European Society for Ecological Economics Conference | ESEE2019

Special sessions

Advances in understanding the physical structures of economies: Materials, energy, and the services they provide

The grand challenges of natural resource depletion and climate change are caused by consumption of primary resources extracted to generate energy and material services to satisfy human needs. Primary resources are connected to economic final demand by networks of economic actors that (a) perform material and energy conversions and (b) provide distribution of valuable material and energy goods. These networks form the metabolic pathways of an economy.

There is a growing and worldwide realization that studying isolated portions of these metabolic networks yields incomplete analysis that risks misattributing the drivers of demand for primary resources and misunderstanding the character of the grand challenges themselves. Further, partial analyses can result in designing “solutions” that merely shift problems from one domain to another. Understanding the physical structures of these conversion and distribution networks is therefore essential to understanding the nature of the grand challenges we face.

An expanding number of researchers from different fields are engaging this area. They are comprehensive in the scope of analyses and know that focusing on only a small part of an economy is insufficient. They describe the structure of material and energy conversion and distribution networks in physical or hybrid physical and monetary terms. They are persuaded that physical supply-use tables (PSUT) or hybrid supply-use tables (HSUT) provide a succinct and beneficial structure for organizing and communicating large amounts of data representing flows of material and energy within metabolic networks. They employ matrix mathematics for investigating and analyzing entire networks, not just isolated portions of the networks. These approaches show promise to provide new understandings for the grand challenges we face, such as (a) developing decision-making tools to support the implementation of sustainable transitions, (b) new ways to understand similarities and differences in the prospects for developing and developed economies to meet primary energy consumption and COemissions targets, (c) understanding the effects of major economic shocks or disruptions (such as Brexit) to the broader economy and energy and material consumption, and (d) understanding (through multi-region analysis) the physical structures of global supply chains and both primary resource and COemissions footprints of final demand.

Our proposed session brings together, for the first time in person, an international group of researchers who are advancing this area. The special session will focus on ongoing and newly-funded projects to analyze both material and energy flows through economies. The focus of the session will be PSUT and HSUT approaches using matrices to organize network data and matrix mathematics to analyze the data. Taken together, the presenters in this special session demonstrate applicability of these methods to a range of spatial scales (local supply-chain, national, global). The presentations highlight past and ongoing international collaboration. The long-term goal of the special session is to catalyze possible future European and international collaborations. The proposed session contributes to the overall conference theme (Making Ecological Economics Matter) by applying an ecological economics principle (the economy is society’s metabolism) to understand economic structure. The session fits well with Track 3.4: Social metabolism and industrial ecology.

Session format, methods and moderation

This special session will follow a traditional format as shown below:

* Introduction (Heun, 5 mins)

* Presentations (60 mins total, 12 mins each followed by 3 mins of questions)

– Courtonne

– Heun/Brockway

– Rocco/Guevara

– Giljum

* Summary (Giljum, 5 mins)

* Discussion (moderated by Heun, 20 mins)

During the concluding discussion, the following questions will be posed to the audience:

– What links exist to the work of audience members?

– What are other areas of useful applications for the PSUT framework?

– What are important limitations and how can they be overcome?

– What software and analytical tools are available to assist PSUT and HSUT analysis?

– What additional collaborations could be anticipated?

The organizers plan to convene an informal dinner on the evening of the session. The dinner will provide an opportunity for discussion among session presenters and other interested session attendees. Dinner participants will be encouraged to share their individual work and explore opportunities for future collaboration.

References (selected recent publications of presenters):

  1. Lenglet, J.-Y. Courtonne, S. Caurla. Material flow analysis of the forest-wood supply chain: a consequential approach of log export policies. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2017.

Pablo Piñero, Martin Bruckner, Hanspeter Wieland, Eva Pongrácz, and Stefan Giljum. The raw material basis of global value chains: Allocating environmental responsibility based on value generation. Economic Systems Research. 2018.

  1. Guevaraand T. Domingos. The multi-factor energy input–output model. Energy Economics, 61:261– 269, 2017.

M.K. Heun, A. Owen, and P.E. Brockway. A physical supply-use table framework for energy analysis on the energy conversion chain. Applied Energy, 226:1134–1162, Sep 2018.

M.V. Rocco, R. J. Forcada Ferrer, and E. Colombo. Understanding the energy metabolism of world economies through the joint use of production- and consumption-based energy accountings. Applied Energy, 211:590–603, Feb 2018.

Main organizer

Matthew Kuperus Heun


Advancing a quantitative perspective on sustainability issues related to bioeconomy transitions in the social-ecological system

In view of continued high fossil energy use and related climate impacts, bioeconomy has emerged as a strategy to replace fossil materials and resources in a growing number of economies worldwide. Bioeconomy strategies thereby pursue opportunities for ‘green’ innovations, employment and rural development. However, as a bioeconomy is largely dependent on the availability of biomass, non-food bioeconomy transitions compete with both food supply in society as well as with non-commodified services of ecosystems that keep the climate system in a Holocene state. The replacement of fossil energy and materials by biobased resources may thus have adverse consequences for food security and increase pressures on multiple environmental boundaries. Hence, there is a need for comprehensive monitoring and assessment approaches of bioeconomy transitions that are capable of reconciling social-ecological needs with socio-economic outcomes from a biophysical perspective. Monitoring and assessing bioeconomy transitions involves multiple levels and perspectives in the social-ecological system, including (1) a physical perspective on resource use and waste flows at the level of (product) technology and supply chains (eco-efficiency), (2) economic allocation of physical resources in relation to social outcomes (eco-effectivity), as well as (3) systemic interactions and sustainability impacts related to (changes in) consumption and production patterns in the social-ecological system (sufficiency).

This session aims at assessing the added value of input-output (IO) based approaches to the multiple challenges related to a bioeconomy transition in society, with the specific aim to integrate the biophysical dimension in a quantitative analysis of bioeconomy transitions. IO approaches prove to be particularly promising in supporting a comprehensive understanding of bioeconomy transitions as the environmental extensions provide opportunities to monitor biophysical pressures related to social outcomes.

The proposed session will bring together a number of scholars advancing a systemic understanding of bioeconomy transitions with input-output (IO) based approaches and will present innovative IO applications and outcomes from several ongoing or recently finished bioeconomy projects. These projects involve:

  • BioWay: a 2-year project to support prosperous bioeconomy pathways in the EU. BioWay developed a framework to support sustainability assessments of bioeconomy transitions through the lens of social-ecological systems and performed an integrated analysis of bioeconomy transitions at the EU and the member state level, among others.
  • FABIO: The Food and Agriculture Biomass Input-Output database provides a set of multi-regional physical supply-use and input-output tables covering global agriculture, forestry, and food industries. The work is based on mostly freely available data from FAOSTAT, IEA, EIA and UN Comtrade. FABIO now covers 191 countries, 116 processes and 130 commodities for 1986-2013.
  • New Tools for the Sustainability Assessment of the Bioeconomy: a 2-year research project aiming to develop an interdisciplinary overview of matters related to the potential growth of the bioeconomy in Latvia and identify future trends by using input-output analyses and life cycle assessment.
  • STRIVE:  The project focuses on the sustainability implications of transnational biomass trade, technological innovation and innovation transfer in selected bioeconomy sectors. STRIVE aims at improving the knowledge base for the design of sustainable bioeconomy policies and regulatory frameworks at national and international levels.


Detailed description of the session format, methods and moderation

The agenda for the special session on bioeconomy transition analyses with IO approaches will be structured as follows:

  1. Questions for participants to be filled in on posters at entry(8 minutes + 2 for getting seated):
  • What are urgent bioeconomy related themes that need to be analysed from a supply chain or consumption-based perspective? (we list 3, participants can rate options or add new ones)
  • What are urgent bioeconomy related themes that need to be analysed from a societal or place-based perspective? (we list 3, participants can rate options or add new ones)


  1. Introduction to the special session and presentations. The introduction will start with a systems approach to bioeconomy transitions in society, thereby highlighting the different, yet interlinked, research stages in a dynamic bioeconomy transition in the social-ecological system. Presenters will be introduced and where possible, their topics will be related to the highlighted issues by the participants on the posters (Liesbeth de Schutter – 10 minutes).

III: 3 presentations (10 minutes each, followed by max. 2 clarifying questions (3 minutes) – 40 minutes in total)

  1. Martin Bruckner: Physical input-output tables of the global agri-food system
  2. Neus Escobar: Induced land use emission factors of major bioplastics
  3. Janis Brizga: Environmental impacts in regional bioeconomy supply chains


  1. Discussion (moderated by Liesbeth de Schutter) (25 minutes)

The presentations will be briefly summarised by the moderator and related to the highlighted issues/topics indicated by the participants on respectively question 1 and 2. The discussion starts of by asking the presenters to try answering the following questions:

  1. Which highlighted issues could be answered by the presentations?
  2. Which issues can potentially be answered with the presented methods?We will then start the discussion with the audience by asking, depending on the time, the following questions:
  3. Do you consider IO approaches a valuable complement to (your) bioeconomy research?
  4. What remains un-tackled by IO approaches?
  5. What are important limitations to current bioeconomy assessments?
  6. Which other methods do you consider useful/important for bioeconomy assessments?

