Classic economics operates on a few basic principles. Producers maximise profits and consumers maximise utility – the value of their purchases.

Researchers within Economy and Environment are rethinking this equation. Human wellbeing isn’t just about maximising profits and utility through production and consumption. Issues like human rights, democratic values and environmental sustainability should be integral to any approach that seeks to maximise wellbeing.

We see glimmers around us – free-trade coffee, electric cars, working conditions above the bare, regulatory minimum, for example – but they tend to be isolated and nearly always geographically limited. How can we scale these individual decisions to the national, regional and global levels?

How can we maximise human wellbeing?   



Thomas Hahn, Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, argues that economic policies must be beneficial for both society and the biosphere. In his view, maximising wellbeing is not about increasing production and consumption but about increasing intangibles such as trust, fairness, and richness of the biosphere.

By developing economic policies that support and promote sustainability, all drivers within the economy change. When costs are internalised (paying the real cost for polluting, for example), sustainable and more local production becomes more efficient. The scales tip toward a more sustainable, greener and fairer society.

Can these smarter economic policies work globally?



Jonas Ebbesson, Professor of Environmental Law, researches how environmental laws work across national and regional borders – both how the existing structures work and how they can be changed to become more fair and effective. For him, ensuring corporate responsibility is critical.

Economy & Environment, as a profile area, challenges the perception that the two are at odds with each other. It harnesses the power of traditional economics as well as law, political science, environmental science, technology and other disciplines. With a better understanding of how the economy and environment interact, the ultimate goal is to create a world with smart, sustainable development that’s better for the biosphere in general and humanity in particular.