1. Editorial

  • Editorial, by Tim Foxon

2. News from ESEE and its members

  • News from EPG
  • In memoriam: Professor Stepan Gensiruk
  • An Economic Education: Brief history of the Association for Ecological Economics in Spain

3. Hot Topics

  • The forthcoming World Water Forum: Is it really useful?, by Olivier Petit
  • Global Biodiversity Governance in the Making: IPBES addressing issues of high significance to ecological economics, by György Pataki

4. Events and Jobs

  • Oxford Summer School in Ecological Economics 2015

5. Students and early career

  • ESEE Summer School 2015, 28 - 30 June 2015, Leeds, UK
  • 1st Vienna Conference on Pluralism in Economics
  • Future Connections 2015: Sustainability Research in Action

1. Editorial



by Tim Foxon

Dear members and friends of ESEE,

We are busy preparing to welcome you to the ESEE 2015 Conference (, which will take place at the University of Leeds, UK from 30 June – 3 July 2015, so please register as soon as possible, if you haven’t done so already! We have over 400 abstracts for papers and posters accepted, and we are currently organizing these into thematic sessions, to try to help make sure that you don’t miss that key presentation. Based on the submissions under the conference topics, themes will include theoretical and modelling issues in degrowth and steady state economics, natural resource management, ecosystem service provision, social metabolism, trade and distribution, environmental justice, human well-being, business models and urban sustainability transitions. Over 30 special sessions will be integrated into these themes, including discussion and networking sessions.

In addition to the academic programme, we have a strong social and cultural programme, including a tour of environmental projects and initiatives of Leeds City Council, the conference dinner in the Victorian Leeds Town Hall, a visit to an ecological cohousing project and the final night conference party.

The pre-conference summer school for Masters and PhD students and early career researchers will focus on working groups linking participants’ research to transformations to achieve millennium and sustainable development goals. The student organisers are very grateful to both ESEE and the University of Leeds International Research Office for providing support to help fund the participation of students and early career researchers in the summer school.

We think that the conference and the summer school will showcase the vibrant and coherent intellectual and practical research programme of ecological economics, and highlight the strength of the next generation of young researchers willing and able to take this research programme forward.


2. News from ESEE and its members

News from EPG
Special issue from the ESEE 2013 Conference:
“Ecological Economics and Institutional Dynamics” –  coming out soon

The Special Issue from the ESEE 2013 Conference that took place in Lille, France between 18 and 21 June will be published soon. The guest editors are Olivier Petit, Begum Özkaynak, and Irene Ring. The aim of the issue has been to better understand the various roles played by institutions, both in theory and practice, in ecological economics.

The five papers selected for publication are as follows:

• Motivations to Contribute to Public Goods: Beyond Rational Choice Economics (by Florin Popa)
• Unconventional Determinants of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Role of Trust (by Stefano Carattini, Andrea Baranzini  and Jordi Roca)
• An Ethnographic Analysis of the Role of Power in Institutional Arrangements: Borehole Cost Recovery within a Pastoral Community in North-Western Namibia (by Diego A. Menestrey Schwieger)
• Towards Sustainable Agriculture? The EU Framework and Local Adaptation in Sweden and Poland  (by Erika Öhlund, Karolina Zurek, Monica Hammer)
• The ‘Policy Mix’ for Sustainable Urban Transition: The City District of Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm (by Arian Mahzouni)
Begum Özkaynak, ESEE Secretary

In Memoriam: Professor Stepan Gensiruk

Professor Stepan Gensiruk (Hensiruk), an outstanding and devoted scholar from Ukraine who made exceptional contributions to the development of world forestry and ecological science passed away on October 23, 2014. About half a century ago, being the Head of Department at the National Academy of Sciences in Kyiv, with an extraordinary dedication and great personal efforts, Professor Gensiruk rose to the defence of Ukraine’s forests which remained over-exploited until the mid-1970s. He promoted the reconsideration of then existing views on forests from being seen as a source of timber towards the recognition of forest’s multiple ecosystem services. Professor Gensiruk published numerous scientific articles and monographs (total list exceeds 500 items), among which his books “Forests of Ukraine” and the “Ukrainian Encyclopaedia of Forestry” have been highly appreciated by foresters and ecological economic scientists in many countries. Professor Gensiruk was a holder of Ukraine's Scientific Awards and of the Ukraine’s Award in Science and Technology. He was granted the National Honour of Ukraine and the Silver Medal of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences. Professor Gensiruk was Academician of a number of specialised Academies and Laureate of national and international awards. He was the first scientist from the former Soviet bloc to be awarded with the Scientific Achievements Award of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) and the IUFRO Golden Medal. Professor Gensiruk lived long and meaningful life and will be remembered always by his family, friends, his colleagues, students and his many followers worldwide. He will be remembered for his exceptional contribution to ecological economics and forestry science and for his loyalty, humility and humanity.

