The environmental problem manifests itself in two different stances in the field of economy. The first is based on standard economic analysis extended to the environment and natural resources (we’ll talk about standard economics).

Second, ecological economics seeks to understand ecosystems, nature and the biosphere in their specificity, based on an interdisciplinary approach.

Confronted with the environmental crisis, standard economists define market failure and externalities as consistent with their own analytical framework. They think that the fundamental problem is the economic recognition of the environment at its fair value.

Therefore, their efforts are focused on the development of new concepts. (Recognition, use values ​​as well as non-use or asset values, option values, inheritance values ​​and the most convenient methods for converting them into a monetary form).

If the environment, whether commercial or non-commercial, is properly grasped at these prices, the accounts of the intermediaries will no longer be compromised. The allocation of resources, including those provided by the environment, will become optimal again.

In the eyes of standard theorists, there is no absolute scarcity of environmental resources to be feared, only relative scarcity, contrary to what the first report suggested.

One resource can always take the place of another if a correctly established price system makes it possible to manage them. This approach, which constitutes the “economics of the environment and natural resources”, develops a research program to apply the concepts and tools of the standard economy. This program adopts a “diffuse” approach.

This perspective is challenged by ecological economics. This insists on the fact that environmental externalities are the rule, not the exceptions, of the market economy. There is an interpretation in this area: “The monetary economy is a small boat bobbing in an ocean of uncertain and future externalities”.

As a result, there are continuous cost transfers between social groups, between regions and between generations, with large differences between private and social costs.

Therefore, it is difficult to attribute to prices the objectivity that some economists attribute to them, especially when it comes to understanding and harmonizing our relationships with the biosphere.

Thus, ecological economists argue for the need to give a place to the analysis of physical flows in order to objectify social relations with the biosphere.

Thus, ecological economics studies the interactions between the economy and the biophysical functioning of the Earth on which the economy depends. It builds on the theoretical and methodological influences that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.

Systemic thinking, which studies complex systems and their interrelationships, advocates understanding the relationships between the biosphere, the sphere of human activities, and economic activities.

It also makes it possible to use categories, the principle of systemic ecology and thermodynamics (especially the entropy principle).

The evolution of systems towards disorder lays the foundations for the analysis of energy and material flows that cross ecosystems. Some researchers offer an analysis that it will change economic and social systems.

Finally, institutionalist approaches offer a well-argued critique of standard economics. It also complements this foundation by opening up to an interdisciplinarity that extends to the humanities and social sciences.

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Ecological economics therefore relies on an approach between the social sciences and the natural sciences in understanding the specifics of the environmental problem.


The natural sciences are part of a holistic approach that considers phenomena as a whole, not separately. It combines the principles of the natural sciences with a broader view of economics. It also takes into account issues of justice as well as social and political aspects.


It was institutionalized with the establishment of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE), an association formed in 1989. This association currently has more than a thousand members.


Dr. Yaşam Ayavefe


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