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Ejolt partner Accion Ecologica wins Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen Prize

By: Vaaruni Eashwar (TERI)/New Delhi, India, December 2012

Indian think tank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) recently announced the winners of the first-ever Georgescu-Roegen Awards for ‘Unconventional Thinking’ and ‘Bioeconomic Practice’.A seven-member jury–comprising distinguished thinkers and innovators—carefully gauged each nominee’s scholarly contributions in an intensive nomination-selection process to decide the winners.

Prof. Kozo Mayumi–a Professor at the Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, University of Tokushima, and a student of Georgescu-Roegen–bagged the coveted Award in the ‘Unconventional Thinking’ category for his off-beat and unorthodox research contributions. Through two books and several papers, Mayumi first explored–in theoretical terms–several issues indicated as very relevant by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen himself. These included the application of thermodynamic principles to economic analysis and the epistemological reasons that make neoclassical economic analysis unsuitable for studying sustainability. Mayumi also developed a new approach to bio-economic analysis using several innovative concepts from complex systems theory that he validated using empirical data.

Accion Ecologica and Oilwatch were announced co-winners of the award for ‘Bioeconomic Practice.’ Founded in 1986 in Quito, Ecuador, Acción Ecológica is an active organisation working towards environmental justice in Latin America. It has played an instrumental role in mobilising campaigns on a range of environmental issues such as the defence of mangroves and Amazonian ecology. In 1995, Acción Ecológica joined hands with the Nigerian organisation Environmental Rights Action (ERA) to form Oilwatch. This network propagates the idea of “leaving oil in the soil” in areas with rich biodiversity and where human and indigenous rights are threatened.

TERI instituted the awards to honour the wisdom of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, a noted economist-mathematician who had the courage and conviction to challenge conventional knowledge frameworks and prescribe a refreshingly different line of scholarship and intellectual endeavour. Georgescu-Roegen emphasised the need to account for inconvenient variables like energy and matter flows, fund and flow elements, and processes such as institutional inertia in the analysis of economic, ecological and social systems. Through his scholarly contributions, Georgescu-Roegen reminded the global knowledge community of mankind’s special mode of existence as one of the biological species on this planet.

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