Maria Nijnik, Country Contact Ukraine

An Economic Education: Brief history of the Association for Ecological Economics in Spain

By María J. Beltrán
Economics department, Pablo de Olavide University, Seville (Spain)
Member of the Board Committee of the Association for Ecological Economics in Spain
European Society for Ecological Economics Spanish contact

In 2006 a group of scholars and researchers established The Spanish Network for Ecological Economics –EcoEcoEs-. Aiming to expand the scope of ecological economics and political ecology within the Spanish state, the common interest of this group was to promote and coordinate the teaching on ecological economics and to enhance further development of research in this field. Network members have also shared the lack of academic support experienced in their respective universities. In some cases, attempts to introduce ecological economics and political ecology approaches in courses on economics - a different economics approach than the so called
“neo-classical” - even were confronted to a total opposition.

The Spanish Network for Ecological Economics has been located at Pablo de Olavide University, in Seville (Spain). Members have organized annual meetings in different Spanish cities from 2006 to 2014. These meetings have served to create synergies between scholars, decision makers, and members of the civil society as well as to disseminate the results of the research carried out on ecological economics and political ecology. A web page was set up with information, academic materials and publications; also a blog and working papers series serve to disseminate the research of the members. Since December 2010, the Spanish Network for Ecological Economics has been formalized and acquired legal status as the Association for Ecological Economics in Spain.

As one of the members of the association, I believe that nowadays there is an urgent need to promote a different approach to economics than the so-called “neo-classical” that presents a world consisting of egoistic individuals maximizing their personal gain. Those teaching economics share a great responsibility: to transmit - or not - an approach to economics that in the words of Giorgos Kallis, “has become the secular equivalent of religion. It includes an entangled network of scriptures (textbooks), disciples (students) and preachers (professors), trained to believe without questioning the supremacy of the free market and devotedly working to prove it in each and every context, defending it against non-believers”. 

We find a good example of this in certain primary and secondary schools of Spain, where a non-mandatory subject called “financial education” is taught to children. The program of this course, created by the Spanish National Stock Market Commission and the National Central Bank of Spain, has been strongly criticized. In explaining the classification of financial expenses that students will have to meet in the future, mortgage is presented as a compulsory financial expense, while living expenses are classified as non-compulsory financial expenses and therefore reducible. In the context of the economic crisis in Spain with 20% of the Spanish population living below the poverty line, concepts such as nonrecourse debt are not in the program of this course. The critics question the objectivity of the economic science transmitted through “financial education” at schools, pointing out that the ideological motivation behind this knowledge is to influence students, ensuring that they will not contest the free market principles.

Both for students and professors that dare to critically question economic neo-classical approach, the Association for Ecological Economics in Spain can serve as a meeting point to discuss and promote another economic science. The central role of teachers in the education of future citizens elucidates social responsibility issues that they should take into account in the development of their profession. The Association for Ecological Economics in Spain has its origins in the need of a group of scholars to empower themselves to challenge neo-classical economics statements. Today this need remains; as it remains the work of the Association for Ecological Economics in Spain to promote a different approach to economics.


3. Hot Topic

The forthcoming World Water Forum: Is it really useful?

by Olivier Petit

In the coming weeks (12-17 April, 2015), the Republic of Korea (and especially the cities of Daegu and Gyeongbuk) will host the 7th World Water Forum, presented as “the largest international water event in the world”. According to Gill Seyfang (2003), the core functions of environmental mega-conferences are: “setting global agendas; facilitating ‘joined-up thinking’; endorsing common principles; providing global leadership; building institutional capacity; and legitimising global governance through inclusivity”. However, the status of the World Water Forums is really special, compared to UN conferences. These Forums are organized every three years since 1997 by the World Water Council, a consortium of private and public actors working in the field of water and sanitation services and established in Marseille (France). Assessments of the progress made during the previous World Water Forums are speaking (Biswas and Tortajada, 2009). During the third World Water Forum held in Kyoto (2003), the Dutch Minister for development cooperation, Agnes van Ardenne even said that large scale conferences like the World Water Forum have no future - interesting statement when one recalls that the Dutch government was hosting the second World Water Forum in The Hague in 2000.

But World Water Forums are not the only global water initiatives: to list only the main events, let’s mention the World Water Week and the World Water Day - organised every year - the biannual meetings of the intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the triannual meetings of the International Water Association, etc.

But despite the number and frequency of these global water initiatives, the situation of a large number of people, especially in developing countries, remains difficult...

