Skip to main content

Sustainable Development and Resilience in Ecosystems


Two new important developments in environmental and resource economics is presented—non convex dynamics of ecosystems and wealth as an indicator of sustainable development. Non convex dynamics imply existence of resilience, that is the robustness of systems to withstand exogenous perturbations. Resilience can be regarded as an insurance against flips of the system into different basins of stability. Sustainable development, according to the Bruntland report, is the provision of productive resources to future generations to make it possible for them to live as well as the present generation. Thus, the value of changes in productive assets is therefore an index of whether an economy is on a sustainable path or not. Resilience can be regarded as one such productive asset and the paper discusses how one can define the value of this asset.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Asheim G, Weitzman M (2001) Does NNP growth indicate welfare improvements?. Econ Lett 73(2): 233–239

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aniyar S, Mäler K-G (2006) Inclusive wealth and sustainable development. Draft, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics

  • Arrow K, Dasgupta P, Mäler K-G (2003) Evaluating projects and assessing sustainable development in imperfect economies. Environ Resour Econ 21(2): 217–255

    Google Scholar 

  • Arrow K, Dasgupta P, Goulder L et al (2004) Are we consuming too much. J Econ Perspect 18(3): 147–172

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Daily, GC (eds) (1997) Nature’s services: societal dependence on natural ecosystems. Island Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  • Dasgupta P, Mäler K-G (2000) Net national product, wealth, and social well-being. Environ Dev Econ 5(2): 69–93

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dasgupta P, Mäler K-G (eds) (2003) The economics of non-convex ecosystems. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht

    Google Scholar 

  • Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing, Synthesis Report (2005) Millennium ecosystem assessment. Island Press, Washington

  • Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (2003) Final draft. United Nations, New York

  • Koopmans TC (1960) Stationary ordinal utility and impatience. Econometrica 287–309

  • Koopmans TC, Diamond PA, Williamson RE (1964) Stationary utility and time perspective. Econometrica 32:1–2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mäler K-G, Li C-Z, Destouni G (2006) Pricing reslience in dynamic economy-environment system: a capital theoretic approach. Beijer discussion papers, No. 208

  • Steffen W (ed) et al (2003) Global change and the earth system. Springer, Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  • System of National Accounts (1993) United Nations. New York

  • Tzouvelekas E, Vouvaki D, Xepapadeas A (2006) Total factor productivity growth and the environment: a case for green growth accounting. Beijer discussion papers, No. 206

  • Weitzman M (2006) On the welfare significance of national product in a dynamic economy. Quart J Econ 90: 152–162

    Google Scholar 

  • Xepapadeas A (2005) Economic growth and the environment. In: Mäler V (ed) Handbook of environmental economics, vol. 3. North-Holland, Amsterdam

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Karl-Göran Mäler.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mäler, KG. Sustainable Development and Resilience in Ecosystems. Environ Resource Econ 39, 17–24 (2008).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Sustainable development
  • Wealth
  • Accounting prices
  • Non convex dynamics
  • Resilience