Researchers at McGill University in Montreal and York University in Toronto are undertaking a three-year research project (2009-2012) that aims to develop a normative foundation for ecological economics within the constraints of the Earth’s biophysical systems. A major goal of this project is to trace the consequences of this work for governance.
The project team is re-examining the conceptual underpinnings of the economic order present in most societies to assess its role in the current ecological crisis and to identify foundations for, and elements of, a more prosperous prospect for life’s future. The principal elements of the research are:
- Describing an ethical foundation for ecological economics, or what might be called Earth System Economics;
- Defining notions of justice that are inherent in this new economics;
- Identifying the boundaries of this new economics and indicators of the economy with respect to those boundaries;
- Developing science-informed macro-economic models that describe how one could move to a steady state or shrinking economy; and
- Proposing governance systems that integrate these ethical foundations, justice criteria and boundaries and indicators.
The lead investigator is Professor Peter G. Brown, jointly appointed in the Department of Geography, the Department of Natural Resources Sciences and the School of Environment at McGill. The co-investigators are McGill Professors Richard Janda (Faculty of Law) and Mark Goldberg (Faculty of Medicine) and York Professors Peter Victor (Faculty of Environmental Studies) and Peter Timmerman (Faculty of Environmental Studies).
The project team is centrally involved in the planning of a conference on economic degrowth in Montreal in May 2012 to follow up on the Second Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona in March 2010. The results of the research project will be presented at the conference, in anticipation of the publication of book later in 2012.
The projected is funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The project team is currently seeking additional funding to extend the project beyond 2012.
Peter G. Brown, peter.g.brown [at] mcgill.ca
Geoffrey Garver, gginmont [at] sympatico.ca