The slogan of the forthcoming World Water Forum is ‘We will make the happy future of water together” and the main theme of the Forum is “Water for our future”. If the happy future of water can be drawn, there is still today thousands of people (especially children) dying every week, due to a lack of adequate water and sanitation services. According to UN Water (, 783 million people around the world still lack access to safe water (almost half of them living in Africa) and 2.5 billion people do not have access to sanitation services. If the situation has improved, compared to the past decades, one can wonder if the organization of such costly meetings has really been decisive. As already mentioned ten years ago by Asit K. Biswas, “The question that must be asked at present is, are these mega-meetings worth their costs and the efforts needed to organize them, especially when their final and overall impacts are considered? Are there better and more cost-effective alternatives, where the world can get ‘‘bigger bangs for smaller bucks’’? Unfortunately, these types of questions are not even being asked at present, let alone being answered“ (Biswas, 2004).

Today, many issues have to be addressed: beyond the impacts of climate change, let me consider only some of the issues contained in the so-called ‘food-water-energy nexus‘: food demand is expected to increase by 50% between 2010 and 2030, due to population growth; the global meat consumption is expected to increase from 37 kg per capita in 2000 to 52kg per capita in 2030 and a larger part of the world population is expected to change its diet: drink milk for instance. All these societal changes will inevitably have an impact on the use of water for food production. Another example is the transition of energy production from fossil fuels to biofuels, which already has an impact on the land cultivated and on water availability and quality.

Tackling these problems (among many others) needs more than a World Water Forum. The World Water Forums will maybe help to dream about a more desirable future, but the problems we already face today need solutions, urgently! Financing the Millennium Development Goals in the water and sanitation domains has been estimated, according to various methods and scenarios, between US$ 9 and 70 billion, annually. Compared with the global annual military expenditures (US$ 1.7 trillion)… where are the priorities, if we really want to build a happy future?   

Olivier Petit   


Further readings on this topic:

Biswas A.K, 2004, “From Mar del Plata to Kyoto: an analysis of global water policy dialogue”, Global Environmental Change, 14:81-88.
Biswas A.K, C. Tortajada, 2009, Impacts of Megaconferences on the Water Sector, Berlin-Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag.
Seyfang G., 2003, “Environmental mega-conferences—from Stockholm to Johannesburg and beyond”, Global Environmental Change, 13, 223-228.
Ulibarrí N., 2011, Bridging divides for water? Dialogue and access at the 5th World Water Forum. Water Alternatives, 4(3): 301-315
Varady R.G., K. Meehan, J. Rodda, E. McGovern, M. Iles-Shih, 2008, “Strenghening Global Water Initiatives”, Environment, 50(2): 19-31



Global Biodiversity Governance in the Making: IPBES addressing issues of high significance to ecological economics

by György Pataki

A new acronym has been gaining widespread use in global environmental governance, that of “IPBES”. IPBES stands for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ( and it has been welcomed as the “IPCC for biodiversity”, much needed in our current times when biodiversity loss is not only an issue for concerned natural scientists and nature lovers but, due to the interdependent loss of cultural diversity and increase in socially unjust socio-economic practices, it is a serious concern for social scientists, social justice activists and indigenous and local communities. The ecological economics community therefore has a genuine scientific interest in following unfolding IPBES activities, to keep a critical eye on whether it will realize its transformative potential with regard to global biodiversity governance.

IPBES was given a green light by the 65th UN General Assembly in 2010 after a series of ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder negotiations in Putrajaya (Malaysia) in 2008, in Nairobi (Kenya) in 2009 and in Busan (South Korea) in 2010. The architecture of IPBES significantly differs from that of the IPCC despite similarities in their objectives and outputs in the sense that both seeks to address global environmental issues and provide assessments of existing knowledge and of gaps in knowledge. IPBES has been designed as an intergovernmental body with the main decision-making agent the Plenary, consisting of IPBES member states (MSs) and another influential body, the Bureau, populated by science diplomats delegated by governments with two representatives from each UN region (there are altogether 10 members). Scientists enter this organisational scene most powerfully as members of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) of IPBES nominated by IPBES MSs and elected by the Plenary. The 25 MEP members are recruited from the five UN regions with the strict requirement of a regional balance of 5 from each UN region. Another powerful body in the IPBES architecture is the Secretariat, which is made up of paid staff responsible for the operation of IPBES.

The architecture of this global environmental governance initiative constitutes in itself a significant issue for scientific analysis, not to mention the invaluable opportunity to conduct ethnographic research upon the actual operational dynamics of IPBES at the plethora of meetings IPBES is constituted by: the yearly plenary meetings, in-between plenaries at Bureau and MEP meetings, expert group and task force meetings, and so on. The actual scientific work of IPBES is embodied in expert groups working on thematic and methodological assessments and task forces addressing horizontal issues such as capacity building, data and knowledge, including indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) systems. Here, one finds the active participation and contribution of scientists and other knowledge holders to IPBES. Calls for expert nomination are frequently issued to involve a selected number of experts for expert groups and task forces (see a recent one here). The selected pool of experts is expected to demonstrate relevant expertise with regard to the topic of assessment and be balanced with regard to geography, gender and discipline. It is expected to preferably include policy practitioners and, more importantly, indigenous knowledge holders.

