- Juha Hiedanpää: The road from Turku
2. News from ESEE and its members
- Conference contribution call: International Society of Ecological Economics and International Degrowth Research Network joint conference, Manchester, UK, 1 to 5 September 2020
- Call for applications: ESEE Ecological Economics Training Institutes
- Environmental Policy and Governance Journal
- The New Environmental Economist: Sustainability and Justice, by Éloi Laurent - discount for ESEE members
- Prioritising well-being on a finite planet: A Research manifesto
3. Hot topic
- Jacob Ainscough: Bretton Woods 2.0: Should ecological economics consider the architecture of the global economy?
4. Student spotlight
- Ahmed Badr: Linking sustainable development impediments and civil unrest
5. Events, jobs and publications
- Job Opportunity: Policy Fellow in sustainable finance, London School of Economic and Political Science, London, UK
- Job Opportunity: Assistant Professorial Research Fellow in environmental governance, London School of Economic and Political Science, London, UK
- Job Opportunity: Assistant Professorial Research Fellow in economics of climate change, London School of Economic and Political Science, London, UK
- Call for contributions: Special issue of the journal Papers in political economy: Economics a the environment since the 1950s: History, methodology, and philosophy
- Conference announcement: Strategies for Social-Ecological Transformation, Vienna, Austria, 29 May to 1 June 2020
- Publication: Two new degrowth special issues
The road from Turku
Juha Hiedanpää, ESEE Board Member
We had the biennial ESEE conference in Turku this summer. The theme was Co-creation: Making Ecological Economics matter . By using the phrase co-creative turn, we wanted to emphasise that there is a need to courageously reach beyond both the multi- and interdisciplinary research practices and common catch phrases such as 'discursive turn' and 'practice turn' in economics and policy studies. Our message was that the ecological economics community must stand out and provide workable advice on implementing a sustainability transformation in practice.
ESEE 2019 contributed to the transformation challenge by exploring the theories and applications of co-creation from a wide variety of perspectives. For us, co-creation stands for the epistemic process that merges inter- and transdisciplinary science with participatory processes and realisation-oriented policy-making. This implies that the practitioners of ecological economics contribute to actual policy-making, up to and including implementation and evaluation. Such engagement can help to guarantee that the institutional changes actually happen and that trade-offs and emergent effects are assessed and acted upon. In Turku, 324 participants (including 150 members of our community and 88 students, newer generation ecological economists and other trans- and interdisciplinary scientists) witnessed truly innovative ways of approaching this.
As I explicated in one of my previous ESEE newsletter hot topics , co-creation is like a well-matured wine in a rather old bottle - my explorations built on classical pragmatism, the literature of which was published some hundred plus years ago. But no worries, in Turku, the concept of co-creation received a thorough and very much updated exploration by the brightest researchers in the field.
As one of our keynote speakers, Prof. Ioan Fazey pointed out, co-creation is not just the co-production of knowledge, but is about how to make things happen through collective endeavours. For him, the purpose of co-creation is to erect collective scaffolds for more sustainable individual and social action. Prof. Niki Frantzeskaki pushed this message towards the actual scaffold making. For her, co-creation is a new form of collaborative governance that actively involves different stakeholders in the production of knowledge-based outputs that target specific challenges. While these co-created targets may be specific or general, such a process cannot prevent surprises. However, with co-creative engagement, positive surprises may become more likely than harsh negative ones.
Indeed, we should be cautious regarding how co-creation relates to knowledge co-production. Prof. Janne Hukkinen reminded us that knowledge is not a mechanistic element in a policy process; the participants in science-policy interactions should be aware of how knowledge performs and enacts itself in a given environmental policy situation. Prof. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath saw this same feature from a theory point of view, highlighting how economic theories also have a performative function. Both keynote speakers pointed out the importance of understanding the co-created effects of economic practice and theory building – real-life meanings, given economic reasons and persuasive messages are all enacted.
