Special sessions – participation

You can submit your abstract to one of the special sessions accepted in the conference. To do so, you only need to select “Special sessions” on the list of themes in the registration form.

Please note that abstracts must be sent through the platform also by those who have communicated their participation directly to the special session proposer.

Some Special sessions (labeled as “Closed”) have already reached the maximum number of contributions, and do not accept more submissions.

For any enquiries please write to esee2022pisa@posteo.net.

Accepted special sessions

The feasibility and desirability of endless economic growth is increasingly being questioned by scholars and activists. While envisioning alternative economic models is key to ensure the sustainability and wellbeing of present and future generations, few studies have analysed what the role of ‘innovation’ might be in a post-growth era. Innovating has become imperative to the survival and expansion of any form of organisation. But this ‘innovate or die mania’ underpins assumptions – such as technological determinism and productivism – that neglect the socially constructed character of technological development, its politics and its capacity to enable just and equitable societies but also dystopian technocratic futures. This session posits that untangling innovation from growth is key to imagining a post-growth era. If growth is going to be unsustainable, we need new narratives for innovation that would accordingly also have to change and increase the scope of the innovation concept itself, beyond technology, into cultural and institutional change, and indeed social life and social order.

Organisations – in particular capitalist enterprises – are the core of modern industrial societies but are also one of the places in which the discourse of growth is legitimised and constantly reproduced. However, they can also be the places in which people can start to build the capacity for developing alternatives to challenges the growth ideology. But how would organisations look in a different paradigm, in a system that is not based on and doesn’t not rely on endless growth? Under which conditions STI without growth would be able to flourish? What levels of technological complexity can we reach in a non-growing economy? What policies, infrastructure and organisational forms are needed or are more likely to facilitate this new paradigm of STI?

These are questions, rarely asked by innovation, management and organisation scholars, that the proposed session will address. The session will draw on the contribution of four scholars coming from Critical Management traditions followed by an open discussion about the role of Science and Technology in imagining and enabling a post-growth society.


Mario Pansera and Javier Lloveras, Post-growth Innovation Lab, Universidade de Vigo – Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain)

The title of the session is that of a forthcoming book based on the EJAtlas (www.ejatlas.org). Some chapters are thematic (nuclear energy conflicts, sand mining for metals, agrarian conflicts, indigenous participants, WED – women environmental defenders…) and some are geographically focused (the Arctic, South America and Mexico, Brazil, North and South India, China, East and West Africa, the Iberian peninsula, the United States…) with a total of 30 chapters. Some chapters are written in collaboration. Some papers for the session will come from outside this book. Some will focus on companies (Vale, Total…) and their environmental liabilities. The session will present EJAtlas as a unique source of information on environmental conflicts, and the book as a product of the EJAtlas, still in preparation. Some collaborators of the EJAtlas and co-authors of chapters will attend the session and send their own papers. The general hypothesis is that the growth and changes of the world social metabolism at the commodity extraction frontiers causes many “ecological distribution conflicts”. Sometimes the outcomes are successful.

The world economy is not circular, it is entropic. Therefore it searches for new materials and it also produces waste (such as excessive amounts of carbon dioxide). Is there a counter-movement, i.e. a global movement for environmental justice?


Joan Martinez-Alier and Grettel Navas, ICTA, Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain)

This session is intended to be a forum for those interested in historical and philosophical issues pertaining to ecological economics. More specifically, it aims to discuss what is meant by “ecological economic thought” as well as which types of ideas can be considered as part of the development of such a body of thought over time. This endeavour amounts to the conceptualisation and advancement of a history (or histories) of ecological economic thought, so far addressed in a variety of ways and abiding by different foundations in the face of changing views of natural and social phenomena themselves.

Thus, the aim is to delve deeper into theoretical and historiographical aspects of ecological economics as a field or discipline dealing with the interlinkages between ecology and economics or, more broadly, between the natural and social sciences. This initiative can be traced back to Joan Martinez-Alier’s 1987 seminal book “Ecological Economics: Energy, Environment and Society”, and has more recently been the object of renewed interest amongst historians of thought, philosophers of science, and ecological economists alike (Bobulescu, 2015; Couix, 2020; Franco, 2018; Melgar-Melgar & Hall, 2020; Missemer, 2018; to name only a few).

This session is expected to draw attention to the history of thought preceding or connected to the development of modern ecological economics, as well as its intellectual diversity. In addition, it might foster more dialogue, based on a wider historical frame, on the role of the discipline in the contemporary academic landscape and its influence over public discourse and policy.


Marco P. Vianna Franco, Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Vienna (Austria)
Antoine Missemer, Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement, Paris (France)

The socio-economic consequences of climate impacts and climate policies likely depend upon the coordination of multiple heterogenous economic agents, ranging from investors to households and firms. The various ways such actors interact and respond to the risks posed by climate change are crucial to determine the effectiveness of climate policy as well as the short and long run impacts of a changing climate.

This session aims to collect contributions from different modelling approaches (e.g. agent-based models, network model, system dynamics models) providing evidence about how socio-economic systems respond to climate physical and transition risks when some of key assumptions about rational economic behaviour and fully competitive markets are relaxed, and made more realistic.


Francesco Lamperti, Scuola Superiore S. Anna, Pisa (Italy)
Lilit Popoyan, University of Naples Pathenope (Italy)

The session focuses on methodological advances and applications of state-of-the-art econometric methods for analysing climate change and energy economics. We particularly welcome empirical works that shed light on the links between economic activities, energy use and emissions, as well as submissions that discuss policies dealing with the adverse consequences of climate change and energy use, possibly (but not necessarily) adopting empirically calibrated simulation models.


Alessio Moneta, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy)
Simone Maxand, Humboldt University (Berlin, Germany)
Mario Martinoli, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy)

The COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted many commonly held beliefs around the way the economy should function, specifically with regards to the nature of work. It also provided a glimpse at how a radical decline of industrial output can result in significant environmental improvements. However, entrenched or captured political systems are likely to result in a rapid return to business as usual, unless the political and decision space is expanded to enable new ways of thinking to be heard and understood by stakeholders, citizens, and firms/employers. This special session will explore the following types of questions:

– How does COVID19 and the political landscape in the EU and the US reshape what is possible with regards to achieving the SDGs, recognising that the goals are themselves internally inconsistent?
– Is it possible to find a pathway forward that enables a degrowth approach to development to emerge alongside the trickle-down (growth) model?
– Is a centralised or decentralised (devolution) model of governance more likely to support the emergence of new sustainable/regenerative models of economic activity.

Preference will be given to papers addressing modifications in industrial and employment policy, data driven analyses, and societal changes.


Ralph Hall, Virginia Tech (USA)
Nicholas A. Ashford, MIT (USA)
Tiziano Distefano, University of Pisa (Italy)

Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the global community is currently facing a multitude of challenges as a result of unsustainable use of resources and climate change with a potential hundreds million people at threat. The deterioration of global freshwater resources not only threatens global water security and freshwater ecosystems, but also terrestrial ecosystems due to the depletion of green water, through the degradation of soil and loss of soil moisture. This affects biomass production, and thus its ability to capture carbon and its capacity to regulate climate. Freshwater scarcity is also expected to become an increasingly common source of conflict in dry areas.

