tiistai 29. maaliskuuta 2016

The ESEE at 20

The European Society for Ecological Economics turns 20 this year. The society was established in 1996 at the Paris conference held at Saint Quentin en Yvelines. During this time, the operating environment of ESEE has changed quite dramatically but has simultaneously remained almost the same – we are still tackling the same challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change and problems with planning for natural resource use just as during the years of our infancy. Today, ESEE is old enough, but not too old, to adjust its corporeal and mental habits in order to be capable of living with the change in actor networks, in areas of collective attention and climate of ideas.

I have watched the whole history of ESEE, first from a distance and then from within, as a member of the board since 2013. My ESEE history begins from the moments of its inception. During the academic year 1996-1997, I visited Lancaster University (UK) and worked there with John O’Neill and Alan Holland. In our fortnightly sessions, we discussed environmental history and valuation – or, to be honest, I told them what puzzled me and they discussed it intensively for an hour. What brilliant educative moments those were. (As a side-note, I am still puzzled by the same questions.) It was at one of the special Lancaster meetings that I met Clive Spash for the first time. I was happy to hear about the birth of ESEE: ecological economics being done a little differently than it was by the mother society ISEE, the International Society for Ecological Economics. A few years later, Clive became the second president of ESEE, after the inaugural presidency of Sylvie Faucheux.

Because Clive has always had a different and, I should say, a somewhat more radical, angle on key matters in ecological economics, for the purposes of this editorial, I decided to ask him how he sees ecological economics in Europe these days. This was his answer:

“Ecological economics is a conflicted movement that struggles between being co-opted by mainstream economics and finding its own identity as a radical alternative to the mainstream. In Europe, the greater emphasis on social and political theory, classical institutional economics, applied ethics, philosophy of science and history of thought have all helped maintain a better understanding of the potential of the field to achieve social ecological transformation. However, that potential remains unfulfilled. There remains a tendency towards adopting simplistic ‘solutions’, seeking magic bullet approaches that lack theoretical rigour, and adopting supposedly pragmatic positions that appeal to the dominant neoliberal political system. The European Union that offered potential for progressive environmental policy 20 years ago has become a highly problematic institution pushing undemocratic back room deals such as TTIP, neoliberalisation of environmental policy, financialisation of Nature and the drive for innovation, technology, competition and growth above all else. Ecological economists in Europe today need to be aware of this and do better at supporting and seeking institutional reform.”

Its intellectually broader, critical (Continental, perhaps) and more radical mode of doing ecological economics was the first characteristic that attracted me to ESEE. The society had, and still has, a character of its own. As the above quote witnesses, critical preparedness is still evident in Clive’s thinking at a time when ESEE, as an epistemic community, is moving towards the mainstream. I am wondering whether there is a need or a necessity to turn back to the more radical playing fields of ESEE.

After the global financial meltdown in 2008, neoliberal thinking in the global governance of developmental and environmental issues has only strengthened, and the crisis did not lead to the regulatory revisions the critics had hoped to see. Hand in hand with the recovery from the economic and financial crisis come many concurrent trends – climate change, digitalisation processes and the concept of ecosystem services to mention three – that have supported and contributed to the way in which environmental governance and policy are exercised on the global and regional levels. From the ESEE’s perspective, the challenge of providing meaningful institutional advice and workable policy alternatives is ridiculously large. There are two general ways to go, I think: provide up-to-date economic pricing information about the changes in ecosystem services and other natural values which societal planning and decision-making apparatuses seem to lean on, or become a more critical and reformative economic science again that identifies, designs, experiments and evaluates the ideological and societal alternatives. These two are not necessarily incompatible, but to make them compatible takes some intellectual effort. I think this calls for the root mission of ESEE.

But how does Clive see the future of ecological economics in Europe?

“The only future for ecological economics is to become a critical social science that has firm theoretical foundations in understanding biophysical reality. Adopting mainstream models, valuation approaches and market mechanisms merely relegates the field to being a second rate version of the mainstream that it has always criticised and opposed. Yet being an apologist for mainstream ideas has become a common approach. The idea, pervasive in the journal, that the field should be a form of environmental studies or some sustainability science, that includes anything and everything that has the words environment or sustainability in them, is also the antithesis of creating a field of knowledge.

