- Sarah Hafner: The power of storytelling for communicating ecological economics
2. News from ESEE and its members
- Update on sub-committees in the ESEE board
- In memory of Felix Rauschmayer (1967 – 2018)
- On upcoming ESEE elections
- Environmental Policy and Governance Journal- current issues
- Inge Røpke wins the 2018 Boulding Award
3. Hot topic
- Irene Ring: IPBES-6 Plenary and the launch of new biodiversity assessments
4. Student spotlight
- Agni Dikaiou: Valuing what matters in the workplace
5. Events, jobs and publications
- Job Opportunity: Two research fellow/ senior research fellow positions in energy research, University of Leeds, UK
- Survey on research agenda for ecological economics
- Call for abstracts: Special issue of ‘Journal of Sustainability and Journal of Ecological Economics’: A research agenda for ecological economics
- Call for abstracts: 5th International Conference on Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Thessaly, Greece, November 02nd to 03rd 2018
- Call for papers: International workshop: Economics and the environment since the 1950s – History, methodology and philosophy, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France, March 2019
- Conference: Degrowth and Post-growth Conference 2018, European Parliament, September 18th and 19th 2018
- New degree programme: Professional Masters in Political Ecology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
- Publication of special issue of ‘Sustainability Science’: The Global Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas), ecological distribution conflicts as forces for sustainability
The power of storytelling for communicating ecological economics
By Sarah Hafner, ESEE Student Representative/ PhD Candidate at Anglia Ruskin University
Communication with non-specialist audiences, most importantly policymakers or society, is an ongoing challenge for scientists undertaking policy-relevant research – such as many ecological economists. In particular, one of the aims of the ESEE is to ‘produce and disseminate information on policies for sustainability’.
Therefore, an obvious question for these scientists is how to communicate results based on complex analyses, which include multiple and interconnected systems in a simple, clear and compelling manner. The answer to this question is not evident. According to Daly, ecological economics involves questions that address (1) sustainable scale, (2) fair distribution, and (3) efficient allocation. Investigating these topics requires an understanding of economics, ecology and further disciplines that are relevant to the problem at hand (e.g. climate science, energy research etc.). Different research fields are required to provide knowledge on different elements of interconnected socio-ecological systems (e.g. economy, environment or society/government) within ecological economics/sustainability. Indeed, the approach of ESEE is to bring analyses of economic, social and natural sciences together in order to investigate ecological, social, economic and political challenges of sustainability. However, such an interdisciplinary approach greatly complicates the task of communicating analysis and findings to a non-specialist audience.
Going back to the original question. Given the complexity and interdisciplinarity of ecological economics, or sustainability sciences in general, what could be a clear and simple way to communicate to policymakers and society? I suggest that story-telling could be one possibility to do so; that is, instead of using technical and scientific language, a story-telling language could be used to communicate results, policy recommendations and knowledge within the field of ecological economics in a clear and convincing way.
In fact, in traditional economics, the ‘story’ of growth has been told in a very compelling way and indeed all neoclassical economics models are centred around this key objective. In addition, political discourse is generally centred on (short-term) GDP-growth, and policies or objectives undermining economic growth (in the short-run) are often rejected or highly disputed. Policy-makers and society also rarely question this objective. Instead, it has been widely accepted that growth is required for well-being, development and prosperity. The aim of growth has become imperative within modern societies.
In the case of ecological economics, one could take a similar approach and build a positive story linking sustainability to personal well-being, nurturing relationships, lower inequality within and across societies, increased access to nature and biodiversity etc. I argue for a positive story-telling approach within the field of ecological economics, rather than having a discussion against growth, which paradoxically keeps the old story of growth in the centre of the focus. Instead, building a strong and positive story around sustainability could develop a convincing and inspiring perspective, which motivates collective and individual action towards the multidimensional objective or process of sustainability. In addition, having a shared, clear and convincing story around sustainability will facilitate the task of communicating results or policy recommendations to society and policy-makers.