The understanding of the water, food and climate (WFC) nexus has become an important issue in Just Energy Transition, mostly considering the challenge to ensure a good life for all within planetary boundary.
Food, water, and energy security is key to build a sustainable society mostly in poorer countries that often face a severe trade-off: the need to improve socio-economic conditions is hard to balance with the maintenance of key ecological processes. The agriculture sector is crucial in the fight against climate change and to escape poverty and famine because it is often both a source of problem and a part of the solution since it is interwoven with key ecological resources (land and water) and energy. Many of the most urgent problems, such as the excessive use of agrochemicals, starvation, pollution of air and water, and overexploitation of groundwater, are the result of misplaced policy priorities, wrong incentives, and weak governance. It has become increasingly important to understand the interdependencies and interrelationships between the WFC nexus and the socio-economic dimension to find new approaches to underpin effectively sustainable management. This suggests that strategies to attain the Sustainable Development Goals must deal with the biophysical constraints and the economic and political feasibility of the proposed solutions.

This call for papers focuses on, but it is not limited to, the following questions:
a. How to decouple food production with resource use intensity and environmental footprints?
b. How can a nexus approach enhance resource-use efficiency, strengthen synergies, minimise trade-offs and improve governance across sectors?
c. How can stakeholders better engage and coordinate actions to find new ways to manage water-energy-food-climate nexus and social inequality?


Goram Rasul, ICIMOD (Nepal)
Marta Tuninetti, Politecnico di Torino (Italy)

Environmental Sustainability Education is crucial for promoting the transition towards sustainability in societies. Game-based learning (GBL) is a promising new tool for Environmental Sustainability Education because it allows to more easily engage people (and, notably, kids and their families) in activities promoting awareness regarding sustainability issues, which might otherwise lack appeal. This session objective is to highlight the state of the art of the research inquiring the effectiveness of games as a teaching tool for changing attitudes (beliefs and behaviours) regarding environmental sustainability. In addition, the session aims at igniting a more general debate on the use of game-based methods for education in environmental sustainability.


Roberto Di Paolo, Ennio Bilancini and Veronica Pizziol, IMT School for Advanced Studies, Lucca (Italy)
Leonardo Boncinelli, Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy)

Collaboration and knowledge sharing between academia, local public entities and private actors are key to encouraging the local adoption of good practices for the fair and sustainable management of territorial and environmental resources.
The starting point of the session will be the empirical experience of Leonardo-IRTA in Tuscany and Central Italy. Here, projects of territorial governance that involved the collaboration of local authorities and academic researchers have been carried out, all of them marked by a distinct interdisciplinary approach on the academic side, and striving for a mutually beneficial interaction between scientific, political and social actors.
Most project activities have been / are implemented on the basis of principles of social, environmental and climate justice, and sustain the public administrations involved in the pursuit of a holistic vision of the environment, also through participative processes, citizen science, institutional collaboration at different levels and, where appropriate, partnerships with private entities. The goal is to develop synergies that optimise the social and environmental outcomes of the project actions.
The session will encourage debate and exchange, starting from short presentations of significant examples of projects where academic research and decision-makers have co-operated on key territorial themes like:
– The sustainable re-discovery and valorisation of the Transhumance regions
– Local food for environmental sustainability – small local farms and collective food services
– The case of the marble quarries of Carrara
– Marginalised areas as precious occasions for sustainable development
– River contracts, instruments for just and fair territorial resource management


Giuliana Biagioli, Leonardo-IRTA, University of Pisa (Italy)
Rossano Pazzagli, Università del Molise (Italy)

Worldwide, almost 770 million people lack access to modern energy services. Energy data shows a decline of energy poverty since 2013. Projected impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic suggest a reversal in this trend, pushing many countries farther from the UN Sustainable Development Goal of “ensure universal access to clean energy by 2030” (IEA, 2020). It is recognised that the transition to a post-carbon economy needs to follow the ‘imperatives of a just transition’, namely be sustainable and socially inclusive (UN, 2015). The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development commit to the achievement of clean energy access for all by 2030 (UN, 2018) and EU vows to ‘leave no one behind’ in its Green New Deal (EC, 2019). However, energy transitions are mainly characterised by approaches focused on technological changes, the development of large energy infrastructures, and the creation of employment opportunities. This panel calls for analytical and critical work on the ways in which community-based energy transitions are mobilised around the world. While governments, international institutions, and large companies are pushing for a technological shift to “renewable energy”, communities denounce the impacts of large-scale plants on their territories. Farmers, fisher folks, Indigenous peoples, pastoralists, and urban inhabitants are at the forefront of the resistance in socio-environmental conflicts. At the same time, they are also promoters and generators of energy alternatives. The aim of this panel is to advance understanding of low-carbon energy transitions from a socio-technical and justice-based perspective covering the following topics:
1. energy transitions, conflicts and resistance;
2. energy justice, political ecology and power dynamics
3. diverse understanding of ‘energies’ from local knowledge and practice
We aim to bring together researchers, community members, organizations, or social movements working on energy alternatives from different disciplines, perspectives, backgrounds. We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions which respond to the following questions:
– How can we advance conceptual understanding of low-carbon energy transitions as socio-technical systems and from a justice perspective?
– How can we generate new empirical data on the justice implications of energy transitions in relation to both large and community-based low-carbon projects?
– How do power relations stimulate or hinder community-based low-carbon transitions?


Giuseppina Siciliano, School of Oriental and African Studies (UK)
Daniela del Bene, Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain)

Conceptually, the scholarly field of sustainable welfare and eco-social policy has established a framework within which previously disjointed literatures – on climate and social policies – could be synthesised, and the concept of sustainable welfare and eco-social policy have successfully entered the vocabulary of major policy discourses. Empirically, there are exciting ongoing studies focusing, among others, on i) reviewing existing policy tools for their potential of contributing to eco-social political goals, ii) exploring public support and preferences regarding eco-social policies, and iii) creating research-led avenues for citizen participation and a deliberative policy process for eco-social policy.

The concept of sustainable welfare and eco-social policy as an aspirational policy framework unites numerous engaged researchers across Europe. To move forward our joint efforts, following questions are examples of critical issues in the science-policy nexus that sustainable welfare and eco-social policy researchers are invited to reflect on in this special session:

Q. How to commensurate the pressing need for radical (and fast) transformation and feasibility aspect of eco-social policy? What challenges or pitfalls are there in writing up policy implications from our empirical work?

Q. Exciting scholarly works are being produced advancing quantification, visualization and modelling of pathways for sustainable welfare and eco-social policy. How can these scientific foundations for sustainability transitions be complemented with more concrete transformative actions?

Q. What are the limits of the universal/general nature of theoretical and programmatic model- and roadmap building tasks for sustainable transition, where contextual and local concerns and complexity are inevitably erased?

Contributions to this special session could be based on theoretical and empirical work on the theme of sustainable welfare and eco-social policy, with additional commentaries/reflections on the above questions. Papers directly delving into the questions listed above or other critical issues concerning the science-policy nexus are also welcome.

This session proposal is in line with the main questions of the conference concerned with the drivers for transformation in the science-policy nexus, by providing a room for critical reflection on the experiences of scholarly engagement and strategies taken thus far.


Jayeon Lindellee, Lund University (Sweden)
Katharina Bohnenberger, University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany)
Milena Buchs, University of Leeds, (UK)
Martin Fritz, University of Jena (Germany)
Tuuli Hirvilammi, Tampere University (Finland)
Max Koch, Lund University (Sweden)


The sustainability crisis is multidimensional, hence efforts to consistently integrate as many relevant dimensions as possible are key for effective policy-advice. Despite continuous development of IAMs there are some key pervasive limitations such as: an often too simplistic representation of the economic processes, assumptions of technical renewable potentials without considering limits related to sustainable, net energy or accessibility constraints, the neglect of implications of future energy investments required to achieve the transition to renewables for the full system and the absence of the material dimension and key sustainability dimensions other than climate change.

