ISEE 2016 Plenaries

ISEE 2016 Plenary Speakers

Transforming the Economy: Sustaining Food, Water, Energy and Justice



Frances Moore Lappé is the author and co-author of 18 books including the best-selling Diet for a Small Planet. Gourmet Magazine named Frances one of the twenty-five most influential people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child) whose work has changed the way America eats. Her most recent work World Hunger: 10 Myths, which she co-authored with Joseph Collins, was published in October 2015.

Frances is the co-founder of three organizations, including the Oakland-based think tank Food First and the Small Planet Institute which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. Frances and her daughter have also co-founded the Small Planet Fund, which supports democratic and social movements around the world.

Frances is the author or co-author of 18 books, beginning with Diet for a Small Planet. Her newest books are World Hunger – 10 Myths and EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want. Frances appears frequently as a public speaker and on radio. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post.

For more information on her books, click here.



Dr. Gar Alperovitz has a distinguished career as a historian, political economist, activist, historian, writer, and government official. For fifteen years, he served as the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University; Harvard’s Institute of Politics; the Institute for Policy Studies; and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution.

His research includes community-based political-economic development as related to issues of equality, ecological sustainability, democracy, liberty, and community, as well as the history and future of nuclear weapons, arms control, disarmament and long-term political economic structural change.

He is the president of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives and is a co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, a research institution developing practical, policy-focused, and systematic paths towards ecologically sustainable, community-oriented change and the democratization of wealth.

Among his many achievements is having been the architect of the first modern steel industry attempt at worker ownership in Youngstown, Ohio.

Alperovitz received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin; a masters degree from the University of California at Berkeley; and his Ph.D. in political economy as a Marshall Scholar at Cambridge University. After completing his studies he served as a legislative director in both houses of Congress and as a special assistant in the State Department.

He is the author of critically acclaimed books on the atomic bomb and atomic diplomacy and his articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, the Nation, and the Atlantic among other popular and academic publications. He has been profiled by the New York Times, the Associated Press, People, UPI and Mother Jones and has been a guest on numerous network TV and cable news programs, including “Meet the Press,” “Larry King Live,” “The Charlie Rose Show,” “Cross Fire,” and “the O’Reilly Factor.”

In addition to his media appearances, his work has been featured in TV documentaries, including two BBC programs and an ABC Peter Jennings Special on the use of the atomic bomb. As a well-known policy expert, he has testified before numerous Congressional committees and lectures widely around the country.



Jairam Ramesh is an economist and politician who held several prestigious ministerial posts including as Minister of Rural Development, Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Indian Minister of State of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Ramesh is the author of several books and articles and participated in India’s economic reforms in the 1990s. Early in his career he joined the World Bank but returned to India after a short assignment to serve in various public sector appointments in the Planning Commission, the Ministry of Industry and other economic departments of the Central Government of India.

Ramesh received a degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, a Master’s of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon, conducted doctoral studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a founding member of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, a member of the International Council of the Asia Society, and a Visiting Fellow and Affiliated Researcher of theInstitute of Chinese Studies, in New Delhi.


Mokgadi Monamati is the Senior Natural Resource Officer of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Industry of Botswana. She is well known for her work on water resources and especially on the valuation of water in economic development and participated as lead researcher several influential studies on water. Prior to her current appointment, she served as Principal Natural Resources Officer of the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Mokgadi is a member of the Environmental Economics Capacity Building Initiative (CEEPA) a network of researchers and collaborating regional and international resource persons dedicated to capacity building in environmental economics and policy. The overall objective of CEEPA is to increase capacity for research and policy analysis in environmental and resource economics in Africa through a program of research grants and related support services. Mokgadi received a Master’s of Science from Purdue University in Indiana.



Dr. Renato Maluf is Associate Professor of Agriculture, Development and Society (CPDA) at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the author of several books and scientific articles on economic development, rural and agricultural issues, food systems, food security, the multi-functionality of agriculture, food and nutrition policy, and the role of family farms.

Dr. Maluf is a member of the national board of the Brazilian Network on Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security (FBSSAN), the most important coalition of NGOs, social movements and academics of its kind. He is a member and the former president of the National Council of Food and Nutrition Security (CONSEA) that serves as a key advisory body to the President of the Republic of Brazil. He also served as a member of the Steering Committee of the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security. Maluf received his PhD in Political Economy from the State University of Campinas, Brazil, and held visiting appointments at Oxford University and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, France.



