Robert Costanza

Robert Costanza
University College London | UCL

Ph.D.

About

581
Publications
521,597
Reads
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106,172
Citations
Introduction
Robert Costanza is Professor of Ecological Economics at the Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London. He is co-founder and past-president of the International Society for Ecological Economics and was founding chief editor of the society’s journal Ecological Economics.. He is founding co-editor in chief of Solutions a unique hybrid academic/popular journal and editor in chief of the Anthropocene Review
Additional affiliations
January 2013 - March 2017
Australian National University
Position
  • Chair
September 2002 - June 2010
University of Vermont
Education
September 1974 - June 1979
University of Florida
Field of study
  • Systems Ecology, Environmental Engineering Sciences (minor in Economics)

Publications

Publications (581)
Article
Sustainable development requires improvement of both the quantity and quality of protected areas (PAs). This paper reviews the assessments of PAs' effectiveness and provides further guidance of using the assessment approaches, including: (1) evaluation based on a theory of change that describes how and why an intervention is supposed to work; (2) c...
Article
“Accounting values” (quantity * unit value), assessed with an assumption of a constant unit value, are often used in creating macroeconomic aggregates like Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This approach has also been used to estimate the total value of ecosystem services (ES) - the benefits humans receive from functioning ecosystems. In China, this ha...
Article
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In the efforts to ensure the health of the Australian population during the COVID pandemic, social, economic, and environmental aspects of people's life were impacted. In addressing the pandemic risks, a number of governments prioritized people's health and well-being over GDP growth. The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is used to account for fact...
Article
Threats to sustainable food production are accelerating due to climate change, population growth, depletion of natural capital, and global market instability. This causes significant risks to farmers, consumers, and financial and policy institutions. Understanding agro-ecosystems, and how varying management styles can impact their performance is cr...
Article
An ecosystem is healthy if it is active, maintains its organization and autonomy over time, and is resilient to stress. Healthy ecosystems provide human well‐being via ecosystem services, which are produced in interaction with human, social and built capital. These services are affected by different ecosystem stewardship schemes. Therefore, society...
Article
Understanding the underlying complexity in human wellbeing formation is indispensable to maintain sustainable ecosystem services production and ensure greater human wellbeing. The interactions between wellbeing dimensions that creat the complexity are yet to be adequately understood. This study is designed to reveal the complex mechanisms shaping t...
Article
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Despite wider recognition of human interdependence with the rest of nature, our economies continue to fail to adequately value ecosystem services. This failure is largely attributed to the economic frameworks and related measures that focus on the production and consumption of marketed goods and services, but do not consider the other essential ele...
Article
Ecosystem-dependent communities (EDCs) rely on ecosystem services for their wellbeing in many ways, but there is a lack of robust metrics to estimate their human wellbeing in a multi-dimensional manner. Existing approaches are not tailored to EDCs, hence failing to adequately reflect their distinct characteristics and strong links to social-ecologi...
Article
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Ecosystem services valuation (ESV) is increasingly used to provide the impetus to sustainably manage and restore ecosystems. When undertaking an ESV study, the available resources, desired scope, and necessary precision must be considered before determining the most appropriate approach. A broad range of techniques exist to support valuation studie...
Article
The concept of ‘wellbeing economy’ (WE), that is, an economy that pursues human and ecological wellbeing instead of material growth, is gaining support amongst policymakers, business, and civil society. Over the past couple of years, several national governments have adopted the WE as their guiding framework to design development policies and asses...
Article
In contrast to coastal towns and small urban settlements, small coastal cities (population of between 50,000 and 100,000) may exhibit comparable knowledge and planning infrastructure as larger cities or be similarly connected to research institutions. However, at a global level, there is little statistical data about small cities, and their numbers...
Article
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The savannas of tropical northern Australia, covering 1.9M km², are relatively unmodified and support a very sparse human population (0.5 person/km²). Largely marginalised and impoverished Indigenous communities are key stakeholders in the region with legal rights to >60% of the land. Colonisation in the late 19th century significantly impacted lon...
