The Executive Committee of The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement today announced the selection of Sir Partha S. Dasgupta, PhD, as the 2016 Tyler Prize Laureate. He is recognized for developing economic theory and tools to measure the relationships between human and environmental well-being, poverty, population, economic growth and the state of natural resources. Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge.
“Sir Partha Dasgupta’s contributions to economics have driven fundamental and ongoing changes in the international conversation about sustainable and just development, and use of natural resources,” said Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair Julia Marton-Lefèvre, the Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholar at Yale University.
“From co-chairing the committee that advised Pope Francis on the scientific basis of climate change to helping shape the Sustainable Development Goals, Sir Partha’s work has ensured that we keep in mind both people and the way we use our natural resources to benefit present and future generations,” added Marton-Lefèvre.
Dasgupta’s work challenges the conventional thinking on how nations measure their well-being and places an emphasis on population and environmental sustainability.
“We have long measured the progress of nations in terms of what they produce and consume as expressed in the gross domestic product (GDP),” said Dasgupta. “We need to be working with an entirely different measure. GDP doesn’t tell us if we are growing in a way that benefits all in society, including future people; it ignores factors like inequity and whether we are using our natural resources in a way that can also benefit future generations.”
Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world’s first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize has been the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy.
“Sir Partha’s work to create a framework for sustainable development and his commitment to addressing poverty and the environment have made him unsurpassed among environmental economists in the world,” said Simon Levin, the 2014 Tyler Prize Laureate.
As the winner of the Tyler Prize, Dasgupta will receive a $200,000 cash prize and a gold medallion and join the ranks of Laureates that include Edward O. Wilson, Jane Goodall, Jared Diamond, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, M.S. Swaminathan, Thomas Lovejoy, Jane Lubchenco and Madhav Gadgil. A full list of past winners is available at www.tylerprize.usc.edu/pastlaureates.html. The Prize, awarded by the international Tyler Prize Executive Committee with the administrative support of the University of Southern California, honors exceptional foresight and dedication in the environmental sciences and policy—qualities that mirror the prescience of the Prize’s founders, John and Alice Tyler, who established it while the environmental debate was still in its infancy.
Chasing Questions in Economics: From the Streets of Calcutta to the Vatican
“I didn’t have a big vision or an agenda when I started my career,” says Dasgupta. “This has been a 40-year chase in which I started with narrow problems and then found that I needed to understand them in a larger context.”
For Dasgupta, one part of this chase began while walking the streets of Calcutta to see his parents. “I saw women begging and some had children with them. It was part of life,” explained Dasgupta. “On one occasion I saw a baby about a year old lying next to her mother with flies on her face. It was a moving sight, but I began wondering why she wasn’t swatting the flies away.”
Thinking about how this girl was using—or not using—very limited energy led Dasgupta to explore broader questions on the relationship between nutrition and health and what they meant for human productivity. These interests expanded quickly to the use of and value placed on natural resources, population, and sustainability.
Forty years later, Dasgupta is recognized as a leading global expert for his work studying economic and environmental issues and incorporating other disciplines. Notably, Dasgupta co-chaired the joint report for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences—entitled Climate Change and The Common Good—which served as the scientific basis for Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change, the encyclical on the environment (Laudato si’).
Rethinking a Nation’s Ledger: Challenging Our Understanding of Wealth and Economic Growth
Dasgupta’s work across economic questions led him to recognize that a more comprehensive and complex measure of national and economic well-being is necessary to help governments craft better economic and development policies.
“Judging the wealth and health of countries using GDP captures just a moment in time and not where the country is headed. It’s like judging the current and future prospects of a household by only noting its annual expenditure on goods and services and not enquiring whether that expenditure was drawing down the household wealth,” explained Dasgupta.
Instead, Dasgupta and colleagues advocate that nations should measure their “inclusive wealth,” which includes not only the value of a country’s infrastructure and tools for production—such as roads, buildings and factories—and education and health of its citizens (human capital), but also the value of natural capital (environmental health, ecosystems, sub-soil resources). Inclusive wealth measures a nation’s potential productivity.
Dasgupta and his colleague Karl-Goran Maler showed that future generations will have a higher quality of life if an economy’s inclusive wealth grows at a faster rate than its population. “It’s no good talking about sustainable development without moving to a system that incorporates inclusive wealth,” said Dasgupta.
Dasgupta serves as the Scientific Advisor to the Inclusive Wealth Project, a UN-sponsored initiative that seeks to measure the wealth and long-term sustainability of countries. This approach, he argues, must be put to work in global discussions around sustainability, including the recently agreed upon UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We can’t trick ourselves into thinking that reaching the SDGs benchmarks—such as no poverty or no hunger—is success alone. We have to reach them through smart development policies or that success will be fleeting,” said Dasgupta. “We’ll only know if we’ve done that by asking whether the development policies that will be adopted to meet the SDGs will raise inclusive wealth at a faster pace than the population grows.”
Engaging Diverse Perspectives to Answer Big Questions: From Environmental Stewardship to Population
Over the course of Dasgupta’s career, he has collaborated with experts from many other disciplines, including ecologists, epidemiologists and anthropologists. While Chair of the Board of the Beijer Institute, Dasgupta and colleagues brought together economists and ecologists from around the world to address problems of environmental stewardship and helping the world’s most disadvantaged people.
“Sir Partha had the intellectual leadership to help bring together partners that had never worked together in this way,” said Levin.
In 2013, Dasgupta chaired a diverse expert committee for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which constructed a framework for measuring India’s national well-being that incorporates not only economic output, but also the health and value of environmental and natural resources.
“Doing economics is like peeling an onion. ‘Why’ is a persistent question,” said Dasgupta. “The problem, as well as the attraction, for me has always been that at each stage I discovered that I needed other disciplines to help me answer the questions.”
Dasgupta’s efforts to engage diverse perspectives extend to regional views as well. He co-founded the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) to elevate the work of scholars from developing countries, and launched the journal Environment and Development Economics, which publishes research on poverty and environmental resources by scholars in poor countries.
“In the developed world the environment is often thought of as an amenity—is the beach polluted or is the national park a place I want to go on vacation—but most of humanity does not enjoy the environment solely as an amenity,” explained Dasgupta. “People in poorer countries understand this complexity, but their voices aren’t heard enough.”
Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage
While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.
If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.
Repair and Maintain Appliances
Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.
Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.
When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.
Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full
It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.
The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.
Recycle Water in Your Yard
Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.
You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.
Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants
Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.
Install Water-Saving Features
The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.
There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.
Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City
Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.
If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.
Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism
When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.
After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.
How was it started?
It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.
How to go about it?
So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.
If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.
What can be learned?
Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .