  • Represent the membership in a country towards the Board.

The ESEE will:

  • Facilitate and foster collaboration among the members through the Country Contacts;
  • Seek consultation and advice of country contacts and membership in their countries in  matters where geographic representation is important, such as preparation for elections;
  • Use the Country Contact network for fact-finding and dissemination;
  • Support national activities and events of members in different countries on the basis of requests from national contacts by adopting, marketing and publicising them.


Upcoming ESEE Board elections

Dear ESEE Members,
The terms of office of four ESEE Board Members and of one student representative are ending this year after 3 years. Therefore, ESEE will be holding elections for the Board in November 2014. As the ESEE Board currently consists of only 12 Board Members, but according to the ESEE Constitution, can consist of up to 15 Board Members including the two student representatives, we aim to fill the positions of 7 Board Members and one student representative.
We hope that the Board Members whose terms are expiring will stand again. However, we also hope for a broad feedback among the larger ESEE membership and count on your interest in playing an active role in the ESEE Board and get nominated for the election later this year. To be elected to the Board provides an opportunity to influence the direction of the Society and Ecological Economics in Europe and to work in a well motivated team. Active engagement in the work of the sub-committees shall be considered as a matter of course.
As only paid ESEE Member are entitled to stand for elections and vote for the ESEE Board (exceptions apply to our student representatives who are elected by all Student Members), we encourage you to renew your membership as soon as possible.
An official call for nominations together with a more detailed timetable for the elections and information regarding the procedure will be made in the September newsletter.
Best wishes,
Begum Ozkaynak, ESEE Secretary

Call for future ESEE Conference Organisers
ESEE holds its conference biennially. These conferences normally attract 300-450 social and natural scientists. Last year we met in Lille, and Jon Lovett, Tim Foxon and their team are currently busy organising next year's meeting in Leeds.
For 2017 and 2019 we are now looking for individuals / groups who might be interested in applying for organising a conference in either of these years. Organising a conference is an opportunity to highlight the profile of a research group (or several groups in a country). Don't worry, if you don't have much experience in organising big academic events. ESEE offers advice based on past experience and key points have been summarised in a conference handbook. We encourage people with enthusiasm for the field of ecological economics and for bringing people together.
If you are interested, please send an Expression of Interest until 15 November 2014 to Olivier Petit at - Your proposal should include:
1. Contact information of point person and other already committed members of the local organising committee (LOC) (individuals and groups in the host location or country willing to help organising the conference). List all individuals that you would like to involve in the conference committee and any staff resources for local assistance in organising the conference logistically.
2. Proposed location: Please identify a suitable meeting venue that can accommodate up to about 450 conference participants. The proposed meeting facilities must be able to accommodate the following: Plenary sessions, about 10 concurrent sessions, poster and exhibition area, information and registration desk, receptions, catering area and other potential functions, such as computer and internet access, student workshops, and other small meeting rooms.
3. Accessibility and lodging: Please describe transportation and lodging options and ease of conference site. The location of the conference venue should be reasonably accessible for international and national participants and not too costly or time-consuming. Accommodation should be available in broad price and quality ranges for all conference participants.
4. Finance, potential sponsorships and in-kind support: The LOC is responsible for all financial aspects linked with the administration and organisation of the conference that should be self-financing. Next to conference registration fees, sponsoring and in-kind support may play an important role. It is advisable that the LOC organises fund-raising activities: financial, scholarships, and in-kind contributions towards the conference are welcome. Please describe your ideas in this respect.
5. Amenities of the location: including restaurants, arts, recreation and other attractions.
6. Sustainability and environmental advantages: please list the advantages your site and conference can offer in this area. This can refer to offerings by local hotels, food and waste options, (public) transportation, etc.
7. Previous experience in organising scientific meetings or conferences: Please list events, responsible individuals / groups (who are also members of the ESEE conference LOC) and participant numbers.
A proposer is not expected to have firm answers to all questions at this stage. However, these items are important as a first checklist for you and for the ESEE Board to decide upon future ESEE conference venues. A final decision for the conference venue of ESEE 2017 is expected to be taken by June 2015. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Report from the European Alliance for Social Science and Humanities meeting, 9th May 2014, Berlin
ESEE was invited to participate in this year’s Open General Meeting of the European Alliance for Social Science and Humanities (EASSH), aimed at elaborating an action plan designed to better position the social sciences and humanities (SSH) in the new EU funding environment of “Horizon 2020”. A previous letter by EASSH on this matter to the EU Commissioner as of November 2013 can be found here. The Berlin meeting agenda focused on sharing and learning from experiences with advocacy for SSH from across Europe and beyond, next to identifying needs, designing opportunities, and defining areas for action at European level. The ESEE Board will continue its exchange with the EASSH officials and discuss our society’s potential support for the new petition upon due consideration. As no ESEE Board member was available to attend the meeting, Ilona Otto kindly offered to participate in this meeting on behalf of ESEE. Here follows her report.
Irene Ring
Meeting report from Ilona Otto, PIK Potsdam, Germany
The meeting of the European Alliance for Social Science and Humanities (EASSH) took place on May 9th, 2014 in Berlin, Germany, at the Freie Universität Berlin Campus. The meeting was opened by Rudiger Klein, the executive director of the EASSH and Lejf Moos from the European Education Research Association. Over 70 representatives of national and international organizations participated in the meeting, bringing together European researchers, lecturers and teachers in social sciences, humanities, and arts. It was striking to see that so many similar organizations exist which do not necessarily know about each other. To give some examples: The European Environmental Humanities Alliance has a similar profile to ESEE as well as the Human Development and Capability Association
Several presentations during the meeting focused on the place of social sciences and humanities in the current EU funding schemes. Prof. Sean Ryder, chair of the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) Network Board at the NUI Galway gave a speech on social sciences and humanities research in and beyond Horizon 2020: prospects and perspectives for positioning social sciences and humanities research. Prof. Milena Žic-Fuchs from the European Science Foundation Scientific Review Committee ALLEA talked about advancing alliances to strengthen Europe’s social science and humanities research. Both presentations were followed by lively discussions on the weak recognition of social sciences and humanities by funding agencies as well as dispersion of social scientists and their weak lobby. Practically all participants were convinced that there is a need for collective action to foster recognition of social sciences and boost funding for research in the social sciences and humanities. Rudiger Klein and EASSH board are currently working on a petition to research funders that will express these concerns and will be distributed to all organizations having participated in the meeting, including ESEE, to ask for their support.


