Global Recession lecture by Dr Robert Costanza

Friday saw me whipping back into town to catch a conference-opening lecture by Dr Robert Costanza, from the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics at The University of Vermont, who is here in NZ on a secondment to the New Zealand Centre for Ecological Economics (NZCEE), based at Massey University’s home campus in Palmerston North.

After the requisite time spent on the pre-lecture refreshments and Green membership gossip, I found myself a seat in the auditorium of Rutherford House LT1, and waited for the rest of the SPC attendees to catch on and copy. Twiddle, twiddle, watching the crew setting up tech gear & checking the powerpoints were working; then finally, all 300 pre-allocated seats were filled, and the talks got underway.

First up, our Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons greeted the assembled members, and thanked Dr Costanza and members of the NZCEE for coming to Wellington to make presentations on Ecological Economics. Then Dr Costanza made his presentation, which was stimulating and challenging; to the point where my notes became a list of publications to look up, and websites to browse later.

Links: the presentation is here,
which also gives the handy list of Dr Costanza’s published works, in far tidier format than my hasty notes.
The panel was then constructed of Jeanette, Bob, and members of the academic and research staff of NZCEE; Vicky Forgie, Marjan van der Belt, and Ida Kubiszewski. A quick overview of the work done by NZCEE was given, which can be viewed in greater depth here:
along with publications by the Centre here:
I’ll admit right now that some serious reading is going to happen in my home study time, to get myself up-to-date on this area – my last efforts at understanding economics were for a feminist-perspective paper, which looked at green economies as part of a holistic, sustainable economic policy development paradigm. What I heard certainly stimulated me to see the upside to the Global Recession, and to take heart from the Green New Deal economics that is being developed and applied in the USA, and many other administrations around the world at present.

Having made a decision some weeks ago not to attend the SPC held at Silverstream over the weekend, I wistfully set off home on another bus, as many old friends and fellow campaigners headed out for the conference opening dinner, charged up with enthusiasm for Green economic policies after this stimulating and enriching lecture and presentations.

Associated links:
The Encyclopedia of Earth
Friends of the commons See Capitalism 3.0, by Peter Barnes, available as a free download from this site – a guide to reclaiming the commons.

4 thoughts on “Global Recession lecture by Dr Robert Costanza

  1. Its a shame you missed the Conference. Jeanette talked on Sunday about how clear it is the the Green Party, in NZ, is at the cutting edge of turning the ideas of green economic transformation into practical reality and how that was a bit frightening. I was at the Costanza workshop earlier on Friday.

    I raised questions like how the trust model was mooted but discarded for the Foreshore debate in 2003, that resource rentals were tried by Ngai Tahu a few weeks ago for Lake Waihora but they were attacked by claims of ‘iwi tax’ and how do you manage economic development in poor rural communities who identify with first world western ideals but exist within virtual third world economic constraints?

    It kind of boils down to building, brick by brick the political and social will to see their is a viable alternative. But look how long it took for Climate change to be taken seriously by the public. We just dont have the time.

    I am still a bit frightened at the task but very excited too.

  2. Meyt, if anyone can get it done, you can!

    I have utmost faith in the team, as well. It helps me to sleep at night, when I’m not involved at the coalface anymore …

    Yeah, I did have a random moment on Sunday when I wished I’d gone out there, instead of staying to run a ‘surviving the evil flatmate we evicted’ party at my place; but them’s the breaks, I was just enacting social policy in a smaller, tighter circle-of-influence

  3. I appreciated Constanza’s presentation, which largely focused on the rationale for a ‘Green New Deal’. As such it did a good job of pulling together alot of information, but to be completely frank it did not actually present anything I wasnt already aware of.

    For me the need for a Green New Deal is very evident, the kind of policy we need to implement is also fairly straightforwards.

    A ‘Green New Deal’ needs to incorporate multiple goals, not just that of becoming carbon neutral, and some mechanism for prioitising and timelining action points, and this means developing strategies to guide the implementation of policies for achieving a range of goals.

    So for example we could have a goal for becoming carbon neutral by a specific date, and another goal of future proofing our economy from rising oil prices (which would also reduce emissions). A third goal might be to move towards a sustainable ‘low growth’ economy with full employment. There will be a range of strategies for achieving these goals with different timelines and pathways. One strategy might involve focusing on areas where the greatest reductions in emissions could be achieved at least cost to the economy. Another might be to prioitise investment in infrastructure development for transport as a means of stimulating employment.

    My question is “How does one develop and then evaluate the effectiveness of different Green New Deal strategies?”.

  4. See, Mojo, that’s why you need to be at SPC’s, and I don’t, really.

    That’s one big question.
    Jump in here while it’s warm, anybody else! 🙂

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