Contributions of the ecological economy to environmental management

Contributions of the ecological economy to environmental management

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By Rodrigo Arce Rojas

Under this conception, the environmental and social must be taken into account but only if they do not affect the economy. The term sustainable development has even been invented to say that the economic, social and environmental aspects are taken into account, but the specific weight that environmental and social factors have varies among the actors because they are contingent on not affecting the economy.

If we accept that it is Homo economicus that dominates the world, then it should also be recognized that the prevailing economic system has not been able to offer a sustainable planet. The impact of the global atmospheric system, the loss of glaciers, the alteration of water resources, the loss of biodiversity, deforestation, desertification, among other global processes, would be indicating that the civilizational model has failed. This forces us to review the old paradigms that have led the political and economic processes that predominate in the world.

The basis of neoclassical economics is based on the following basic premises: people move with the purpose of maximizing their benefits, only that which is producible, appropriable and salable is of interest, and only the actors who are in the transaction count. As such, the economic system is conceived as a closed system with a fundamentally short-term view of immediate profit.

Faced with these positions, ecological economics appeared as the science that studies the interactions between economic systems and ecosystems from a sustainability management perspective (Van Hauwermeiren (1998). Ecological economics starts from a deep critique of conventional economics and gives philosophical, theoretical and methodological answers to build an alternative proposal more friendly to society and the environment.

Unlike conventional economics, ecological economics recognizes that economics is an open system and as such open to the laws of thermodynamics. From a holistic and systemic perspective, ecological economics says that it is not possible to abstract from nature or society, therefore they incorporate into their reflection and practice concepts that are elusive in conventional economics such as environmental justice, equity, culture , gender equality and equity and the participation of all actors involved in defining the economic limits of ecosystems.

Ecological economics does not make explanations only from an ecological or economic perspective but rather from an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach. In this sense, it is more in line with what is implied by the challenges of complex thinking where the systemic approach is fundamental. Hence, a central concern of ecological economics is the development of biophysical indicators of sustainability to overcome the limited measures of economic growth. Recognition of the uncertainty in systems and the various factors at play make ecological economics a post-normal science.

The impacts of conventional economic activity on the environment are manifested in the depletion of natural resources, pollution and the impact on ecosystem services. It is therefore not possible to abstract the economic activities of nature because in reality it is based on it.

Ecological economics mentions that both the economics of natural resources and the economics of the environment fail to provide answers to sustainability since they constitute an extension of the theoretical and instrumental frameworks of conventional economics. For example, they propose that to solve the negative impacts of the conventional economy on society and the environment, what must be done is to incorporate it into the laws of the market, in this case, internalize externalities. Green economics says that the problem is that there are values ​​in life that are not internalizable. The funny thing is that conventional economics also recognizes this fact when it says: "my baby's smile is priceless, for everything else there is a credit card." The "smile of my baby" can be replaced by the sacred value of the mountain, drinking water from the lagoon with confidence, the cultural landscape, the wisdom that a local language contains, among others.

Another central aspect to highlight in ecological economics is the participation of all those involved in making decisions about the economic limits of ecosystems in what has been called the extended community of peers that includes all those who should be and not just the technocrats or the economic sectors involved. With this, the ecological economy was ahead of the principles that have been developed in environmental governance.

Faced with the challenges of sustainable forest landscape management, ecological economics provides philosophical, theoretical and methodological frameworks that contribute to reflection and action for the management of sustainability. For this reason, the candidate's proposal that seeks to retrace the process of formalizing informal mining is irresponsible. Like any process, it is perfectible but what cannot be done is to endorse the destruction of the Amazon, of Protected Natural Areas, the sexual exploitation of girls, among other dire impacts in the name of work, economic growth or the insatiable thirst for power. politician.

Revised Bibliography: Van Hauwermeiren, Saar (1998), Ecological Economics Handbook. Quito: Institute of Political Ecology. Pp. 97

Author: [email protected]

Video: Ecological Economics, Climate Change and Sustainability (May 2022).


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