The Lawrence Foundation has sponsored, organized and hosted two workshops for environmental economics.
The first workshop was organized in association with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University. It was held from March 4 - 6, 2005 in Santa Monica, California.
The second workshop was organized in association with the Center for the Applied Study of Economics & the Environment (CASE&E). It was held from March 19 - 20, 2007 in Santa Monica, California.
A fair and balanced review of available information would support the view that sound environmental policy is essential to sustainable economic growth. However, even as environmental advocates sharpen the scientific and legal arguments for natural resource and health protection, they often encounter a different obstacle in the form of one-sided economic analysis. From climate change, to toxic chemical exposure, to food safety, to wilderness protection, certain economists repeatedly raise objections to taking action now. To be successful in the battles over these issues, environmentalists need to be able to present credible and effective economic arguments of their own.
The usual economic objections to environmental policy include a false set of claims, such as: there is a necessary trade-off between jobs and the environment; the benefits don’t justify the costs; and, of course, the free market is always right. This conventional economic analysis rests on biased assumptions buried deep in the technicalities. An even-handed approach to economics could actually offer additional support for the work of environmental advocates, but it requires the development of a network of expert economists who would be willing to help make the substantive case.
The vision of the first workshop was to identify, develop and engage a network of economists and others that shared and supported a common vision of developing, delivering and advocating credible and effective economic theories and arguments for environmental protection, stewardship, and investment.
Attendees from the first workshop formed a steering committee and founded the Center for the Applied Study of Economics & the Environment (CASE&E). In its first year of operation CASE&E has placed a number of economics graduate students in internships and created a Green Economist directory.
The second workshop was focused on Economics for the Environment: Climate Change and Beyond. The second workshop evaluated the progress of CASE&E’s initial activities and discussed plans for organizational growth and improvement. It also identified the important research issues surrounding climate change that a new CASE&E’s taskforce of climate economists could address during their summer 2007 climate economics workshop.
A summary of the second workshop can be downloaded below.
A background about our experience of forming and running a family foundation, as well as our views about the future direction of philanthropy is available below.