Here lies a significant difference between IPCC and IPBES that cannot be overemphasised. IPCC never intended to recruit expertise that will bring geographically or regionally contextualised knowledge together, as they base their assessments on the dominant knowledge system of our times, that of peer-reviewed science. IPBES has deliberately emphasised different features with regard to the involvement of diverse knowledge systems, most prominently including ILK in addition to scientific ones (as IPBES also tries to achieve disciplinary diversity). This is really crucial from a political point of view. If IPBES is successful in its efforts at meaningful engagement with other knowledge systems, particularly ILK, then the politics of knowledge will play out differently in this global environmental governance initiative compared to previous efforts. IPBES is under significant time pressure to prove its effectiveness in producing substantive assessments on diverse thematic areas (including invasive and alien species, land degradation and restoration, pollination, sustainable use of biodiversity) and methodological issues (incl. policy support tools, scenarios and modelling, values and valuation) within its first five-year work programme period (2014-2018) that might result in compromising this progressive feature.

IPBES is a goldmine for researchers and reflective practitioners interested in the social dynamics of international policy-making, to follow activities and participate in events through IPBES. It is encouraging that some of our fellow ecological economists from the wider ecological economics community have been participating in the expert group on diverse conceptualizations of multiple values of nature and its benefits, including biodiversity and ecosystem functions
and services (the preliminary version to be accessed here) as well as on policy support tools. The topic of values and valuation, classified as a methodological assessment in the IPBES jargon, has raised the most heated discussions and experienced the most extreme disagreement among government delegates at IPBES both at the two previous plenaries in Antalya (Turkey) and Bonn (Germany). The work of the expert group, in a sense, is being captured by dynamics that divide countries that expect a dominant economics approach towards values and valuation (including, for example, Australia, Chile, Norway, UK, USA) and those country delegates who clearly expressed a wish towards a broader social scientific view, incl. the perspective of buen vivir widely discussed recently in ecological economics (incl. e.g. Belgium, Bolivia, Georgia, Sweden).

It goes without saying in the ecological economics community how important it will be to produce a guide for how to include the diverse conceptualization of multiple values and valuation methodologies into other assessments and to develop a scoping document and, if accepted, a full assessment on values and valuation. Partly depending on the future influence of IPBES, a conceptualization of values and valuation methodologies are opening up the debate on the cultural, moral and political aspects of values and valuation, which might constitute a much needed learning opportunity for policy-makers at all levels in countries that have joined the IPBES process.

More information on IPBES will be happily provided upon request. Contact: György Pataki at, MEP for the Eastern European Region.



 4. Events and Jobs

Oxford Summer School in Ecological Economics 2015

The Oxford Summer School in Ecological Economics, 31 August - 4 September 2015 will be held at the 800 year old Balliol College in Oxford. We have top international sustainability experts in the programme, which explores the cutting edge methods and policy applications in ecological economics, an interdisciplinary field emerged in response to global sustainability crisis. The course is designed for multiple points of entry and could be helpful for PhD students, MSc students, government experts, representatives of international organizations and business. It will give participants an opportunity to explore key methodologies for ecological-economic analysis and to apply these to various case studies.

Deadline for applications: 15 April 2015
Deadline for registrations: 1 May 2015

More information


5. Students and early career

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

European Society for Ecological Economics – ESEE Summer School 2015, 28 - 30 June 2015, Leeds, UK

In parallel with the ESEE 2015 conference theme "Transformations", the summer school will focus on the interrelations and interactions between the ecological, social, political, cultural and technological aspects of transformation to a sustainable society. Application is closed and acceptance letters have been sent out already.

Please visit our website, or contact for more information.

1st Vienna Conference on Pluralism in Economics: registration open - WU, Vienna University of Economics and Business, 10-12 April 2015

Where individual economic theories fail, pluralism in economics can capture and depict the complexity of economic phenomena and their embeddedness into social, political and historical systems. Communication between different schools of economic thought and perspectives can help to shed light on unsolved real world (economic) issues and will avoid bias and intellectual stagnation. For this purpose, neglected but critical economic perspectives need to be given a platform.

More information


Future Connections 2015: Sustainability Research in Action: call for abstracts - 25-26 June 2015 at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation
Future Connections is an annual interdisciplinary conference on sustainable development for PhD and early career researchers in Scotland.

Please submit your abstract (max 250 words) before April 10 to

More information