3. Hot Topic

Towards ISEE 2014:
Reestablishing equity and scale at the forefront of the environmental policy agenda

by Erik Gómez-Baggethun, ESEE Vice-president

If large scale changes are difficult to perceive as they happen, the depth of the crises in Europe invites to think that we are slowly moving towards an end of cycle. Periods between cycles open windows of oportunity for transformations and ecological economists should get prepared to influence policy directions when the moment arrives. With four decades of experience on global environmental policy and some perspective since Rio+20, this is a timely moment to examine policy responses to the major envionmental and socioeconomic developments over recent decades and to reflect on the way forward as we approach the celebration of the ISEE 2014 conference in August.

Taking the UN Conference on the Human Environment of Stockholm 1972 as a baseline, a major shift to be noted is the change in environmental policy’s position towards growth. Differently from today’s environmental policy, in the 1970s the proposition that perpetual economic growth is largely incompatible with intra and intergenerational equity in a finite planet was a widely accepted idea. Social and ecological limits to growth had not been only pointed out by ecological economists like Georgescu-Roegen and Daly, but also by recognized thinkers or heterodox economists like Mishan, Hirsch, Harich, Gorz, Illich, and Boulding - to mention a few names.   

The Club of Rome report Limits to growth had produced a profound influence in the political landscape and the problematization on ecological boundaries was no circumscribed to academic ivory tower discussions. As an illustrattion, in 1972, EU’s commissioner for Agriculture Sicco Mansholt wrote a leter to the president of the European Commission noting his concerns about the vested economic interests that struggled to maintain the perpetual economic growth in a context of finite rsources (as an irony of history, this came to be a letter to himself as shortly after Mansholt became himself president of the European Commission). The notion of ecodevelopment, coined shortly after by the Sachs commission sunder the auspices of the UN, openly questioned the predatory nature of rich growth economies, making a case for a transition to more endogenous models of development adapted to the biocultural particularities of different planetary regions. While most growth critics acknowledged that Southern countries should keep growing to reduce their poverty, developed countries –the argument went- should strive to reconvert their metabolism so as to prioritize qualitative improvement over quantitative growth. The spirit of the time was reflectedd in the Stockholm Declaration of 1972, where environmental decline was explicitly linked to existing patterns of resource extraction and to the relations of economic exploitation. 

