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Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Ida Kubiszewski and Robert Costanza

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Edited by Robert Costanza, Jon D. Erickson, Joshua Farley and Ida Kubiszewski

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Edited by Robert Costanza, Jon D. Erickson, Joshua Farley and Ida Kubiszewski

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Robert Costanza, Jon D. Erickson, Joshua Farley and Ida Kubiszewski

Ecological economics (EE) is a transdiscipline. While it is difficult to categorize ecological economics in the same way one would a normal academic discipline, it can be characterized in general by its goals, worldview, and methodology. The overarching goal is sustainable wellbeing of both humans and the rest of nature, with three broad sub-goals of sustainable scale, fair distribution, and efficient allocation of resources. The worldview includes an interdependent, co-evolving, complex whole system perspective of economies embedded in societies embedded in the rest of nature. The methodology emphasizes intelligent pluralism and integration across disciplines, rather than territorial disciplinary differentiation, and an emphasis on problem-solving through integration and synthesis. These characteristics make ecological economics applicable to some of the major problems facing human-dominated ecosystems today, and especially to the problem of improving humanity’s wellbeing while assuring a mutually enhancing relationship with all life into the indefinite future.

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Sustainable Wellbeing Futures

A Research and Action Agenda for Ecological Economics

Edited by Robert Costanza, Jon D. Erickson, Joshua Farley and Ida Kubiszewski

Ecological economics can help create the future that most people want – a future that is prosperous, just, equitable and sustainable. This forward-thinking book lays out an alternative approach that places the sustainable wellbeing of humans and the rest of nature as the overarching goal. Each of the book’s chapters, written by a diverse collection of scholars and practitioners, outlines a research and action agenda for how this future can look and possible actions for its realisation.
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Ida Kubiszewski, Robert Costanza, Sharolyn Anderson and Paul Sutton

The authors estimated the future value of ecosystem services in monetary units for four alternative global land use and management scenarios based on the Great Transition Initiative (GTI) scenarios to the year 2050. They used previous estimates of the per biome values of ecosystem services in 2011 as the basis for comparison. They then mapped projected land-use for 16 biomes at 1 km2 resolution globally for each scenario. This, combined with differences in land management for each scenario, created estimates of global ecosystem services values that also allowed for examinations of individual countries. Results show that under different scenarios the global value of ecosystem services can decline by $51 trillion/yr or increase by US$30 trillion/yr. In addition to the global values, the chapter reports totals for all countries and maps for a few example countries. Results show that adopting a set of policies similar to those required to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals would greatly enhance ecosystem services, human wellbeing and sustainability.

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Robert Costanza, Elizabeth M.B. Doran, Tatiana Gladkikh, Ida Kubiszewski, Valerie A. Luzadis and Eric Zencey

We cannot predict the future, but we can design and help create the future we want. To do this we need to better understand how cultures evolve and change and how to overcome societal addictions and roadblocks to positive change. Creating a shared vision is a critical step in this process. Goal setting, envisioning and scenario planning are important tools that have been used to guide and enable transitions in businesses, communities, and individuals. On the world stage, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an important step toward creating a shared vision of a positive future for all countries on Earth. This chapter discusses these theories, tools, and processes and how they have been used to create alternative futures to motivate and guide major transitions. It then proposes a research and action agenda to enable better understanding of cultural evolution, how to direct it toward desired goals, and how to create a shared vision of the goal – a world of sustainable wellbeing we all want.

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Robert Costanza, Lorenzo Fioramonti, Ida Kubiszewski, Deborah Markowitz, Christopher Orr, Katherine Trebeck and Stewart Wallis

A global movement of individuals and organizations is coalescing around the need to shift economies away from a narrow focus on marketed goods and services (i.e. what is measured through the gross domestic product – GDP) to one more broadly focused on ‘sustainable wellbeing’. These include activists, academics, governments, non-government organizations, and entrepreneurs of various types from around the world. There are many espoused versions of these basic ideas using different approaches and languages, but sharing a common goal. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an important step in articulating this common goal. The challenge is to acknowledge, harmonize, and amplify these many initiatives, while allowing a diversity of language to communicate with a variety of audiences. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is a collaboration formed to catalyse a cooperative, harmonized, and effective approach to creating wellbeing economies. Here we describe the history and agenda for WEAll, and the research and action needed to make it successful.

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Elizabeth M. B. Doran, Lindsay Barbieri, Ida Kubiszewski, Kate Pickett, Thomas Dietz, Michael Abrams, Richard Wilkinson, Robert Costanza, Stephen C. Farber and Jeannie Valcour

Ecological economics (EE) emerged and persists as a transdisciplinary field in service to creating a sustainable and desirable future for humanity on Earth. The early recognition that humans are inextricably linked and embedded in nature, deriving specific and quantifiable benefits from the healthy functioning of such systems, has resulted in much success for the field, in particular with respect to the concept of ecosystem services. In balance, human wellbeing has also been a central issue for the field, as it has been for other lines of research as well. As the field seeks to further mature and set forth a research agenda, it is time to assess the approaches that have been proposed and try to provide synthesis to illuminate the ways forward. We thus here review the frameworks, and their purposes, that have emerged as EE has matured. In undertaking this review, we pay particular attention to the international sustainable development agenda setting processes (i.e. the UN SDGs) that have transpired over the last two decades, which seek to incorporate variable definitions of wellbeing at a multitude of human and planetary scales. We further develop foundational concepts for systems analysis to enable the future EE agenda and bring coherence, integration and continued progress in the creation of actionable knowledge.