In the last 20 years the complex of social, ecological and economic problems have not been addressed and there has been a reversal of policies and deconstruction of institutions aimed at controlling the worst excesses of corporate capitalism and the consumer society. The drive for growth, markets and money is worse today, individualisation is greater, inequity has grown, the loss of biodiversity has not been stopped, greenhouse gases have increased relentlessly, innovative new pollutants and substances are spreading, militarisation and securitisation have spread and resource extraction has become more dirty and with higher social and environmental impacts (e.g. fracking). To date ecological economics has clearly not succeeded in addressing these issues in any substantive way and will only be helpful if it avoids becoming another rhetorical device for apologising about why planetary destruction and social injustice are necessary so humans can progress. Unfortunately there are a lot of apologists for the capital accumulating system and the growth machine who claim to be ecological economists and there are many who divorce their personal practice from the actions necessary to avoid the continuation of social, ecological and economic crises. If the ESEE is to succeed it must address these issues.”

I agree that the institutional and socioecological problems Clive lists above are something the ESEE folks should get their hands dirty with in the next twenty years. I am not much of a predictor, but I think that taking the task seriously would entail, in general, more ESEE members, perhaps as dedicated economists, becoming engaged not only in the social psychology of emotion, cultural studies on institutional inertia and the organisational ethnography of administrative routines but also in more reform-orientated inter- and transdisciplinary action research on environmental policy planning, implementation and reception for the sake of making things better.

As we can read in this newsletter, Tim Foxon points in this direction in his Hot Topic. He asks how to encourage institutional investors to reorient their investment portfolios towards low carbon energy. It takes effort and courage to go against the current; to take actions that one’s peers will not take, with or without monetary reward. Hopefully more researchers are asking what the source (and sink) of this courageousness is, first of themselves and then of those whom they study. Let me give another example. György Pataki discusses the same general matter in his Hot Topic. However, he does not focus on business enterprises but on the acts of governmental representatives as part of the IPBES process (Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). After the policy effort has been taken, biodiversity decline has not halted, and while the meaning and significance of ecosystem services as constituents of socioecological resilience and human wellbeing are becoming clearer due to the IPBES work, governments may grow more hesitant about funding the collective efforts to find and design the conditions of safeguarding the protection of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services. There is indeed something worth investigating for critical ecological economists in the next 20 years.

ESEE Newsletter Spring 2016 -- Editorial (published online: http://www.euroecolecon.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ESEE-Newsletter-SPRING-2016.html )

perjantai 5. helmikuuta 2016

Merimetsokysymys – konfliktin hallinnan näkökulma

Merimetsokonfliktin hallinta on merimetsovaikutusten hallintaa.

Konfliktilla ja riidalla on eronsa. Konflikti on pitkittynyt jännite tai ristiriita ihmisryhmien välillä. Riita on yksittäinen episodi yksilöiden tai pienryhmien välillä. Riidassa kyseessä ovat neuvoteltavissa olevat intressit, konflikteissa perustavat inhimilliset tarpeet.

Konflikti ja riita syntyvät vääryyskokemuksesta. Vääryyskokemus on kiukkua siitä, että oikeutta koetaan loukatun jonkun toimesta. Konfliktin hallinta on näin ollen kiukun hallintaa. Käytännössä konfliktin hallinta on tapojen, tarpeiden ja intressien yhteensovittamista. Tämä on keskusteleva ja punnitseva prosessi, joka käsittelee normatiivisia, taloudellisia ja teknisiä välttämättömyyksistä ja mahdollisuuksista.

Merimetson voimistuneen läsnäolon vaikutukset tuottavat joillekin ihmisille pitkittynyttä vääryyskokemusta. Jotkut kalastajat, asukkaat, merenkulkijat, vapaa-ajan asukkaat ovat kokeneet oikeuksiaan esimerkiksi elinkeinon harjoittamiseen, maisemaan ja puhtaaseen veteen loukatun merimetson läsnäolon seurauksena.

Merimetsolla on lintudirektiivin (2009/147/EY) oikeuttama oikeus olemassaoloonsa. Linnun tiukasta suojelusta voidaan poiketa, jos sen voidaan osoittaa aiheuttaneen vakavaa haittaa elinkeinolle, terveydelle tai maisemalle. Lainsäädäntö ja erityisesti laintulkinta määräävät merimetson ja ihmisen oikeuksien suhteista. Laintulkinta linjaa, milloin tiukasta suojelusta poikkeamisen perusteet täyttyvät ja milloin eivät.

Vakavan haitan todentaminen on osoittautunut hankalaksi. Konflikti pysyy yllä eikä ole laantunut merimetsokannan vahvistuessa.

Nykyisessä tilanteessa, kun merimetsokanta on vahva, konfliktin keskiössä ovat ennen kaikkea vääryyskokeneet, merimetson suojelusta vastaavat hallintoviranomaiset ja tiukasta suojelusta poikkeamisen laintulkinnan tuottajat sekä tutkimustietoa tuottavat tutkimuslaitokset.