IV: Concluding remarks and closing(5 minutes)

Main organizer

Liesbeth de Schutter

Boundary Bazaar for social-ecological systems

Co-creation of knowledge from different fields, such as knowledge from different scientific disciplines or knowledge from science, practice, and policy, is essential for inter- and transdisciplinary research in the context of managing complex socio-ecological systems. Through collaboration, not only different forms of knowledge are integrated, but also new knowledge is created. Nevertheless, to make this happen, typically first the existing boundaries between the different worlds in which the different forms of knowledge reside need to be overcome. These boundaries can be overcome usually only in a long process with different steps, starting with finding the same ‘language’ for communication and understanding the persons from the other fields. In case of transdisciplinary research, co- creation is also related to the role of the researchers and the reflection on it, as often they can act in the role of a knowledge broker connecting the other fields.

Against this backdrop, boundary theory focusses on ways to create bridges between different forms of knowledge and not only analysis processes of co-creation, but also provides support for researchers engaged in inter- and transdisciplinary work. Boundary theory can focus on  the process management (boundary spanning process), the different roles of the involved people (e.g. boundary spanners), the governance arrangements (boundary organizations), the communication device used for dealing with  a  complex issue (boundary concept), the products of knowledge co-production, such as  maps, models, methods or joint papers (boundary objects), and finally the frame conditions in which these different notions of boundary work evolve (boundary setting) (Franks, 2010; Matous & Wang, 2019; Mollinga, 2010; Slob & Duijn, 2014).


Franks, J. (2010). Boundary organizations for sustainable land management: The example of Dutch Environmental Co-operatives. Ecological Economics, 70(2), 283-295. doi:

Matous, P., & Wang, P. (2019). External exposure, boundary-spanning, and opinion leadership in remote communities: A network experiment. Social Networks, 56, 10-22. doi:

Mollinga, P. (2010). Boundary work and the complexity of natural resources management. Crop Science, 50(1), 1-9.

Slob, A., & Duijn, M. (2014). Improving the Connection Between Science and Policy for River Basin Management- The handbook of Environmental Chemistry 29. In J. Brils, W. Brack, D. Müller-Grabherr, P. Négrel, & J. E. Vermaat (Eds.), Risk-Informed Management of European River Basins (pp. 347-364). Berlin; Heidelberg: Springer.

Session format, methods and moderation

In this session we want to explore the different notions in boundary work. The session will be organized as a bazaar, where participants present their work in relation to the different notions. This can be a focus on boundary objects, boundary concepts, boundary organizations, boundary spanners or boundary settings.

We aim to have three introductory talks (about 15 min each, including 5 minutes time for Q&A) by experts in the field, who explore one notion in more detail. This is followed by a more interactive and open format with speed talks which will be selected from the submitted abstracts to this session. During the speed talks, presenters are free to present their boundary element in a 4 minute pitch supported by a powerpoint presentation, poster, pecha kucha, bringing a certain object, or whatever they think is useful. The audience has the choice to split up into smaller groups to engage in a more in-depth discussion with both the presenters of the introductory talks and the speed talk presenters. To wrap up the session, the organizers sum up lessons learned in a short interactive quiz (e.g. implemented with or and discuss possible follow up activities.

Main organizer

Barbara Schröter

Building and Connecting Resistance to Aviation

The aviation sector is the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gas emitter and one of the most polluting sectors. By 2050, Aviation‘s climate impact will consume up to 22% of our remaining carbon budget.

Hundreds of airports are being built or extended. While only 7 % of global population ever sat in an airplane, others are bearing the costs.

Resistance against airport and aviation expansion is growing all over the world. Nevertheless, in October 2016, aviation industry and governments decided on how to get out of the need to address climate change. Their plan: unlimited growth, combined with offsets. While they discussed their greenwashed climate strategy some scholars founded flying less and citizens started to work together and build the international network Stay Grounded.

Stay Grounded aims to tackle the root causes of aviation growth and climate change, and strive towards an ecologically sustainable and just form of mobility. Stay Grounded wants to avoid false solutions. Emissions from aviation cannot be tackled through offsetting or dangerous biofuels, but rather by putting a limit to growth. Flying less is a group of academics who raise awareness about the environmental impact of flying and call for reducing academia’s carbon footprint.

We, some activist academics would like to invite people discuss how the European Society for Ecological Economics can engage in these initiatives, share best practices and experiences, learn what we can do within our institutions and network and build alliances.

Feel welcome if you are interested to achieve a just and ecologically sustainable global transport system and resist to aviation growth…

Session format, methods and moderation

The format of this special session is a round table discussion of enthousiasts who want to learn more about flying less and Stay Grounded, get engaged, network, share practices and experiences. This format should equip participants with the tools, contacts, and experiences to engage in existing initiatives or start own projects.

Main organizer

Jonas Van der Slycken

Co-creation in the Finnish textile recycling ecosystem

One important innovation ecosystem in Finland at the moment is related to textile recycling. This ecosystem is called Telaketju. This network is working to enable better utilisation of textile waste and other discarded textiles in Finland. This is important as separate collection of textile waste needs to be organised in all EU member countries by 2025 and we need to create some ways to use this material – otherwise there is no real sense in collecting it separately.

In an ecosystem, actors from different backgrounds are working closely together and benefit from each others’ work. Cooperation and co-creation are some of the most important aspects in well-functioning innovation and business ecosystems.

In addition to the research partners, Telaketju network includes over 30 public and private companies.

The aim of this session is to learn from this experience and also to learn how to further develop it based on the sessions’ participants ideas and experience.

Session format, methods and moderation

The session is moderated by Leader of Research Piia Nurmi from TUAS and facilitated by service designer Inka Mäkiö also from TUAS.

There will be Telaketju companies present as well as NGO and research parthers. The session will be interactive so that all participants can learn and share.

Main organizer

Piia Nurmi

Co-creation workshop: linking exergy-ecological-degrowth macroeconomic modellers to co-create new research project(s)

The study of exergy (defined as energy available for physical work) gives insights into aggregate thermodynamic efficiency and the use of energy through an economy. In the early years (1970s-1990s), the focus at a national level was on exergy accounting studies (Reistad, 1975; Wall, 1987). Since the early 2000s, the focus has broadened in several key aspects.

First, the results of economy-wide exergy accounting studies were used to input energy at the useful stage (as useful exergy) as a factor of production (alongside labour and capital) in aggregate production functions, to reduce (or even eliminate) exogenous total factor productivity (Warr & Ayres, 2012; Santos et al., 2018a). The results were striking: energy (as useful exergy) contributes a much larger share of economic growth than its cost share (versus GDP) would suggest (Santos et al., 2018).

Second, the study of economy-wide final-to-useful exergy efficiency has allowed new insights, including constant useful exergy intensity (GJ/$) (Serrenho et al., 2016), slowdown in aggregate efficiency gains due to efficiency dilution (Williams et al., 2008), and the decomposition of efficiency changes versus structural change (Hardt et al., 2018).

Third, and most relevant here, is that the exergy economics research community has started to include energy (as exergy) and thermodynamic conversion efficiencies within integrated energy-economy models (Santos et al., 2018b, Alvarenga et al., 2017, Court et al., 2018, Sakai et al., 2018). These models are being constructed in order to explore further the relationships between energy (exergy) use and the economy, in order to better understand historical socio-economy-environment interactions, as well as enable testing of future constraints such as energy (inputs, efficiency conversion, end use), and economic growth stagnation.

This growing sub-field is taking the community into areas that have been explored in the fields of ecological (Theme 6.1) and degrowth (Theme 6.2) macroeconomics: for example finance, debt and post-growth trajectories. These have emerged over the last few years as an attempt to develop macroeconomic approaches that can integrate the different aspects of the sustainability transition (Hardt & O’Neill, 2017, Rezai & Stagl, 2016). It specifically aims to provide macroeconomic analysis linking environmental impacts, inequality outcomes and financial stability to inform discussions on how to provide prosperity within planetary boundaries (Jackson et al., 2014). At the same time, the ecological/degrowth macroeconomics communities have potential to learn much more of thermodynamically-consistent modelling.

In short, we believe there is a lot to collectively learn from combining our experiences and skills, and setting to work on combined research project(s). Now the time is right for such collaboration to occur. The co-creation session will therefore be of help to achieve this objective. Within ESEE, Theme 6 is a natural home for our session, and specifically either 6.1 or 6.2 as per your preferences would be ideal:

  • 6.1 Ecological macroeconomic models
  • 6.2 Degrowth and post-growth economics

Detailed description of the session format, methods and moderation

The session will be designed to occupy a 1.5 hour session as follows:

  • 0-30 mins: each community has 15 minutes to present key results and questions. We present / recap key findings, and current state-of-the-art modelling and research questions considered.
  • 30-60 mins: areas of similarities and synergies will be discussed and recorded.
  • 60-90 mins: co-create research question(s) and outline of proposed research methods, which specifically involve members of communities and methods. ‘Pledges’ recorded of people wishing to be involved post-ESEE 2019 and agreed next steps.

