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Economist and former politician Rick van der Ploeg has been appointed university professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Amsterdam. Van der Ploeg will focus on research and education in the field of environmental economics, covering the economic aspects of climate change, biodiversity and resource depletion, as well as broader social and political aspects. He will combine his university professorship at the UvA with his professorship at Oxford University. The appointment will take effect on 1 November 2020.

Rick van der Ploeg
Rick van der Ploeg (photo: Pieter van Dorp van Vliet)

Global warming, deterioration of biodiversity and air quality, and increasing scarcity of raw materials are among the major social problems around the world. Interest in these themes is increasing - among citizens, but also among companies, insurers, (central) banks, NGOs and, of course, politicians. The interests of all these stakeholders vary. For example, tightening environmental policy must be weighed against other policy goals, such as fair income policies, a strong industrial sector and a well-functioning economy. The current economic system will remain dependent on heavy pollution unless we can make the move to a better, cleaner system. This will require radical instruments that can trigger positive feedback effects that lead to fly-wheel effects.

In order to achieve these fly-wheel effects, an approach is needed in which different scientific disciplines come together. In addition to the knowledge of biologists and physicists, that of economists is crucial - on public finances, finance, microeconomics (mechanism design and risk analysis), macroeconomics, mathematical economics (system theory and complex systems) and behavioural economics (game theory). Analyses from the social sciences (political analyses) and the humanities (cultural transitions) must also be included. The Environmental Economics chair transcends the various fields that deal with the environment and the climate at the UvA, so that Van der Ploeg can - from a 'home base' at the Faculty of Economics and Business – fulfil a bridging function and establish connections between the various faculties and research groups.

About Rick van der Ploeg

Prof. Rick van der Ploeg (1956) is an Economics professor at the University of Oxford and research director of the Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies (OXCARRE). He was also a professor at the School of Business and Economics at the VU Amsterdam. Previously, he worked at the London School of Economics and held professorial positions at the European University Institute in Florence, Tilburg University and the UvA, and most recently as visiting professor of Complexity Science at Utrecht University. He has a PhD in engineering from Cambridge University and became an economist at the University of Cambridge with Nobel Prize winners Richard Stone and James Mead as mentors.

Van der Ploeg's academic interests are very broad: he makes contributions in the fields of macroeconomics, international economics, political economics, environmental economics and resource economics. As a professor at Oxford, he focuses mainly on the economics of natural resources and environmental economics. He has published an exceptionally large number of influential articles in leading scientific journals.

Van der Ploeg was also active as a politician. He was a Member of Parliament (and spokesperson for Finance) for the PvdA and Under-Secretary of State for Culture and Media in the Kok II Cabinet. In addition, he is an active participant in social debates. As an economist, he has held numerous advisory positions at international organisations such as the IMF, the European Commission, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

About university professorships

University professors are expected to stimulate scientific developments that transcend traditional disciplines, and to make an important contribution to the profiling of the university. They are not affiliated with one specific field or faculty. Following the appointment of Rick van der Ploeg, there are now seven university professors at the UvA. The others are: Tobias Blanke, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Natali Helberger, Ivana Išgum, Maarten de Rijke and Patti Valkenburg.