Merimetsokonfliktin käsittely ei mitä todennäköisimmin käynnisty suurilla normitalkoilla.

Konfliktin ratkaiseminen on konfliktin lähteiden ja perusteiden kitkemistä. Tuolloin vääryyskokemus häviää eikä oikeuksia enää koeta loukattavan. Merimetsokonfliktin ratkaiseminen edellyttäisi lainsäädännön, laintulkinnan ja viranomaispäätösperusteiden muuttamista. Ahvenanmaalla merimetsokonfliktia ei ole, koska merimetsokannan hallintaa koskevat toimintasäännöt ja käytännöt vastaavat paremmin alueen ihmisten kokemiin tarpeisiin kuin Manner-Suomessa.

Konfliktia hallittaessa konfliktin lähteet ja perusteet pysyvät ennallaan, mutta hallintatoimin ristiriita onnistutaan pitämään siedettävällä, kohtuullisella tai järkevällä tasolla.

Konfliktin hallinnassa on lähdettävä liikkeelle alhaalta ja selvitettävä, millaisia vaikutuksia merimetson läsnäololla on, koska konfliktin synnyttävät nimenomaan nämä koetut vaikutukset – vääryyskokemuksen ja oikeuden polkemisen tunteet. Merimetson aiheuttamia ongelmia voidaan ratkoa tai lieventää kielteisiin vaikutuksiin puuttumalla tai uudenlaisia oikeuksia luomalla eli toimijoiden muita mahdollisuuksia laajentamalla.

Järkevä merimetsovaikutusten hallinta perustuu tutkittuun tietoon vaikutuksista ja mahdollisuuksista sekä eettiseen punnintaan vaikutusten kohtuullisuudesta ja kohdentumisesta. Oikean tutkimustiedon valinta merimetsoasioiden suunnittelussa ja päätöksenteossa ei ole osoittautunut helpoksi. Vaikutuksia tai toimintavaihtoehtoja koskevaa eettistä punnintaa ei juuri ole harjoitettu. Varsinais-Suomessa toimiva merimetsoneuvottelukunta on ottanut askelia tähän suuntaan.

Merimetsokonfliktissa käydään kiivasta keskustelua erityisesti merimetson kalasto- ja hyvinvointivaikutuksista.

Luonnonvarakeskus on suunnitellut kalatalousryhmärahoitteista hanketta, jossa näitä asioita selvitettäisiin. Kahdelle vuodelle ajoittuvan hankkeen on määrä alkaa – mikäli rahoitus järjestyy – keväällä 2016 kalasto- ja hyvinvointivaikutusten selvittämisellä. Näiden vaikutusten tunnistaminen, arviointi ja punninta edistävät konfliktin hallintaa.

Merimetson kalastovaikutusten ymmärtämiseksi on tutkittava merimetson ravinnonkäyttöä ja saalisvaikutuksia eri osissa länsirannikkoa. Lisäksi täytyy tutkia ravinnon alueellista ja ajallista vaihtelua sekä kalastuksen saalismuutoksia suhteessa merimetson ravintoon. Tällaista ajantasaista tietoa ravinnosta tarvitaan luotaessa ja arvioitaessa ratkaisumalleja merimetson kielteisten vaikutusten pienentämiseksi.

Merimetson läsnäolon hyvinvointivaikutusten selvittämiseksi täytyy tutkia sitä, miten merimetsot vaikuttavat paikallisten ihmisten ja toimijaryhmien hyvinvointiin, kun esimerkiksi vedenlaatu, maisemat ja kalasaaliit muuttuvat. Merimetsokolonioiden alueille (Suomenlahti, Saaristomeren sisäosat, Pohjois-Satakunnan rannikko ja Merenkurkun alue) kohdennetulla Survey-tutkimuksella voitaisiin hankkia mitattua tietoa suhteellisista hyvinvointivaikutuksista. Tutkimuksessa mitattaisiin merimetson vaikutuksia alueen virkistyskäyttöön ja ihmisen kokemiin luontohyötyihin.

Ehdotetut kalastovaikutuksia ja merimetson hyvinvointivaikutuksia selvittävät tutkimukset loisivat perustaa kohdentaa toimenpiteitä, joilla merimetson haitallisia vaikutuksia saadaan lievennettyä. Jo nyt merimetsovaikutusten ja niiden tuottamien ongelmien yleisilme on selvillä, mutta eri alueiden erityispiirteitä tunnistavien ja laajasti hyväksyttävissä olevien ratkaisumallien ja toimenpiteiden edellytyksiä ei tunneta.