Performative knowledge production contributes, in one way or another, to the effectiveness and relevance of a policy design process. For Prof. Eeva Primmer, co-creation is about securing the work of both the scientific community and the decision-makers who govern the environment. Co-creation helps to focus on the critical features of policy-making and implementation in emerging circular and sharing economies. For CEO Jussi Mälkiä, confrontations between businesses, NGOs and consumers do not make sense in a short nor long-term perspective – hence the shift towards co-creative collaboration is inevitable. This is so because in the near future, consumers will join into the production of raw materials and energy, and therefore a holistic understanding of environmental quality and social transparency in sustainability transformation becomes essential.
Co-creation is affected by the institutions within which it happens, but humans are not only co-creating amongst themselves. Prof. Liisa Tyrväinen pointed out that policy co-creation with natural features is essential in striving towards new types of inter-sectorial initiatives and enhanced health-beneficial environments for various groups of people. In co-creative processes, nature plays a key performative role. Prof. Graham Smith is in accordance with this, but reminds us about the necessity of high-quality participatory institutions. For him, sustainability transformation must be understood as a form of co-creation of policy between citizens and between citizens and public authorities. The design of participatory institutions affects how and to which extent co-creation among people and between people and nature takes place, and how, in turn, the consequent realizations affect nature and climate. Sustainability transformation is not only about healthy ecosystems but also about healthy institutions that enable a sane society.
All our ESEE 2019 keynotes reflected on how the performativity of various institutional design fosters and at times undermines the co-creation of policies for sustainability transformation. The work on this important task has just started. We will witness new fruitions first in Manchester and then in Pisa, ISEE 2020 and ESEE 2021, respectively.
While we prepare ourselves for these two important events, please, have a look at our co-creation science shots and a ten-minute Summer School documentary on the ESEE playlist on the University of Turku Youtube channel, as well as our keynote sessions, and share the links through your social media channels.
Conference contribution call: International Society of Ecological Economics and International Degrowth Research Network joint conference, Manchester, UK, 1 to 5 September 2020.
We are delighted to announce that the first ever joint conference between the International Degrowth Research Network and the International Society for Ecological Economics will take place 1 to 5 September 2020 in Manchester, UK. This conference will bring together academics from the degrowth and ecological economics communities, voices from the Global North and Global South, civil society actors, activists, artists and policy-makers. It aims to break down silos and stimulate dialogues between and within different perspectives, disciplines and social movements.
Building Alternative Livelihoods in times of political and ecological crisis is the overarching theme of the conference. Economic systems have always co-evolved with social, environmental and technological systems. The worsening ecological and climate crisis means we must urgently abandon practices of production and consumption associated with ecological degradation and rely on unsustainable extractivism. We must develop alternative livelihoods which are harmonious with planetary limits and safeguard material living conditions. We must invent and trial new ways of working, providing for everyone's needs, caring for each other and democratising the economy. We must seek clarity about the systems of provisioning which will be utilised in a society beyond growth where states and markets play more peripheral roles in the allocation of resources. In short, we must ask what are the alternative livelihoods which ensure the future conditions of societal wellbeing.
The construction of alternative livelihoods entails a radical transformation of economy, culture and society. What are the institutional arrangements which safely provide for basic needs, social stability and democratic legitimacy in the transition to environmental sustainability? How can both social justice and ecological justice for the populations of the Global North and the Global South be ensured? How can political support be mobilised for the necessary transformations? How can the transition to environmental sustainability be made politically viable and democratically legitimate?
There will be two stages for the call for academic and activist contributions. The first stage is a call for sub-theme conveners. Academics and activists who wish to actively participate in these sub-themes or suggest new sub-themes for inclusion in the conference should submit a proposal by 30th October 2019 Descriptions of the sub-themes should speak to the overall conference theme and be no longer than 250 words. It should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each sub-theme can go from one to four sessions, with up to four papers or other contributions per session. There are many formats which a session can adopt, including the traditional format of paper presentations with a specific thematic focus, roundtable discussions, and participatory sessions encouraging reflection on a particular topic using an open format (e.g. discussion workshops, dialogical/reading/planning sessions, walks, etc.). Sub-theme leaders will be given full autonomy and responsibility for the organisation of sub-themes.