Update on sub-committees in the ESEE board
Work in the ESEE Board is largely organised in sub-committees. Following the elections in autumn 2017 and a recent ESEE Board meeting in early June 2018, there is an update regarding the current status of assigned tasks, committee chairs and members:
a. Education committee:
Nina Janasik-Honkela (chair), Juha Hiedanpää, Daniel O’Neill, György Pataki, Elke Pirgmaier, Sarah Hafner (student representative)
Agenda: summer schools, ESEE training institutes, student prizes, educational courses and programmes in Ecological Economics
b. Fund raising and membership committee:
Federico Demaria (chair), Pinar Ertör-Akyazı (treasurer), Erik Gómez-Baggethun (country contacts), Ernest Aigner (student representative)
Agenda: country contacts, membership, fund raising
c. Conference and meetings committee:
Timothy Foxon (chair), Juha Hiedanpää (for ESEE 2019), György Pataki, Elke Pirgmaier, Irene Ring, Sarah Hafner (student representative)
Agenda: ESEE conference venues, planning and supervision; ESEE workshops and meetings; ESEE supported events
d. Publications and publicity committee:
Jasper Kenter (chair), Tom Bauler (EPG), Daniel O’Neill, Begüm Özkaynak, Ernest Aigner (student representative)
Agenda: website, newsletter, relations with journals, social media, marketing and PR
In memory of Felix Rauschmayer (1967 – 2018)
Felix Rauschmayer passed away on 13th May 2018 after severe illness. Many of us will know and remember him well, as from the early years, he was a very active and engaged member of our society. He was an ESEE Board member from 2002 – 2008 and then again from 2015 – 2017. Between 2009 and 2012, he was the first ESEE Editor of Environmental Policy and Governance, the society’s affiliated journal. Felix was also the key initiator and Local Organising Chair of ESEE 2007, the 7th International Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in Leipzig, Germany. One of his legacies for ESEE is the ESEE’s Conference Booklet that he was the first to put together summarising experiences with organising ESEE 2007. Since then, every ESEE conference organising team starts with learning from this booklet and adds to the society’s institutional learning by including its own conference experiences. In the meantime, even ISEE builds on our European conference organisation skills, going back to Felix’s systematic initiative.
Felix studied economics with a strong interest in philosophy. Since 2001 he worked at UFZ in Leipzig, first in the Department of Economics and later in the Department of Environmental Politics. Since 2004 he also acted as a trainer for non-violent communication and succeeded in connecting this and other approaches of mindfulness with his academic activities. With great interest and courage he introduced questions of mindfulness, needs and inner change in his research on sustainability and provided pioneering work. His courage also empowered others, often young scholars, to set first steps in new fields that might not be acknowledged by conventional scientists or not seen as real science. Questions he was interested in especially in the last year were: How are societal conditions and inner change mutually dependent in the context of sustainability transitions? How can the capability approach be extended to better understand the impacts of collective actions at the individual, collective and institutional scale?
Felix was a very authentic personality, always eager to be honest with himself and challenging others to be honest with themselves. His expertise, experiences, works and ideas as well as his clear-cut analysis and preparedness to think from scratch, especially in groups and inter- as well as transdisciplinary projects, was greatly recognised in the international scientific community, leading to many collaborative research projects, cooperation and friendships with other researchers in the field.
We are sure that those who knew him will share our gratefulness for having had the chance of being his friend, working with and learning from him!
Irene Ring and Ines Omann
On upcoming ESEE Elections
As we announced in our Ordinary General Meeting in Budapest in June 2017, ESEE will be running elections again at the end of this year! This time the terms of office of 6 seats are ending – one for the president, two for vice-presidents and three for ordinary board members.
As usual, 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 getting 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.
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. The same information will be made available on the ESEE website as well.
In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding nominations and/or elections, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Begüm Özkaynak, ESEE Secretary
Environmental Policy and Governance Journal
Table of contents for current issues March/April 2018 (vol28/02) and May/June 2018 (vol28/03)
Inge Røpke wins the 2018 Boulding Award
We are pleased to announce that ESEE member Inge Røpke was recently awarded the 2018 Boulding Award by the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE).
