Theme on the Environment, Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment (TEMTI)


TEMTI is a working group of the Commission for Environmental, Economic and Social Policies (CEESP). Its core mandate is to provide practical and enabling information, as well as relevant policy options on issues lying at the intersection between economics and environmental and social sustainability. The main objective is to enhance and maintain the capacity of CEESP’s members and of the entire Union to address matters related to economic issues and policies that affect sustainability at the local, national and international levels.

TEMTI is a network of specialists involved in rigorous research and debates in a quest for greater economic justice and environmental responsibility. TEMTI is a group where plurality of views is welcome. Its work is based on rigorous analyses of the dynamics and structure of the world economy. We believe that without understanding the configuration and underlying forces that drive the global economy it will be impossible to advance towards a consistent set of policies capable of leading to worldwide sustainability. It is important therefore to work with real world economic data and accurate analytical tools that enhance our capacity to diagnose and recommend robust policy changes. This includes promoting the study of hitherto neglected themes, such as the impact of macroeconomics or the role of monetary variables and the financial sector in the process of environmental degradation and social disparities. TEMTI is an open space for critical thinking about old paradigms and new lines of research and policymaking.

TEMTI evolved from a previous cluster focused primarily on issues of trade and the environment. We have expanded this to cover macroeconomic policies, as well as sector level policies (agriculture, industry) and horizontal or cross-sector policies (energy, science and technology). In accordance with CEESP’s vision and mandate, TEMTI conceives long-term sustainability as involving not only conserving ecosystems’ integrity, but also social responsibility and justice.

TEMTI has thirty five members. They are based in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe.

Overview and Mission Statement

In a relatively short period of time, economic forces have led our planet to the brink of large-scale ecological disaster. Perhaps the most serious aspect of this crisis is the acceleration in the rate of biodiversity loss due to the loss of land, coastal and marine habitats. Illegal trade and traffic of wildlife is another powerful driver of the extinction of species. Change in global mean temperatures will have serious effects on ocean levels, rain and weather patterns and on the generation of extreme weather events. Finally, the capacity of the majority of the world’s ecosystems to provide environmental services has been seriously degraded. Many of these environmental services are critical for human welfare, as well as for the dynamic stability of the biosphere. Depletion of aquifers, soil erosion, deforestation and the loss of genetic resources pose a dangerous set of challenges to humankind. This environmental deterioration increases the probability of producing abrupt and potentially irreversible changes in ecosystems with deleterious consequences for human beings.

The world is not only threatened by environmental degradation. Even before the current global crisis erupted it was easy to see that the neoliberal model was associated with a deficient economic performance: growth rates between 1975-2010 decreased in comparison with rates in the period 1945-1975. Inequality in income distribution increased in almost every important capitalist economy with serious consequences in terms of household indebtedness. According to international development agencies, more than half of the world’s population (approximately three billion people) lives in or under the poverty line. It is clear that the Millennium Development Goals will not be attained, especially the ones related to poverty, hunger and health. Between 1988 and 2012 the world has experienced dozens of severe financial crisis that were followed by severe adjustment processes bringing hardship for millions. Frequently this adjustment process was accompanied by extraordinary bailouts for large banks and the corporate sector as public expenditures were curtailed in vital sectors (such as health and education, as well as the environment). As a result, the social tissue of communities was degraded and livelihoods were destroyed in rural areas, affecting the capacity of communities for environmental stewardship.

Today the world is engulfed in the worst economic and financial crisis in eight decades. This crisis is not the result of a case of “market failure” or of “asymmetric information” in the real estate and financial sectors of the US economy. It is the consequence of deep and very powerful macroeconomic forces that helped shape the world economy of the beginning of the twenty-first century. These forces correspond to a paradigm in economic thought (neoliberalism) that relies on the notion that free competitive markets allocate resources efficiently and that the guidance of development strategies should be left to the private sector. The global economy that resulted from the application of this paradigm is a profoundly distorted system marked by three critical features. First, the opulence of a tiny majority contrasts with the poverty of billions and a small number of giant corporations concentrates immense economic power. This is probably the most brutal aspect of the world economy today and puts enormous pressure on environmental sustainability. Second, huge international economic imbalances continue to accumulate in a process that endangers the world economy. These imbalances between countries with massive current account surpluses and those with chronic external deficits have a negative effect on aggregate demand (that is, on productive investment and consumption). Today the world economy lacks the required adjustment mechanisms to redress these trade imbalances. Third, the expansion of the financial sector overshadows every other component of the global economy. Capital flows and currency speculation, not to mention the huge market of derivatives and other financial instruments, have distorting effects on many aspects of the economy, including food and commodity prices. The financial sector has succeeded in subjecting macroeconomic policy priorities to the interests and needs of finance.