This session will describe the work carried out in the h2020 project LOCOMOTION (https://www.locomotion-h2020.eu/), which main aim is to build a new IAM with a detailed representation of the economic processes consistent with its biophysical counterparts in terms of land, water, climate, energy and materials. This work builds on the model MEDEAS developed in a previous H2020 project. Given the extensions, improvements and focus on planetary and other boundaries it was named “Within the Limits Model” (WILIAM). The main novelties included are:

Detailed geographical coverage: multi-regional world model with 8 global regions and integrating the 27 EU countries individually.
A new economic module representing consumption (including disaggregation of 60 households types in EU countries), production (based on IOT of 62 sectors), government, labour, international trade and financial dimensions.
The evolution of the economic structure reflects the physical changes of the transition.
Substantially increase the detail and fully link with the rest of the model of the land-use, materials and water modules.
Create new modules focused on demography, society and finance, which allow feedbacks rarely taken into account in IAMs such as migration and the effects of climate change on population, allowing the assessment of well-being, and assess the financing of the forthcoming transition (a dimension typically excluded from IAMs).
Improve scenario assessment by integrating demand management policies.
A modelling framework that better represents uncertainty.

Overall, the result is a new IAM, which in combination with a pluralistic view to assess future policy-action based on Green Growth, Green Deal and Postgrowth storylines, will offer alternative insights on future transitions.


Iñigo Capellán-Pérez, University of Valladolid (Spain)
Iñaki Arto, Basque Center for Climate Change (Spain)
Rob Oakes, University of United Nations
André Cieplinski, University of Pisa (Italy)
Tiago Capela Lourenço, University of Lisbon (Portugal)
Lukas Eggler, Austrian Energy Agency (Austria)
Luis Fernando Lobejón, University of Valladolid (Spain)

Sustainability transformations are inherently political. The processes and outcomes of sustainability transformations are shaped by the ways in which different actors frame issues and set goals, assert positions and form alliances for or against change, and more generally try to influence the direction and speed of transformations. Therefore, notions of power, empowerment, and contention, among others are central to identifying, understanding, and supporting transformative actions to escape from the current unsustainable paths. Typical issues of governance of sustainability transformations, such as phasing out unsustainable practices and scaling sustainable ones, designing inclusive institutional arrangements that support sustainable socio-technical regimes, or asserting principles of justice, cannot be satisfactorily addressed without delving into power and politics.

This special session offers a space for discussion of these issues with specific focus on agri-food system transformation. Agri-food systems are central to the problematic of environmental change (e.g. in terms of contributions to greenhouse gas emissions), and while the agri-food sector appears imbalanced, with powerful actors (e.g., multinationals producing food or agricultural input, large food retail industry) in incumbent positions, food practices are an important area of contention and experimentation both through grassroots (e.g., Community Supported Agriculture) and other initiatives (e.g., green public procurement of food).

The papers in this special session discuss power and politics in agri-food system transformation with an eye to a diversity of arenas (e.g., within a grassroots innovation or networks thereof at regional or national levels), forms of power and empowerment (e.g., action-theoretical, systemic and constitutive power), political dynamics (e.g., pluriversal politics, prefigurative politics), and roles of grassroots initiatives (e.g., social movements, sites of experimentation of alternative practices). Altogether the paper presentations and the discussion will facilitate exchange of research findings and reflection with the ambition to contribute to ongoing debates in sustainability transformations Ecological Economics and beyond.


Guilherme Raj, Leonie Guerrero Lara, and Giuseppe Feola, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University (The Netherlands)

Social movements associated with concepts and ideas of Ecological Economics such as Climate Justice (Bond, 2014; Martinez-Alier, 2021), Environmental Justice (Martinez-Alier, 1997; Martinez-Alier, 2001; Saez et al. 2021; Weber and Cabras, 2021), and Degrowth (Kallis, Kerschner and Martinez-Alier, 2012; Martinez-Alier, 2012; Demaria et al., 2013, Banerjee et al. 2020), claimed the irresponsibility of multinational firms as one of the leading causes for various environmental issues including climate change, biodiversity loss, and plastic pollution. This is not surprising as Ecological Economics emphasises the preservation of natural capital and treats the economy as a subsystem of Earth’s larger ecosystem, thereby contradicting the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which draws on the notion of the triple bottom line. This ‘contested notion’ (Busch et al. 2016, p. 309) considers man-made capital and natural capital exchangeable to achieve economic and environmental sustainability (Elkington, 1997). Similar to CSR and as a critique of it, the concept of Corporate Social Irresponsibility (CSIR) has been intermittently discussed for over 45 years (e.g. Armstrong, 1977; Lange & Washburn 2012), but more theoretical contributions on the topic are only just emerging (e.g. Clark, Riera, and Iborra, 2021) and remain largely disciplinary.

The purpose of this Special Session is to propose both a transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspective on CSIR from a Business Ecological Economics perspective. Papers presented in this special session may contribute to one or more of the following research questions: What is the role of environmental justice conflicts in revealing CSIR? Or how have environmental justice conflicts shown CSIR, and which rectifications and consequences did this have? How and why have social movements emerged from irresponsible firm behaviour? How have they confronted it? (Peredo and Mclean 2020; Bontempi, del Bene, de Felice 2021) What is the role of breakups, (re) municipalisations, (re) nationalisations or commoning initiatives (Weber, Cabras, and Frahm, 2019), as a consequence of CSIR? Why (or not) is CSIR less common in Not-for-profit organisations, Social and solidarity economy ventures, family SME’s, cooperatives and worker-owned firms (Peredo et al., 2018. Peredo et al. 2020)? We encourage case studies on countries, industries, sectors, firms and grassroots organisations, as well as conceptual and theoretical research.


Gabriel Weber, ESSCA, School of Management, Bordeaux (France)
Joan Martinez-Alier, ICTA-Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain)
Ana Maria Peredo, University of Victoria, Victoria (Canada)
Bobby Banerjee, City University of London (UK)

In 1972, the Club of Rome report «Limits to Growth» triggered heated debates on the notion of environmental limits and their political implications. Modelling results from the report indicated that the dominant development pathway based on continued economic growth was not compatible with the environmental protection. The thesis of limits reached its splendour in the 1970s but then declined under criticism of neoclassical economists and ecological modernists that claimed that technological innovation and resource substitution made environmental limits irrelevant in the foreseeable future.

Fifty years later, limits are back in political debates, as is evident from revitalised debates and the momentum of ideas like planetary boundaries, doughnut economics, degrowth, thresholds and tipping points. However, we still lack an interdisciplinary and widely shared understanding of the meaning and practical relevance of limits across disciplines and societal actors. Environmentalists and natural scientists warn about catastrophic effects of crossing tipping points; economists claim that technological innovation and resource substitution make physical limits of little practical relevance (a vision shared by many policy makers and business representatives); and critical social scientists often emphasise that limits are politically constructed, that they serve elite agendas, and that large uncertainties are involved in their definition. Ecological economists mostly share the view that the economy is a sub-system of the biosphere, subordinated physical limits of nature. However, we find diverse range of perceptions, from “hard” realists emphasising absolute physical limits, to hard and soft constructivists that emphasise normative approaches to limits.

Our session offers a forum to put into dialogue different understandings regarding the nature, relevance, and political implications of limits.

