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As of 1 November 2020, economist and former politician Rick van der Ploeg has been appointed university professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Amsterdam. He will focus on research and education in the field of environmental economics, covering the economic aspects of climate change, biodiversity and resource depletion, as well as broader social and political aspects. Van der Ploeg will be based at UvA Economics and Business (UvA EB), where these same issues are addressed through EB’s curriculum and governance.

Global warming, deterioration of biodiversity and air quality, and increasing scarcity of raw materials are among the major social problems around the world. Interest in these themes is increasing - among citizens, but also among companies, insurers, (central) banks, NGOs and, of course, politicians. The interests of all these stakeholders vary. For example, tightening environmental policy must be weighed against other policy goals, such as fair income policies, a strong industrial sector and a well-functioning economy. The current economic system will remain dependent on heavy pollution unless we can make the move to a better, cleaner system. This will require radical instruments that can trigger positive feedback effects that lead to fly-wheel effects.

Bridging function

In order to achieve these fly-wheel effects, an approach is needed in which different scientific disciplines come together. In addition to the knowledge of biologists and physicists, that of economists is crucial - on public finances, finance, microeconomics (mechanism design and risk analysis), macroeconomics, mathematical economics (system theory and complex systems) and behavioural economics (game theory). Analyses from the social sciences (political analyses) and the humanities (cultural transitions) must also be included. The Environmental Economics chair transcends the various fields that deal with the environment and the climate at the UvA, so that Van der Ploeg can - from a 'home base' at the Faculty of Economics and Business – fulfil a bridging function and establish connections between the various faculties and research groups.

Shared values

UvA EB is committed to sustainable values through its curriculum and governance, in line with the objectives of the Environmental Economics chair. For example, UvA EB has integrated research on key societal themes in the research platform A Sustainable Future (ASF), making ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability integral elements in our teaching and research. UvA EB is an active institutional member of the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS). We have also signed up to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME). For its internal governance, UvA EB has confidential advisers, a comprehensive set of integrity and complaints-related procedures, and an Ethics Committee.