James K. Boyce, UMass Amherst economics professor and director of the program in development, peacebuilding & the environment at the Political Economy Research Institute, has been awarded the Fair Sharing of Common Heritage Award.
This award is presented by Media Freedom Foundation and Project Censored and is given to someone whose written work expresses the principle espoused by the late Alfred Frederick Andersen that every sentient being has the right to a fair share of the material and economic benefits of the Common Heritage Wealth. This wealth includes the Earth’s natural resources such as land surfaces, sub-surface minerals and fuels; water and air; and cyberspace.
Boyce has developed the concept of Natural Assets, a new framework for thinking about importance and maintenance of the environmental commons. This approach expands environmental commons to include not only “pristine” wilderness, but also urban land and clean air and water for populations. The Natural Assets approach also describes how human activity can build as well as deplete the environmental commons. Boyce’s concept encompasses four routes to Natural Asset building: investing in natural capital, democratizing access, rewarding benefits to the community, and sharing the commons.
Boyce has advanced these ideas in numerous publications, including his 2008 article “Is Inequality Bad for the Environment?” for which he won the Award, and by sponsoring the Forum on Social Wealth, by blogging and in public service including work on the Economic and Allocation Advisory Committee of the California Air Resources Board and California Environmental Protection Agency and by serving on the Science and Technical Advisory Committee of the Division of Water Supply Protection (Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation).