BA (Hons), MA, PhD (Florida)

Human geography

In today’s ‘anthropocene’ world, human impacts on ecological life support systems are increasingly complex and far-reaching. At the same time, maintaining living standards in developed nations and reducing poverty in developing nations, places increasing demands on the planet’s life support functions. In this ‘full’ world, the emphasis in research, education, and policy needs to shift from addressing problems in isolation to studying whole, complex, interconnected systems and the dynamic interactions between the parts.

Incorporating both biophysical and social dynamics makes these problems “wickedly complex” and impossible to address from within the confines of any single discipline. We are currently exceeding safe planetary biophysical boundaries. GDP is growing, but rising inequality, loss of natural and social capital and decreasing ecosystem services net out to stagnating improvements in overall quality of life in many countries and existential risks to global sustainability. The problems are well-known. The solutions require new approaches.

To achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need to shift from a narrow focus on GDP growth to a broader understanding and measurement of wellbeing – the integrated wellbeing of humans and the rest of nature - and develop creative ways to envision and achieve the future we all want.

To address these issues, my work integrates the study of humans and the rest of nature.  It deals with research, policy and management issues at multiple time and space scales, from small watersheds to the global system.

It focuses on three major themes:

(1) Integrated, Dynamic Analysis and Modelling of Social-Ecological Systems: How do we better understand, model, value and manage our complex, interdependent systems of humans and the rest of nature over multiple space and time scales?

(2) Measuring Well-Being: How do we understand and measure human and environmental well-being in a more integrated way, including built, human, social and natural capital assets and their interactions and services?

(3) Creating the Future We Want: How do we engage the full range of stakeholders in envisioning and designing more sustainable and desirable futures? 

My research has been highly cited in the academic literature (over 98,000 citations in Google Scholar with an h-index of 120) and has influenced and helped create entire fields of study (ecological economics, natural capital, ecosystem services). It has also had broad influence and impact in the larger society. For example, the concepts of ecosystem services and natural capital are now broadly recognized and are actively being incorporated into a range of policies and practices, including national income accounting, environmental impact assessment, and land use planning.

Editor in Chief, The Anthropocene Review

Associate Editor, Solutions, Ecosystem Services

Editorial Board: Ecological Economics, Ecology and Society, PeerJ, Ecological Informatics, Rethinking Ecology, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm, Sweden.

Affiliate Fellow, Gund Institute for Environment, The University of Vermont

deTao Master of Ecological Economics, deTao Masters Academy, Shanghai, China.

Elected Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (RSA)

Club of Rome, Full Member

Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon

Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa, Stockholm University, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science

Kenneth Boulding Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions in Ecological Economics

Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment

The (En)Rich List: top 100 inspirational individuals whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures (#54).

Il Monito del Giardino (The Warning from the Garden) award. 2010. Fondazione Parchi Monumentali Bardini e Peyron. Florence, Italy.

Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher, 2004-present

Certified Senior Ecologist, Ecological Society of America, 2001-present

1. Costanza, R., R. de Groot, L. Braat, I. Kubiszewski, L. Fioramonti, P. Sutton, S. Farber, and M. Grasso. 2017. Twenty years of ecosystem services: how far have we come and how far do we still need to go? Ecosystem Services. 28:1-16.

2. Costanza, R., P. Atkins, M, Bolton, S. Cork, N Grigg, T. Kasser, and I. Kubiszewski. 2017. Overcoming Societal Addictions: What Can We Learn From Individual Therapies? Ecological Economics. 131:543–550.

3. Costanza, R., L. Daly, L. Fioramonti, E. Giovannini, I. Kubiszewski, L. F. Mortensen, K. Pickett, K. V. Ragnarsdóttir, R. de Vogli, and R. Wilkinson. 2016. Modelling and measuring sustainable wellbeing in connection with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ecological Economics. 130:350–355.

4. Costanza, R., R. de Groot, P. Sutton, S. van der Ploeg, S. Anderson, I. Kubiszewski, S. Farber, and R. K. Turner. 2014. Changes in the global value of ecosystem services. Global Environmental Change 26:152-158.

5. Costanza, R., I. Kubiszewski, E. Giovannini, H. Lovins, J. McGlade, K. E. Pickett, K. V. Ragnarsdóttir, D. Roberts, R. De Vogli, and R, Wilkinson. 2014. Time to leave GDP behind. Nature. 505:283-285.