More information about the conference and submission process can be found here.
Feminist and degrowth alliance special sessions call
Further to the above, t he Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance (FaDa) is calling for short (few sentences and title, keywords) proposals for possible special sessions at this conference.
Deadline: 16 October 2019
Contact: Corinna Dengler, email@example.com
Call for applications: ESEE Ecological Economics Training Institutes
ESEE board is pleased to open its call for a series of transdisciplinary and collaborative training institutes on ecological economics aimed at early career researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers in Europe. Events can be focused on any of the diverse range of topics associated with ecological economics but will share a common participatory approach and structure. Local organisers can (annually) bid for up to 2000 euros for events that meet a number of criteria, as detailed below:
- Highly collaborative and participatory; not just a series of lectures and presentations
- Transdisciplinary: including participants beyond academia, e.g. decision-makers, practitioners, community representatives, etc.
- Involvement of one or more ESEE board members to guarantee criteria are met and to further year-on-year learning regarding format and engagement.
- Students are heavily involved in organising the event.
- Zero or low cost for participation, with some kind of bursary opportunities for those in a low-income situation
- The organisers have to record participant feedback on the event and make this available to ESEE
- Environmental awareness: a plan to minimise (and potentially compensate) the carbon footprint and other environmental costs
Further guidelines and suggestions
In addition to mandatory criteria, ESEE suggests the following guidelines for the events. These guidelines will also be used to decide between competing applications if more than one application is made for sponsorship in an annual round.
- Duration: 2 days for pre-conference events, 3-5 days for other events
- Number of participants: 20-30 participants; a relatively small group of students helps to build group cohesiveness and identity.
- A mix of student and post-doc with at least a third post-docs.
- Provide opportunities for publication of outputs.
- Provide opportunities for ECTL credits associated with courses.
- Remote locations preferred to maximise engagement.
- Family friendly with childcare options available.
- As the decision on competing proposals is taken by the ESEE Board, active ESEE Board members are excluded from submitting applications for competition. However, they are still free to submit applications, but these will only be considered in the case of no other eligible application(s) being made from applicants outside the ESEE Board for the next year to come.
- ESEE membership: participants must be told about ESEE, and provided the opportunity to join ESEE (or ISEE) as part of the event.
Procedure for applications
Candidates can apply annually for up to 2000 euros towards the cost of an event to be held within the following two years, provided it meets the criteria, but are responsible for the remainder of funding. Applications will include a short rationale for the meeting including a description of the meeting format (max 2 pages), a budget, an indication of what budget items ESEE funds will be spent on, and an overview of other (potential) funding sources.
The deadline for applications for events in 2020 has now passed, however applications for 2021 can be submitted at any time by October 31st, 2020, and will be decided upon in November 2020.
Environmental Policy and Governance Journal
Table of contents for current issues May/June (vol 29/03) and July/August (vol 29/04).
The New Environmental Economist: Sustainability and Justice, by Éloi Laurent - discount for ESEE members
Members of ESEE are offered a discount when purchasing the above from our partnering publishing house (Polity Press; Wiley). Use the code "ENV20” when ordering at polity books to claim a 20% discount.
The Synopsis reads as follows :
“Too often economics disassociates humans from nature, and the economy from the biosphere that contains it. When economists do engage with environmental issues, they typically reduce their analysis to a science of efficiency that leaves aside distributional analysis and justice issues. The aim of this ludic textbook is to provide a framework that prioritises understanding and improving human well-being within the limits of the biosphere, and rethinking economic analysis and policy in the light not just of efficiency and equity. Leading economist Eloi Laurent systematically ties together sustainability and justice issues in order to cover a wide range of topics, form biodiversity and ecosystems, energy and climate change, environmental health and environmental justice to new indicators of well-being and sustainability beyond GDP and growth, social-ecological transition and sustainable urban systems. This book both equips readers with ideas and tools from various disciplines alongside economics such as history, political science and philosophy, and invites them to apply those insights in order to understand and eventually tackle pressing 21st century challenges. It will be an invaluable resource for students of environmental economics.”