But as environmentalists called for structural economic reforms, freeing gowth from its environmental stigma became a priority for the political forces favouring the economic statu quo. The tone and content of environmental policy changed drastically over the 1980s and an important landmark was the publication of UN report Our common future (1) –more widely known as the Brundtland report –, where the notion of sustainable develoment radically reframed environmental policy’s position towards growth. The core obstacle towards sustainabilty development was no longer to be found in the predatory economies of rich countries but in lack of development among poor countries. Economic growth suddenly became was no longer the problem but part of the solution to environmental problems and free trade was the most effetive way securing sustained growth. This shift in discourse was ratified by the Río declaration of 1992 (principle 12), which claimed for the need of ‘an open international system able to promote economic growth and sustainable development in all countries’, as well as in the summits of Istanbul 1996 and Johannesburg 2002. A concomitant change in tone is apparent when comparing the conferences Habitat I (Vancouver, 1976) and Habitat II (Istanbul, 1996). While the former made reiterated reference to ‘equity’ and ‘equality’, explicit calls to these principles are absent in the latter; whereas the former pointed to the critical role of states in driving change towards sustainability, in 1996 public planning had been removed from the picture, and the hope was put on market forces. The expanding movement that emerged in the following decade in France around the slogan of “Degrowth” was born precisely by the dissatisfaction of many environmentalists with the "oxymoron of sustainable development" and the depoliticization of sustainbility discourses by an emerging envionmental technocracy. 

Environmental policy’s drift towards a growth and free trade-driven agenda extends to the present. UNEP’s 2011 report ‘Towards a green economy’ states that “the key aim for a transition to a green economy is to eliminate the trade-offs between economic growth and investment and gains in environmental quality and social inclusiveness” […], and alerts of the ‘generalized myth in relation to an alleged unavoidable conflict between environmental sustainability and economic progress’ (2, p.16). The Rio+20 declaration advocates sustained economic growth in no less than 23 articles. Article 281 states ‘We reaffirm that international trade is an engine for development and sustained economic growth”, and stresses the role that “trade liberalization can play in stimulating economic growth”. Although included in an early draft of the declaration, no reference or en hint to planetary boundaries is made in the final document.

With market mentality creeping steadily into environmental policy– a domain where dicisions had been traditionally guided by not-market values and norms-, it is critical that ecological economists take distance from mainstream sustainability discourses to retain an independent line of thinking and strive for conceptual clarity. This is not an easy task in a time when generalized cynism and relativism has favoured the emergence of a growing army of mercenaries profesionalized in manufacturering confusion and of an entire publicity industry specialized in green washing. Ecological cars, sustainable megapolies, fair trade, and corporate responsibility –let alone humanitarian wars and green growth- have all ingredients of today’s corporate and/or policy discourse.  

But as rethoric devices like the gren economy conceal our internal ecological-economic contraditions and distract attention from planetary boundries, data talks. Scientific evidence indicates that 60% of ecosystem services are declining worldwide (3), biodiversity loss remais unabated, (4) atmospheric CO2 concentrations have reaised above 400 ppm  (5), absolute material requirements of the economy keep growig (6), and human pressure on planetary boundaries has reached a level where large-scale global environmental disruption can no longer be excluded (7). Unfortunately, the picture is not much better when it comes to equity. Official statistics show that disparities in purchasing power worldwide are on the rise. The Gini coefficient (the most widely used measure of income inequality) has increased in recent decades in China, India, the European Union, the USA and in most other OECD nations, often to record levels (8), and the global Gini coefficient exceeds that for most nations (9). More recently Piketty’s bestseller Capital in the 21st Century formalizes with a vast amount of data a inconvenient truth that was already obvious to many: not only has inequality increased dramatically over the last decades, but growing inequality is a structural tendency of capitalist accumulation.    

In summary, while environmental policy discourse drifts with an increasing ambiguity, vagueness and ambivalance in the formulation of its goals and steadily tones down its calls for structural economic and political change, data indicate that our socio-environmental problems are worsening and that core ecological economics concerns on equity and scale are today more important than ever. In this context, the title selected for the forthcoming ISEE 2014 Conference “Wellbeing and Equity within Planetary Boundaries” could not be timelier. The ISEE meeting to be held in Iceland - a country that has suffered the consequences of a growth economy fuelled by unsustainable financial and ecological debts- will therefore be an excellent oportunity to discuss concrete policy proposals aimed at reestablishing social equity and ecological scale at the forefront of the environmental policy agenda. Times of change are blowing and ecological economists should get prepared for the occasion.

(1) WCED (World Commission on Environment and Development), 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

(2) United Nations Development Programme (UNEP), Towards a Green Economy. Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Erradication, 2011.