Main organizer

Tiago Domingos

Collaborative pathfinding: ecosystem service trade-offs and synergies in bioeconomic land-use scenarios

Policy strategies for sustainable development often proclaim holistic development pathways as if we lived in a world without trade-offs. Yet, for realistic implementations, it is crucial to assess and evaluate the nature and extent of these trade-offs.

In this session, we aim to elaborate on and discuss the potential of one particular policy strategy, the European Bioeconomy Strategy (EC, 2018a), to promote sustainability. The recently updated strategy aims at an “action plan to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy that serves Europe’s society, environment and economy” (EC, 2018b). This framing of a sustainable future sets challenges for its implementation since trade-offs are deemed avoidable, while necessary choices are omitted or postponed. We want to identify trade-offs and find solutions within and beyond the given policy frameworks. Since there are various interests at stake, we aim at an inclusive co-creative process of questioning, testing, and developing policy options for truly sustainable pathways that take into account the necessary choices when facing trade-offs.

The bioeconomy is a politically and industry-driven concept deemed viable to foster sustainable development. Notably, the overarching goal of bioeconomy is to substitute fossil, non-renewable resources and processes with bio-based, renewable ones. In the scientific literature, two stylised bioeconomy visions exist: resource/biotechnology-oriented and agroecology-oriented (Bugge et al., 2016; D’Amato et al., 2017; Hausknost et al., 2017; Meyer, 2017; Priefer et al., 2017). The former is based on the commercialization of biomass or genetic resources coupled with a strong reliance on technological innovations, and it is being mainstreamed in policy making globally. The agroecology vision advocates a scaling up nature-based solutions relying on traditional knowledge to empower local rural people, especially in emerging and developing economies. This latter vision is proposed in scientific literature, but has not been recorded in policy documents.

The implementation of bioeconomy visions into operative strategies results in impacts on different ecosystem services at land-use level. The aim of this session is to:

  1. discuss trade-offs and synergies occurring in two alternative land-use scenarios for bioeconomy strategies in European agricultural and forest systems; and
  2. co-create a strategy to minimize such trade-offs and build upon synergies.

The session thus contributes to the conference theme of providing policy advice for ’legitimate, fair and evidence-informed’ sustainability transformations through ’inter- and transdisciplinary science and public deliberations’, by a) addressing key policy strategies at the European level, such as the bioeconomy, the biodiversity, and the sustainability strategies, and b) facilitating a dialogue-based co-creation of possibly trade-off minimizing compromise pathways.

Detailed description of the session format, methods and moderation

The session is planned for 1.5 hours and consists of two parts, one introductory, and the second and more extensive part, a co-creative exercise in identifying potentially acceptable bioeconomy development pathways.

The first part of the session is a semi-scripted event where two stylised scenarios are introduced and challenge one each other. This sets the ground for the second part of the session, consisting of fertile and constructive discussions towards co-creative and participatory scenario planning.

Part 1. Two “proponents” introduce the extreme scenarios using stylized visuals, such as flower-diagrams, to present the ES outcomes of the two scenarios.

Resource / biotechnology:

  • sustainable land-use intensification (productivity increased with e.g. biotech innovation, precision farming)
  • land sparing (highly intensively managed areas and set-aside wilderness elsewhere)
  • cascading use of resources (techno-industrial efficiency and innovation)


  • extensive land uses (diffuse productivity supported by ecological processes)
  • land sharing (integrated management of landscape for both production and natural habitats)
  • energy and material connectivity between urban and rural systems (infrastructural/social efficiency and innovation)

Part 2. One of the organizers acts as a moderator who intervenes between the two extreme proponents, also engaging the “spect-actors” from the audience. The collaborative discussion will focus on the plausibility of the proposed scenarios to check for their validity (and make amends where necessary) and will open up ways for finding compromises/alternatives that minimize trade-offs. This shall spur an interactive, constructive, and co-creative search for a bio-physically feasible, societally desirable middle way of realizing a sustainable bioeconomic transition that neither excludes nor solely builds on either purely technological nor ecological approaches. However, the outcome ultimately depends on the discussion, thus the participants and their values. The result will therefore be allowed to lean (strongly) into one of the two directions.

Methodologically, the second part will involve interactive and collaborative real-time visualizations through an interactive presentation tool (e.g. mentimeter), such that value-judgements and preferences by the audience can be displayed transparently for all to see in an anonymous form. For example, we plan to assess the direction (and strength) of a pre-selected set of drivers such that we can derive the spectrum of possible individual evaluations. This will serve to crystallize both core contradictions among the scenarios, and preferred elements / combinations of strategies. From there we will start building a synthesizing narratives that will include the preferred elements from both strategies with a particular focus on taking unavoidable trade-offs and thus needed value-judgements into account, such that – hopefully – at the end we will have created a mixed quanti-qualitative bioeconomic land-use scenario that the majority of participants can support.

Follow-Up / Reporting: At the end of the session the entire group will briefly discuss and decide upon a (joint) strategy for reporting of results. This strategy which will be as inclusive as possible and may include a joint publication.


Bugge, M.M., Hansen, T., Klitkou, A. (2016). What is the bioeconomy? A review of the literature. Sustainability, 8, 1–22. doi: 10.3390/su8070691

D’Amato, D., Droste, N., Allen, B., Kettunen, M., Lähtinen, K., Korhonen, J., Leskinen, P., Matthies, B., Toppinen, A. (2017). Green, circular, bio economy: A comparative analysis of sustainability avenues. Journal of Cleaner Production, 168, 716-734. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.09.053

EC (2018a) A sustainable Bioeconomy for Europe: strengthening the connection between economy, society and the environment. Available at:

EC (2018b) A new bioeconomy strategy for a sustainable Europe.  Press release. Brussels. Available at:

Hausknost, D., Schriefl, E., Lauk, C., & Kalt, G. (2017). A Transition to Which Bioeconomy? An Exploration of Diverging Techno-Political Choices. Sustainability, 9(4), 669. doi: 10.3390/su9040669

Kok, K., Bärlund, I., Flörke, M., Holman, I., Gramberger, M., Sendzimir, J., Stuch, B. and Zellmer, K., (2015). European participatory scenario development: strengthening the link between stories and models. Climatic Change, 128(3-4), 87-200. doi: 10.1007/s10584-014-1143-y

Meyer, R. (2017). Bioeconomy strategies: Contexts, visions, guiding implementation principles and resulting debates. Sustainability. doi: 10.3390/su9061031

Main organizer

Nils Droste

Conditions and processes of governance innovations for forest ecosystem service provision

Forests providing numerous benefits for society are facing increasing and evolving demands due to socio-economic changes and environmental threats. Responding to the emerging and intensifying needs for ecosystem services, material and non-material benefits, public and private goods, requires governance innovation. In particular, better coordination and novel approaches to integration are needed for the co-production of sustainable raw materials, renewable energy, carbon sequestration, resilience against extreme weather events, biodiversity conservation and recreation. The ecological economics approaches have addressed the challenges of co-production, joint production, externalities and distribution of benefits, while the ecosystem services approaches have focused on spatial constellations and tradeoffs in ecosystem service provision. To merge these approaches, it is useful to focus on a specific social-ecological, technical and institutional system, which faces the acute and partly conflicting demands. Our session will bring together analytical and practical approaches to business and governance innovations in forest ecosystem service provision. We suggest a session aligning at least with ESEE 2019 themes 1.5; 3.1; 4.1.

Innovations in the provision of forest ecosystem services take the form of trials, experiments, pilots and mere new practices. Importantly, innovations are generated, promoted and up-scaled by co-creation processes and governance mechanisms. Examples include public and private payment and offset schemes as well as networks and public-private partnerships, which integrate actors in novel ways and might redefine actor roles and rights. The social-ecological context, in particular the institutional and biophysical factors, can importantly condition the emergence and take-up of innovations but actors can also take agency, championing and brokering innovation.

This session will address the processes of emergence and development of innovation in forest ecosystem service provision, paying attention to fostering and hindering conditions. The innovations the session draws on include payment schemes such as for biodiversity offsets and carbon compensation, as well as novel sustainable wood processing value chains, landscape management and nature education. The session will introduce approaches to institutional conditions for innovations, governance mechanisms for innovations and actor role analyses. Additionally, the session welcomes 2-3 submissions through the open call.

Session format, methods and moderation

The session will include 4-7 talks (8-10 minutes +2-4 min. questions) and a facilitated discussion.

Main organizer

Carsten Mann

Exploring the potential applications of measures of economic welfare: how to stimulate their use in policy-making?

This special session focuses on the development of alternative measures of economic welfare such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and the National Welfare Index (NWI). The development of these alternative measures has been a central topic in ecological economics going back to the book “For the Common Good” by Herman Daly and John Cobb in 1989 and the Threshold Hypothesis formulated by Manfred Max-Neef in 1995. Although being around for 25 years, the policy impact of alternative measures for economic welfare is rather limited. The research community working on these alternative measures needs to continuing moving toward harmonizing welfare measures and tackling methodological issues that have been raised by adversaries.