It is clear that changes in this policy and institutional framework need to be considered as a top priority for sustainability. The current state of affairs constitutes a dangerous situation that threatens mankind’s capacity to engage in a trajectory for sustainability.


Priority Areas for TEMTI

TEMTI members are working in several priority areas, developing new projects and carrying out policy-oriented research. A few examples of these priority areas are the following.

I. Macroeconomic policies for sustainability. Macroeconomic policies have an impact on rates of economic activity, as well as income distribution and production strategies of all economic agents. Key sectors for social sustainability (health, education, housing) depend on macroeconomic policies that also determine the amount of resources allocated to environmentally sensitive sectors, such as sustainable agriculture and protected areas. Macroeconomic policies need to be redefined as a function of sustainability objectives and not the other way around.

II. Sustainable Agriculture, Agro-biodiversity and Conservation Policies. The relation between agricultural and conservation policies has not received the attention it deserves. Establishing protected areas (regardless of the governance scheme) in the context of inadequate agricultural policies compromises the long-term viability of conservation objectives. Sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology may play a critical role for poverty reduction as well as biodiversity conservation if the appropriate agricultural policies are implemented.

III. Climate Change Economics. The multilateral regime for climate change has been unable to establish a regulatory framework to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases and a set of tools to make it effective. As a result, the challenges for mitigation and adaptation have multiplied. There is evidence that emissions’ trading is simply not working (the EU-ETS has not been able to reduce emissions, price decline while showing greater volatility and the scheme may be contributing to lock-in of fossil fuels). Moving towards a low-carbon economy requires getting the economics of climate change right.

IV. Trade in Endangered Species. International commerce of wildlife, whether endangered or threatened, has become in the last decades one of the most important forces driving loss of biodiversity (and even of species’ extinctions). As the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) celebrates its fortieth anniversary a new hard look at various policy options is required. Pressure to legalise markets (especially strong in the case of emblematic species with high commercial value) needs to be accompanied by rigorous analyses of market structure in order to ensure that the right policies deliver the correct answers.

V. Finance and the Commodification of Nature. The expansion of the financial sector had enormous implications for the world economy. Profitability levels associated with arbitraging and purely speculative investments have distorted investment patterns and today the global financial system has almost no relation with the real economy. Already before the crisis the search for superior profitability led to the creation of special markets in carbon emissions. Today other markets in nature are being developed (e.g., water, land, forests, species, habitats and biodiversity offsets). The policy response to the global financial crisis injected additional sums of liquidity into the banking and non-banking system, with a huge de-stabilizing potential. The creation of new markets as a response to protect nature is leading to the formation of new commodities with dire economic and social consequences (for example in food prices), as well as for the environment. This is an area that demands close attention.

Projects and on-going work

Recent activities by TEMTI members reflect the priorities and new developments in our network. The following examples of work in research, consultancy and advocacy by new and old members of our team illustrate the wide array of fields we are covering today. We welcome those new members that share our enthusiasm and eagerness to further develop TEMTI's priorities.

Dr. Inés Arroyo Quiroz is a biologist (UNAM) and has a PhD from the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology of the University of Kent. She is full time researcher in the Program on Social and Environmental Problems of the Regional Centre for Multidisciplinary Research (CRIM) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Her work focuses on legal and illegal uses of wildlife, and on human and wildlife conflicts. Inés is the author of a landmark book on international wildlife trade and the implementation of CITES in developing countries, with special emphasis on international reptile skin trade (Developing Countries and the Implementation of CITES, published by VDM Verlag).

Dr. Francis Vorhies is the Executive Director of Earthmind, a not-for-profit sustainability network. He has over twenty years of international experience as a sustainability economist focusing on the interface between business and biodiversity. He has worked on risk-management, assessment and certification in agriculture, extractive industry, finance, fisheries, forestry and the paper industry. He is also piloting the Verified Conservation Areas (VCA) Platform seeking private sector funding for biodiversity (see Francis is a member of the Lenders Environmental Social Consultant (LESC) for the South Stream Offshore Pipeline project reviewing the company’s sustainability performance. He is supporting a company in Mozambique involved with a major wilderness restoration and agricultural development.

