Monday, July 11, 2011

Institutions and History of Ecological Economics

Though modern ecological economics dates to the late 1980s, as a school of thought ecological economics has deep roots in thinkers who developed various forms of “biophysical economics”: Daly, Odum, Georgescu-Roegen etc. The book “Ecological Economics” by Juan Martinez-Alier documents this history [also Røpke, 1994].

The International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) was founded in 1988 following a meeting in Barcelona and discussions between ecologists and economists in the US and Europe – many in Sweden. In 2011 ISEE has 3049 members worldwide. There have been booms and busts in membership of ISEE over time. There are now local “chapters” of the international society in most regions of the world: Africa, Argentina and Uruguay, Australia-New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Europe, India, Meso-America, Russia, USA. Their main role is to hold local conferences in the odd years. Europe is the largest chapter in terms of members, followed by the US and India.

The first president of the society was Bob Costanza, followed by Dick Norgaard, John Proops, Charles Perrings and Joan Martinez-Alier, Peter May, and Bina Agarwal.
The international society holds meetings every even year. These have been held in: Washington DC (1990), Stockholm (1992), San Jose, Costa Rica (1994), Boston MA (1996), Santiago de Chile (1998), Canberra (2000), Sousse, Tunisia (2002), Montreal (2004), New Delhi (2006), Nairobi (2008), Bremen-Oldenburg (2010).

The society’s journal, Ecological Economics, was founded in 1989 and has had three editors: Bob Costanza, Cutler Cleveland, and Rich Howarth. It is published by Elsevier. It is very successful and now receives hundreds of submissions each year, while publishing 273 articles in 2009. It is also increasingly cited - about matching the longer established JEEM – though the latter publishes fewer papers [Ma and Stern, 2006]. Edward Elgar and Island Press are probably the two largest publishers of ecological economics books. The journal Environmental Policy and Governance is now associated with ESEE.

Ecological economists have a stronger policy influence in regions outside the US and possibly have the greatest influence in Europe. Membership in the societies varies across regions. In the US most members are academics, students, and non-profits/NGOs. In Australia and New Zealand public service representation is strong.

There are numerous programs at universities all over the world, though not all are explicitly called ecological economics programs. RPI’s is perhaps the only one that is both titled “ecological economics” and is in an economics department.


This is just a bunch of facts at the moment. Not sure what to do with this and how to incorporate it.

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