Tarvitaankin alueellinen ja hallinnonvälinen yhteisymmärrys ristiriitojen kohtuullistamisen, lieventämisen ja hallinnan yleisistä ehdoista ja mahdollisuuksista. Tämä loisi perustan merimetsovaikutusten hallinnalle ja sitouttaa konkreettisempaan ongelmanratkaisuun. 

Tutkimushankkeen päätavoitteena on laatia merimetsovaikutusten hallintasuunnitelma Suomen rannikkoalueelle. Suunnitelman laadinnassa voisi ottaa opiksi susikannan hoitosuunnitelman laadinnasta – sen tarkoituksesta ja toteutuksesta. Tuolloin merimetsovaikutusten hallintasuunnitelmakaan ei voisi olla vain jonkun yksittäisen tahon sormiharjoitus, vaan kekseliäs yhteistoiminnallinen prosessi, jonka kaikkia konkreettisia aikaansaannoksia ei ennakolta tiedetä.

Merimetsovaikutusten hallintasuunnitelman konkreettiset sisällöt syntyisivät eurooppalaisten ja ylipaikallisten mahdollisuuksien rajoissa yhteistyössä ja alhaalta ylös niin, että keskeisessä roolissa olisivat ne, jotka vaikutusten kanssa elävät ja ovat samalla halukkaita kehittämään ja kokeilemaan kestäviä ratkaisuja. Merimetsovaikutusten hallintasuunnitelma olisi paikallislähtöinen, konkreettinen ja hallintoa, sidosryhmiä ja kansalaisryhmiä sitova.

Kehittäminen ja kokeileminen liittyisivät ennaltaehkäiseviin toimiin (vrt. karkotuskokeet susikonfliktin hallinnassa), häirintään ja esimerkiksi metsästämiseen (vrt. kannanhoidollinen metsästys susikonfliktin hallinnassa), paikallistason suunnittelun ja päätöksenteon kehittämiseen (vrt. reviiritason yhteistyöryhmät susikonfliktin hallinnassa) sekä uudenlaisten kannusteiden luomiseen (vrt. reviiriarvokauppa susikonfliktin hallinnassa) (Anon 2015, Suomen susikannan hoitosuunnitelma, Helsinki: Maa- ja metsätalousministeriö).

Monipuolisella yhteistyöllä olisi mahdollista luoda konkreettisia toimenpiteitä ja hankkeita merimetsovaikutusten ja niistä seuraavien konfliktien hallitsemiseksi. Edellytyksenä on, että valtiovalta ja hallinto päivittäisivät omia merimetsoon liittyviä toimintaperiaatteitaan, -sääntöjään ja ohjeistuksiaan ja tukisivat paikallislähtöisiä hankkeita ja kokeiluja. Näin myös oikeuskäytännön muutokselle syntyisi uusia perusteita, ja konfliktin hallinta voisi hiljalleen kääntyä kohti konfliktin ratkaisua.

Juha Hiedanpää, Merimetsotyöryhmän kuuleminen, 28.1.2016, esitys

torstai 14. tammikuuta 2016

Being here: Biodiversity and human health, again

Nature is good for humans in a multitude of ways, thanks to biodiversity and its ecosystem services. Of course, nature still causes inner and outer suffering, but in general, and in advanced societies, biodiversity is good from the point of view of subjective and objective human well-being and health. There is growing evidence that nature is no longer a sorry constraint and an unknown that blocks the enlightened purposes of humans.

Ontologically speaking, human arrangements are extending deeper into the “wild”. For instance, a multitude of varieties of REDD+ schemes are being put into practice in different locations on Earth and new ways to identify, map, value and incorporate ecosystem services in resource and land use planning are already routine. Perhaps paradoxically, the days are forgotten when complexity and chaos theories complicated and challenged rational and deliberative planning and decision-making about natural assets, so strong is the optimism about the concept of ecosystem services.

But the “wild" does not stay out there beyond the boundaries of convenience. Under close examination, ecosystem services are not just benefits that flow from the environment to humans. Ecosystems and their services are part of human life, i.e. human life is constituted and sustained by the functional consequences of biodiversity. John Dewey was  already well aware of this. In Human Nature and Conduct, he writes about habits (1988, 14):

"…habits may be profitably compared to physiological functions, like breathing, digesting. The latter are, to be sure, involuntary, while habits are acquired. But important as is this difference for many purposes it should not conceal the fact that habits are like functions in many respects, and especially in requiring the cooperation of organism and environment. Breathing is an affair of the air as truly as of the lungs; digesting an affair of food as truly as of tissues of stomach."

