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  • IGBP and Earth observation:
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    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

From frontier economics to an ecological economics of the oceans and coasts

Sustainability Science (2012)

Patterson M G and Glavovic B C

DOI: 10.1007/s11625-012-0168-2

Vol 8, pp 11-24


Ecological economics is a field of enquiry that has had, with a few exceptions, an almost entirely terrestrial focus. Given the fundamental ecological and economic importance of oceanic and coastal ecosystems, and the accelerating deterioration of these ecosystems, we argue that there is an urgent case to redress this imbalance. In so doing, the scope of ecological economics will be extended and compelling insights developed and applied to better understand and govern marine systems. Although we acknowledge that there is no unequivocal or unitary view of what might constitute an ecological economics of the oceans and coasts, we assert that it should consist of at least ‘four cornerstones’: (1) sustainability as the normative goal; (2) an approach that sees the socio-economic system as a sub-system of the global ecological system; (3) a complex systems approach; and (4) transdisciplinarity and methodological pluralism. Using these four cornerstones, we identify a future research agenda for an ecological economics of the oceans and coasts. Specifically, we conclude that ecological economists must work with other disciplines, especially those involved in marine policy and practice, to move from a ‘frontier economics’ (which has dominated marine management) to entrench an ‘ecological economics’ of the oceans and coasts as the dominant paradigm.

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