Our aim is to advance our understanding of the ontology, measurement, political dimensions, and policy implications of limits. Main questions to be addressed at the session include: What are the main divides in perceptions of environmental limits, and how can they be bridged? How can notions of limits be articulated in policy making, economic instruments, legal structures, and cultural norms? What are the equity and justice implications of limits? We welcome theoretical and empirical contributions addressing these and other related questions.


Elisabeth Veivåg Helseth, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) (Norway)
Lukas Godé, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) (Norway)
Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) (Norway)

Environmental concerns have led scholars to acknowledge the need of new socio-economic paradigms to address the current unsustainable model. Discussions addressed the potential contradictions between increasing demands of social protection, the ongoing transformation of productive processes, and the emergence of new social risks produced by climate change. Concepts such as just transition (JT), sustainable welfare (SW), and climate justice (CJ) have been elaborated to address the emerging societal issues as part of a broader response to the ecological crisis.

However, it still seems difficult to effectively tackle the trade-offs between employment issues, social security and environmental protection, to take into account the growing contradictions between historical, technological and biological processes. As a matter of fact, labor, welfare and sustainability scholars still struggle to promote integrated research processes to better understand the dynamics of the crisis, its employment-related effects and the responses put in place by policies and social movements.

In this session, we seek both theoretical and empirical contributions expanding the debate on labor and eco-social transitions. In particular, we invite papers examining three interrelated aspects:

• Employment risks and labour market transformations as engendered by combined ecological-technological transition programmes (e. g. green policies, energy transition plans, productive processes restructuring);
• The role of social and labor policies in addressing the eco-social crisis and the possible emerging patterns of JT (e. g. minimum/basic income, working time reduction, social investment and active labor policies, life-long learning, green job creation, etc.);
• working-class environmentalism in the context of CJ and the interplay – conflictual or convergent – between trade unions and environmental justice movements.

Finally, we particularly welcome case studies which contribute to respond to the following questions:

1. How can we advance conceptual understanding of labor and welfare transformations from a JT, SW or CJ perspective?
2. How can we generate new empirical data on workplace and social implications of ecological transitions in both large-scale and context-based research projects?
3. Which methods may be useful for investigating complex processes on the ground where social and political actors face multiple trade-offs and conflicts?


Emanuele Leonardi, University of Bologna
Maura Benegiamo, Marta Bonetti and Matteo Villa, University of Pisa (Italy)

The relevance of a (more) feminist degrowth approach has been acknowledged by many degrowth advocates, however, degrowth scholarship so far arguably lacks a consistent feminist stance in its theorising. The formation of the Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance (FaDA) network at the 2016 degrowth conference in Budapest was a major step in order to problematise the secondary importance attributed to gender issues, make feminist contributions that have informed or could inform degrowth scholarship visible, and push for a (more) feminist degrowth approach. FaDA aims at facilitating scientific and activist dialogue between feminists and degrowth scholar activists around the world and after its foundation in 2016 was able to continue hosting sessions and tracks for this dialogue at the international degrowth conferences in Malmö and Mexico-City, as well as at a number of other conferences, such as the IAFFE Feminist Economics conference in Glasgow, or the ESEE-Degrowth joint conference in Manchester. As members of the FaDA coordination group, we are happy to continue this tradition at the 2022 ESEE conference in Pisa. Following the ESEE call for abstracts, we especially encourage papers that critically address societal trajectories locking societies into a growth-dependent and resource intensive paradigm. In the tradition of feminist foremothers of the growth-critical discourse, we furthermore connect these critiques with an intersectional, gender just perspective. Thereby, we aim to open up possibilities of identifying deep leverage points for the sustainability oriented transformation of modern societies. This special session promotes the participative exchange on the subject of feminist perspectives on degrowth. It invites papers that deal with feminist decolonial perspectives, ecofeminism, political economy and feminist syndicalism.


Anna Saave, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (Germany)
Corinna Dengler, WU Vienna (Austria)

Climate change is impacting agriculture, making it more difficult to grow crops and raise animals. Safeguarding our food security requires that we adapt to these changes. A variety of adaptation options have been described (Smit, B. and M. Skinner, 2002; Biagini, B., et al., 2014). However, different localities, communities, and households often have very different susceptibilities to exposure and divergent capacities to respond to shocks (Fisher et al., 2021). Therefore, transformational adaptation actions can appear to be successful at first, but then generate negative externalities and spatial spillovers through time, space, and social differences (Juhola et al., 2016; Few et et al., 2017). Effective adaptation actions require to assess climate-change-related impacts at different scale and promote broader systemic transformation of agriculture and food systems towards climate-resilience and sustainability (Kates et al., 2013). Such transformative change calls for multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches that recognise the complexity of climate change adaptation decision-making (Lyle, 2015), and combines both analytical and participatory approaches to promote adaptability and influence transformative changes, and effectively realize the uptake of adaptation technologies (Campos et al., 2016; Mapfumo et al., 2013). In this context, technological innovation and digitalisation represent game-changing tools that will change not only how farmers farm, but every part of the agri-food value chains (Trendov, Varas, and Zeng, 2019), contributing to the socio-economic transition of agri-food systems, which responds to upcoming economic, social, and ecological challenges (e.g., climate change). However, adaptation technologies, including digitalisation is not neutral and it comes with risks. Therefore, it is essential to assess digitalisation from a social-ecological-technological systems perspective, encompassing the transformations at the individual, socio-economic, institutional, and governmental level needed to increase the capacity of socio-ecological systems to adapt to the changing climate, and support the livelihood, wellbeing and resilience of individuals, groups and rural communities situated in various contexts across the globe.


Michele Moretti, Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment – University of Pisa (Italy)
Steven Van Passel, University of Antwerp (Belgium)
Pisa Agriculture Economics (PAGE) research group (Italy)

Making rural areas stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous: this is how the ambitious goal for the future of Europe’s rural areas sounds. Here ,depopulation, ageing, urbanisation and climate change pose big challenges, heightened by the lack of basic services, limited connectivity, poor quality infrastructures and reduced income opportunities. Nonetheless, higher benefits may arise from greater need: substantial opportunities for rural areas are envisioned from the fight against climate change, sustainable food systems and the conservation of biodiversity, which may also contribute to achieve the EU Green Deal, F2F and biodiversity strategies’ targets (EU, COM(2021) 345 final). The future development of rural areas – as much as sustainable development more generally – call for an increased capacity to imagine the future and to activate actions accordingly. Competing narratives can generate very different pathways and scenarios. On one extreme, technology-centred approaches may generate scenarios based on the role of digitalisation and of biotechnologies to envisage rural circular economies based on automation, smart farming, biorefineries, with the risk of overlooking the role of people. On the other extreme, society-centred approaches may generate scenarios based on the capacity of rural communities to generate income and wellbeing based on community values and social cohesion, with the risk to fall into ‘green traps’ or economic decline. Intermediate scenarios may consider the synergies between technological and social innovation by exploring the opportunities offered by innovation approaches aimed at considering technologies as means to boost social capital and social innovation. It is up to science to undertake a new role in knowledge production to meet complex sustainability challenges (Caniglia et al., 2021; Ravetz, 1999). A broader collaboration between science, policy and practice is encouraged (Schneider et al., 2019) and the opportunity for science to “collect research needs from practice” (EIP-Agri, no date). Accordingly, the H2020 and Horizon Europe frameworks emphasise the notion of multi-actor approaches as “collaboration between various actors to make best use of complementary types of knowledge in view of co-creation and diffusion of solutions/opportunities ready to implement in practice” (EIP-AGRI SP, 2017).