(3) Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Ecosystems and Human Well-being. A Framework for Assessment, Island Press, 2003.

(4) S.H.M. Butchard, M. Walpole, B. Collen, A. Van Strien, R.E.A. Almond, et al., 2010. «Global Biodiversity: Indicators of Recent Declines», Science: 1164-1168.

(5) IPCC, 2013. Climate Change 2013. The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policymakers. United Nations, on-line:

(6) F. Krausmann, S. Gingrich, N. Eisenmenger, K.-H. Erb, H. Haberl, M. Fischer-Kowalski, 2009. «Growth in Global Materials Use, GDP, and Population during the 20th Century», Ecological Economics: 2696-2705.

(7) J. Rockström, W. Steffen, K. Noone, A. Persson , F.S. III Chapin, et al., 2009. «A safe Operating Space for Humanity», Nature: 472-475.

(8) OECD, 2011. Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. OEDC Publishing.

(9) UNDP, 2011. The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development, 2010. UNDP, New York.


Under the skin: Ecosystem services, habits and human health

by Juha Hiedanpää

The Finnish Cultural Foundation has an Argumenta funding mechanism. The purpose of it is to stimulate dialogue between scientific communities on those matters that might have high scientific and societal potential but whose scientific and societal significance has not yet been thoroughly understood.

“Ecosystem services and human health” is one of the most recent Argumenta projects. The project aims to (i) identify the linkages between ecosystem services and human health, (ii) create new multidisciplinary approaches to study ecosystem services and human health and well-being, and (iii) to help implement scientific results and insights into the practices of urban planning and decision making in natural resource management.

Some twenty years ago ecosystem heath was a proposed metaphor for environmental management and biodiversity policy. A healthy ecosystem is resistant, resilient and adaptable. The idea was then, and still is now, that biodiversity and its healthy functioning support human wellbeing and health. Perhaps because of its anthropogenic flavor, the metaphor was swiftly replaced by that of ecosystem resilience. 

But the important message was, and still is, that the functional consequences of biodiversity matter. These functional consequences have been conceptualized in many ways. They have been called supporting and regulating ecosystem services and primary ecological values.

Function is the causal antecedent to the end (Deacon 2012, 38-39). Therefore, equally importantly, the functional consequences of biodiversity extend to people and their wellbeing and health. Human communities and societies built their livelihoods and wellbeing on ecosystem functioning. The ends are co-constitutive. This is exactly why the conception social-ecological is used in ecological economics.  

The human significance of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning extends beyond cultural and provisioning ecosystem services. Of course recreational opportunities, beautiful landscapes, medical plants and the edible goods from ecosystems are important in creating and sustaining human wellbeing.

But biodiversity has functional consequences that contribute even more thoroughly to the human social-ecological capacity for resistance, resilience and adaptability in the face of environmental changes. The argument of the Argumenta Project Ecosystem services and human health is to communicate to a wider scientific community, policy-makers and the public the idea of human health as an ecosystem service.

A co-leader of the Argumenta project, Professor Liisa Tyrväinen, suggests that even short-term - 20 minute - visits to nature areas have positive effects on perceived stress relief compared to the built-up environment. Tyrväinen et al (2014, 8) conclude their study:

“… the managed urban parks with old trees and natural views and the urban woodland were perceived as more coherent and were better environments for restoration and for having feelings of vitality and creativity. The results of our experiment suggest that the large urban parks (more than 5 ha) and large urban woodlands have positive well-being effects on urban inhabitants, and in particular for healthy middle-aged women. The results suggest that spending time in urban green areas after work has stress-reducing effects. This means that urban parks and woodlands should be easily accessible for residents.”

It is important that citizens have an access to nature. The urban planning of cities and the planning of everyday life on the individual level should, according to the most recent findings (see references in Tyrväinen et al 2014) provide a diverse set of entry points into nature.

But besides this “possibility to visit nature” -aspect there is another and even more crucial aspect to the health effects of biodiversity. According to recent research conducted on both the Finnish and Russian side of Karelia, people should not only have entry points to visit nature, but should in a habitual manner transact with biodiversity as part of their everyday life.