Dr. Shi Yan is the executive director of Shared Harvest (Beijing) Ecological Agriculture Service Ltd. She received her PhD from the Renmin University School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development and conducted her postdoctoral research at Tsinghua University’s School of Social Sciences. As a young PhD student at Renmin University, she founded the first Community Supported Agriculture (CA) Farm in China, growing and distributing organic vegetables to city consumers and renting plots of land to city folk interested in getting their hands dirty. Since then, 500 similar CSA farms have opened across China.

Dr. Shi Yan established Shared Harvest in Tongzhou and Shunyi in 2012 and has been an inspiration to communities across China to embrace healthier and more sustainable ways to feed a growing population. She is a pioneering force and active promoter of the Chinese organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement and now serves as the vice president of the International CSA Networks (URGENCI), She is the author of several books including ”My Alternative Farming Experience”,“Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan”, and “Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture”. The Beijinger selected her as one of the 20 most interesting people in Beijing.



Kanchan Chopra was until retirement the Director and Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi, a prestigious institution. She provided the main impetus for the emergence of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics in 1998 which under her stimulus has regularly held very successful biennial conferences. She has written or edited an impressive series of books, including Growth, Equity, Environment, and Population: Economic and Sociological Perspectives (2007) with C H Hanumantha Rao, and Ecological Economics for Sustainable Development (2004) with Charles Perrings. She trained a generation of researchers in India in environmental and ecological economics. In 2006 she gave her name to the “Kanchan Chopra” committee mandated by the Supreme Court of India to calculate the NPV (net present economic values) lost by diverting forestland for non-forest use, so that compensation would be paid into a fund. This was ecological economics in practice at top judicial and administrative level in a very large and important country – calculation of NPV involved fundamental debates on discount rates, and on the values of marketable and no marketed forests products and environmental services. The Kanchan Chopra committee refused economic valuation of biodiversity as such.

Environmentalist and Brazilian politician

Marina Silva, born in 1958, was the first rubber tapper and youngest female ever elected to Brazil’s Federal Senate, in 1994. Silva was Minister of Environment of Brazil from 2003 to 2008 and the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate for the 2014 election.

Maria Osmarina Marina Silva Vaz de Lima grew up as one of twelve siblings in a poor rubber tapper family in the state of Acre, in Western Brazil. When she was 16 years old, she was sent to Rio Branco for medical treatment. She was illiterate and had a dream of studying and becoming a nun.

She worked as a maid, learned to read, was enrolled at a public school, stood for exams and started history studies. Along the way, she was inspired by liberation theology and the ideas of the environmental activist Chico Mendes. She became politically active, and an ardent proponent of negotiation, non-violence, and innovative solutions. She saw many of her fellow activists murdered.

As a native Amazonian and a Senator, she built support for environmental protection of the reserves as well as for social justice and sustainable development in the Amazon region. While serving as Minister of Environment, she took drastic measures to protect the Amazon forest, clamping down on illegal activity, and managed to reduce deforestation by almost 60 percent from 2004 to 2007.

The United Nations Environment Programme named Marina Silva one of the Champions of the Earth in 2007 and The Guardian also recognized her that year as one of the fifty people who could help save the planet. In 2008, Prince Philip awarded the Duke of Edinburgh medal to Marina Silva for her work defending the Brazilian Amazon.

In 2008, Silva resigned as Minister of the Environment, citing “the increasing resistance in central parts of government and the society.” Silva continued her struggle from her place in the National Assembly and still has great influence on environmental policy in Brazil. In 2009, Silva left the Workers’ Party for the Green Party, ran in the 2010 Brazilian elections, earning about 20% of the popular vote.

Since 2011, along with former Minister of Health of Mexico Julio Frenk, Marina represents Latin America in the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group that aims to harness political will and mobilize on the global scale for the sake of the poor and vulnerable. As recognition of her work for the environment and sustainable development, Marina was chosen to carry the Olympic Flag at the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in summer 2012 in London along with Ban Ki-moon, Argentine conductor Daniel Barenboim and Nobel Prize winners.

