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A new report in Nature involving ICTA-UAB demonstrates that this measure would allow the absorption of nearly half of the carbon built up in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.

Diet of pre-Columbian Societies in the Brazilian Amazon Reconstructed

A new study shows that hunting and agroforestry management, and not fishing, were the foundations of subsistence economy for pre-Columbian societies in the Amazon coast of Brazil.

Wildlife conservation undermines the rights of indigenous people and local communities in India

A new EJAtlas map launched by the ICTA-UAB denounces that the current model puts growth and gains before human lives and the nature it is intended to protect.

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ICTA-UAB economist Joan Martínez Alier wins the Balzan Prize for Environmental Challenges

Economist Joan Martínez Alier from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology  of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the winners of the 2020 Balzan Prize in the category of "Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and Humanities".

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An international research involving ICTA-UAB scientists shows how local and indigenous knowledge can help manage ecosystems and wildlife.

New publication in the MAGIC project takes a critical look at circular economy

With the world’s attention focussed on COVID-19, issues that were in the forefront of public concern just a few months ago seem to have magically disappeared.

Economic Benefits of Protecting 30% of Planet’s Land and Ocean Outweigh the Costs at Least 5-to-1

First-of-its-kind report involving ICTA-UAB researcher shows the global economy is better off with more nature protected.

ICTA-UAB awarded the "María de Maeztu” Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been accredited a Maria de Maeztu Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Proyecto experimental de agricultura urbana, local y tradicional en Sabadell

El ICTA-UAB y el Ayuntamiento de Sabadell constituyen la comunidad FoodE, que reúne a todos los actores implicados en el sistema de producción alimentaria de la ciudad y en esta iniciativa.

What do we breathe when in the forest?

For the first time, a study characterizes the forest chemistry of the air under the canopy of a Mediterranean holm oak forest and detects maximum concentrations in July and August.

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Sixty ICREA researchers, including Isabelle Anguelovski of the ICTA-UAB, lead more than a hundred research activities on Covid-19.

Academia in the Time of COVID-19: Towards an Ethics of Care

                                                                                                                                                                       .

Computer Platform Gives Visibility to Catalonia's Small Villages

A research team from the UAB, in collaboration with the Association of Microvillages of Catalonia, has created a Geographic Information System (GIS) for Active and Sustainable Hamlets (GISASH), which gathers information on the state of and services offered by the more than 330 municipalities in Catalonia with fewer than 500 inhabitants.

Environmental justice defenders victims of violence and murder

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Members of an irrigation community doing maintenance work in an acequia de careo (irrigation canal built at the top of the mountain) to improve the circulation of water for irrigation and human consumption.

Neolithic vessels reveal dairy consumption in Europe 7,000 years ago

Pottery from the site located in Verson (Francia) analysed during the research (Picture by Annabelle Cocollos, Conseil départemental du Calvados ou CD14 publicada en Germain-Vallée et al.

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A study involving more than 20 specialists in conservation ecology and ecological economics highlights the contradiction between economic growth and biodiversity conservation.

Power struggles hinder urban adaptation policies to climate change

Transformative actions implemented by cities to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change may be hindered by political struggles for municipal power.

Analysis of tropical fire soot deposited in the ocean will help predict future global climate changes

The ICTA-UAB begins a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean to collect dust and smoke samples from the fires of tropical Africa deposited in marine sediments.

Red coral effectively recovers in Mediterranean protected areas after decades of overexploitation

Protection measures of the Marine Protected Areas have enable red coral colonies (Corallium rubrum) to recover partially in the Mediterranean Sea, reaching health levels similar to those of the 1980s in Catalonia and of the 1960s in the Ligurian Sea (Northwestern Italy).

Sub-national “climate clubs” could offer key to combating climate change

‘Climate clubs’ offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally-harmonised climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
News
ICTA-UAB researcher Joan Martínez Alier defends an ecological economy to tackle a climate change-fueled economic model

Date: 2020-09-17

Economist Joan Martínez Alier from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology  of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) considers that ecological economics is more necessary than ever as a way to tackle today's completely “antiecological” economic model which is favouring climate change and destroying our biodiversity. He also assures that political ecology should be at the centre of our political debate if the objective is to put a halt to the current climate emergency. 

The economist expressed these views after being awarded the 2020 Balzan Prize for “Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and Humanities", conferred onto him by the Balzan International Foundation in Milan. The award includes a cash prize of €695,000. The Balzan International Foundation highlighted the "exceptional quality of his contributions to the foundation of ecological economics”. His pioneering work on the relations between the environment and the economy has made visible the unequal distribution of natural resources, and the need for environmental justice. Italian President Sergio Mattarella will award the Balzan prize to the four winners on 19 November.

Born in Barcelona in 1939, Martinez Alier is Emeritus Professor of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona since 2010. His main line of research revolves around the relationship between ecology and economics, which has allowed him to research into agrarian history, environmental policies, and resource-based social conflicts. He is the current director of the journal “Ecologia Política”, and among his best-known publications are Ecology and Economics (1984) and Ecological Economics and Environmental Politics (2001) and Environmentalism of the Poor (2005).

For Martínez Alier, these theories have never been more essential than now, because the “contradiction between economic growth and ecology is more evident; we can clearly see that there is a conflict which will not be solved with words. Many speak of a green economy or a circular economy, but these are all terms that seek to dissimulate the existence of this conflict”. He goes on to point out that there is currently a new transition towards carbon: in India for example: “Alternative energy sources are not substituting fossil fuel, but rather adding to it, and there is no indication that this will diminish”. He emphasises the importance of implementing environmental policies, carbon emission taxes, and new technologies to rapidly reduce the use of carbon fuels.

Despite considering it slightly opportunistic to say that the global pandemic is fully related to environmental disasters, “because there have been many pandemics”, he believes that the Covid-19 crisis does put to manifest the shortcomings of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in  devising economic policies and politics in general. “The lockdown has demonstrated that our GDPs are of no use in measuring these things, because there has been an 8% reduction due to the fall in consumption and mobility, but there has been an increase in domestic work, which is not paid”. He assures that the real problem is that many people have lost their jobs and money, and money cannot be distributed only through paid labour: there is a need for a universal basic income and that is something the Degrowth movement has been demanding for some time now. 

He affirms that we must be able to live without depending on this false and ill-measured economic growth, “but climate change and the loss of biodiversity have not yet been imposed as essential political issues... it is not possible to grow economically in an ecological manner”. 

Martínez Alier expressed his appreciation for the award, which he considers a recognition of the causes he has defended for decades, such as ecological economy and political ecology: "It is also an aid to give continuity to our scientific project on environmental justice and our work on the Environmental Justice Atlas", through which researchers make an inventory of the socio-environmental conflicts existing around the world. They have already identified 3,200 cases on the map, most of which are caused by mining activities, land grabbing for plantations and water dams to generate electricity, which mainly affect the poorest communities and indigenous lands.

Since 1961, the Balzan International Founddation has awarded the Balzan Prize to scientists whose contributions are evaluated by an international committee made up of 19 leading figures from different fields.

The Balzan Prize has been awarded, among others, to the writer Jorge Luis Borges, Mother Teresa of Calcutta or the current Spanish Minister of Universities, Manuel Castells. In addition to Joan Martínez Alier, this year's prize-winners are physicist Susan Trumbore of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany; Jean-Marie Tarascon, lecturer of the Collège de France specialising in electrochemical energy, and the Brazilian jurist Antonio Augusto Cançado Trindade.

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