Professor Ilkka Hanski and his colleagues (2012) found out that in the Karelia area, northeastern Finland, biodiversity, human skin microbiome, and atopic allergy are interrelated. One of the authors, Professor Tari Haahtela, (2014, 21) explains the meaning of the results:

“More and more people around the world are living in cities and experiencing little contact with nature. Environmental microorganisms, especially commensals, previously ubiquitous and abundantly present, for example, in drinking water and milk, are key players for the induction and maintenance of immunoregulatory circuits and tolerance. Adaptation to modern urban life is a challenge to immune development and mismatched immunologic mechanisms lead to symptoms and disease. Contact with natural environments rich in species seems to be strongly related to immunotolerance via the presence of beneficial protective microbes of the skin, gut, and airways. These microbes create a living interface between human body and the environment and extend deeper in the tissue than known before.”

He (2014, 22) continues:

“Humans have evolved with microorganisms, which may not only comprise bacteria and fungi, but also viruses and microscopic protozoans, although hardly any data on the latter are available. Human commensals are no longer considered as passive bystanders or transient passengers, but increasingly as active and essential participants in the development and maintenance of barrier function and immunologic tolerance.” 

“Inflammation is a cardinal feature of asthma and allergic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and many forms of cancer, but more recently, less tangible associations have been linked to these trends such as an increased incidence of obesity and depression with inflammatory markers (16, 17). Also autism and Alzheimer disease have been associated with microbial deprivation.”

And (2014, 23) concludes: 

“Population growth (urbanization) leads to loss of biodiversity (poor macrobiota/microbiota), poor human microbiota (dysbiosis), immune dysfunction (poor tolerance), inappropriate inflammatory responses, and finally symptoms and clinical disease… The interplay of environmental genome (macrobiome), human microbial genome (microbiome), and human genome determines health and diseases. It is time to revisit the allergy paradigm and consider new kind of actions to combat the burden.”

Seen from this perspective, ecosystem services are not benefits that flow from the environment to humans. Ecosystems and their services are part of human life, i.e. human life is constituted and sustained by the functional consequences of biodiversity. Ecosystem services happen inside and outside the human body. According to the findings of Hanski and Haahtela, ecosystem services happen in the human microbial genome, in the microbiome, on the skin and in mucous membranes.

Healthy human life is constituted by transactions with biodiversity and nature. This is a true extension to the meaning of the concept of ecosystem services.

The question is how to modify habits and living environments in such a way that human contact with nature becomes constant and diverse. Indeed, this is a matter of individual reflection and self-creation but equally importantly it is a matter of land use planning and environmental policy. The question is then how to bring agricultural action-oriented countryside into the everyday life of urban city dwellers, and how to nudge the habits of feeling and mind of urban city dwellers to consider that kind of living is worthwhile to test and experiment with.

To produce multidisciplinary knowledge, support transdisciplinary experiments and provide real-life political advice on ecosystem services and human health is one of the key tasks of ecological economics in the decades to come.

Deacon. T. 2012. Incomplete nature: How mind emerged from matter. W.W. Norton & Company: New York. 

Haahtela T. What is needed for allergic children? Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2014: 25: 21–24.

Hanski I., von Hertzen L., Fyhrquistc N. et al. (2012) Environmental biodiversity, human microbiota, and allergy are interrelated. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2012: 109: 8334–9.

Tyrväinen, L., Ojala, A., Korpela, K., Lanki, T., Tsunetsugud, Y., Kagawa, T. (2014) The influence of urban green environments on stress relief measures: A field experiment. Journal of Environmental Psychology 38: 1–9.


 4. Events

Wetlands2014: Wetlands Biodiversity and Services: Tools for Socio-ecological Development 

The ninth European Wetlands Congress takes place from 14 – 18 September 2014 in Huesca, Spain. 

The conference will cover key topics related to all types of wetlands, their ecology, management and applications. Particular emphasis will be given to topics dealing with wetland restoration and creation and the integration of wetlands with socio-ecological issues. These include: the benefits and services that wetlands contribute as part of the landscape, wetland restoration at landscape and watershed scale, the role of wetlands in ecotourism and rural development, valuing the natural resources of wetlands and using them to alleviate poverty, strategies and practical solutions for environmental conflicts related to wetlands, and the contribution of wetlands to global change mitigation.