Sabina Arcuri, Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment – University of Pisa (Italy)
Pisa Agriculture Economics (PAGE) research group (Italy)
MOVING H2020 project

Proponents of Degrowth often struggle to explain how the state can finance an ambitious social-ecological transition. In the short term, many fear, the envisioned policies would take public funds away from other purposes and further over-stretch public debt levels. In the long term, a reduction in material and energy use likely entails shrinking GDP, and with it the tax base. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) offers to protect this Achilles heel of Degrowth. MMTists argue that a sovereign government need not tax or borrow before it can spend; conversely, its spending creates money, which is then destroyed through taxation. The state is not constrained by any financial budget, but only by the labour and resources available to the economy. Hence, no financial constraints prevent the provision of a Job Guarantee, Universal Public Services, and a Green New Deal. It may not be immediately evident how MMT, often understood as a justification of massively boosting aggregate demand, would align with Degrowth. However, in their policy recommendations, MMT and Degrowth agree to a remarkable extent. This overlap, and their shared opposition to both orthodox economics and neoliberal politics, could be the basis of a powerful alliance. Yet, a number of questions remain: How can the above policies combine the potentially conflicting objectives of macroeconomic stabilization and full employment, work time reduction and a radical decommodification of – both paid and unpaid – labour, while reducing the throughput of energy and resources, and all this in a globally just way? In particular, while fiscal expansion may not cause inflation as long as productive capacity can expand, what happens if that expansion is ruled out by constraints to biophysical throughput? How to re-design taxes, industrial policy, regulations and price controls? And how to reform monetary institutions, including central banks and sovereign bond markets? Internationally, what are the opportunities and dangers of using (some) states’ monetary sovereignty, given a world economy characterised by currency hierarchy, financial subordination and unequal flows of capital, commodities and ecological impacts? The proposed session seeks to address such questions, and thereby to start an overdue conversation between Degrowthers and MMTists, as a deeper mutual understanding and potentially a stronger alliance between the two movements could accelerate the transformation we need so urgently.


Christopher Olk, University of Roma Tre (Italy)
Colleen Schneider, WU Vienna (Austria)

This session aims to introduce the ‘exnovation’ concept in the Ecological Economics debate. The exnovation concept has recently emerged as a response to the ‘innovation bias’ in sustainability transitions research and governance. It addresses an incisive critique of the understanding of innovation as a process of ‘creative destruction’: radical innovations can evolve in niche markets without ‘destructing’ unsustainable systems. Since then, it is becoming a common view that the termination of unsustainable systems should not be considered as a ‘side effect’ of market competition. It requires dedicated and complex decision processes involving a diversity of actors (i.e., exnovation governance). And, in contemporary capitalist economies those processes are highly conflictual. Exnovation research has studied the processes of deliberate termination of technologies (e.g., the phase-out of nuclear power and coal-fired power stations in several countries, of incandescent bulbs at the EU level). More comprehensively, exnovation refers to the deliberate termination of unsustainable technologies, infrastructures, business models and everyday practices and to its consequences. This more comprehensive perspective may echo the degrowth literature. The line of research proposed engages with context-sensitive analysis and operational understandings of exnovation [1]. A critical area of investigation in that sense is that of the exnovation-innovation nexus. Indeed, much remain to be clarified on how this nexus works in different socio-technical contexts and institutional settings. Exnovation is expected to create the necessary space for the full deployment of emerging alternatives and innovations and thus making sustainability transitions [really] happen. We welcome contributions supporting, challenging, or reframing this assumption. For example, this implies looking at the timing and phases of arrangements promoting purposeful termination and eliciting how they interact with the realised or projected diffusion of social and technological innovations. Also, the ability of public policy to anticipate, avoid, limit, or handle unsustainable innovations can be investigated. Similarly, at what level and how might ‘desincubation’ strategies be implemented or supported? In sum, this session proposes to explore concrete exnovation-innovation processes, i.e., concrete dynamics, strategies, and narratives of change. [1] And sister concepts: e.g., deliberate destabilisation.


Ela Callorda Fossati, SOcio-eNvironmental dYnAmics research group (SONYA), Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)
Solène Sureau, Tom Bauler and Bonno Pel, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)


Building on the pioneering work led by Bob Ayres in the 2000s, in the last decade (2010-2020) we have seen new energy-economy insights at the useful stage of energy analysis, through the efforts of the Exergy Economics research network. First, is the research which suggests that final-to-useful energy efficiency gains are a key driver of economic growth, and indeed are econometrically a good candidate for Total Factor Productivity. Second, we have evidence that low economic growth in OECD countries may be due to slowing efficiency gains, whilst conversely higher GDP growth is occurring in countries that have efficiency ‘headroom’, which allows higher efficiency gains. Third, whilst final energy intensity (energy/GDP) continues a steady decline, useful exergy intensity has remained roughly constant. As the exergy economics field and insights continue to mature, there is the desire for useful stage energy to become a part of integrated modelling frameworks, including the Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) that are used to inform energy and climate policy. Such a move can have key benefits for future scenario analysis, including those of post-growth. So far, few macroecological models have attempted to include the useful stage of energy use. One such model is the MARCO-UK model, developed at the University of Leeds, which has been used in research analysis to address future policy questions such as the socio-macroeconomic impacts of rapid UK retrofit. At the same time, the existing modelling framework MEDEAS is now moving to the LOCOMOTION project, and the researchers in that project are also thinking about how the move to useful stage energy analysis could be completed. Therefore, our intention is to provide a special session to move this agenda forward, and provide a collaborative space for interested researchers to attend and be part of the discussions. Our plan is to have short introductory presentations on 1. useful stage insights and 2. Moving models to the useful stage. After that, the open discussion is held. Our planned special session links most closely to Theme 1 (transformations): Ecological macroeconomic models, but also has synergies with other parts of the conference, including:
• Theme 1 (transformations) – Design of post-growth economies; Transformation: history, evolution and entropy
• Theme 2: Economic development, post-growth and human well-being
• Theme 4: Resources: Materials, energy, waste


Paul Brockway, University of Leeds (UK)
Jaime Nieto, University of Valladolid (Spain)

The Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) are part of the global climate scenario framework. They include a narrative for a sustainable pathway, SSP1. However, existing simulation models face challenges when implementing SSP1 because both individual behavior and the structure of the economy are likely to differ considerably from today. This session, organized by researchers involved in the SSPs, will invite authors who have been working on the macroeconomics of a sustainability transition and sustainable economies to present their proposals for modeling a truly sustainable Shared Socioeconomic Pathway.


Eric Kemp-Benedict, Stockholm Environment Institute (Sweden)
Simona Pedde and Kaspar Kok, Wageningen University (The Netherlands)

Our current food system faces several environmental challenges such as climate change, waste production and industrial pollution. To tackle these issues, various scholars argue that we need to abandon the `take-make-dispose’ principle and move towards a more circular food system. The city of Amsterdam is one of the first cities to declare its intention to deal with a circular strategy as a priority and aims to put forward short food supply chains, sustainable food consumption, and valorisation of organic residual waste. In order to reach these goals, not only policy-makers, but also citizens need to become more active in relevant behaviours such as choosing sustainable transportation to grocery shops, adopting a plant-based diet and collecting organic waste. However, the factors that influence the individual adoption of circular food behaviours and how these behaviours diffuse through the social system are still under researched. In order to give insights on these research gaps, this session aims at presenting methods and generated results on circular food behaviours. First, Dr. Joana Wensing will present results of an ecological momentary assessment study which collects data on citizens` daily food practices, and their social and spatial influence factors. The paper theoretically advances the understanding of how stable trait-like values and varying situational factors interact in driving circular food behaviours. Second, Dr. Roger Cremades will present an agent-based model that depicts the diffusion of circular food behaviours through the social system. The model will depict individual decision-making based on psychological theories and also consider network effects.


