#007 Ecological Economics

A conversation with renowned systems thinker Professor Robert Costanza


We've been on the road for a bit, speaking to people around the country on our way to and from the National New Economy Conference in Brisbane recently. We’re looking forward to sharing many of those conversations with you here, starting with this one.

Professor Robert Costanza. Pic: supplied.

Professor Robert Costanza. Pic: supplied.

There are literally 100s if not 1000s of groups, I would say, of groups that are thinking very similar thoughts, but using different language, not really communicating well with each other; sometimes competing for scarce resources. So, I think, the missing element, now, is really to coalesce all of those groups. And there will be some trigger, I think, that will push it over the edge. But, I think, we are getting close.
— Robert Costanza

Robert Costanza is one of the world's most accomplished and decorated systems thinkers & ‘ecological economists’. Having moved to Australia five years ago, he’s now a Professor and Vice Chancellor’s Chair at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy. So it was great to have an opportunity to meet Bob in person and hear some of his fascinating story, recent work, sense of hope, and what he thinks we still need to do to set ourselves towards a sustainable and desirable future.

Bob has an extraordinary back-story, list of credentials, and the company he has kept over the years reads like a who’s who of the systems thinking and ecological economics fields. This is a guy who has given his all to this work over several decades. And when Anthony spoke with the first guest on this podcast, former Wall Street executive John Fullerton, Bob was the first name he mentioned when talking about the work being done in Australia to regenerate the systems and stories we live by.

This is a powerfully concise explainer of where our economy and related systems and cultural narratives need to go – along with the why and how.

We spoke about public surveys that consistently affirm most people would prefer to live in sustainable and equitable societies, as well as genuine progress indicators that show the last ‘genuine progress’ in countries like Australia occurred decades ago.

We also talk about the Sustainable Development Goals, the need for more systems-based education, and to recreate language as we ultimately develop a more inter-connected and holistic worldview.

Putting on a fine cup of tea at his ANU office in Canberra, here’s Bob Costanza.

Production by Ben Moore & Anthony James.

Get more:

Robert Costanza - Bob’s detailed ANU profile with an extensive list of publications.

Hybrid, peer-reviewed The Solutions Journal (think Nature meets the New Yorker). It is on the web, on news stands and in libraries.

Bob was a keynote speaker at the 2nd National New Economy Conference in Brisbane recently (along with our guest for podcast #003, best-selling author of ‘Doughnut Economics’, Kate Raworth).



Imagine, by John Lennon.

Let Them Know, by the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra.

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