Éloi Laurent is a senior economist at OFCE (Sciences Po, Paris), a Professor at the School of management and innovation at Sciences Po and a Visiting Professor at Stanford University.
Prioritising well-being on a finite planet: A Research manifesto
At the ESEE conference 2019 in Turku a team of researchers including Julia Steinberger and ESEE Secretary Elke Pirgmaier launched a research manifesto for prioritising well-being on a finite planet. Academics, activists, policy-makers and members of civil society, who are dedicated to prioritising human well-being within planetary boundaries are all invited to read and sign the manifesto which you can find here.
Bretton Woods 2.0: Should ecological economics consider the architecture of the global economy?
Jacob Ainscough, ESEE Newsletter Editor and PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh
If the Bretton Woods conference was to take place today, who would play the role of the ecological economics equivalent of J M Keynes? What ideas would they bring to the table for the re-construction of the global economic infrastructure? Can the various policy prescriptions emerging from ecological economics be knitted together into a workable blueprint for a global economy? Should ecological economics, as a pluralist and often localist endeavour, even have such aspirations?
This short blog is not intended to provide answers to these questions, but to suggest that they may need answering sooner rather than later.
Milton Friedman is famously quoted as saying ‘only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change’. In this statement, Friedman was (perhaps unknowingly) summarising a significant tract of literature on the subject of institutional change. And whilst there are many ideas of Friedman’s that ecological economists might feel lukewarm about, there is a truth to this quote that is relevant to the field in this current moment.
Friedman’s crisis came in the form of the oil shocks and stagflation of the 1970s that heralded the end of the post-war consensus and the birth of neoliberalism. But the basic pattern was equally true of the interwar economic crises and destruction of the Second World War that led to the original Bretton Woods conference.
Few today would deny we are facing a period of general crisis akin to the ravages of unfettered global finance that precipitated the Second World War, or the falling apart of the social democratic post-war contract in the Global North during the 1970s. The concomitant crises of productivity, economic stagnation, environmental destruction, and far-right resurgence are clearly not going to be addressed by turning back the clock or tweaking things around the edges. What comes next must be fundamentally new.
We are in what Gramsci labels ‘the interregnum’, where ‘the crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born’. It is hard to predict the events that will bring down the old and allow a new system to be born this time around, but we can be sure such events are coming. A new global war is not beyond the realms of possibility and a rapidly destabilising climate will likely bring a similar level of destruction and political upheaval.
What would the ecological economists’ response be to such an opportunity of crisis? Presuming that the crisis is not of such a scale that organised human activity at a global level is no longer imaginable. Ecological economics has plenty of policy prescriptions for the context of a single country with unilateral control over its domestic policy but has historically paid less attention to the wider political economic situation of individual countries in a global system.
This issue is epitomised by Steffen Lange’s excellent book on post-growth macroeconomics . This book contains many valuable insights for how a steady state or de-growing economy may work, but at the outset highlights that the theoretical developments in the book assume a closed economy. Jackson and Victor’s FALSTAFF macroeconomic model similarly operates largely at the level of the nation state. If ecological economics is to develop a coherent package of policy proposals then more attention must be paid to dynamics of the global economy.
Resource caps may be a central part of an ecological economic policy package, but how could these realistically be implemented at a single country level without the serious risk of capital flight? Should the role of capital controls, trade policy and de-financialisation be a more central part of the ecological economics research agenda?