Joana Wensing and Roger Cremades, Wageningen University, Urban Economics (The Netherlands)

Considering decision-making processes with perspectives and tools offered by behavioural sciences is crucial for understanding and promoting environmental sustainability. Indeed, perceptions, emotions and cognition can shape the subjective value attached to the consequences of sustainable behaviours and policies. Moreover, perceptions, emotions and cognition can affect the beliefs regarding the actual consequences brought by sustainable behaviours and policies. This session aims at collecting contributions from the behavioural sciences, also using experiments (online, in the lab, or in the field), which attempt to uncover (i) how perceptions, emotions and cognition affect sustainable behaviours and the effectiveness of sustainable policies, (ii) how perceptions, emotions and cognition could be influenced to promote sustainable behaviours and policies.


Veronica Pizziol, IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca (Italy)
Ennio Bilancini, IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca (Italy)
Leonardo Boncinelli, Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy)
Roberto Di Paolo, IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca (Italy)

The wellbeing, liveability and environmental benefits of urban nature are now widely acknowledged. City plans all over the world aspire to greener and healthier cities with a focus on increased social justice, climate resilience and enhanced wellbeing. But literature outlines many challenges that the ‘greening agenda’ faces: urban greenspace continues to be compromised for development (Colding et al 2020); where ‘greening’ is occurring, it is often associated with gentrification rendering neighbourhoods out of the reach of poorer households and the social impacts of urban nature are complex and unevenly distributed even when access to greenspace is abundant (Wolch et al. 2014). There is an emerging understanding that social and material context of urban neighbourhoods conditions the co-production of social impact from urban nature, and this is beginning to inform practice (Juntti et al. 2021). Moreover, ecological compensation – a requirement for net gain in greenspace and/or biodiversity from investment in replacement greenspaces (Juhola 2018) – is gaining traction in addressing nature loss in planning (e.g. the Environment Bill in the UK and the green factor in Finland).

This session aims to bridge work on these two research agendas seeking solutions to the greening challenges in cities. This session brings together research on the social impact of urban nature, ecological compensation, and compensation of nature-based human values in urban planning. The aim is to share empirical findings and compare methodological approaches to lay the ground for potential joint research endeavours that support better integration of social impact into the emerging practices of nature compensation in urban planning.


Meri Juntti, Middlesex University (UK)
Juha Hiedanpää, National Resources Institute of Finland (Finland)

Relational ontologies, mostly but not exclusively inspired by Indigenous and Local Knowledge systems, have been widely neglected in environmental and sustainability policies, but constitute the inspirational ground of most environmental justice struggles and a necessary component for trajectories towards radical social-ecological transformation. Following the recent ‘relational turn’ in sustainability science, this section invites contributions that explore and compare relational approaches for a social-ecological transformation. The relational turn challenges traditional approaches largely oriented towards either a ‘nature for us’ (natural capital, quantification and monetisation of ecosystem services, green economy) or a ‘nature for its own sake’ (no-access or no-use natural areas, wilderness conservation and restoration). Relational approaches focus not only on relationships between people and nature and among people with respect to nature, but also on the relational constitution of individuals. Relational perspectives are not new to ecological economics (multiple traditions, including feminist ecological economics, Indigenous knowledge systems, social metabolism approaches, societal relationships to nature theories, and others, have been advocating relational frameworks in various ways all along). Yet, now seems to be fruitful momentum & a unique opportunity to bring about a radical shift towards relationality that can guide a more inclusive and diverse path for transformation. Papers in this section address, from different perspectives, the chances and limitations of a relational turn & discuss implementation paths in policy as well as relevance for activism and environmental struggles. The category of ‘relational values,’ for example, has been foregrounded by IPBES to more adequately assess how people express the importance of their relationships to and about ecosystem services, NCP (Nature’s Contributions to People), and biodiversity beyond merely instrumental considerations. Questions include but are not limited to: How can relational values be operationalised to support transformation in environmental policy and valuation? How can encounters across knowledge & value systems not aimed at appropriation or expropriation support environmental conflicts resolutions and recalibrate sustainability goals? How can a relational paradigm be integrated into economics and valuation approaches? How can the relational turn support climate policies and democracy?


Barbara Muraca, University of Oregon (USA)
Jasper Kenter, University of York (UK)
Rachelle Gould, University of Vermont (USA)
Austin Himes, Mississippi State University (USA)


The proposed special session fosters a critical realist conversation on the metatheoretical foundations of social-ecological economics. Often neglected both in the economic mainstream and more empiricist/positivist approaches to ecological economics, we argue that social-ecological economics necessarily entails a critical reflection and disclosure of the normative foundations and metatheoretical core assumptions that philosophically underlabour its analyses of the multiple crisis and possible solutions. We discuss how critical realism as philosophy of science that not only helps us to attain a deeper understanding about the world as it is, but also enables us to imagine the world as it could be, to reason about windows of opportunities, possible prefiguration, and concrete utopias can promote a shift towards the explanatory, reflexive, and transformative science that social-ecological economics should aim at be(com)ing.


Corinna Dengler, Vienna University of Economics and Business (Austria)
Clive Spash, Vienna University of Economics and Business (Austria)

The session focuses on possible pathways for the transition towards a more sustainable food system. The aim is to investigate and analyse different types of policies that can be adopted by public or private actors to promote more sustainable food production and consumption. Indeed, this is a topical societal challenge that is also included within one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030 (SDG 12). The food system is particularly important because of its strong links to the natural environment and for the multi-facet impacts that food production entails. Moreover, food choices are an important part of everyones life so understanding and shaping such choices may have strong impacts in terms of sustainability. The starting point is that the transition to a more sustainable food system can be promoted both by the diffusion of standards that may be pushed by government regulations and/or private standards, or ‘pulled’ by consumer demand. The main focus of this session is on the citizen and consumer side. Indeed, the objective is to provide insights about citizen and consumer perception, attitudes and response to different sustainability policies and barriers that may hinder their success and more in general on consumer preferences for sustainability attributes in food products. Indeed, the background idea is that individuals need to be engaged in the development of sustainable pathways and that sustainability strategies need to be assessed not only taking into consideration costs and technical aspects, but also consumer behaviour/responses, in line with Knowledge-Society trends where the enhancement of consumer empowerment and knowledge is key. We consider a broad definition of sustainability standards including different types of public and private policies, that go from command and control measures to labelling and certifications. The session focuses on different types of standards that embrace the multidimensional concept of sustainability and its application to food choices, considering environmental, health, social, tradition and origin-related aspects, etc. Moreover, the session includes papers with a general focus and others on specific food products, covering a range of different food categories and investigating choices and preferences in different contexts and settings. Finally, the session is open to both theoretical and empirical contributions.