Article
Infrastructure must become more resilient as the global climate changes and also more affordable in the economic and political context of a post-COVID world. We can solve this dual challenge and drive global infrastructure investment into a more sustainable direction by taking our cues from Nature.
Article
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Coastal wetlands provide a range of valuable ecosystem services, including protecting coastal communities from storms. We estimated for the first time the global value of these storm protection services for all coastal wetlands for both damages avoided and lives saved. We used the historical tracks of 1,014 tropical cyclones since 1902 that recorde...
Article
Restoration is criticized as ineffectively small scale, a smoke screen against global-scale action. Yet, large-scale solutions arise from small-scale successes, which inject social values and optimism needed for global investment. Human values are central to achieving socio-ecological sustainability; understanding human behavior is now arguably mor...
Article
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In 2015, all 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals, 169 targets, and 232 indicators (including over 650 indicators if all the subdivisions are included) are intended to guide and improve sustainable wellbeing and life satisfaction for everyone on earth. Challenges include the f...
Chapter
“The Anthropocene” has been proposed as the new geological epoch in which we now live. We have left behind the Holocene, an epoch of stable climate conditions that permitted the development of human civilization. To address the challenges of this new epoch, humanity needs to take an active role as stewards of the integrated Earth System, collaborat...
Article
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Wetlands provide ∼$47.4 trillion/year worth of ecosystem services globally and support immense biodiversity, yet face widespread drainage and pollution, and large-scale wetlands restoration is urgently needed. Payment for ecosystem service (PES) schemes provide a viable avenue for funding large-scale wetland restoration. However, schemes around the...
Article
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Due to the public good nature of many of mangrove’s ecosystem services, markets for them do not exist and there is limited potential to manage them with conventional markets. Moreover, because of the difficulties in estimating the value of these non-marketed services, mangroves are often undervalued in benefit cost analysis of conservation versus c...
Article
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The COVID19 pandemic has revealed deep, ingrained problems with higher education, but also opportunities for positive transformation. In the post-COVID world, education at all levels has the chance to become: (1) universally available at low cost; (2) focused on developing competencies, (3) empowering fulfilling lives, not merely job training; and...
Article
Discounting the future is essential to inform long-term decisions, but the future of humanity is being put in jeopardy by using the same discount rate for all capital types. Different types of capital assets (built, human, social, natural) have inherently different characteristics and contribute differently to the production of all goods and servic...
Article
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Civil society engagement is important for enabling urban systems transformations that meet community needs. The development of Future Earth Australia’s Sustainable Cities and Regions: A 10-Year Strategy for Urban Systems was underpinned by cross-sectoral workshops in 7 Australian urban areas and interviews with key stakeholders to create a shared v...
Article
Ecosystems (natural capital) produce a range of benefits to humans. Natural capital is best thought of as common property since many of the ecosystem services it helps produce are non-rival and/or non-excludable. Private property regimes and markets alone are ineffective and inappropriate institutions to manage them sustainably. These systems can b...
Article
Community-based Ecotourism (CBE) has been promoted and widely adopted as an approach for funding conservation initiatives, while at the same time contributing to the wellbeing of the host communities. However, it often fails to live up to its promise and thereby lets the local people return to their old ways of doing things. The study is to explore...
Article
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We explore the implications of four scenarios for the value of ecosystem services provided by terrestrial ecosystems to the year 2050 for Latin America and the Caribbean, based on the Great Transition Initiative scenarios and previous studies at a global scale. We estimated the current ecosystem services value (ESV) of the 33 countries that make up...
Article
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We present an alternative approach to estimating the spatial footprint of energy consumption, as this represents a major fraction of the ecological footprint (EF). Rather than depicting the current lack of sustainability that comes from estimating a footprint based on uptake of carbon emissions (the method used in EF accounting), our proposed “Rene...
