Ecological Economics

Economic Approaches:

Key assumptions and aspects:

  • Main concern: Ecological sustainability
  • Economies are made up of: Ecological and socio-economic systems
  • Human beings are: formed through social processes and value immaterial aspects of life
  • Economies change through: Material and energy flows
  • Favoured methods: System dynamics
  • Typical policy recommendations: Degrowth to stay within planetary boundaries

During the 1970s, ecological economics arose out of the incorporation of material and energy flows in economic analyses. The fact that human economic activity had caused climate change, made it clear that nature had to have a more central place in economics than simply as a resource. Human societies and their economies are embedded in the environment and therefore fundamentally depend on it. Well-being is not reduced to material consumption, but redefined more broadly and socially. Similarly, economic development is not reduced to growth in material production and/or consumption (or monetary / market). Ecological economics often positions itself in opposition to neoclassical environmental economics, arguing that the economy and market should follow the rules of nature and the biosphere rather than the other way around.


  • Ecological Economics on Exploring Economics, from 2016. 
  • Rethinking Economics: An Introduction to Pluralist Economics by Liliann Fischer, Joe Hasell, J. Christopher Proctor, David Uwakwe, Zach W. Perkins, & Catriona Watson, from 2018, chapter 9. 
  • An Introduction To Ecological Economics by Robert Costanza, John Cumberland, Herman Daly, Robert Goodland, & Richard Norgaard, from 2015.
  • Handbook of Ecological Economics by Joan Mart√≠nez-Alier & Roldan Muradian, from 2015.