In 2014 Eduardo Campos named Marina Silva as his vice presidential candidate for the 2014 presidential elections. After his death in a plane crash during the campaign, Silva was selected to run as the candidate for the Socialist Party and won more than 20% of the vote. Marina established the nonprofit sustainable development education and advocacy center, The Marina Silva Institute.



Arild Vatn is professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). His main contributions have been in institutional and ecological economics. He has published two major books, Environmental Governance. Institutions, Policies and Actions (2015) and Institutions and the Environment (2005). He had a major role in introducing and rigorously defining the concept of “institutions” for ecological economics. One recent article is “Markets in environmental governance. From theory to practice”, Ecological Economics, 117:225-233. He gave a memorable plenary talk in at the ISEE conference in Delhi in 2006, explaining the origin and strongly criticizing the principle of “limited liability” incorporation law (remembering that the East India Company was one of the first companies to offer limited liability to its shareholders). Arild Vatn has published on environmental governance and policy evaluations regarding environmental resources and pollution. He has been a protagonist in debates on environmental valuation. He was president of the European Society of Ecological Economics and he organized a pioneering and very influential series of PhD summer schools in ecological economics in Europe between 2006 and 2014.


Senior Environmental Scientist, Biohabitats, Inc.

Lecturer in Ecosystem Ecology at University of Maryland Department of Environmental Science and Technology

Dr. Peter May has more than 25 years of experience in the environmental sector working in municipal, state, and federal government agencies, NGO’s and now the private and academic sectors. He has a background in urban ecology, tidal marsh restoration and urban estuarine, stream and big river systems. He has applied his experience to numerous projects throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia and more recently with Biohabitats in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay area.

Peter’s doctoral work involved the ecological profiling and experimental manipulation of tidal freshwater mudflats and their role in their conversion to restored emergent marsh in Washington, DC. He is currently developing a zero discharge urban aquaponics shrimp farm in Baltimore and enjoys sailing the Chesapeake Bay and watching algae grow.

Several examples of Peter’s work on applied novel ecotechnologies can be seen in the Washington/Baltimore area including the creation of floating wetland islands and the operation of an Algal Turf Scrubber in Baltimore Harbor, and a novel stream restoration techniques in Washington, DC. These efforts have at their core an interest in utilizing the ability of each to capture societal imagination to forward ecological education and foster a sense of stewardship among a wide range of groups while advancing environmental goals.



Born 8th Dec.1940, in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. B.A. in Economics, Federal University of Pernambuco (1963). Graduate studies in Economics at Vargas Foundation, Rio (1964). M.A., Economic Development, Yale University, USA (1965). Specialization, Regional Economics, University of São Paulo, S. Paulo (1966).

Worked at the Committee of 9, Organization of American States (Washington, DC, 1965), and Sudene (Brazil’s Northeast Development Agency) (1962-1964; 1965-1967). Professor of economics, Federal University of Pernambuco (since 1965; retired in 2010; continues teaching on a volunteer basis). Professor at other universities. Research fellow, CNPq (Brazil’s National Research Council). Senior researcher, Institute for Social Research, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation (director of the Institute, 1980-2003; chief of the Department of Environmental Studies, since 2010). Visiting professor at various universities including Vanderbilt University (USA), 1970; La Trobe University (Australia), 1978; University of Cuenca (Ecuador), 1998, 2000; University of Oxford (Britain), 2000; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.

Member, advisory committees, Brazil’s National Research Council; Board of Directors, Clacso (Latin American Council for the Social Sciences), 1985-1989, 1994-2000; Technical-Scientific Council, Emílio Goeldi Museum, Belém, Brazil, 1986-1992; Scientific Council, The Prof. Fernando Figueira Institute of Integral Medicine of Pernambuco, IMIP (since 1990); Member, Consultative Council, Celso Furtado International Center for Development Policies (since 2005).

Membership in ISEE (International Society for Ecological Economics, founding member), ECOECO (Brazilian Society for Ecological Economics, founding member and Honorary President), ANPPAS (Brazilian Association of Research and Graduate Studies on the Environment and Society, founding member and director, 2010-). Member, editorial boards of several journals, including Ecological Economics (1990-2000).