Article
Cyclones cause significant damage, particularly to coastal areas. In the 50 years between 1967 and 2016, 54 cyclones struck Australia with total damages of approximately AUD 3 billion. Wetlands diminish cyclone impacts by absorbing storm surges and slowing winds. We examine the effects of wetlands on cyclone damage by creating a Bayesian regression...
Article
The adoption of agro-ecological practices in agricultural systems worldwide can contribute to increased food production without compromising future food security, especially under the current biodiversity loss and climate change scenarios. Despite the increase in publications on agro-ecological research and practices during the last 35 years, a wea...
Technical Report
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The 10-Point Action Plan to catalyse a Circular Bioeconomy of Wellbeing is a call for collective and integrated action to global leaders, investors, companies, scientists, governments, non- governmental and intergovernmental organisations, funding agencies and society at large to put the world on a sustainable path.
Article
While self-reported life satisfaction (LS) has become an important research and policy tool, much debate still surrounds the question of what causes LS to change in certain individuals, while not in others. Set-point theory argues that individuals have a relatively resilient LS or "set point" (i.e. there is a certain LS level that individuals retur...
Preprint
Full-text available
Some countries have been more successful than others at dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. When we explore the different policy approaches adopted as well as the underlying socio-economic factors, we note an interesting set of correlations: countries led by women leaders have fared significantly better than those led by men on a wide range of dime...
Article
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In the last 50 years, the biosphere, upon which humanity depends, has been altered to an unparalleled degree. The current economic model relying on fossil resources and addicted to “growth at all costs” is putting at risk not only life on our planet, but also the world’s economy. The need to react to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis is a unique o...
Article
Full-text available
In the last 50 years, the biosphere, upon which humanity depends, has been altered to an unparalleled degree[i]. The current economic model relying on fossil resources and addicted to “growth at all costs” is putting at risk not only life on our planet, but also the world’s economy. The need to react to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis is a unique...
Article
Ecosystem services (ES) are the ecological characteristics, functions, or processes that directly or indirectly contribute to sustainable human wellbeing. The ecosystems that provide the services are ‘natural capital’ (NC) using the general definition of capital as a stock that yields a flow of services over time. But these concepts must be embedde...
Preprint
Full-text available
Ecosystem services (ES) have been a part of the ecological economics (EE) toolkit for decades. Over that time, however, ES has grown into a field of its own, and some Ecological Economists have criticized it for diverging from several core tenets of EE. Here we highlight five frontier areas of ES research and practice that can reverse that trend. E...
Chapter
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Ecological economics (EE) is a transdiscipline. While it is difficult to categorize ecological economics in the same way one would a normal academic discipline, it can be characterized in general by its goals, worldview, and methodology. The overarching goal is sustainable wellbeing of both humans and the rest of nature, with three broad sub-goals...
Book
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PREFACE Ecological economics (EE) is a transdisciplinary field that integrates the study and management of the human economy embedded in society and the rest of nature. It acknowledges the biophysical realities of a finite world and the need to create a fair and just society focused on sustainable wellbeing. It acknowledges that the planet we live...
Article
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To achieve the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement, a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is needed, as well as increased removals by carbon sinks. In this context, we argue that Climate-Smart Forestry is a necessary, but still missing component in national strategies for implementing actions under the Paris Agreement. Climate-S...
Article
Ecological economics (EE) was originally envisioned as a transdiscipline with the following core characteristics and goals: (1) a focus on the primary goal of sustainable wellbeing of both humans and the rest of nature; (2) three broad sub-goals of sustainable scale, fair distribution, and efficient allocation. (3) intelligent pluralism and integra...
Article
Rice paddy cultivation has rooted in the Asian culture for thousands of years. At present, paddy fields as traditional agriculture in Asia provide not only ecosystem goods including rice and fibre production, but also other ecosystem services for human society. However, it is still not clear whether rice paddy fields like coastal wetlands provide t...
Article
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Increasingly, empirical evidence refutes many of the theoretical pillars of mainstream economics. These theories have persisted despite the fact that they support unsustainable and undesirable environmental, social, and economic outcomes. Continuing to embrace them puts at risk the possibility of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and over...