By bringing together the European ecological economists who work on this topic, this special session will hopefully be an important step towards a harmonisation of the methodologies that are currently being used. Harmonization of welfare measurement is required for agenda-setting and for stimulating the use of alternative measures of economic welfare among policy-makers. Other expected session’s outcomes are related to exploring welfare measures’ potential applications such as welfare forecasts that detect the welfare contributions of different climate action scenarios and the incorporation of alternative measures in macroeconomic models. As a result, the session would have outreach to stakeholders and other conference participants who are for instance involved in the Post-growth Economics Network (PEN) and EU COST-proposal on ecological macroeconomics in which both modelling, and non-modelling approaches meet with alternative indicators.

For all these reasons, we believe this special session will contribute to the conference theme ‘The Economics of Sustainability Transformations’ with its close connections to ecological macroeconomic models and degrowth and post-growth economics. Similar to previous expert meetings in the US that were fruitful for standardizing the GPI 2.0 methodology, we hope this will initiate a similar process among European ecological economists working on and promoting beyond GDP and beyond growth agendas.

Session format, methods and moderation

The format of this special session is a round table discussion of welfare experts from different institutions and countries. This format should allow the participants to address technical, expert-level methodological issues. These issues are also of interest to ecological macroeconomic modellers, whom we will also invite to take part in the discussions. (The participant list is not restricted to the above mentioned practitioners as we are still awaiting the responses of several other experts. Stakeholders are also welcome to join the open discussion.)

Main organizer

Jonas Van der Slycken

Extending knowledge communities: Towards a more humble inquiry

The increasing complexity of social, environmental and global problems, together with the prospect of state failure, have given rise to the notion of collaborative governance, which relies on dialogue and co-operative relations between governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations, and private interests as opposed to hierarchies, complementing regulatory and market control. New governance arrangements also call for democratization of science, which means broadening the process of knowledge production to diversity of participants and perspectives (Jasanoff 2003; Hoffmann, et al. 2017). Inclusive forms of knowledge production include knowledge transfer and exchange practices (Pielke 2007), joint fact finding processes (Matsuura and Schenk 2017), and other transdisciplinary approaches to complex societal issues (Hadorn et al. 2006). Also citizen science initiatives building on conventional as well as digital approaches with interactive features such as gamification offer a range of solutions to broaden the scope, roles and settings of citizen participation (Newman et al. 2012). Studies have shown that knowledge co-creation approaches have the capacity to bridge different knowledge communities but further research is needed on the integration of knowledge co-creation processes into actual planning and policy-making practices.

This session will focus on the ways in which inclusive knowledge practices can broaden knowledge communities, facilitate effective science-policy interface and create knowledge that is considered credible, relevant, and legitimate by decision-makers, civil society actors and businesses. We invite contributions that address knowledge co-production and citizen science in environmental governance processes either empirically or theoretically. The papers can focus on a single case study and/or evaluate critically, yet constructively, the conditions of knowledge co-production and transdisciplinarity in environmental governance processes at local, regional or national level. They can also look at the ways in which citizen observations and other place-based knowledge is currently used in planning and decision-making processes. In particular, we are interested in concrete examples of cooperative and “humble” inquiry processes which improve the way relevant expert and lay knowledge is reflected on and brought forward into controversial policy discussions.


Hadorn, G., Bradley, D., Pohl, C., Rist, S. & Wiesmann, U. 2006. Implications of transdisciplinarity for sustainability research. Ecological Economics 60(1): 119-128.

Hoffmann, S., Pohl, C. & Hering, J. G. 2017. Exploring transdisciplinary integration within a large research program: Empirical lessons from four thematic synthesis processes. Research policy 46:678-692.

Jasanoff, S. 2003. Technologies of Humility: Citizen Participation in Governing Science.” Minerva 41(3): 223-244.

Matsuura. M. & Schenk, T. 2017. Joint fact-finding in Urban Planning and Environmental Disputes. Routledge.

Newman, G. et al. 2012. The future of citizen science: emerging technologies and shifting paradigms. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10(6): 298-304.

Pielke, R.A. 2007. The Honest Broker. Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics. Cambridge U Press.

Session format, methods and moderation

The 1,5 hour session is based on four concise presentations (10 min), followed by questions and comments (5 min/each presentation) and a joint discussion (25 min) at the end of the session and a brief introduction of the topic (5 min) in the beginning. The session is moderated by the conveners.

Main organizer

Heli Saarikoski

International contexts of energy use: how much and what for?

The goal of this session is to explore how different international contexts influence patterns of energy use, as well as reflecting on how the methods used to quantify energy use impact the results obtained. The session expands on last year’s special session (“Human development and linkages to energy services”), where possibilities for linking human well-being and energy use were discussed. This year, we propose to engage participants in a hands-on session focused on presenting energy use analysis results from developed and developing countries, with a special attention to understudied regions.

It is widely accepted that energy use is vital for the functioning of modern societies. Energy is key for economic growth, but perhaps more importantly, energy use has been linked to development and wellbeing. However, its use has increased exponentially since the industrial revolution, having serious implications on the long term sustainability of our planet and its life supporting systems. In other words, given it’s importance for modern societies, energy use is projected to grow worldwide (in both developed and developing nations), but simultaneously there is a need to constrain energy use globally to meet the Paris pledges of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees (and well below 2 degrees).

Therefore, there is a need to further understand the different patterns of energy use in different contexts around the world (in different countries and in different sections of the population within countries). This session will present the latest research in this field. In particular, we will present quantitative international case studies from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe that focus on different level of analysis (i.e. household, city, regional or national level). These will be used as examples to discuss different levels of energy use, the identified guiding factors for energy use, as well as some discussion on the methods used. The presentations will serve as a starting point for a group discussion among the session presenters and attendees. Such discussion will be interactive and the motivations behind the research and insights gained will be discussed, as well as the impact that the research might have for decision-making.

In particular, through the presentations and discussion in this session, we aim to shed some light on the following guiding questions:

  • How do levels of energy use vary between different case studies?
  • Which factors influence energy use in the different case studies?
  • What are the implications of different methodological approaches in the results obtained?
  • What decisions can energy use research help to inform or impact? At which level (community, city, country, international)?

This session links very well with the second theme of the Conference “Reconciling Consumption, Need and Wellbeing”. Through the characterisation of different energy use patterns across the world, using different methodologies, this session addresses the topic of human habits and behaviour. In addition, by focusing on energy, this topic is addressing the question of the energy consumption quantities needed at a global level, while highlighting its human wellbeing implications given our current patterns of energy use.

Detailed description of the session format, methods and moderation

This session will follow a traditional special session format. However, we aim to leave enough time at the end for a whole group discussion where participation from the audience is prioritised.

We will do this by using post-it notes, where the audience can write comments and questions (twitter-like format) that will be displayed on a board during the session. This gives a an opportunity to include all opinions without running out of time during the discussion part, as well as giving ideas for future collaborations or research questions.

Introduction (Lina Brand Correa): 5min

Speaker presentations: 50mins total (10min presentations)

  • Marta Baltruszewicz
  • Karla Cervantes Barrón
  • Barbara Smetschka
  • Pui Ting Wong
  • Narasimha Rao

Interactive discussion (moderated by Lina Brand Correa and Karla Cervantes Barrón): 30 min

Final reflections (Lina Brand Correa): 5 min

Main organizer

Karla Cervantes Barrón

Islands as Places of Innovation and Deep Learning

In the face of climatic, environmental and societal change, societies need to find novel adaptation strategies to improve their sustainability practices, particularly in terms of economic development, including energy production, mobility and consumption habits, tourism and land use. Island experience (and experimentation) can teach mainland societies how to develop and adopt new livelihood strategies, sustainability institutions and technologies and adapt to challenging environmental and societal conditions.

Through trial and error, many island societies understood that in order to survive they have to use their finite human and natural resources sustainably. The adaptability of the islanders can be traced back to what is referred to as islandness, i.e. the geographic, ecological, economic, social, and historical specificities resulting from being completely surrounded by the sea. As a result of these specificities island societies tend to be open to experimentation, to co-production of knowledge and co-formation of policies (Baldacchino, 2006). They can foster collective creativity and social-ecologically sound innovation.

There are of course cases where, for various reasons, sustainability practices on islands are either abandoned or ignored. The effects of shifting away from a sustainability trajectory are readily visible and attempting to change current unsustainable practices and change habits is a demanding task for island societies.

In this context Deep Learning is highly relevant to islands. Deep learning assumes that actors critically assess their own preferences and experiment with alternatives. It is about stimulating the ability to critically look from a distance at one’s own deeply habituated actions driving collective behaviour and it is a pre-condition for transformative change (Schot and Steinmueller, 2018). Through societal experimentation actors question critically assess their own preferences and experiment with alternatives.

Islands lend themselves to societal experimentation and deep learning towards transformative and sustainable change.

This session aims to bring together empirical and conceptual scholarly work on islands as places of sustainable innovation and transformative change.

Session format, methods and moderation

The session will have the following format. There will be (max) 4 presentations of 15 minutes each, with direct questions of clarification afterwards (3mins).

