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Evolutionary Theories in Environmental and Resource Economics: Approaches and Applications


  • Jeroen van den Bergh


  • John Gowdy


Recent advances in evolutionary theory have important implications for environmental economics. A short overview is offered of evolutionarythinking in economics. Subsequently, major concepts and approaches inevolutionary biology and evolutionary economics are presented andcompared. Attention is devoted, among others, to Darwinian selection,punctuated equilibrium, sorting mechanisms, Lamarckian evolution,coevolution and self-organization. Basic features of evolution, such assustained change, irreversible change, unpredictability, qualitativechange and disequilibrium, are examined. It is argued that there are anumber of fundamental differences as well as similarities betweenbiological and economic evolution. Next, some general implications ofevolutionary thinking for environmental economics are outlined. This isfollowed by a more detailed examination of potential uses ofevolutionary theories in specific areas of environmental economics,including sustainability and long run development theories, technologyand environment, ecosystem management and resilience, spatial evolutionand environmental processes, and design of environmental policy. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Suggested Citation

  • Jeroen van den Bergh & John Gowdy, 2000. "Evolutionary Theories in Environmental and Resource Economics: Approaches and Applications," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 17(1), pages 37-57, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:17:y:2000:i:1:p:37-57
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1008317920901

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Potts, Jason & Foster, John & Straton, Anna, 2010. "An entrepreneurial model of economic and environmental co-evolution," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 375-383, December.
    2. Jeroen Van den Bergh & Frans Oosterhuis, 2005. "An Evolutionary Economic Analysis of Energy Transitions," ERSA conference papers ersa05p823, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Lucie Vaskova, 2004. "Regional development: contribution of evolutionary biology," Post-Print halshs-00114801, HAL.
    4. Sigrid Stagl, 2002. "Local Organic Food Markets: Potentials and Limitations for Contributing to Sustainable Development," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 145-162, June.


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