Harvard Seminar on Environmental Values

Tuesday, March 21, 2000

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"Environmental Justice, Sustainability and Valuation"


Professor Joan Martinez-Alier

[Text of Presentation]

Department of Economics and Economic History
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Biographical Background

       Since 1975 Joan Martinez-Alier has been Professor in the Department of Economics and Economic History in the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. Over the last quarter of a century he has become recognized as Europe's foremost student and spokesman of the new field of "ecological economics." In 1987 he joined with international colleagues from around the world and became a founding member of the International Society for Ecological Economics.

       Professor Martinez-Alier has had extensive international experience in a wide variety of educational institutions around the world. He was a Research Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford University from 1966 to 1973 and again a visiting scholar there in 1984-85. In addition he held visiting appointments at the Free University of Berlin (1980-81), Stanford University and the University of California, Davis (1988-89) and FLACSO in Quito (1994-95). During this past academic year (1999-2000) Professor Martinez-Alier has been a Fellow in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University in New Haven.

       From 1990 onwards Professor Martinez-Alier has served as the Editor of the journal, Ecologia Politica (Barcelona). His publications are numerous and in English include: Labourers and Landowners in Southern Spain (London, 1971), Haciendas, Plantations and Collective Farms (Cuba and Peru) (London 1977), Ecological economics: energy, environment and society (Oxford, 1987), and (editor) Getting Down to Earth : Practical Applications of Ecological Economics (International Society for Ecological Economics Series).    Extending his impressive international perspective, Professor Martinez-Alier has recently authored an important work with Ramachandra Guha -- India's leading environmental historian, entitled Varieties of environmentalism: Essays North and South. (London, 1997) (See Absract and Summary of this important work). In addition, Professor Martinez-Alier is the author of the article on Ecological Economics in the forthcoming edition of the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

       Professor Martinez-Alier's research interests and professional focus has been upon the fields of agrarian studies, ecological economics and political ecology. In Europe he has been involved in a two-year international collaborative examination of environmental standards known as the Environmental Valuation in Europe (EVE) project, funded by the European Commission. The goal of this effort is to move ecological economics from theory to practice. As the organizers of this project state: "The purpose of this concerted action is to analyse effective methods for expressing the values associated with environmental goods and services, ecosystem functions, and natural capital with a view to the achievement of the goals summarised in the concept of sustainability."

       In addition to his professional research in European and industrialized areas, Professor Martinez-Alier has been concerned with exploring the implications of ecological economics for the developing countries as well. From 1991 to 1996 he contributed to the design and production of a series of four videos dealing with the theory and practical application of the concepts of ecological economics in development strategies. These videos form a series presented by Griesinger Films and they include: An Introduction to Ecological Economics, Investing In Natural Capital, Conversation for a Sustainable Society and Costa Rica Counts the Future.


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