Global prize for LCAB Partner and UCL ecological economics professor

News | Posted on Thursday 20 June 2024

Professor Robert Costanza has been awarded the prestigious Blue Planet Prize for his work studying the economic importance of intact natural ecosystems on society.

Professor Bob Costanza with Professor Yadvinder Malhi and Professor Chris Thomas at the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity symposium, LCAB visions: From the past to the future.

The international prize is given for scientific research or applications of science that contribute to solving global environmental problems.

Professor Costanza has been an LCAB Partner since the Centre began in 2019, his transdisciplinary work complements many of LCAB’s research strands as it combines ecology, economics, sociology, systems modelling, environmental policy, and energy analysis. His research aims to understand and measure the economic benefits of conserving and restoring the natural environment and the ecosystem services it provides in the face of escalating climate change and other human-induced impacts. This understanding has helped to motivate conserving and restoring natural ecosystems by quantifying their benefits to humanity.

Professor Costanza also co-founded the International Society for Ecological Economics. The society brings together scholars, professionals, and activists to encourage education, research, policy, and social action to bring about an equitable and ecologically sustainable society with respect for biological and cultural diversity, and the rights of people and the rest of nature.

Professor Costanza said: “I’m honoured to receive this award for my work. Over the years I have sought to explore how much humanity relies on the services of natural ecosystems and demonstrate the fundamental importance of protecting the Earth’s ecosystems. I hope that this award helps to highlight the importance of combatting climate change and biodiversity loss together. Doing so can lead to an economy that is focused on inclusive and sustainable wellbeing for the whole system – humans embedded in the rest of nature.”

Established in 1992 by the Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan, the aim of the Blue Planet Prize is to encourage efforts to conserve and restore Earth’s fragile environment. The award’s name was inspired by the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin, who remarked “the Earth is blue” when he first saw the planet from orbit.

Professor Lindsey Gillson, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, said: “Congratulations to LCAB Partner Professor Robert Costanza on this wonderful recognition of his work.We are proud of our association with him, and inspired by his work, which provides a powerful demonstration of how interdisciplinary thinking can contribute to providing fair and just solutions for our planet”

Toshihiro Tanuma, Director of Commendation for the Blue Planet Prize at the Asahi Glass Foundation, said: “We are especially honoured to recognize Professor Robert Costanza of UCL, an American national. This award reflects the international community's commitment to addressing environmental challenges, and we hope Professor Costanza's recognition will inspire young people around the world to pursue careers in environmental research and activities.”

Professor Costanza will receive the award at a week-long ceremony in Tokyo in October where he’ll receive a certificate of merit, a commemorative trophy, and $500,000 (£400,490) in prize money.