Article
Practical problem-solving in complex societies requires the integration of three elements: (1) active and ongoing envisioning of both how the world works and how we would like the world to be, (2) systematic analysis appropriate to and consistent with the vision and (3) implementation appropriate to the vision. Scientists generally focus on the sec...
Article
This study presents the effects of access to Ecosystem Services (ESS) on human wellbeing. In order to fulfil the research objective, we interviewed villagers from 104 households who were exclusively engaged in collecting ESS. Data were also collected from key informants, local leaders, and official records. Higher access (HA) to ESS significantly i...
Article
Full-text available
Exclusion of Indigenous and local communities' connections to the rest-of-nature is a typical problem in policy-decision making. This paper highlights the key attributes of these connections and suggests evaluation pathways to mainstream them into policy development. For this, we integrate and apply the ecosystem services (ES) and human capability...
Article
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Topics: Economy Export Citation Toward a Sustainable Wellbeing Economy Volume 9 | Issue 2 | April 2018 By Robert Costanza, Elizabeth Caniglia, Lorenzo Fioramonti, Ida Kubiszewski, Henry Lewis, Hunter Lovins, Jacqueline McGlade, Lars Fogh Mortensen, Dirk Philipsen, Kate Pickett, Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir, Debra Roberts, Paul Sutton, Katherine Trebe...
Article
Scenario planning and the use of alternative futures have been used successfully to assist organisations, communities and countries to move towards desired outcomes (Dator, 2009). In this study we used a unique combination of scenario planning and a national public opinion survey to explore preferred futures for Australia in 2050. The approach used...
Chapter
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Despite being very significant components of the North’s population, especially in remoter areas, and increasingly ‘land rich’ through ongoing acquisitions and Native Title determinations, it is widely acknowledged that Indigenous people remain severely economically and socially disadvantaged. In this chapter we address the challenge of developing...
Chapter
The chapter focuses first on giving voice to ongoing connections to, and the fundamental importance of, maintaining law, culture, and country, and the aspirations of Indigenous people across the North. Such connections and aspirations can be seen to differ essentially from those of non-Indigenous residents – for a start, one’s country is not real e...
Article
China has a long history of building hard engineered coastal defences for storm protection, which enables us to examine the economic effects of the hard engineering to mitigate storm damage. Examining historical storm impacts between 1989 and 2016, a significant negative relationship exists between the relative economic damages (i.e., TD/GDP) by st...
Article
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The complexity of economic development and humanitarian crises means that energy science and technology should be involved in actions that address almost every major challenges of ecosystem health and sustainability. Energy is the engine of the world economy and the key to ecosystems’ functioning, which also has a great impact on global warming. Th...
Article
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The release of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change agreement highlighted the importance of global sustainability internationally. Here, we outline a vision and strategies for developing northern Australia that demonstrate how a focus on sustainable prosperity can both expand historical approaches and curren...
Article
Wellbeing is the product of a complex set of factors, some of which are well perceived by individuals while others are not. Surveys based on answers to the question: 'how satisfied are you with your life?' have allowed increased understanding of the factors affecting perceived life satisfaction. We use the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in A...
Article
This study aims to understand the influence of livelihood capitals on access to provisioning services (PS) of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest (SMF) including honey, crabs, mixed fish, shrimp, shrimp fry and fuelwood. The interactions among several livelihood capital components played significant roles in shaping the composite effect of respective li...
Article
Ecosystem services (the benefits to humans from ecosystems) are estimated globally at $125 trillion/year [1, 2]. Similar assessments at national and regional scales show how these services support our lives [3]. All valuations recognize the role of biodiversity, which continues to decrease around the world in maintaining these services [4, 5]. The...
Chapter
Although global policies to reduce poverty, ensure food security, and improve environmental protection are in place, a new paradigm shift is required to fast-track sustainable development. This requires a new vision in global efforts and contributions by all sectors of the global economy, including agriculture. The agricultural sector supports 45 p...