Ecological Economics conference 2019

”Co-creation – making Ecological Economics matter” was the title of this years international conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics in Turku, Finland. In this vibrant community, scholars exchange the newest insights on why and how interactions between social and ecological systems are investigated and how they can be better managed.

An inviting site at the channel for visitors in Turku.

Three people in our team went to discuss their current work: Maja Schlüter presented our social-ecological action situation (SE-AS) framework (Schlüter et al. 2019) in the special sesssion “Networks of action situations – a transformative ontology for ecological economics”. The session discussed recent developments in the study of SES governance as networks of action situations that link different policy arenas or local and distant places through telecoupling. SE-AS extends the network idea to additionally include links with social-ecological and ecological action situations that are thought to have jointly generated an emergent phenomenon of interest.

Laura Elsler presented her work in collaboration with Stanford´s Hopkins Marine Station on the social-ecological dynamics of Humboldt squid they emphasize what´s typically left out social relations that change fishing variables – with a model they show that wrong policy advice used in the case has amplified already severe inequality. This research joins calls from the conference to include the social in ecological economics. She presented a second study with SESYNC collaborators of the influence of trade patterns on the status of marine populations worldwide- individual cases have shown and this study confirms that network structure and short-livedness of trade relations are important contributors to different status levels of populations.

Romina Martin presented her recent draft on knowledge co-production for ecosystem service scenarios which she developed together with Zuzana V. Harmáčková for the project LimnoScenES. The presentation was part of the session on Safeguarding Biodiversity, Climate, and Ecosystem Services. In the same session, Niak Sian Koh from the SRC presented a study on biodiversity offsetting – they show different levels of tradeability that are practiced today in offsetting policies along a gradient from “nature is impossible to trade” to “natural capital can be exchanged with human made capital”.

Special highlights from the conference were…

  • a plenary by the economist and philosopher Carsten Herrmann-Pillath who suggested that in the context of complex systems subjects and objects are entagled in a co-creative relationship and thus cannot be separated.  In these contexts art and science have equal epistemic status and art is the science of co-creation. His view resonates strongly with our process-relational perspective but also with ideas of co-creating understanding of SES through collaborative model building. His talk triggered lively and critical discussions throughout the conference.
  • Clive Spash who discussed how classical economics was narrowed down to become neo-classical economics which mainstream theoretical ideas have developed on empirically assumptions that are often empirically invalid.

Members of SESLINK (from left to right: Maja, Laura, Romina) at ESEE 2019.