Resource economics builds on a long tradition in economic theory and has now become an increasingly important, active and innovative area in disciplinary and interdisciplinary research. Fostered by the broad current interest in the notion of "sustainable development", economic analysis of natural resource use is a major issue in today's research agenda. The aim of sustainability calls for a coherent theoretical integration of the underlying social norms and the restrictions imposed by economic conditions. In particular, it has to be scrutinised in which way the state of the natural environment, especially the bounded supply of natural resources and energies, will limit economic development in the long run. Economic decisions, market prices, and environmental regulation are the main forces driving the stock of natural capital. Accordingly, economic theory and, in particular, resource economics, is challenged to provide adequate solutions for the trade-offs between environmental protection and economical needs faced by today's generations. Within the broader interdisciplinary approach to sustainability, research in resource economics has to be directed at finding and establishing the rules for a world society which is intrinsically compatible with its natural environment.
Research of the resource economics team at CER-ETH, the Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich, covers a broad range of aspects regarding the relationship between exhaustible and renewable natural resources and pollution on the one hand and long-term economic development on the other. According to the inherent dynamic nature of resource problems, the recent research program of endogenous growth theory plays an important role. Moreover, the numerous global interdependencies result in the integration of trade theory. Among the most active topics in current research, cf. also projects, are
- economic determinants of resource and energy markets
- capital accumulation and substitution mechanisms
- endogenous technical progress, product- and resource-augmenting
- globalisation and natural resource use
- normative guidelines for intertemporal resource use
- political economy of resource and energy markets.
For more information about our work and the resource economics team check our information brochure (PDF, 825 KB)