Event ReportsPublished on Oct 07, 2015
Saying ecological knowledge is the demand of the 21st century, Prof. Jayanta Bandyopadhyay of the Jawaharlal Nehru University has called for better ecological knowledge to be put in practice as he felt that ecological economics is facing a dampener due to the weakness in ecological knowledge application.
Need for boosting ecological economics

"Ecology is the weakest link in human understanding of nature, economy and society dynamics, said Jayanta Bandyopadhyay of the Centre for Study of Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Bandyopadhyay was speaking at the book discussion of "Nature, Economy and Society: Understanding the Linkages" at ORF Kolkata on 3 October 2015.

The book, a collection of selected papers presented at the 6th Biennial Conference of the INSEE in October 2011, is edited by Nilanjan Ghosh, Senior Fellow, ORF Kolkata and Senior Economic Advisor, WWF India, Pranab Mukhopadhyay, Professor and HoD of Economics, Goa University, and Advisor of SANDEE, Manoj Panda, Professor and Director, Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi and Amita Shah, Former Professor and Director, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad. The book is published by Springer.

Speaking on the occasion, Bandyopadhyay called for better ecological knowledge to be put in practice as he felt that ecological economics is facing a dampener due to the weakness in ecological knowledge application. He said ecological knowledge is the demand of the 21st century. In this century, when science is moving at an ultra speed, ecology has to catch up with increasing complexities, increasing rates of transformation and the increasing demands on eco restoration. Economics comes next to buttress the ecological economics framework, only after adequate ecological knowledge is placed in perspective.

Mr. Ashok Dhar, Director of ORF Kolkata Chapter, chaired the session. He put the session in perspective by stating that questions pertaining to environment are the most important question facing human civilization as it potentially has the seed for the destruction of industrial life as we have known for the past couple of centuries.

Introducing the book, Ghosh said that understanding the dynamics of nature, economy, and society is about understanding values, institutions, and the critical ecosystems - livelihood linkages. Ghosh added that extraction of resources and human interventions on the ecosystem since the beginning of the industrial revolution has had its impact on nature and ecosystem services, through compromising the integrity of the ecosystem and its functions. The negative impacts on the ecosystem services, if not perceived in the short run, is felt in the long run, thereby affecting long run social wellbeing. He further said that what is important is how human beings coordinate the wants and desires given the decision making mechanisms, social customs, political realities and cultural backgrounds. More importantly, he differentiated between the 'reductionist' neoclassical economic framework of environmental economics and the emerging holistic ecological economic framework, and perceived that the challenges at the interface of nature, economy, and society will have to be addressed through the emerging trans-diciplinary ecological economics that considers human society and its economic endeavour as a component of the broader social ecological system.

Rabindranath Bhattacharya, retired professor of economics department of Kalyani University, opined that the book is an important contribution to academic literature in India on theme of Ecological Economics which has had the essential concern of economics vis-à-vis ecology and economics takes the centre stage when ecological economics is being talked about.

Co-editor of the book, Mukhopadhyay said that the book essentially uses an economic model, but added that there is a need for engagement with natural scientists to evolve a better practicable framework.

The ensuing discussion, in which geologists, environmentalists and NGO representatives participated, saw participants exploring various options solving the environmental problems. Sugata Hazra, Professor and Director, School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, Anurag Danda, Head of Climate Adaptation, WWF-India, Jayanta Bose, senior journalist and head of ENGIO and Biswatosh Saha, IIM Calcutta; among others, were present in the discussion. The options were sought from technology, institutions and social responses. The book was lauded as an important contribution to the domain of better understanding of ecological economics through redefining the scope of ecological economics practice in South Asia.

Report prepared by Mihir Bhonsale, Research Assistant, ORF Kolkata

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