More practical solutions and less analysis (ISEE 2010)

Development Policy27 Aug 2010Maria Maack

This was my first time to meet up with ecological economics. Up to now my only encounter with the discipline has been through books and the journal, – more or less since the 1990s. For me, it was the occasion to watch the giants that adhere to the most important think tank that shapes my work, my education, my personal politics. And I must add that I was most impressed to see Sigrid Stagl and John Gowdy. She came across as the farmer that stands on both feet close to the earthworms ( and this is a real compliment) and he, this warm humane character. – But then again, I should not be describing what I see, as I am brought up in a society ruled by mediocre egoistic consumers where my vivid imagination and big mouth gets me into the opposition all the time. There were several things that came as a surprise; First, the number of young people was higher than I am used to in other conferences and I was really happy to see that. It means that the concept of mixing ecology and economics is catching on. For me this has always been plain logic, human ecology is expressed in the human society and the way we managed resources is the expectancies we have to our economy.

That is also the reason for the second surprise. I really expected that by now (given the age of the EE) many of the well defined and analyzed problems described in so many nice books had been turned into practical solutions with excellent results. I expected that we would be celebrating successful implementation and adjusted to similar problems. Not so monotone analysis of new dilemmas. But I guess that is what we academics are trained for. I just prefer a little more than descriptions, I long for actions, hope, light at the end of the tunnel. This may await the 2012 conference: Rio revisited.

Probably I wanted to listen to members who could proudly state: We have achieved. Remember when we analyzed this with our generous recommendations and now the issue has been resolved with success. The multi-trans– cross disciplinary work produced by ecological economists should make our life views a little more positive and give hope for the young scholars that are starting to follow our path.

The third surprise was how many interesting sessions I could not attend. In spite of very precise organization I would so much have been able to go to many more presentations, because presented issues were relevant to my work. I would like to have seen a stronger thematic focus for the conference. Perhaps there was, I just lacked the overview, but I would have liked to have understood how the sessions linked into a holistic picture.

Anyway, lots of gratitude for very good achievements of the committee and execution team. And thanks to all the fantastic inspiring people that I could talk to in coffee breaks and lunches. It is after all in human interactions that we get the real lessons.