This leaves us time (ca 20 minutes) for a discussion between the presenters and the audience on the implication of (not) treating islands as places of sustainable innovation and transformative change.

Main organizer

Ourania Papasozomenou

Law, politics and governance: institutions, organizations and procedures for Ecological Economics

This Special Session aims to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between Laws, Politics, Governance (LPGs) and Ecological Economics (EE) as the economics of a sustainable development. Therefore, it is intended to cover the complementarity and challenges of the general interplay between LPGs and EE, as well as their role in environmental protection and management. Thus, the Special Session will in an interdisciplinary way deal in particular with the institutions in the sense norms, individuals and organizations (in the sense of groups of actors) and processes in the sense of interactions among them necessary to appropriately define, implement and enforce the scale of human- and non-human throughput of natural assets, the distribution of these resources to users as well as the allocation of these assets to different products.

Insights from the session will contribute directly or indirectly to all seven track of ESEE 2019 as law is a horizontal issue influencing the environment, society and economy in multifaceted ways. Thus, coming from a social science angle it can especially contribute the “making Ecological Economics matter” through the co-creation of societal narratives. Multiple ways will be presented in the proposed session where law enables or restricts behavior favorable towards EE-goals.

The session will make a particular contribution to the fifth track of ESEE 2019 about redesigning institutions as presentations will particular have a focus on approaches how to practically support the transition, namely in both way, 1) how you can work with the existing law (de lege lata) and 2) how law should be changed (de lege ferenda).

In summary, the goal of this session is to discuss key concepts, methods and applications of LPGs and Ecological Economics together, from the central viewpoint of EE of the economic system as subsystem of social system and both as subsystem of environmental system.

Session format, methods and moderation

Format: Session with four presentations a’ 15 + 5 min Q & A’s , plus 10 min. common final discussion

Methods: ppt-presentation, different types of legal interpretative analyses (literal, historical, ..), case studies, empirical and theoretical contributions, deductive and inductive studies; thematically horizontal or sectorial papers; studies of policy mixes among environmental, social and/or economic instruments; de lege lata and/or de lege ferenda essays.

Moderation: The session will be moderated by Volker Mauerhofer ( He is member of the board of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) and inter alia Guest Editor of a Special Issue in Ecological Economics/Elsevier (published 2018/2019) titled “Law, politics and governance: institutions, organizations and procedures for Ecological Economics (

Main organizer

Volker Mauerhofer

Learning and experiencing ecological economics - new pedagogical aspects in higher education courses

Transformative processes and social change are emphasized in ecological economics and higher education teaching and learning methodology as well. New forms of learning such as cooperative learning, experience-based learning, or transformative learning give an opportunity to start a transformation in students “head, heart and hand” and at social level as well. These new forms of learning enhance deeper understanding, cooperation and engagement.

In this special session we give an insight of different university courses including ecological economics in the curricula. The participants are university teachers who share experiences of different courses at different levels and different disciplines. What is a common ground of these courses?

All of us are facing the challenges of 21th century education. We are moving towards a transformative learning approach in bachelor and master courses, in social and natural sciences as well. We share the same approach to education, represented by the following points:

  • different knowledge holders possess valuable knowledge
  • the teacher acts as facilitator in the knowledge co-creation process
  • sustainability is a transdisciplinary issue which needs different learning circumstances
  • education has an important role in social transformation
  • engagement in ecological issues rooted on our own experiences

However, the solutions we apply when ’teaching’ ecological economics is different, as our courses and contextual backgrounds are different. By sharing insights from the courses we teach and by reflecting on the challenges we face, we would like to better understand 1) how it is possible to involve different knowledge holders such as decision makers, civil society organizations and secondary school teachers into a university course; 2) how the mainstream toolbox of teaching (e.g. scoring of students) can be better suited to such new approaches; and 3) how expectations (both from the side of university students and external stakeholders) can be managed over the longer run.

Session format, methods and moderation

During the session (90 minutes) we briefly present 4-6 different courses (5-7 minutes each, also depending on the final number of presenters), then we share personal experiences and discuss potential future development with the whole audience in a World Café format. Presenters and participants will work in three circles, each circle discussing one topic with the help of a facilitator for 15-20 minutes, then participants can move to another circle to discuss another topic. After three rounds facilitators of each circle will sum up the main messages with the whole group.

Main organizer

Kelemen Eszter

Managing Agroecological Transitions. Diversity of trajectories and unlocking strategies

The present special session seeks to gather papers that address the diversity of issues of agroecological transitions. Agroecological transitions refer to processes by which the agricultural sector improves the resilience and the adaptive capacities of social-ecological systems in a context of climate change and changing environments. Even though this transition work at the territorial or landscape scales, agronomical strategies in ecosystem service and biodiversity management at the field or farm levels play a decisive role. In addition, while producing foodstuff, agroecological practices should respect ecological boundaries and the resilience properties of agroecosystems. It should also function in correspondence to current political and institutional design, and to prevailing social values in societies. A major scientific challenge in better understanding the emergence condition of an agroecological transition therefore relates to multi-scale relationships. In particular, we foster papers that promptly address (but may not limit to) the following crucial issues as regard to how multiple scales are interrelated in agroecological transition:

– Agroecological transition requires the enrollment of numerous actors, ranging from institutional actors such as policy-makers, to the most decentralized ones, such as local public authorities, NGO’s, collective groups, … and to individuals, such as farmers or consumers. Understanding how various scales are embedded in change process, or how configuration in a given scale locks possibilities of change at another one, appear as an important task. It is important to better understand how individual ethics align with or shape the collective norms prevailing in different organizational forms of agroecology. Fostering agroecological innovations require complex upscaling, outscaling or knowledge co-creation strategies at the actors’ level to the whole agricultural sector constitutes a fundamental challenge.

-Socio-technical transitions or multiscale issues do not necessarily coevolve the same way or at the same speed across scales. This calls into question the diversity of trajectories and the way in which the agricultural sector can contribute to a more profound transition at the whole society’s scale (meso-macro articulation). It seems crucial to look at how sectoral transitions (in the energy sector, in mobility, in public services and in the service sector in general, in demography…), should and could be made compatible. This calls into question the compatibility of speed/magnitude of changes (rupture vs. slower evolution) between scales.

– Finally, innovation systems and the knowledge regimes that should support such a transition should be an object of analysis as such. Numerous works points at how dominant knowledge locks actors in routines and prevent them from desired changes (and even prevent them from imagining different futures). Knowledge co-creation then appears as a way for actors to empower which is a fundamental condition for an agroecological transition. Therefore, the infrastructure that produces lock-in knowledge in different discipline such as economics or agronomy and that contributes to maintaining prevailing knowledge, as well as those required to foster change should be questioned. An important field to investigate would be the transitions studies, and in particular questioning the political and scientific relevance of the concept of transition.

Session format, methods and moderation

This session is intended to be of usual academic form: each communication is followed by a short session of questions. We encourage submission of a wide range of theoretical and disciplinary backgrounds as long as it relates to transdisciplinary ecological economics (political ecology, coevolutionary approaches, social ecology, landscape agronomy, feminist economics, institutional economics…). Moreover, this special session is intended to prefigure a special issue in ”Ecological Economics”. Therefore, for these two reasons, if schedule allows, the special session should end with a relatively extensive session of transversal questions, which should improve the consistency of the special issue.

Main organizer

Gael Plumecocq

Networks of Action Situations: A transformative ontology for Ecological Economics?

Action situations are those moments where actors take individual or collective decisions that affect collective outcomes (Ostrom, 2005). Consumer choice and voting are typical situations referred to in lay debates about sustainability pathways. But there is a diversity of individual and collective action situations relevant in ecological economics, spanning from spontaneous to strongly institutionalized settings in organizations, including market and procurement transactions, resource extraction, public good provision, deliberative fora, public gatherings, elections and the passing and implementation of legislation. Several of such action situations are typically linked. The linkages can be social (e.g. networks and institutions), economic (e.g. shared resources and transactions) or ecological (e.g. material and energy flows). Action situation networks can exhibit a diversity of network structures. A systematically linked and nested structure of action situations implies polycentric governance (Aligica and Tarko, 2012). Recent research on the ecology of games in environmental governance has demonstrated that environmental problems can only be suitably addressed when governance is collaborative across situations (Bodin, 2017).

This panel aims to examine network conceptualisations and related quantitative and qualitative empirical methods and theoretical work that could advance ecological economics as a transformative science, such as the Networks of Action Situations (NAS) approach. The NAS approach could, for example, be particularly suitable to identify action situations that provide leverage points for sustainability transformations.

Social network analysis has moved to a multilevel approach of covering both actors and venues as nodes in networks (Lubell, 2013), while economic network analysis models games on graphs to derive equilibrium outcomes between network structures and economic games (Goyal, 2007). A recent innovation has been to reversely define links (edges) as actors and nodes (vertices) as communication (Blaschke et al., 2012). But how can we account for the distinct characteristics of often highly diverse situations and dedicate attention to institutions, material and immaterial transactions, and the heterogeneity of networks more generally? The Management and Transition framework in water governance (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2010), but also industrial ecology approaches such social underpinnings (Chertow and Ehrenfeld, 2012), and network analysis gained some attention in ecological economics (see, e.g., Ingold, 2017, Kharrazi et al. 2013), but systematic analyses of relevance to transformative research using cross-cutting approaches such as the NAS is missing.