Wrote 11 books, 7 as co-author, and around 60 articles. Publications include:“Government Policy and Ecological Concerns: Some Lessons from the Brazilian Experience”. In Robert Costanza (ed.), Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of Sustainability. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991, pp. 474-485;“Patterns of Sustainability in the Americas: The U.S. and Amerindian Lifestyles”. In Fraser Smith (ed.), Environmental Sustainability: Practical Global Implications. Boca Raton, Florida: St. Lucie Press, 1997, pp. 27-45; The Environment, Sustainable Development and Public Policies: Building Sustainability in Brazil (author and editor). Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, Mass, USA, 2000; “Economic Thinking, Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Ethnoeconomics”. Current Sociology, 50(1), Jan. 2002, pp. 39-55; “Traditional Resource Use and Ethnoeconomics”. In Darrell Addison Posey & Michael J. Balick (eds.), Human Impacts in Amazonia: The Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Conservation and Development. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, pp. 307-327; “Economic Growth and Environmental Protection in Brazil: An Unfavourable Trade-off”. In Albert Breton, Giorgio Brosio, Silvana Dalmazzone & Giovanna Garrone (eds.), Environmental Governance and Decentralization, Cheltenham (UK): Elgar, 2007, ch. 3, pp. 49-76; “Plant Opulence, Insatiable Greed and the Enthronement of Entropy: A View of the Socio-Environmental History of the Atlantic Rainforest”. In José Alves Filho & Elton M. C. Leme (eds.), Fragments of the Atlantic Forest of Northeast Brazil: Biodiversity, Conservation and the Bromeliads. Rio de Janeiro: Andrea Jakobsson Estúdio, 2007, ch. 1, pp. 13-45; “Conceptions of Ecological Economics: Its Relations with Traditional, and Environmental, Economics”, Estudos Avançados, v. 24, n. 68, Jan./Apr. 2010, pp. 53-67. Member (2002-2005) of a team of Portuguese and Brazilians that prepared Angola’s 2005-2025 Development Strategy.



Joan Martinez-Alier has been since 1975 Professor in the Department of Economics and Economic History in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain. Over the last quarter of a century, he has become recognized as Europe’s foremost student and spokesman of the new field of “ecological economics.” In 1987 he joined with international colleagues from around the world and became a founding member of the International Society for Ecological Economics.

Professor Martinez-Alier has had extensive international experience in a wide variety of educational institutions around the world. He was a Research Fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University from 1966 to 1973 and again a visiting scholar there in 1984-85. In addition, he held visiting appointments at the Free University of Berlin (1980-81), Stanford University, the University of California, Davis (1988-89) and FLACSO in Quito (1994-95). During 1999-2000 Professor Martinez-Alier was a Fellow in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University in New Haven. From 1990 onwards Professor Martinez-Alier served as the Editor of the journal, Ecologia Politica (Barcelona). His publications are numerous and in English include: Labourers and Landowners in Southern Spain (London, 1971), Haciendas, Plantations and Collective Farms (Cuba and Peru) (London 1977), Ecological economics: energy, environment and society(Oxford, 1987), with Ramachandra Guha — India’s leading environmental historian,Varieties of environmentalism: Essays North and South. (London, 1997) (See Abstract and Summary of this important work) and The Environmentalism of the Poor: A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation (October 2003). In addition, Professor Martinez-Alier is the author of the article on Ecological Economics in the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Professor Martinez-Alier’s research interests and professional focus has been upon the fields of agrarian studies, ecological economics, and political ecology. In Europe, he has been involved in a two-year international collaborative examination of environmental standards known as the Environmental Valuation in Europe (EVE) project, funded by the European Commission. In addition to his professional research in European and industrialized areas, Professor Martinez-Alier has been concerned with exploring the implications of ecological economics for the developing countries as well. From 1991 to 1996 he contributed to the design and production of a series of four videos dealing with the theory and practical application of the concepts of ecological economics in development strategies. These videos form a series presented by Griesinger Films and they include: An Introduction to Ecological Economics, Investing In Natural Capital, Conversation for a Sustainable Society and Costa Rica Counts the Future. He is among the founders and a former president of the International Society for Ecological Economics. His current research focuses on ecological economics and languages of valuation, political ecology, environmental justice and the environmentalism of the poor.


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