Ecological economists have done much to highlight the gross inequalities of resource consumption between the Global North and Global South and huge ecological debt owed by the Global North. How might a global economic infrastructure that reversed these trends look? And what of reparations for the damage done and wealth extracted?
And what about money? One of the big contestations at Bretton Woods was over the future of money, with Keynes’ proposal for a global currency ultimately defeated by the US’ determination to position the dollar as the worlds reserve currency. Jackson and Victor’s interesting paper on the subject notwithstanding, money based on interest bearing debt has long been a bugbear of ecological economists in general and degrowthers in particular. What would be a more appropriate form of money? Would it be issued and overseen at a national or supranational level?
All this points to the need for thinking about international institutions. What would an ecological economist do with the IMF and the World Bank? Can these institutions be reformed , or should they be abolished? If the latter, then what should replace them?
Ecological economics is by no means blind to the geopolitics of a sustainability transition (as work of Ahmed Badr below attests, see also Herman Daly's thoughts on the questions outlined above) but until the discipline starts paying significant attention such factors, it risks playing the role of the technocratic utopian – keenly developing a suit of policy solutions to the world’s problems, but without serious consideration of the macroeconomic and geopolitical consequences of these proposals, or a coherent vision for a global economic infrastructure that would facilitate their deployment.
With an ecological macroeconomics still emerging, perhaps it is too early to be asking such questions. But with the neoliberal world order in its final death throes, we may need answers sooner than we realise.
Linking sustainable development impediments and civil unrest
Interview with Ahmed Badr, PhD Researcher, Anglia Rusking University: Global Sustainability Institute
Tell us about yourself.
I come from a business background with seven years of banking experience and a bachelor of accounting and two masters degrees; one of business administration from Heriot-Watt University in the UK and the other of philosophy in economics from the University of Newcastle in Australia. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD degree in sustainable development at the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) in Cambridge in the UK. The GSI is a research institute committed to playing a role in articulating, developing, and prescribing practical solutions to sustainability challenges that the contemporary world encounters. The GSI supervises my thesis under the research umbrella of its ‘Global Risk and Resilience’ theme which focuses on the latest evidence on limits to growth and resource constraints and their impact on the global economy and peace.
So far, my portfolio of publications contains two academic pieces. The first, “Energy Crisis Keeps Egypt on the Wrong Side of Capitalism”, is a journal article that awarded me both ‘The International Award for Excellence’ of The Global Studies Journal as well as the Graduate Scholar Award from Common Ground Publishing. The second is a book chapter published by Springer, “Structural Impediments to Sustainable Development in Australia and Its Asia-Pacific Region” and awarded me the best book chapter in the year 2018 from the Newcastle University Postgraduate Student’s Association.
What are you researching?
My doctoral research focuses particularly on impediments to sustainable development and their reflections on global risk and resilience. My research attempts to strengthen global peacekeeping and conflict prevention through developing a mechanism capable of detecting early signs of social unrest based on the capacity of countries to withstand sustainability impediments. To this end, I seek to identify structural impediments to sustainable development commonly associated with the contemporary global neoliberal paradigm. I am seeking to quantify a diagnostic tool that assesses countries on both the prospects of sustainability transformations as well as vulnerability to civil unrest. I am developing a methodological design that adopts a holistic assessment tool by integrating the analytical strength of a bi-focal scope of analysis with the comprehensiveness of the multi-dimension design. Here, the bi-focal scope of analysis accounts for the impact of both the global focus with its current neoliberal orientation as well as the national focus that utilizes the comprehensiveness of the concept of sustainable through a multidimensional approach comprising the economic, social, environmental, and political aspects of development.
If you were in charge of the world economy for one day, tell me one thing what you would do and why?