The NAS framework has been applied and refined using a number of cases relevant to ecological economics, including fisheries, international development cooperation, and social welfare (McGinnis, 2011), irrigation and the water–energy–food nexus (Kimmich, 2013), food and bioenergy value chains (Villamayor-Tomas et al., 2015), renewable energy policies (Grundmann and Ehlers, 2016), energy infrastructure policies (Gritsenko, 2018), and telecoupled resource systems (Oberlack et al. 2018).

This session aims to build on established network research, research on single action situations that accounts for embeddedness, and the newly emerging conceptualisations of networked action situations to provide insights into the linkages and connectedness of action situations of relevance to ecological economics.

Session format, methods and moderation

This is a conventional special session. We plan to have four presentations of 12 minutes each, with direct questions of clarification afterwards (3min). Each presenter will be the discussant of one of the other papers presented, providing a short feedback (3min). This leaves us time (ca 15 minutes) for a more general discussion of pathways for the future use of network ontologies to advance ecological economics as a transformative science. The session will be moderated by the session conveners.

Main organizer

Christian Kimmich

Paving the way for post-growth policymaking

Over the past years the field of ecological and post-growth macroeconomics has seen a rapid increase in research activity, as evidenced by the growth of the recently founded Post-Growth Economics Network. Indeed, the conference program for this ESEE conference features a whole track dedicated to advance the research in the field (Track 6 “The economics of sustainability transformations”).

Ecological Macroeconomists are developing new theories and models to explore how we can create a stable, equitable macroeconomy that fosters well-being (Rezai & Stagl 2016). However, what is missing is a associated macroeconomic policy agenda informed by these new insights that could form the basis for a transition to a sustainable and prosperous post-growth economy.  With this session we aim to address this deficit and to initiate a co-creation process of a core policy agenda for a post-growth macroeconomics.

Our session fits squarely into the conference theme: “Co-creation – Making Ecological Economics Matter”. We believe that a macroeconomic policy agenda for a post-growth economy, which is concrete and widely endorsed by the community, is a crucial foundation for achieving real change, informing the research agenda and for “making Ecological Economics Matter”. Our session will implement a practical co-creation process that produces both some immediate outputs but also lays the foundations for a continuation beyond the conference. More specifically the aim of the session is two-fold:

The first aim of the session is to create a preliminary outline of a core policy agenda for post-growth macroeconomics. We will achieve this using a participatory process to identify a package of 5-10 policies that the research community considers central for achieving a prosperous and stable macroeconomy within planetary boundaries. This process will draw on previous work that identifies policies, such as the result of the first Steady-State Economy Conference in 2010 (Dietz & O’Neill, 2013), the output of previous degrowth conferences as well as ongoing work at the ZOE institute. We will go beyond these results, taking into account potential synergies between policy proposals and strategic considerations building on insights from the political sciences.

We realise that this session can only be a very first step in the development of a macroeconomic policy agenda that is widely accepted in the academic community and beyond. Therefore, the second aim of the session is to develop a roadmap for continuing the development of the policy agenda beyond the ESEE conference in 2019. An important part for this process lies in connecting it with other stakeholder-oriented, ongoing processes like the Postgrowth-Conference in Brussels, campaigns of NGOs and the Post-Growth Economics Network.  It is important that the continuation of the process will engage non-academic organisations which are championing social change for a sustainable economy.

Dietz, R. & O’Neill, D., 2013. Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources, London: Routledge.

Rezai, A. & Stagl, S., 2016. Ecological macroeconomics: Introduction and review. Ecological Economics, 121, pp.181–185.

Session format, methods and moderation

The session will be split in two parts, with each part using a 1.5-hour time slot.

Session I: Developing a preliminary core policy agenda for post-growth macroeconomics

  1. Welcome & Intro | 5’
    1. Outline of goals of the session and the theory of change behind this session and definition of important terms for discussion
  2. Defining the framework for discussion | 15’
    1. Presentation by ZOE members on a framework for structuring post-growth policy instruments: political objectives, intervention areas and overview about different policy proposals in the literature
  3. Before we get started: Reflections on policy assessment | 10’
    1. Input raising some questions for the evaluation of the transformative potential of the proposals we discuss. What kind of change do we want? How do our proposals connect with this vision?
  4. Dividing participants according to policy objectives | 5’
    1. Participants will be separated between different tables, each table dealing with one major policy objective
  5. Personal prioritization | 10’
    1. Participants on each table will silently select their favorite policy instruments to achieve the policy objective of the table from a list of up to 10 instruments informed by the literature. Method: Dot-Voting
  6. Selection of 1-2 most supported core instruments based on the dots from the participants | 5’
  7. Group work on core policy instruments identified in the previous step | 20‘
    1. Each group will discuss:
      1. Why are these policy instruments important and how will they achieve the objective?
      2. What other complementary measures are needed to be make the policy successful?
  • How could the proposal be connected to some of the other instruments?
  1. How are the instruments connected to achieving other policy objectives?
  1. One person in the group will take notes of the discussions that will feed into the following stages of the workshop as well as form the basis for the paper outlining the preliminary agenda which will be written after the conference
  1. Presentation of group discussion | 20’
    1. Representatives of the groups will give a brief summary of their discussion, including their 1-2 core policy instruments and ideas how they will link to other policy areas
  2. Closing | 5’
    1. Summing up the session, outlook to the next session

Session II: Development of a roadmap to carry the research and policy agenda forward

  1. Quick recap of session I + outline of goal for session II | 10’
  2. World-Cafe with three tables and three rounds | 15’+15’+15’

On every table different outputs are created that are important for the strategy development. Each table is hosted by 1-2 moderators who guide the discussion. In the first round a comprehensive brainstorming on the questions of each table is conducted and afterwards ideas are structured using suitable methods for the questions. After each round the participants move to the next table. In each round the existing ideas are complemented/corrected by new/other ideas.

Table 1: Criteria for a post-growth policy agenda

  1. Brainstorming: What criteria do we need for a successful agenda that creates impact? Criterias are noted down on cards.
  2. Structuring: Criteria are clustered on two dimensions:
  3. a) Feasibility: How much does the feasibility of the post-growth policy agenda depend on this criterion.
  4. b) Effectiveness: How much does the fulfilment of the post-growth policy objectives dependent on this criterion?

Table 2: Stakeholder Analysis

  • Brainstorming: What are the key stakeholders for implementing a post-growth policy agenda
  • Structuring: Structuring Stakeholders on two dimensions
  1. a) Interest: How much is the policy agenda aligned to their interest
  2. b) Power: How much power does the stakeholder have in the policy process

Table 3: Roadmap for the agenda development

  • Brainstorming: Collection of ideas for existing and new action and research activities to carry things forward
  • Structuring: Timeline of activities on a wall and list of tasks
  1. Presentation of outputs from tables by the moderators | 15’
  2. Next steps | 20’
  • Presentation of communication channels
  • Presentation of next steps
  • Asking for institutions and individuals to collaborate and commit to tasks from Table 3

Main organizer

Jonathan Barth

Sustainable Welfare and Eco-social policies – Solutions for the Post-Growth Society

The two major global challenges of our times are ‘increasing social inequalities’ and ‘impending ecological collapse’. Both problems are interconnected since the causes and consequences of environmental damages are unequally distributed between the poor and the rich. However, policy responses so far remain realized as separate solutions with welfare state regulation and redistribution used to reduce social inequalities on the one hand and environmental laws and taxes introduced to stimulate an ecologically more sustainable behavior on the other hand. Yet, these isolated views miss the fact that current welfare practices and institutions are not ecologically sustainable and environmental politics are often socially unjust and discriminating marginalized groups such as poor and indigenous people. As a solution, the emerging paradigm of sustainable welfare claims that it is possible and necessary to reconcile social policy with environmental protection and forge an integrated eco-social policy strategy. The core of this concept is to explore alternatives to the current growth-dependent and environmentally harmful welfare systems that enable ‘a good life’ without exceeding ecological limits. In this special session we will discuss different eco-social policies (for example unconditional autonomy allowance, green and social vouchers) and evaluate both their potential for a just transition as well as the structural and political barriers which need to be overcome on the way towards a post-growth society.

Session format, methods and moderation

The session is supposed to be one of the first events of the newly founded International Research & Policy Network on Sustainable Welfare. The goal is to present the variety of research that is undertaken in the field of Sustainable Welfare and discuss further lines of research in the field. Therefore the session will be a traditional academic session where the presenters introduce their research in a short talk (about 15 minutes) followed by a brief plenary discussion after each talk (5 minutes) and a summarizing discussion at the end of the session on future research questions (10 minutes). The research and the proposal which will be presented result from empirical studies as well as critical theoretical reflections. The contributions come from a range of disciplines such as social policy, sociology and political sciences and apply qualitative as well as quantitative methods. The moderation will be equally shared by the session proposers and follows the principles of an inclusive, participatory, transparent and empathic dialogue.