Elena Claire Ricci, Università degli Studi di Verona (Italy)

In the first half of the twentieth century, one of the architects of national income accounts in the United States, Simon Kuznets (1934), warned against inferring national well-being from economic accounts. The warning was largely unsuccessful and over the second half of the century, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen to become a dominant goal of policy-makers. A measure of economic activity was often (mis)used as a direct measure of well-being or at least as a way of approximating it. Pursuing GDP may also imply patterns of production and consumption that cannot be supported in the long run (e.g., Meadows et al., 1972). In response, many authors and institutions constructed metrics for measuring well-being – both the level of current well-being (“development”) and the conditions for future well-being (“sustainability”). Some are highly aggregated (indexes), others are presented as a set of less aggregated indicators (dashboards). None was nevertheless successful in eroding the dominant role of GDP in public discourse and policy. Beyond GDP movement has recently received some attention of policy-makers (e.g. Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report requested by former French President Sarkozy), but policy uptake has been slow. On the international level, the Sustainable Development Goals include a target (17.19) to “build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement gross domestic product”. Existing metrics often suffer from a low degree of transparency, are methodologically compromised and poorly harmonised across countries and institutions. Institutionalisation is a first step to erode the dominance of GDP in public discourse and refocus on environmental and social goals (van den Bergh, 2022). The aim is thus to develop and institutionalise metrics(s) that are transparent, methodologically consistent and harmonised. The session welcomes contributions that examine issues such as composite indicators versus dashboards, methodology and transparency of metrics, integration of development and sustainability, institutionalisation of metrics.


Miroslav Syrovátka, Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic)
Jaromír Harmáček, Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic) & Social Progress Imperative (USA)

This session asks for ecological economists to rectify the lack of social theory. Already social ecological economics (SEE) has raised the profile of a needed social aspect in the transformation to a new economic paradigm. Now we need to explore the potential contributions for a synthesis of ideas on what constitutes the social in SEE. Other fields of knowledge that might contribute to this understanding include the specific (e.g. eco-socialism, eco-feminism, post development studies) and the more general (e.g. political science, sociology, social anthropology). In ecological economics perhaps the strongest contribution to date has come from critical institutional economics covering conventions, norms, rules and regulations. However, this still requires further development into a broader theory of power, inequities and social-ecological transformation.

There are a range of questions that arise and should be explored:
How should power be understood?
Which social organisation (e.g. corporations, governments, police/military, unions) are key constituents of the current systems?
What is the relationship between agency and structure?
How should institutions be understood and included in SEE?
How did the currently hegemonic capitalist system develop?
What are the causal mechanism of social change?
What is the role of the State?
What roles do social movement play?
How does social theory relate to SEE’s critical realist philosophy of science?

The role of different actors and expectations about what they can achieve in transformation to a better future is left implicit in ecological economics, but needs to be made explicit and part of the paradigmatic knowledge. A social theory is required to address the real structural and causal mechanisms that maintain current power relations and prevent the potential of alternatives.


Clive Spash and Corinna Dengler, WU Vienna University of Economics & Business (Austria)

In this panel, we will discuss the various challenges arising from the interplay of financial system dynamics and the endeavour of transitioning to a post-growth economy. A post-growth transition requires a large-scale implementation of regulations and policies aimed at reaching an ecologically sustainable and socially just economy which is not dependent on economic growth. Currently, proposals of coordinated top-down measures as well as numerous bottom-up initiatives exist for implementing this transition.

While being a challenge in and by itself, this panel will focus on the role of financial system dynamics in such a transition. What would be the impacts on financial instability? What (systemic) barriers do bottom-up initiatives face in this context? Are there mechanisms within financial systems which make a post-growth transition difficult or even impossible? Can these obstacles, if they exist, be remedied by a change in policies and regulations of the financial systems themselves? If so, what could they look like? Decarbonising the economy can lead to stranded assets and the bursting of a carbon bubble, as already pointed out by many scholars. In a scenario of limits to green growth, these mechanisms of financial instability become even more relevant, since there is less capacity for the growth of green assets to offset the losses that occur in assets based on fossil fuels. Could mechanisms along the line of QE, whereby central banks buy up these stranded assets and leave them permanently on their balance sheets, bring solace to this situation or would it only make matters worse? Furthermore, what challenges arise from power asymmetries to the feasibility of proposed pathways for a post-growth transition and how can we cope with them? We open up a space to tackle this topic from various perspectives with different methods. 


Anja Janischewski, Chemnitz University of Technology (Germany)
Stef Kuypers, Happonomy (Belgium)

Transforming food systems to achieve sustainability will require more than the development of new technologies. We know that our mental imagines determine our behaviour. Temesgen & al. (2019) discuss the importance of worldviews, ontology, epistemology and axiology in the search for alternative paths of development. A change in imaginaries does not only matter among the public and policy makers but also within science. Spash (2012) points to the importance of epistemological principles and ontologies in ecological economics and how alternative pathways of human-nature interactions emerge if researchers implement fundamental ontological changes in their research thoughts and activity. In order to reinvent sustainable food systems, current ontologies in food and agricultural economics would need to become self-critical and innovative in their imaginaries and thus theories. Current approaches to agricultural economics and rural development are largely rooted in the colonial past, based on theories and ontologies pertaining to Western Science. For instance, offerings to neighbours and contributions to social events in subsistence societies can be interpreted under a Western view of exchanges driven by the strive for profit accumulation and private property as a weakening of one’s own wealth. From the anthropological economics perspective of a gift economy, such donations constitute on the contrary a sign of wealth and an investment in stability through a placement, which one will reactivate in case of need. Another example is the reductionist Cartesian worldview, which fails to highlight how land use systems are dependent on embedding larger political, social, ecological and the Earth’s energy system. As a step towards introducing plurality and justice to make agricultural economics more ecological, this session aims to explore the ontological basis of current food, agricultural and rural development economics research. Thereby, we encourage contributions, which adopt a historical or political ecology perspective, considering the role of colonialism and global power dynamics in shaping ideas and concepts of agricultural development. In addition, we invite contributions presenting alternative framings, concepts and ontologies for the study of food, agricultural and rural development economics, which propose a decolonized and ecological perspective.


Stéphanie Eileen Domptail, Justus Liebig Universität (Germany)
Martin Petrick, University of Giessen (Germany)

In March 2021, the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) was enriched by a new version of the volume on Ecosystem Accounting (EA). Chapters 1-7 of the revised SEEA EA volume were adopted by the UN Statistical Commission as an “international statistical standard”. This new part of the SEEA standard complements the Central Framework (concerning physical flows, activities related to the environment and natural resources stocks) by a coherent accounting approach to the measurement of ecosystems.

Particularly controversial – and therefore not part of the standard – are the “internationally recognised principles and recommendations” on economic valuation of ecosystem services and assets, included in Chapters 8-11 of the same volume and (questionably) claiming consistency with national accounts.

Although the SEEA EA draws on, or mentions, insights from ecological economics, such as the non-substitutability principle of critical natural capital, the promotion of the valuation approach is very much in line with conventional environmental economics and the capital approach to (weak) sustainability. The focus is on exchange values, efficiency and trade-offs, while the current economic system and its associated institutions are taken for granted despite the multiple ongoing crises. The SEEA EA also explicitly aims to contribute to ongoing societal projects such as “Green growth”, while the growth-critical perspective of ecological economics is totally absent. Perspectives on the economic importance of nature, such as e.g. the one based on the concept of costs, are relegated to the final and ‘no-status’ chapters of the volume.

This session aims to address theoretical aspects of both the new standard and of SEEA more generally. We particularly welcome papers with a critical approach to valuation, that address potential outcomes of the SEEA, or raise more general questions about how the SEEA (EA) links to trends in the broader political economy or environmental governance. Contributions focusing on the process (incl. power, actors, discourses) of establishing the SEEA are also welcome. In this respect it would be interesting to look at how even ecological economics scholars have contributed to the monetisation of nature, to the emphasis on exchange rather than on use values, and to the cultural prevalence of the concept of substitutability of all things, despite core insights from foundational works in ecological economics.