From the official announcement:
"This award recognizes her decisive history of ISEE and the ecological economics movement published in Ecological Economics, as well as her more recent work on planning for sustainable transitions with a particular emphasis on the essential role of financial institutions and the banking system, issues which are decisive in recent thinking in ecological economics.
The Award Committee was unanimous that Inge Røpke brings to the Boulding Award a sweeping heterodox perspective on the potential for a transition to sustainable husbandry of our shared resources, very much in keeping with Kenneth Boulding’s “spaceship Earth” philosophy."
Congratulations to Inge!
IPBES-6 Plenary and the launch of new biodiversity assessments
By Irene Ring
Over the last years, ESEE Board members have been regularly reporting on developments of IPBES – the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. For example, György Pataki in his role as a member and vice chair for Eastern Europe of IPBES’ Multidisciplinary Expert Panel between 2012 – 2016, and me representing ESEE in a IPBES-related workshop strengthening the social sciences and humanities in such science-policy interfaces. Many more ecological economists are active in the activities of the platform, in expert groups and task forces, or as authors and reviewers of global, regional and thematic assessments.
In March 2018, the 6th session of the IPBES Plenary took place in Medellín, Colombia, with representatives of its 129 State Members, observers and stakeholders. IPBES-6 approved four Regional Assessments on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the global Land Degradation Assessment. As a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of Chapter 6 of the Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia on “Options for governance and decision-making across scales and sectors” (IPBES 2018), I had the opportunity to participate in this Plenary. Together with my Co-CLA Camilla Sandström, a political scientist from Umeå University, we defended our chapter’s main messages in the assessment’s Summary for Policymakers during night-long negotiations with government representatives of our region. Below I have summarised some of our key messages.
Despite serious declines in biodiversity and degrading ecosystems, there are many promising options for the conservation and restoration of these vital natural resources. The best options are found in better governance at all levels, mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into policies, economic sectors and their practices. Furthermore, better integration across sectors is crucial. This holds especially for agriculture, forestry and fisheries as well as urban planning. Finally, increasing participation and stakeholder involvement helps to integrate various values and forms of knowledge, including indigenous and local knowledge, in policy-making and decision-making while promoting shared responsibility for our common future. Only a mix of these types of governance options and management practices will address the drivers of change, to safeguard biodiversity and to ensure nature’s contributions to people for a good quality of life.
The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity would benefit from mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into policies, economic sectors and their practices. This could be achieved with more proactive actions following these three key steps:
- Raising awareness of the dependence of good quality of life on nature, enhancing capacity-building and strengthening participation of affected actors in decision processes;
- Defining policy objectives concerning the ecological, economic and sociocultural needs for achieving sustainable living, taking account of the diverse values of nature for different stakeholder groups; and,
- Designing instruments and policy mixes to support the implementation of effective, efficient and equitable policy and decision-making for nature and a good quality of life.
Integrated approaches across sectors would enable a more systematic consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem services by public and private actors. Better coordination between conservation and environmental policies and policies related to various economic sectors (such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, manufacturing and the services) helps avoiding negative impacts on biodiversity. For example, a low degree of forest sector integration with other policy sectors has been detected, although this sector has a high potential to contribute to policy integration. Furthermore, some instruments of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy support extensive management practices. Others are less well suited to supporting indigenous and local knowledge and practices of small and semi-subsistence farms in high nature value farmland (e.g. herding in Hungary).
Reflecting the diverse values of nature’s contributions to people in national income accounts through ecosystem accounting is one option to provide better information and help to mitigate trade-offs. Ecological fiscal reforms create an integrated set of incentives by redirecting taxation from labour to the environment. More recently, such reforms involve looking at tax revenues and their redistribution to local governments, and considering protected areas as new indicators next to the familiar indicator of inhabitants for providing public goods and services. Portugal is the innovator in Europe in this regard, considering sustainable development and protected areas for biodiversity conservation in its Local Finances Law since 2007.