Main organizer

Martin Fritz

The environmental impacts of global mining

Today, the world economy uses more than 90 billion tonnes of renewable and non-renewable raw materials each year, compared to around 27 billion tonnes in 1970. This remarkable growth in resource flows has increased environmental pressures and impacts related to resource extraction. Large-scale mining of metals and non-metallic minerals leads to degradation, fragmentation, or even complete destruction of natural habitats and is characterised by high energy and land requirements as well as high levels of water use and pollution. More than ever, resource extraction activities are taking place in the Global South, and the raw materials produced are delivered to industrialised countries via increasingly complex global supply chains.

Methods to quantify raw material flows on the national level have been standardised in the past two decades. Today, the UN International Resource Panel maintains and regularly updates a global reference database on national material flows. However, this level of spatial detail is not sufficient to allow assessing the often regionally, or even locally specific environmental impacts of resource extraction. New approaches are therefore required that enable moving material flow analysis to a higher spatial detail to assess the composition of the societal metabolism.
This special session presents results from the ongoing project FINEPRINT ( funded by the European Research Council (ERC), which develops a spatially explicit and highly detailed global material flow model covering extraction, transportation, processing and final consumption, in order to perform fine-scale assessments of Europe’s global material footprint and the related environmental and social pressures and impacts. Results of the project are complemented with related research performed by other research groups.

Mr. Giljum presents FINEPRINT results of creating time series of global extraction maps for non-renewable resources on a worldwide 10×10 km grid. He introduces a method to combine input data from a variety of primary data sources on the extraction of metal ores, oil and gas, ensuring consistency with the national material flow accounts. The maps produced using the harmonized data form the basis for spatially explicit assessments of the environmental or social pressures and impacts of global mining activities. One of the pressures is presented by Mr. Mudd who shows the results of a recent study for the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) on the land requirements of global mining based upon satellite images. Mr. Lutter adds another pressure category. He presents an approach to estimate water requirements in global metal mining relating the outcomes to locally prevailing water scarcity levels and existing social impacts resulting in conflicts about water. Finally, Ms. Schomberg introduces another impact category and presents a comprehensive water footprint concept that can be used to relate mining impacts on water quality to water scarcity.  She does so by means of two case studies of Lithium mining.
By means of the four presentations, the session will present the state of the art of spatially explicit analysis of the societal metabolism with a focus on global metal mining. This shall trigger a discussion on further research needs as well as possible policy application.

Session format, methods and moderation

This special session will follow a traditional format as shown below:

  • Introduction (Lutter, 5 min)
  • Presentations (60 mins total, 12 mins each followed by 3 mins of questions)
  1. Giljum
  2. Mudd
  3. Lutter
  4. Schomberg
  • Summary (Lutter, 5 min)
  • Discussion (moderated by Giljum, 20 min)

During the concluding discussion, the following questions will be posed to the audience:

  • What links exist to the work of audience members?
  • What other areas of environmental impacts of mining should be covered?
  • Which (policy) initiatives could be informed by the analyses described?
  • Which collaborations should be envisaged?

Main organizer

Stephan Lutter

The IPBES Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia: Mainstreaming biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people

The goal of IPBES, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is to provide policymakers with the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and their benefits to people, as well as governance options to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets. The assessment of governance options shows that there is considerable potential for more biodiversity-friendly land-use practices, production methods and healthier consumer choices, through more systematic mainstreaming of biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people in economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries. This potential is also available to industries, manufacturing and the service sectors. However, the governance of these and other sectors and their management practices, and the way in which these impact on nature, call for implementing existing policies more effectively and improving the current situation through additional commitments. Policy integration across as well as mainstreaming biodiversity within economic sectors and different stakeholder groups requires pro-active policy-making including awareness raising, the definition of clear policy objectives, measurable targets and associated indicators as well as suitable policy instruments and policy mixes in well-designed policies to support the implementation of adopted policy objectives.

This session will provide insights into the IPBES Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia, approved by governments at the 6th Plenary of IPBES in Medellín, Colombia. It focuses on the state of the art of governance options as well as major insights for mainstreaming and integrating biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people with a particular focus on the forest and agricultural sectors.

Contribution to the conference theme:

As the call for papers of ESEE 2019 highlights, one key scientific challenge of tomorrow is to provide policy advice for legitimate, fair and evidence-informed sustainability transformation. As an intergovernmental science-policy platform, IPBES has been founded in 2012 for this very purpose: to perform and organise scientific assessments that apply the judgment of experts to existing knowledge to provide scientifically credible answers to policy-relevant questions. Many ecological economists are actively contributing to this platform in various roles. With this session, we would like to present the wider European community of ecological economists some results of a recently approved IPBES scientific assessment and discuss steps of further societal and political uptake of its key messages.

Regarding specific conference themes, we mainly contribute to Conference track:

“1 Safeguarding biodiversity, climate, and ecosystem services: This theme addresses the role and significance of natural environments in reconstituting and redirecting individual, social and collective human affairs”

Sub-track 1.5 ”Natural capital and ecosystem services” may be most suitable, yet our assessment also touched upon many of the other sub-themes from track 1.1 to 1.5.

Detailed description of the session format, methods and moderation

1.5h parallel session 


Irene Ring (TU Dresden, Germany) and Camilla Sandström (Umeå University, Sweden), Coordinating Lead Authors of the IPBES Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia, Chapter 6 on “Options for governance and decision-making across scales and sectors”


Eeva Primmer (SYKE, Finland), Review Editor of the IPBES Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia, Chapter 6

First part: 

60 minutes, 3 presentations with 15 minutes presentation time, 5 minutes questions each; 


Irene Ring and Camilla Sandström:
The IPBES Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia: Options for governance and decision-making

Ulan Kasymov, Riccardo Simoncini et al.:
Transforming agricultural institutions to enhance nature’s contributions to people and biodiversity conservation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Roland Olschewski, Eeva Primmer et al.:
Challenges and opportunities of mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into forest policy

Second part 30 minutes:

Panel with presenters and moderated discussion with audience on

“Follow-up and uptake of the IPBES results in European and Central Asian countries”


Eeva Primmer (SYKE, Finland), Review Editor of the IPBES-Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia, Chapter 6

Main organizer

Irene Ring

Tribute to Felix Rauschmayer’s “Interdiscipinarity for transdisciplinarity”: individual and collective ACTORS in TRANSITION

Felix Rauschmayer (UFZ, Leipzig) passed away on Mai 13, 2018. Long-time member of our Ecological Economics community we would like to propose a parallel session at ESEE Turku 2019 which is roughly taking his research agenda further. Felix described himself as working towards “the creation of interdisciplinary methods for transdisciplinary environmental research”. While he started his activities on multi-criteria initiatives, his latest efforts were dedicated to understanding, conceptualizing and theorizing on how and what actors transform in transition processes and projects. He focused on individuals and their values, and mobilized a set of theories and concepts and tools which – from our Ecological Economics position – opened up our horizons quite drastically. Quite logically he was also one of the main liaison officers between Ecological Economics and Human Development & Capabilites research.

The session will develop along one particular strand of the conference theme. Co-creational projects and research endeavours are – at least if they sit in an Ecological Economics understanding of socio-environmental problems – engaging quite automatically with transdisciplinary dynamics. Within this wide field of methods and concepts, the session problematizes 1° the place of individual civil society actors in transitions, 2° the place of researchers in transition processes, 3° the place of individuals in transitional collectives, be it research collectives or citizen collectives.

The session will be based on short statements by each contributor, e.g. 10 minutes frontal address. Followed by a question & answer & comment moment. With the main objective to a° explain the main take of the problematisation (e.g. why is there something to be gained to focus on the roles of researchers in transdisciplinary projects), b° synthesize current state-of-affairs (e.g. what has been recently developed and worked on with respect to capabilities and sustainable development), c° state a limited set of future research avenues or questions (e.g. on collective capabilities).

The overall aim of the session could be – somehow – interpreted as an initial attempt to develop an EcolEcon research agenda at the intersection of individuals and collectives, their agency, normativity and importance in transdisciplinary research for transitions. Put in other words, and with wider implications: start reflecting on the development of a research agenda for an ecological micro-economics.

Felix was also interested, in particular in the last 5 years, in understanding the importance of the inner dimension of individuals and collectives within a sustainability transition. This area allowed him to combine his research with another important role he had as trainer for non-violent communication and with his spiritual development. To honour that part of him, we request a second 1.5 hour slot in the conference program. That slot will be carried out as an interactive session with up to 25 participants, focussing on the inner dimension and its contribution to (societal) transformation.

Session format, methods and moderation

First session: 

1.5h parallel session chaired by Irene Ring (TU Dresden)

Max. 6 interventions, possibly less (depending on availability of people); 10 minutes per intervention; followed by 30 minutes minimum of discussion time with audience on “a research agenda for an ecological micro-economics?”

