Professor Robert Costanza launches his contribution to the annual State of the World report.

Planting the seeds for a new world economy

15 April 2013

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Professor Robert Costanza is a Chair in Public Policy at Crawford School of Public Policy. His research integrates the study of humans and the rest of nature to address sustainability and well-being. He currently teaches Special Topics in Environmental Management and Development (EMDV8041).

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The world’s foremost ecological economist has used a report launch at Crawford School to call for a sustainable alternative to our current economic system.

Professor Robert Costanza of the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy says the world’s insatiable consumerism is unsustainable because of the planet’s natural limits, and warns that we urgently need a new model.

He outlines his alternative – one based in ecological economics – in his contribution to the annual State of the World Report.

“There is a substantial and growing body of research on what contributes to human well-being and quality of life. It clearly demonstrates the limits of conventional economic income and consumption’s contribution,” Professor Costanza said.

“This isn’t a utopian fantasy. On the contrary, it’s business-as-usual that is the utopian fantasy. Humanity has to create something different and better, or risk collapse into something far worse.”

The State of the World Report brings together the world’s leading experts to write for a broad audience on a theme – this year asking ‘Is sustainability still possible?

Professor Costanza’s contribution – Building a sustainable and desirable economy-in-society-in-Nature – sets out a vision for a new global economic model. He argues that we can’t hope to manage our global economy without understanding how it fits within society and nature; that GDP growth has significant costs that are beginning to outweigh the benefits in many countries; and that unrestrained consumption has a negative effect on wellbeing more broadly defined.

“The report offers a vision of an ecological economics option for the world, and how to achieve it – an economy that can provide nearly full employment and a high quality of life for everyone while staying within safe environmental boundaries for humanity,” he said.

Professor Costanza’s contribution was co-authored with some of the world’s leading experts on ecological economics, including Herman Daly, Joshua Farley, Tim Jackson, Peter Victor and Dr Ida Kubiszewski of the Crawford School of Public Policy.

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