It is my great honor to present Partha Dasgupta in the #MeetTopEnvEcon series. I had previously met Partha only briefly at various conferences, and thus it was a pleasure to talk to him more extensively during the Climate Ethics and Climate Economics: Discounting the Future conference in Oxford this year. Once you discuss with him you easily understand why it was he who pioneered the nexus on environment, development and economics; his works with Geoffrey Heal on the optimal extraction of non-renewables are the foundation stone for any resource economist these days; together with the likes of Kenneth Arrow he urges governments to cease regarding GDP as a measure of prosperity to more holistic measures like inclusive wealth; and he is one of only a handful of economists who dares to address the problem of the optimal population size.
During the years, Partha published more than 270 scientific articles and books like An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution, Economic Theory and Exhaustible Resources, or the beautiful little Economics: A Very Short Introduction. For these contributions he was awarded a wealth of honors and awards, from several honorary doctor titles over to fellowships in the most prestigious societies, and was furthermore bestowed the knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. These honors are clearly well-deserved.
One meets few people in life that quickly leave a lasting impression, and I feel that Partha is one of them. Not only because of his vast knowledge that he readily shares and his quick wit, but also because of his character. I have found him to be extremely kind, modest and down-to-earth, which tend to be character traits that too often disappear quickly in most people that reach Partha’s standing. Not so with Partha, which makes it that much more enjoyable to discuss with him.
Finally, I would like to deeply thank Partha for investing such an extensive amount of time on the interview. I hope the readers will appreciate the insights gained here.