Increasing participation and stakeholder involvement helps to integrate various values and forms of knowledge, including indigenous and local knowledge and practices, in policy- and decision-making while promoting shared responsibility for our common future. The role of multi-actor environmental governance is recognised in Western and Central Europe, and increasingly also in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Promising developments can, for example, be found in the establishment of new types of protected areas, and the protection of cultural landscapes where various forms of knowledge are integrated into management. The implications of multi-actor environmental governance, however, have to be carefully monitored, evaluated and successively improved to be more effective. In sum, participation and stakeholder involvement will enable the inclusion of a diversity of perspectives and promote planning and policy development for a more sustainable future.
More information on the report can be found here.
IPBES (2018): Summary for policymakers of the regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. M. Fischer, M. Rounsevell, A. Torre-Marin Rando, A. Mader, A. Church, M. Elbakidze, V. Elias, T. Hahn, P.A. Harrison, J. Hauck, B. Martín-López, I. Ring, C. Sandström, I. Sousa Pinto, P. Visconti, N.E. Zimmermann and M. Christie (eds.). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. 48 pages.
Valuing what matters in the workplace
Interview with Agni Dikaiou
Tell us about yourself.
I am an economist in training, idealist in spirit and go-getter in attitude. Pursuing a PhD came as a natural step after my master’s in Economics for Public Policy at the University of Surrey, where I familiarized myself with the discipline of sustainability as well as the ecological economics school of thought. It felt like home coming, after years of detachment from the economics taught in my home University, the Athens University of Economics and Business. Currently, as a second year PhD candidate at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) at the University of Surrey, I enjoy being part of an organization with shared values and common objectives.
What are you researching?
With my research I am attempting to bring about new notions of ‘performance’ at the workplace, other than those of profits, growth and labour productivity. I am interested in understanding and modelling ‘sustainable performance’ as a holistic approach to value creation at the workplace. Sustainable performance measures would include the social and environmental impact of businesses, the working conditions that they offer, their governance structure and financial gains, among other dimensions.
The appearance of B Corporations that started as a movement in the US, brings hope for the future of business making. B Corporations measure how sustainable their performance is in the above dimensions and are certified if they score above a certain threshold in the assessment that they go through.
After spending a semester at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, I had the chance to interview a few of the most successful B Corporations in the US and understand better their approaches to value creation. I am hoping that the output from my mixed methods approach to sustainable performance modelling will help understand the possibilities for a new business model that holistically serves the purpose of society towards a sustainable prosperity.
If you were in charge of the world economy for one day, tell me one thing what you would do and why?
The world needs a change in lifestyle, which needs more than a day to come through. However, if there was one thing that I would pursue on that one lucky day of mine, it would be the establishment of new standards on how businesses should operate. Sustainable performance would become the new norm and the basis on which they would receive funds from the market (or whichever other mechanism is in place). A policy or regulation is not enough if the people don't understand why it is important, therefore, an educational program would be implemented as well, to inform business owners and the public of the evidence from research that indicates towards this direction for shared and sustainable value creation.
Tell me one thing that you think many ecological economists don’t realise, but should.
Ecological economists have come a long way to even manage to be heard and understood. However, we need to do a better job communicating our work and allowing it to be disseminated within the current system. We need to criticize the other schools of thought less, understand that there are limitations in our own thinking as well, take the best from each approach to a problem and be flexible in mixing them.
Interviewer: Sarah Hafner, ESEE Student Representative
Job Opportunity: Two research fellow/ senior research fellow positions in energy research, University of Leeds, UK
You will join a highly successful research group within the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds that conducts research on energy demand reduction and low carbon transitions using a range of modelling techniques such as Multi-Regional Input-Output Analysis (MRIO), macroeconometric models, energy and exergy analysis and scenario development. The research group has a very strong track record in publishing in many of the top peer-reviewed journals. You will be working to deliver the agreed work programme with the team.
