Why Socio-metabolic Studies are Central to Ecological Economics


  • Simron J Singh University of Waterloo
  • Simran Talwar University of Technology
  • Megha Shenoy The Valley School




Socio-metabolic Research (SMR); Industrial Ecology; Ecological Economics; India; Material Flow Analysis (MFA).


Global material extraction has tripled since the 1970s, with more than 100 billion tonnes of materials entering the world economy each year. Only 8.6% of this is recycled, while 61% ends up as waste and emissions that is the leading cause of global warming, and large-scale pollution of land, rivers, and oceans. This paper introduces Socio-metabolic Research (SMR) and demonstrates its relevance for ecological economics scholarship in India. SMR is a research framework for studying the biophysical stocks and flows of material and energy associated with societal production and consumption. SMR is widely conducted in Europe, US, and China. In India, it is still at an infant stage. In this paper, we review pioneering efforts of SMR in India, and make the case for advancing the field in the sub-continent. The crucial question is whether India can source materials and energy necessary for human development in a sustainable manner.


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Author Biographies

Simron J Singh, University of Waterloo

Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave W, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada

Simran Talwar, University of Technology

Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney Bldg 10, 235 Jones St, Ultimo NSW 2007, Australia

Megha Shenoy, The Valley School

The Valley School, Thatguni Post, Kanakpura Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka ­– 560082


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