Towards a Viable Alternative

The following paper by Kurt R. Leube* was presented at the IV. ECAEF/CEPROM Conference on ‘Towards a Viable Alternative: Markets and Entrepreneurship to Protect the Environment’, 10 December 2019. Initiated by the European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation based in the Principality of Liechtenstein, this academic conference series is dedicated to the eminent late French scholar Jacques Rueff. The co-operation with CEPROM (Le Centre d’Etudes Prospectives pour Monaco) was highly appreciated.

Towards a Viable Alternative: Markets and Entrepreneurship to Protect the Environment

A brief introduction by Kurt R. Leube

Scarcity of means to satisfy given ends is an omnipresent condition of life and all conscious human actions profoundly affect the environment as they involve not only choices or trade-offs. At all times incentives also determine how nature’s resources are allocated and used. Even the most humble decisions in our daily routine leave traces and footprints.

Environmental problems thus are challenging, convoluted and typically defy simple solutions. Policies aimed at the protection or the control of the natural world and its riches can easily be traced back even far beyond Roman times. Throughout the ages, in essence these measures were primarily intended to both regulate resource utilization and govern the relationship between citizens and the ever-changing ecological conditions. Now and then, they were also designed to improve sanitary quality.

Most likely due to the distinctly complex character of the problems connected with nature, it always was and today more than ever is implicitly taken for granted that people’s imputed selfish actions lack perception and prudence. The somewhat rash conclusion therefore is that individuals can neither be trusted with the protection nor the conservation of their natural surroundings. Moreover, this claim asserts that their self-interested behavior almost unavoidably will also trigger the Tragedy of the Commons. According to G. Hardin (1915-2003) who coined this famous expression, these ‘socially suboptimal’ situations occur whenever materialistic people deplete natural resources to their advantage without considering the well being of a group or society as a whole. In other words, it is implied that people act contrary to the so-called common good, a mantra that is elusively defined as neither excludable nor rival in consumption or usage …

Continue reading ->
Towards a Viable Alternative (.docx)


* Kurt R. Leube is a guest professor at several leading European and South American universities and was a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. He serves as academic director of the European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation (ECAEF), based in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Educated in Germany and Austria, he is internationally recognized as one of the closest disciples of the late F. A. von Hayek (Nobel Prize 1974).


List of all Papers of the Conference

Kurt Leube:
Towards a Viable Alternative (.docx)

Terry L. Anderson:
Nature and Markets (.docx)

Johan Norberg:
Apocalypes Not (.docx)

Alex Kaiser:
Saving Nature from Politics (.docx)

Hardy Bouillon:
On the Misuse of Reason and Science (.docx)

Henrique Schneider:
Climate Change and Global Governance (.docx)

Pedro Schwartz:
The Tragedy of the Commons and Emerging Property Rights