Deadline: August 15th 2018
Contact: Prof. John Barrett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Survey on research agenda for ecological economics
It has been nearly 30 years since a group of ecological economists gathered at the Aspen Institute in Maryland to develop a research agenda for the then nascent field. We believe it is time for an update that can help guide the next generation of ecological economists. Most of the questions are open-ended. How long it will take you depends on how much you have to say about the topic. A cursory response could take as little as 20 minutes, but a more detailed response will certainly take longer.
Call for abstracts: 5th International Conference on Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Thessaly, Greece, November 02nd to 03rd 2018
Call for papers: Special issue of Journal of Sustainability and Journal of Ecological Economics: A research agenda for ecological economics
In response to our biophysical and social predicaments, ecological economics emerged during the 1970s and 80s, as a transdisciplinary paradigm grounding the study and application of economics within the biophysical realities of a complex, finite world and the moral obligations of a just society. Since then, the field of ecological economics has come far, but numerous challenges remain. Most important, economic growth increasingly threatens global life support functions, while failing to meet the basic needs of much of the world’s population. The goal of this special issue is to solicit recommendations for a research agenda from established experts in the field of ecological economics, and perhaps more importantly, from the coming generation of ecological economists who will be tasked with its implementation.
Deadline: August 15th 2018
A call is now open for submission of abstracts for the 5th International Conference on Economics of Natural resources and the Environment hosted by the Department of Economics of the University of Thessaly at Volos, Greece. The aim of the conference is to present the main issues that concern the economics of natural resources and the environment with emphasis on the various environmental problems and their management and resolution policies both at the level of Greece and globally. Its aim is to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of environmental research through the exchange of views and experiences of researchers from different scientific fields and the finding of common components of research approaches.
Deadline: September 30th 2018
Environmental concerns emerged in economics during the 1950s. Some economists had focused on these issues before, but it is not until then that the environment really became an autonomous subject of economic study. This workshop is devoted to the contemporary history of environmental issues in economics, and thus to this transition from a marginal specialization of a few pioneers to a recognized academic field. Proposals, in French or English, that focus on these issues from a historical perspective from the 1950s onwards will be welcome. The workshop is organized by the French journal 'Cahiers d’économie politique / Papers in Political Economy' and the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne.
Call for papers: International workshop: Economics and the environment since the 1950s – History, methodology and philosophy, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France, March 2019
Deadline: October 12th 2018
Contact: Dr Nathalie Berta, email@example.com and Dr Frank-Dominique Vivien, firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference: Degrowth and Post-growth Conference 2018, European Parliament, September 18th and 19th 2018
A major degrowth & post-growth conference convened by European-level stakeholders (Members of the European Parliament from different political groups, academics, NGOs and unions) will take place in the premises of the European Parliament between September 18th and 19th 2018. At the heart of the European Union decision-making, the 2018 conference will offer a unique opportunity for the EU civil society and the degrowth and post-growth communities to exchange their views with those of EU officials and staff who define the core of the European economy.
New degree programme: Professional masters in Political Ecology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
This a new masters, the first internationally on political ecology, offering courses in core competencies of our group in Barcelona: the theory and practice of degrowth, environmental conflicts and justice, and commons and the solidarity economy. The masters builds on a successful 7-year series of Summer Schools on Environmental Justice and Degrowth, and two ongoing ERC projects on global and urban environmental justice.
Deadline: September 25th 2018
Contact: Dr Gonzalo Gamboa Jimenez, email@example.com
Publication of special issue of ‘Sustainability Science’: The Global Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas), ecological distribution conflicts as forces for sustainability
This special issue presents the results of the The Global Atlas of Environmental Justice (EJAtlas), a unique global inventory of cases of socio-environmental conflicts built through a collaborative process between academics and activist groups which includes both qualitative and quantitative data on thousands of conflictive projects as well as on the social response. Editors: Leah Temper, Federico Demaria, Arnim Scheidel, Daniela Del Bene and Joan Martinez Alier.