The event is promoted and supported by Society of Wetland Scientists- European Chapter, European Pond Conservation Network, Comarca de Los Monegros, EU LIFE Programme, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

For details, see the conference website


EUROPARC Annual Conference: Understanding the Value of Nature 
In 2014, the EUROPARC Annual Conference: “Understanding the value of nature”, will take place from 28 September – 1 October 2014, in Killarney, Ireland.
An exciting programme focusing on the topic “Understanding the Value of Nature” will be investigated through keynote speeches with protected area relevance, in-depth workshops looking at practical applications and stimulating field trips across the beautiful south of Ireland to see some practical examples. For details, see the event website.
More information
Biodiversity and Food Security – From Trade-offs to Synergies 
This 3rd International Conference on Biodiversity and the UN Millennium Development Goals will take place from 29 – 31 October 2014 in Aix-en-Provence, France. It is organized by the French CNRS Institut Ecologie et Environnement (InEE) and the German Leibniz Association (WGL). 
The goal is to identify science-based solutions for global sustainability focusing on the issues of biodiversity and food security. Current ecological, economic and societal challenges for development require a holistic understanding of food security and environmental management: from this perspective, biodiversity can be seen as key to overcome trade-offs and to develop synergies between the food system and the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, and species. The conference seeks to attract scientists from basic and applied research. It involves policy makers and other stakeholders concerned with biodiversity and food security themes who are interested in developing new solutions and strategies. It will connect researchers and stakeholders from natural sciences, social sciences, economics, humanities, technology and related fields.
Poster contributions are invited about all topics relevant to the conference theme – the scientific committee will consider these quickly after submission, in terms of pertinence as well as available space. The organisers will inform you about acceptance of your contribution as soon as possible after submission.


5. Publications

New book: Scale-Sensitive Governance of the Environment. Edited by Frans Padt (The Pennsylvania State University, USA), Paul Opdam, Nico Polman, Catrien Termeer (Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2014. 

This edited volume of 18 chapters provides a conceptual and methodological basis for scale-sensitive governance of the environment. The authors present new visions, methods, and innovative applications of thinking and decision making across spatial, temporal, and governance scales. Primary case studies were performed in Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indo- nesia, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Poland, Portugal and the UK. Other chapters use secondary case studies from Europe, southern Africa and South America. The topics that these chapters address include biodiversity, climate change, commodities (palm oil and tea), cultural landscapes, energy, forestry, natural resource management, pesticides, urban development and water management. The book is aimed at students, academics and professionals in the field of environmental governance.

More information.    


6. Students and early career

The current student’s news section includes various announcements about post-doctoral positions, internships, summer schools and courses, and conferences.

Postdoctoral Announcement - Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona

The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy ( seeks to fill the position of Postdoctoral Research Associate in water security—with emphasis on transboundary aspects and one or more of the following: sustainable water governance, use and dissemination of climate information, adaptation to global environmental change, groundwater policy, the water-energy nexus, water-demand management, development of alternative sources of water, and science-policy coproduction.  This is expected to be a two-year position (August 2014 – July 2016), with an initial appointment of one year that is renewable for a second year based on performance. 


The job posting and instructions for submitting application materials online can be found at (search for Job #54525, or go to:  For more information on this position please contact Christopher Scott ( 

Valuing Nature Network Interdisciplinary Fellowships

UK funding bodies NERC and ESRC, are funding up to 3 fellowships for early career researchers as part of the second phase of the Valuing Nature programme. The purpose of the fellowships is to encourage discipline-hopping. If you are an environmental researcher it's for you to develop social science (including economic) expertise in relation to the goals of the Valuing Nature programme. If you are a social scientist (including economists) it's for you to gain natural science expertise in relation to the goals of the Valuing Nature programme. Funds of up to £900k (80% FEC) are available in this call and applications are invited for proposals of a maximum of 36 months duration. Closing date for proposals: 16:00 on 14 August 2014.
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Marine Ecosystem Services Summer School

22-26 September 2014, Plymouth, UK

What are marine ecosystem services? How and why should we value them? How can they be used in marine management and what challenges might be faced? In a week-long summer school, up to 30 students will learn about the challenges of the Ecosystem Services approach and its application to marine management. This interdisciplinary training is aimed at early career scientists from natural and social science fields as well as practitioners. It will involve in-depth lectures and opportunity for discussion with eminent scientists in this field, alongside practical, problem solving workshops involving stakeholders to give a real-world insight into the issues associated with the ecosystem services approach and its use in marine management. Registration fee: €150.

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Summer School in Ecological Economics

25-29 August 2014, Oxford, UK
This course explores the cutting edge methods and policy applications in ecological economics, an interdisciplinary field emerged in response to global sustainability crisis. With a clear sustainable development focus, it draws on the expertise of a range of disciplines: economics, ecology, physics, environmental sciences, sociology, psychology, complex systems theory, etc. to address the current challenges: climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, water shortages, social cohesion and achieving sustainability.