Tone Smith, Rethinking Economics Norway & WU Wien (Austria)
Aldo Femia, ISTAT (Italy)


JUST2CE is based on the assumption that a critical evaluation of the CE paradigm, of its economic, societal, gender and policy implications, and of the outcomes of its implementation (which industrial sectors will benefit the most? Which stakeholders’ groups can be classified as winners and which one as losers) has not been conducted yet. A direct consequence of this gap is that the political economy and geopolitics of transition have been neglected in CE studies. European, and more in general global productive systems are characterised by geographical specialisation – e.g. extractive Vs productive economies; core-periphery and north-south relations – that seek to maximise profits along the traditionally designed linear supply chains. These, often unequal and asymmetric, relations might seriously hamper the transition to a CE. To date, no studies have shed light on how such relations should be reconfigured to achieve circularity. This represents an urgent and major research gap that will be addressed by this project, which will therefore provide useful insights to policy-makers for evaluating the feasibility of the transition to the CE. JUST2CE aims at understanding, in critical and thoughtful way, under which conditions a responsible, inclusive and social just transition to a circular economy is possible and desirable, what technical, political and social factors can enable or hamper such transformation and how these aspects can contribute to the development of transitional policy measures. The conviction underpinning the project is that the success of a transition towards a sustainable circular economy does not merely depend on the development of new technologies – artefacts or processes – but also in the reconfiguration of the governance of productive processes into more democratic and participatory mechanisms of designing and managing technology.

Emanuele Leonardi, University of Bologna (Italy)
Maddalena Ripa, Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain)


The marauder’s map is one of the results of MAGIC, a European project aimed at developing quantitative methods for the robust identification and quantification of the factors determining the sustainability of the metabolic pattern of modern societies. Primary sustainability factors considered include the DESIRABILITY of social practices outside the paid work sector, needed to guarantee the social bonding and robustness of social fabric, the VIABILITY (economic and technical) of the social practices inside the technosphere, associated with the end-uses needed for the reproduction of the society of interest, the FEASIBILITY of the metabolic pattern in relation to its interaction with the biosphere (requirement of primary flows associated with supply and sink capacity from the environment), and the level of system OPENNESS, referring to externalization and dependence on imports and related to a lack of security. Depending on what a given stakeholder wishes to see, the presented map allows for the tailored generation of insights and indicators based on quantitative information that, while referring to different descriptive domains and scales of analysis, is brought into congruence by way of the “metabolic processor” structural-functional epistemic device. The “magic” of the marauder’s map consists precisely in this ability—accommodation of the wide breadth of country-context types and modes of interaction together with an ability to illustrate those situations with indicators chosen à la carte. This ability allows accounts referring to the performance of metabolic patterns across the four above-mentioned factors of sustainability to be generated, audited, and compared as never before. In this session we illustrate innovative diagnostic and anticipatory applications of the marauder’s map. The audience will be taken “through the looking glass” on a guided, interactive tour of several instantiations of a fictional nation state, “Wonderland”, as it compares to the rich variety of metabolic patterns found across space and time on Mother Earth (with special attention to European Union states). Presenters with thematically focus on different relevant aspects including agriculture or energy (among primary industrial sectors), the metabolic implications of urbanisation (demographic variables, levels of services), communication of the high-dimensional spaces generated by the map as they relate to science for governance and the “quantitative storytelling” modality.

Mario Giampietro, ICREA Research Professor, ICTA, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Ansel Renner, ICTA, Autonomous University of Barcelona


Ecological economics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with society-nature-economy relationships. As such, its community includes predominantly economists, but it also encompasses other social scientists with a background in political science, sociology, human geography etc. What is shared within such a diverse community is a critical approach to orthodox economic theories and mainstream thinking. However, ecological economics has eschewed a serious discussion on what “critical” means nowadays, while the more political dimension has been side-lined in its discussions, or better, political issues have predominantly been dealt with from within the field of ecological economics, without building substantive bridges with fields such as political science or sociology. In this session we aim to establish a dialogue between ecological economics and environmental politics. Environmental politics can be approached from a number of perspectives. However, ‘critical’ ones should depart from a problem-solving outlook, which takes for granted the state of affairs concerning social, cultural, economic and political relations, questioning the backdrop against which, or the framework whereby, problems are identified and solutions devised. Critical perspectives are especially attentive to the genealogy and contestation of institutional arrangements, power differentials, agency distribution, knowledge and authority claims, reality definitions, interest and identity (self-)attributions. They are inclined to reflexively apply critique to themselves, interrogating the grounds of their own claims. They are committed to exploring the transformative potential of alternative approaches and ongoing struggles. In principle, no issue concerning the relationship between society and the biophysical world is extraneous to a critical assessment, hence the field cannot be delimited according to well-established, neatly sorted, themes. Indeed, it holds porous boundaries with ecological economics. This roundtable aims to achieve two aims. Firstly, it aims to briefly present the forthcoming Handbook of Critical Environmental Politics (Edward Elgar) edited by Luigi Pellizzoni, Emanuele Leonardi and Viviana Asara, forthcoming in 2022. Secondly, it aims to establish a roundtable conversation with a few of the Handbook authors on the question what does critical environmental politics means in present conditions and how they approach this issue in their own specific fields.

Viviana Asara, University of Ferrara (Italy)
Emanuele Leonardi, University of Bologna (Italy)
Luigi Pellizzoni, University of Pisa( Italy)


Evidence shows that in the current – complex – policy framework (Green architecture of the CAP, EU Biodiversity Strategy, Green Deal, Green Recovery and Farm to Fork Strategy) the design and implementation of policy interventions and related incentives for the provision of environmental public goods can be improved in terms of a) the ability to promote transformative behavioural changes of farmers, b) better targeting towards local needs and most vulnerable environmental values or at least to those environments where benefits can be greater, c) increasing efficiency and effectiveness (by ensuring that current measures and policy programmes actually deliver on the promise of triggering environmental outcomes/benefits at the least cost for society), d) increasing equity and value-based nature of interventions (safeguarding EU social and environmental values while helping to achieve higher standards). Cutting-edge socio-economic and agroecological tools, both from qualitative and quantitative spheres, such as new market-based instruments (result-based payments, payments by modelled results, collective actions, supply chain approach and biodiversity offset markets) complemented by bio-economic models and behaviorally-informed interventions, as well as more transdisciplinary approaches based on multi-actor and participatory platforms (policy innovation labs, foresight scenarios, location-based Serious Games) are promising. This organised session focuses on science-policy-society innovative tools and their potential in developing an integrative approach among indicators, modelling tools, knowledge, human and relation based interfaces (which tools, how to, obstacles and potential) to reach climate neutrality dealing with the protection and restoration of biodiversity, ecosystems and landscapes to ensure that local-tailored transformative sustainable solutions expand the scope of their impacts (across scales, places, issues and sectors), gaining coherence with EU major environmental policies (i.e. European Green Deal, F2F and Biodiversity Strategy) and with societal needs. The discussion will provide an overview of the research issues in providing public goods based on several Horizon 2020 projects (e.g. CONSOLE – grant agreement GA 817949). The session discusses methodological approaches in designing these instruments, focusing on the complementarity between approaches.

Daniele Vergamini, University of Pisa (Italy)
Fabio Bartolini, University of Ferrara (Italy)