Putting Eco Back in Economics

Traditional economists ignore reality to justify their thinking, and anyone who studies economics is well aware of this. From the myth of the “rational human” to trickle down economics, to the very idea markets are “natural” all ignore the actual state of the world and people. Due to the mainstream adoptions of these myths (and others), researchers interested in economics are pushing back and trying to revive the field to better reflect reality.

One such effort is found in ecological circles which are trying to get policymakers and thinkers to acknowledge that the planet itself is key to economic practices.

Ecological economics offers an opportunity to make the transition to an economic system that is designed to promote human and planetary health from the outset, rather than one where social and environmental externalities must be constantly corrected after the fact. Important ideas from ecological economics include the use of a multidimensional framework to evaluate economic and social performance, the prioritisation of wellbeing and environmental goals in decision making, policy design and evaluation that take complex relationships into account, and the role of provisioning systems (the physical and social systems that link resource use and social outcomes). We discuss possible interventions at the national scale that could promote public health and that align with the prioritisation of social and ecological objectives, including universal basic income or services and sovereign money creation. Overall, we lay the foundations for additional integration of ecological economics principles and pluralist economic thinking into public and planetary health scholarship and practice.

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