Dewey’s insight was scientifically validated by Hanski et al. (2012), as they found that a decrease in the diversity and quantity of microbial exposure makes our immune system overreact to harmless targets such as our own tissues and allergens. It is now warranted knowledge that ecosystem services happen inside and outside the human body. Disturbances in the delivery of the functional consequences of ecosystems are not only problematic “out there” but “in here” as well. This is important. An increase in environmental pollutants and increased exposure to both those and non-diverse nature have harmful effects on the human immune system.

Diverse nature is good for humans. But it is a tricky question for a modern human as to where this nature is and how to get in contact with it. It is laborious and consumes time and effort to go to nature: people are connected with each other and technologies, but not with nature. We must recall that our backyards are right there in nature, and with their tongues, fur and feet, our pets bring nature inside our houses. As recent studies show, contact with house pets is good for the humans: not only do they contaminate us with positive emotions and motivation to move but also with micro-biota that reduce the risk of childhood asthma (Fall et al. 2015).

During the past few years, understanding of the functional role of biodiversity in ecological assemblages, immune defence systems and pollutant degradation has grown, experiment by experiment and publication by publication. Concrete policy advice is still thin. But the fact is that new findings about the interrelations between environmental variables and human health, particularly risks of autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases, helps planners and policy makers to see new problems but also new opportunities.

These opportunities are not without their implications. And these implications are the field of research for the pragmatically orientated ecological economics for the decades to come. Let me give in some broad brushstrokes a few implications that are ahead of us.

Habits are environmentally constituted. People just do not have habits: people are their habits. As we all know, habit-breaking is not just a matter of getting the correct information about the health impacts of, say, your consumption patterns or monotonous nature. Yes, of course, dramatic pictures may be highly disturbing, but images very seldom change your beliefs or the ways you act - they may change your attitudes, though.

Habit change takes a modification in your action environment. These modifications do not have to be large, but they need be to concrete - and often physical. Otherwise, the existence of new information or persuasion would do the deed. Living environments need to be modified so that the health effects of biodiversity permeate the human skin and membranes and, equally importantly, habits of feeling, acting and thinking: biodiversity needs to become part of us.

This is a challenge, because societies are organised for precisely the opposite purpose: to keep nature out and provide safe and well-planned access points to nature. But, as I have indicated above, new findings about the interdependence of biodiversity and human health will ultimately change how we plan our land use, design our houses and organise our everyday lives. Grasping these problems and designing solutions are still well beyond current scientific and policy understanding. Transdisciplinary - i.e. revolutionary, creative and experimental - advice for, say, city planning, child day-care and food processing is needed.

The list of emerging themes is much longer. But these examples suffice here. Biodiversity and health is the question of our time. There is no longer any reason to cherish what the late German social scientist Ulrich Beck called “the century error” and “organised irresponsibility”. It is not enough to take human purpose out into the wild and design ever more complex schemes for paying for ecosystem services. The wild needs to be brought inside the human domain (Hiedanpää et al. 2011).

Understanding this as an ontological necessity will help us to focus on the practical implications of changing habits of feeling, acting and thinking. Not only will an enormous sum of money be saved because of the increased well-being and prevention of autoimmune and related diseases in particular, but, more generally, being habituated to live with biodiversity and ecosystem services would put an end to organised irresponsibility and the century error: we must cherish what is part of us. This changes everything.

Juha Hiedanpää, ESEE (European Society for Ecological Economics), Newsletter, Hot Topic, Winter 2015 (http://www.euroecolecon.org/newsletter/)


Dewey, J. 1988. Human Nature and Conduct. The Middle Works, 1899–1924: Vol 14. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Fall, T., Lundholm, C., Örtqvist, A.K., Fall, K., Fang; F., Hedhammar, Å., Kämpe, O., Ingelsson, E. & Almqvist; C. 2015. Early exposure to dogs and farm animals and the risk of childhood asthma. JAMA Pediatr 169(11):e153219. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3219.

Hanski I., von Hertzen L., Fyhrquistc N. et al. 2012. Environmental biodiversity, human microbiota, and allergy are interrelated. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109: 8334–9.

Hiedanpää, J., Kotilainen, J. & Salo, M. 2011. Unfolding the organised irresponsibility: Ecosystem approach and the quest for forest biodiversity in Finland, Peru, and Russia. Forest Policy Econ 13: 159–165.