His pioneering work on the relations between the environment and the economy has made visible the unequal distribution of natural resources, and the need for environmental justice.
The award, announced on Monday, September 14 in Milan, consists of a cash prize worth €695,000. Half of the amount must be destined by the winners to research projects, and will allow for the continuation of Dr Martínez Alier's Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas) project, focused on collecting and mapping existing socio-environmental conflicts in the world.
The Balzan International Foundation highlighted how his work on the relations between the environment and the economy has made visible the unequal distribution of natural resources, and the need for Environmental Justice. Italian President Sergio Mattarella will award the prizes to the four winners on November 19.
Born in Barcelona in 1939, Dr Martinez Alier is Emeritus Professor of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. His main line of research revolves around the relationship between ecology and economics, which has allowed him to investigate on agrarian history, environmental policies, and resource-based social conflicts. Among his best-known publications are "Ecology and Economics" (1984) and "Ecological Economics and Environmental Politics" (2001).
Dr Martínez Alier expressed his appreciation for the award, which he considers a recognition of the causes he has defended for decades, such as ecological economy and political ecology. "It is also an aid to give continuity to our work on the Environmental Justice Atlas", he remarked.
Since 1961, the Balzan Prize has been awarded to scientists whose contributions are evaluated by an international committee made up of 19 leading figures from different fields. The Balzan Prize has been awarded, among others, to the writer Jorge Luis Borges, Mother Teresa of Calcutta or the current Spanish Minister of Universities, Manuel Castells.
“This year the Balzan Prize has fully achieved one of its fundamental aims of integrating the most promising scholarship and research on today’s most relevant issues in an interdisciplinary perspective”, stated the Chairman of the General Prize Committee, Luciano Maiani. “I would like to express the Committee’s great satisfaction at the choice of four illustrious prize-winners, who are distinguished not only for the depth of their insights and research, but also for the way they have always looked towards the future while working on problems that humanity faces today.”