Environmental economics, ecological economics, and the concept of sustainable development

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This paper presents a systematic discussion, mainly for non-economists, on economic approaches to the concept of sustainable development. As a first step, the concept of sustainability is extensively discussed. As a second step, the argument that it is not possible to consider sustainability only from an economic or ecological point of view is defended; issues such as economic-ecological integration, inter-generational and intra-generational equity are considered of fundamental importance. Two different economic approaches to environmental issues, i.e. neo-classical environmental economics and ecological economics, are compared. Some key differences such as weak versus strong sustainability, commensurability versus incommensurability and ethical neutrality versus different values acceptance are pointed out.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-233
JournalEnvironmental Values
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997


  • Co-evolution
  • Ecological economics
  • Incommensurability
  • Institutional economics
  • Post-normal science
  • Sustainability


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