Confirmed contributions are:

Christine Polzin (UFZ-Leipzig), on individuals in transition governance

Ortrud Lessmann (Hamburg), on how to conceptualize actors, their needs and capabilities for sustainable development (Geneca)

Ines Omann  (ÖFSE Vienna), on the impact of engagement in sustainability initiatives on peoples’ wellbeing

Tom Bauler (ULB-Brussels), on how individuals as collectives get caught in transitions (on why to make room for individuals)

Niko Schäpke (Chalmers), on how actors experiment in transition experiments (living labs)

Second session: 

1.5h dialogue session chaired by Ines Omann (OEFSE Vienna) and Christine Polzin (UFZ, Leipzig)

Working title: Connecting inner and outer dimensions of sustainability and the importance of theories for navigation

Contribution to the overall theme of the conference:

For Felix and many others, transformations towards sustainability would necessarily involve some kind of “inner change” which would allow people to better connect with their own needs and values as well as with each other and with the natural world. But how could this interdependence or interbeing be theorised? Working in the social sciences and especially within ecological economics, it was clear to him that any question or hypothesis on the role of inner change and interbeing would need to have a sound theoretical basis in order to be taken serious within the scientific community. However, finding theoretically and methodologically acceptable approaches to analysing such profound questions within the prevailing ontological and epistemological limits of social scientific research, remains challenging.

In his last (draft) paper, “Transition to Sustainability as Interbeing – or: from oncology to ontology”, which he presented at Oslo in October 2017, he made a brave attempt to gain new insights into sustainable development, drawing on his own experience in understanding and dealing with cancer. “I have the intuition that there is a link between the extractionist, productivist, and consumerist ways in which cancer cells live in bodies and which humans have developed to live on earth.” (Rauschmayer 2017: 1)

In this session we aim to reflect on his thoughts given in the paper (which will be summarised as an introduction to the session) and to discuss why the personal (and inner) dimension of sustainability seems so difficult to address in the discourse on sustainability, why even those theories and methods that are renowned for addressing the inner dimension are far from the academic mainstream, and what might be needed to change that.

We invite up to 25 people to a dialogue session in an open and honest atmosphere in which personal thoughts and feelings can be shared with an attitude of mutual respect.


Welcome and check-in: a first interactive getting to know each other (10 min.)

The essence of Felix Rauschmayer’s paper: “Transition to Sustainability as Interbeing – or: from oncology to ontology” (10 min)

A first reaction to Felix’ thoughts on the reflection of the outer world in the inner, first individually and then in a circle (30 min)

Dyads (reflection in pairs) with questions on how we (as social scientists) deal with and feel about methods and theories that address inner dimensions (e.g. introspective methods, theories by Ken Wilber and others outside the mainstream) (20 min)

Discussion in the plenary (15 min)

Short check out (5 min)

Short CV of moderators:

Ines Omann holds a PhD in Ecological Economics and is a part-time senior researcher at the Austrian Foundation for Development Research, Vienna. She has been working in sustainability science for 20 years among others at the Department of Environmental Politics at UFZ, Leipzig, Germany. Her research centres around the themes of sustainability transitions, quality of life research, scenario development, trandisciplinarity and good life for all. She also works independently as a moderator and facilitator in public participation processes and workshops trying to bridge research and policy/society and thereby bringing knowledge into action.

Christine Polzin works on questions related to agency, imaginaries and sustainability at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Department of Environmental Politics). Equipped with a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies and more than ten years of experience working on interdisciplinary projects, she has gradually zoomed in from the macro level (e.g. questions related to economic (de)growth and the amounts and impacts of natural resource use around the world) to micro level questions related to the personal and behavioural dimensions of sustainability transformations.

Main organizer

Irene Ring

Unlocking new insights into the economic-ecological aspects of global energy transitions: construction of a World Primary-Final-Useful (WPFU) energy database from 1800 onwards

The aim of this session is to promote the development of a World Primary-Final-Useful (WPFU) energy database, from 1800 to 2015, where useful energy is allocated to energy services such as heating, mechanical work, lighting and communication among others. The availability of these energy services which is dependent on the availability of both energy carriers and technology has guided and constrained economic growth (Warr and Ayres, 2012; Serrenho et al., 2014; Serrenho et al., 2016; Santos et al., 2018). Examples are the second industrial revolution associated with coal, steam engines and railways and the third industrial revolution associated with electricity and steel and other types of heavy industry. This WPFU database would shed light not only into previous energy transitions that have occurred between energy carriers at the primary and final energy stages but also energy transitions that have occurred between end-uses at the useful stage, which is the stage of energy use that is more intimately linked to the energy service. Knowledge about past energy transitions is vital to inform thinking on the upcoming sustainable transition that is needed to meet Paris commitments, therefore a 1800-2015 WPFU database will provide great benefit for the research community of Ecological Economics.

The quantification of exergy flows at different stages, including primary, final and useful, can be done through societal exergy accountings (Sousa et al., 2017; Brockway, 2014). Primary exergy quantifies energy (considering quality) as it is found in nature, such as crude oil or the sun’s radiation. The societal energy sector transforms it to final exergy such as diesel, food and feed, electricity. Final energy is then used by society to obtain useful exergy to produce materials and goods and to end-uses such as heating, mobile and stationary mechanical work, lighting and information.

In this session, we will discuss issues that are crucial to describe and quantify changes in the world energy-end-uses from 1800 onwards. We will focus on the following themes: (1) muscle work, (2) transport, (3) heat and (4) electricity. Issues that cut across all these themes include: the evolution of technologies that convert the final energy form into the useful energy that provides the end-uses; the availability of data and the proxies that can be used to fill in the gaps, and the link between the useful energy and the end-uses. Additionally, we will discuss the structure of the WPFU database.

The outputs of this session will include: (a) early results and insights on global availability of muscle work, heating, transport and electricity from 1800 onwards, (b) a better definition of the structure and access to the WPFU database, (c) the identification of the gaps that have to be addressed and (d) recruitment of people to join the team involved in this effort.

The proposed session contributes to the overall conference theme and specifically to theme “3.4  social metabolism and industrial ecology” by being a crucial step in the effort of building and making available a WPFU global database and discussing world transitions associated with energy end-uses.

Session format, methods and moderation

This special session will be organized as following:

Introduction (Sousa, 5 mins): the importance of a WPFU 1800-2010 database

5 Presentations (60 mins total, 10 mins each followed by 2 mins of questions): topics below

Discussion (moderated by Henriques and Sousa, 20 mins) where the following topics will be approached: the availability of data and proxies, the structure and access to the WPFU database, the usefulness of a WPFU database, the gaps that still need to be filled and the recruitment of people to join the team that will build the WPFU database.

The organizers will organize an informal lunch/dinner among session presenters and other interested session attendees to promote collaborations.

Main organizer

Tânia Alexandra dos Santos Costa e Sousa

What happened to the silver bullet? Assessing Payments for Ecosystem Services’ real world performances

We will contribute to the key scientific challenge which is targeted on ESEE 2019 – the provision of policy advice for legitimate, fair and evidence-informed sustainability transformation – within theme  4 Formulating transformative policies, 4.1 Innovative economic instruments. We will contribute to the challenge by exploring opportunities to design a more inter- and transdisciplinary science based and socio-economic complexity integrating impact assessment of Payments for Ecosystem Services.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) have been considered as a novel and innovative approach in conservation to address negative environmental externalities. Proponents of the PES approach argue that the internalization of externalities can be achieved through the creation of market and market-like mechanisms. However, PES remained a contested approach with lots of different definitions used for the term and a great variety of different institutional designs included under this label. Many different PES cases from all across the world have been analyzed and discussed in the literature so far, with a major increase from 2004 onwards. Research evolved from an initial focus on tackling general, particularly conceptual questions towards more specific issues of design, implementation, and concrete outcomes. Recently, especially the assessment of PES has been of particular interest as there is still a lack in meaningful and rigorous impact studies. So far, many impact studies are disciplinary, targeting single aspects, and do not encounter for the broader social-ecological context. On the other hand, complex case study assessments are difficult to compare and transfer to a wide range of PES instruments. However, generally we observe that in the theoretical and conceptual discourse “classical environmental economics vs. ecological economics” the different communities have partially taken up the others’ views. Correspondingly the aim of this session is (i) to show the development of PES assessment by presenting different actual approaches and (ii) to define synergies and overlaps of different approaches and identify objectives for research developments.

We invite PES impact studies with empirical evidence on the effectiveness, efficiency, and/or equity in developed as well as developing countries. The papers shall clearly show which outcome variable/s has/have been investigated and what the outcome of the PES is. Further, it should be made clear how the research has been carried out: Indictors, data, methods, and if the research is comparable to other PES impact studies. We especially call for studies that target complexity in impact assessment (e.g. the social-ecological context and co-production of knowledge). The session shall contribute to a recent initiative on long-term exchange on PES impact assessment.

Session format, methods and moderation

The session will follow a conventional format with five to six 10 minute presentations plus clarification questions after every presentation and a final discussion. The session welcomes 2-3 submissions through the open call.

Main organizer

Claas Meyer & Lasse Loft