Emmanuel Oluwasola Omoju is a doctoral candidate and research assistant at the China Centre for Energy Economics Research (CCEER) of Xianmen University in China. Emmanuel is doing research on energy economics and technology policies. He is also working on public finance and sustainable development, with special emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa. His investigation centres on the reduction and elimination of energy poverty while at the same time promoting inclusive and sustainable development in Nigeria and sub-Saharan African nations. He also conducts research on issues related to energy, climate change and sustainable development.

Dr. Pradip Dey is based at the Indian Institute of Soil Science in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. As Project Coordinator at the All India Coordinated Research Project on Soil Test Crop Response (AICRP-STCR) of the India Institute of Soil Science, Dr. Dey is involved in planning and team management of a research effort comprising 23 research centres in India. This vast project is a nationwide venture involving 24 states in the sub-continent. The development of linkages and financial leadership roles are among Dr. Dey's responsibilities. As Executive Principal Investigator Pradip is involved in the development of GPS referenced maps using geographical information systems on soil fertility in 171 districts in India.

Bram Büscher is Associate Professor of Environment and Sustainable Development at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University and holds visiting positions at the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg and Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He studies the political economy of conservation, environment, development and energy, with most of his empirical work based in southern Africa. He is the author of Transforming the Frontier. Peace Parks and the Politics of Neoliberal Conservation in Southern Africa (Duke University Press, 2013) and, with Wolfram Dressler and Robert Fletcher, editor of NatureTM Inc: New Frontiers of Environmental Conservation in the Neoliberal Age (University of Arizona Press, 2014).

Dr. Alan Bruce Cibils is Chair of the Political Economy Department at the Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He continues his research on theories of economic development (with special emphasis on periphery countries in neoliberal globalization), as well as the implications of China’s economic position in the global economy. He is currently involved in a project on Argentina’s public debt and its impact on development and the environment. He also maintains his interest on the role of the financial sector in the global economy and its impact on economic and environmental sustainability.

Dr. Roberto Sanchez Rodriguez is a professor at the Department of Urban and Environmental Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. He is a member of the Board of Directors of MISTRA Urban Futures. His expertise focuses on how to build cities in the developing world that deal with health and social services, as well as creating the enabling conditions for fair, green and dense urban environments. This has enormous implications for biodiversity and land conversion as rapidly growing urbanization creates challenges for sustainability. He is a member of the transition team for the Earth System Sustainability Initiative. He was lead author of Chapter 15 on Adaptation Planning and Implementation, Working group II, of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC.

Dr. Marina Rosales Benites de Franco is a professor at the Federico Villarreal National University, teaching on biodiversity and protected areas, ecology, endangered ecosystems and land and marine ecosystems. Marina has done work on parrots conservation, sustainable uses of wildlife, access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, endangered ecosystems and wildlife trade. She also works the Peruvian National Service of Protected Areas (SERNANP). She is in charge of the Management and Scientific Authority for CITES and is responsible for the CMS Focal Point and Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the CBD.

Ashok Maharjan works as researcher with the Central Department of Environmental Science, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, in Nepal. He is currently involved with research on the Urban Environment and Seismic Wave, focusing on urban planning and economic sustainability, as well as on environmentally friendly urban and suburban areas. His work requires him to be directly involved in community work to strengthen seismic risk and preparedness without declining environmental quality of surrounding landscapes in Kathmandu valley.

Pablo Samaniego Ponce is an expert on macroeconomic policies and international financial affairs. He has continued his work on Ecuador's fiscal and monetary policies and their impact on the exploitation of natural resources. He is an advisor to the Ministry of Science, technology and Innovation of Ecuador. Recent publications include a paper on South America's chronic trade deficit and its mirror image in the volume of physical flows associated with its exports. Pablo Samaniego contributed to the project on macroeconomic policies and environmental sustainability in Latin America that was supported IUCN’s 3I-C special fund.

