In June 1972 the environmental crisis was internationally acknowledged by the first UN conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Exactly 50 years will have passed when the Pisa 2022 Conference of European Society for Ecological Economics takes place.

Countless papers, conferences, declarations, and policies have attempted to tackle the issue. While some progress has been achieved, overall environmental degradation has become increasingly alarming. Efficiency has dramatically improved; yet, because of rebound effects, consumption of energy and materials has hugely increased, and with it, the amount of waste and emissions that are returned to our environment. The system is locked into unsustainable trajectories and policies have not been capable of freeing us from them.

Many are still fascinated by the myth of exponential growth of the GDP and remain unable to see the other side of the coin, namely the harmful effects that render growth uneconomic. “Ecological transition” is too often thought of as a technological transition, concerning in particular the shift towards renewable energy, while there is little awareness that unsustainability is brought about by the abundance of energy. Indeed, energy furnishes us with huge power to interfere with the natural processes.

It was not just the Stockholm UN conference that took place at the beginning of the 1970s; in those fruitful times, Georgescu-Roegen gave us an early warning that technology alone cannot solve the situation; rather, we need to curb the huge waste of energy and matter that does not add to our well-being. After fifty years we know he was right, but we remain hesitant.

While it is true moreover that sustainability is seen largely as a concern for the future, it should be noted that this is a distorted interpretation of the UN’s Brundtland report. The focus of the report is stated clearly: it concerns needs, regardless of their temporal dimension. Needs are also central to the Agenda 2030 and to many of its SDGs. Their achievement requires policymakers to abandon the dominant “growth-centric” paradigm and be brave enough to promote the many instances of change that come from engaged civil society.

The Zeno paradox means that movement, and hence change, are not seen as possible. Change is possible and needed, however. The paradox has been solved by a paradigmatic shift. Similarly, attaining  sustainability requires a change in the vision of politicians and in the collective imagination. 

Will politicians catch up with science and engaged civil society?

What are the transformative actions to escape from the current unsustainable paths?


We are happy to announce that also this year we will award the student prize for the best student contribution!

If you want to be considered for the student prize, please submit your abstract in the submissions portal and make sure to click ‘yes’ for the question on the student prize participation.

If your abstract is accepted, you will be asked to upload a full paper by the 15th of May 2022. The student prize will be awarded during the conference. 

Application criteria

To be eligible, papers must:

  • Be a complete, original, unpublished manuscript in English; hence published (or accepted by a scientic journal) papers are not eligible to take part in the competition.
  • Be led by a student and written by a student as the first or only author;
  • Where there are multiple authors, include a clear description of the contribution that the student(s) made to work;
  • Represent an original work in ecological economics;
  • Follow standard ethical requirements in research;
  • Be presented as an oral presentation by the candidate during the ESEE conference (poster submissions are not eligible).
  • Must contain a maximum of 6000 words (excl. tables and figures) and be accompanied by an abstract of max. 150 words;

Student representatives are not eligible for competition during their active terms as members of the ESEE board


The first evalation step is the preselection of about 20 submissions that participate in the competition. This selection is based on four gradings given by reviewers, and uses the following criteria: relevance to ecological economics, academic quality, and rigour/clarity/flair of writing.

The selected students must submit the paper by 15th of May.

The second step is the assessment of the full paper by the jury, who will select 6 finalist papers that will be presented by the students at the conference in the best student prize session.

After the presentations the jury will select the three winning papers, which will be announced in the ESEE general meeting, and awarded in the final ceremony.

Author guidelines for submitting the full paper (due by 15h of May ONLY by SELECTED STUDENTS)

Download here the template format

As papers are double-blind peer reviewed, the main text file should not include any information that might identify the authors.