If I were to take charge of global economy for any period of time, the one thing I would do is to install a new strategy vision of sustainable development as a policy framework around which coordinated global efforts on sustainable development and national developmental strategies are to rest. The strategy vision would prioritise lifestyle and behaviour changes while combating climate change and limiting average global temperature increases. To this end, the strategy would dictate a paradigm shift away from the GDP growth-based, fossil fuel-driven industrial type of economic development towards a more inclusive economic model empowered by concepts and practices of a sustainable enterprise economy, corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship. In light of the current economic impediments associated with neoliberal globalisation, there is a need for creating an alternative to the current capitalist orthodoxy by redefining economic progress to acknowledge quality of life, community solidarity, and environmental well-being. This means replacing individualistic morality with a sense of community, solidarity, belonging and collective responsibility.
Tell me one thing that you think many ecological economists don’t realise, but should.
Ecological economists approach the field of economics from a perspective that places the economy as a subset of the environment, and in turn acknowledges the limited capacity of the environment to endlessly supply the economy with energy and matter or receive its wastes. Such a stand distinguishes this school of thought from that of the environmental economists who operate within a neoclassical economic paradigm that perceives economic growth as independent of the limits of the physical world. This distinction leads ecological economists to hold an insightful and daring commitment to radical sustainability transformations. Ecological economists must uphold a similarly firm and uncompromising stand towards the significance of the commonly overlooked political dimension of such a transition as much as towards the traditional economic, social, and environmental dimensions. Sustainability transformations should not be considered in the absence of good governance and inclusively integrated communities in decision-making to ensure the widest populations get hold of and preserve their fair share in the development process.
Interviewer: Sarah Hafner, ESEE Student Representative
Job Opportunity: Policy Fellow in sustainable finance, London School of Economic and Political Science, London, UK
The Grantham Research Institute at the LSE are looking for an experienced analyst and practitioner to join the Institute’s sustainable finance team led by Professor Nick Robins. The successful candidate will lead programmes and projects to inform and influence how finance can support the just transition in the UK, with a particular focus on place-based action in cities and regions. The successful candidate will play a leading role in the sustainable finance team and an active intellectual role in the life of the Grantham Research Institute.
Deadline: 7 November 2019
Job Opportunity: Assistant Professorial Research Fellow in environmental governance, London School of Economic and Political Science, London, UK
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, in conjunction with the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, seeks to appoint an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow to play a leadership role in its “Governance and Legislation” research area. The successful candidate will make leading contributions to research and engage actively with policy makers to become a thought-leader in the public debate on environmental governance.
Deadline 16 November 2019
Job Opportunity: Assistant Professorial Research Fellow in economics of climate change, London School of Economic and Political Science, London, UK
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, in conjunction with the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, seeks to appoint an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow to work on the economics of climate change. The successful candidate will make leading contributions to research and engage actively with policy makers to become a thought-leader in the public debate on climate change and the environment.
Deadline: 16 November 2019
Call for contributions: Special issue of the journal Papers in political economy: Economics a the environment since the 1950s: History, methodology, and philosophy
This special issue is devoted to the contemporary history of environmental economic thought, and to the transition from the marginal specialization of a few pioneers to an established academic field.
Deadline: 1 November 2019
Contact: Nathalie Berta, firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference announcement: Strategies for Social-Ecological Transformation, Vienna, Austria, 29 May to 1 June 2020
“Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Strategies for Social-Ecological Transformation” is a four-day conference taking place in Vienna. The conference will explicitly focus on exploring strategies for a degrowth transformation and aiming to support strategy development between scholars, practitioners and activists. The conference will complement the 2020 International Degrowth Conference in Manchester.
Publication: Two new degrowth special issues
1) "Geographies of degrowth: Nowtopias, resurgences and the decolonization of imaginaries and places"
Edited by Federico Demaria, Giorgos Kallis and Karen Bakker.
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.
The SI can be found here.
2) "Theoretical and political journeys between environmental justice and degrowth: what potential for an alliance?"
Edited by Bengi Akbulut, Federico Demaria, Julien-Francois Gerber, Joan Martinez-Alier.
This SI can be found here.
To get the PDFs for free, please just paste the DOI of the article here, or email the authors.