Tania Hernandez Cervantes is an economist and a PhD candidate in environmental studies at York University in Toronto, Ontario. She has carried out innovative research on the redefinition of rural-urban relationships and its implications for land conversion and biodiversity loss, native maize production, germplasm conservation and food security. Tania is co-founder and editorial board member of the journal Latin American Encounters, based in Toronto, Canada, an interdisciplinary space for groups and individuals interested in the production and dissemination of knowledge that questions hierarchical relations at the local, national and global levels.

Dr. Kevin Gallagher is an associate professor of international relations at Boston University. He co-directs the Global Economic Governance Initiative and the Global Development Policy Program. He is also a Faculty Fellow at BU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center. Gallagher serves on the US Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy and on the International Investment Division of UNCTAD. His most recent book (with Roberto Porzecanski) is The Dragon in the Room: China and the Future of Latin American Industrialization. He has carried out extensive research on foreign investment and sustainable development, as well as on international capital flows and their implications for macroeconomic stability. Gallagher is co-editor of the Review of International Political Economy and writes regular columns in The Financial Times and The Guardian.

Dr. Godfrey Kanyenze is the Founding Director of the Labour and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ). He holds a PhD from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in England. He collaborated with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) as an economist and consultant between 1986 and 2003. He was sub-editor of the Human Development Report (Zimbabwe) on Gender, Poverty Reduction and Development. He is co-editor of the book The Search for Sustainable Human Development in Southern Africa. Godfrey is member of the Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank (RBZ), the National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), the National Productivity Institute and the Tripartite Wages and Salaries Advisory Board in Zimbabwe. He is currently involved in a project on the political and institutional contexts that enable poor countries to mobilize domestic resources for social development.

Tim Wise is currently director of the Research and Policy Programme of the Global Development and Environment Institute of Tufts University. His work has covered agricultural development and environmental sustainability in several countries in Latin America and Africa, including the introduction of genetically modified seeds in countries such as Mexico and Malawi. He has done extensive research on the impact of biofuel production in the United States, food security, agricultural policies and sustainable development, and the contrast between industrial-scale agriculture and climate-resilient smallholder farming. In 2013 Tim was awarded an Open Society Fellowship to carry out a project on ways in which U.S. policies distort global corn markets and their effects on developing economies. Tim appears regularly in The Real News Network.

Sergio Schlesinger is an economist working with FASE (Federation of Organizations working for Social Wellbeing and Education), a non-for-profit organization in Brazil. He has carried out research on biofuels and their impact on agricultural development and social wellbeing of small-scale farmers, and the impacts of soybean production on deforestation in Amazonia. More recently he has done pioneering work on efforts to replicate Brazil's agri-business model of the Cerrado to Mozambique through the program ProSavanna. This program aims to convert 14 million hectares in the Nacala corridor for commercial-scale production of soybean and other basic commodities to be exported to Japan and China. Sergio’s research examines the environmental and social implications of this project in Mozambique.

Alejandro Nadal


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Economic Perspectives on Global Sustainability


TEMTI announces the launching of a new and exciting series, Economic Perspectives on Global Sustainability. This innovative series is designed to provide reliable information and rigorous analysis on the human dimensions of environmental change. Its main objective is to open a much-needed space for reflection and understanding of the complex forces that are driving social inequality and environmental degradation worldwide.

Contributions to the series will come from research carried out by TEMTI’s network of experts. Economic Perspectives on Global Sustainability aims to strengthen communication and collaboration between the different communities of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, as well as within its worldwide constituency.

The series spans a wide range of topics pertaining to global sustainability. These include the relation between markets and economic policies, financial speculation and commodity prices, implications of the global economic crisis, macroeconomics and climate change policies, extractive industries, sustainable agriculture and conservation policies, trade in endangered species, large commercial logging in tropical rainforests, biofuels and food prices, etc. The series will also help identify emerging fields of interest and action.

Economic Perspectives on Global Sustainability will appear monthly. All papers in the series are available for downloading below this section on the page.

TEMTI's Economic Perspectives on Global Sustainability Papers
Francisco Aguayo - CEESP TEMTI

Series Editor

Francisco Aguayo

(+5255) 5541 0146

Francisco Aguayo (Mexico City, 1972) is an independent consultant. He studied economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and is a PhD Fellow at the Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) in Maastricht, the Netherlands. His research focuses on innovation, industrial organization, energy, and sustainability. He collaborated as leading author in Chapters 24 and 25 of the Global Energy Assessment (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

TEMTI Documents and Presentations Useful Link