Professor Daniel O'Neill

Professor Daniel O'Neill


I am a Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Barcelona, President of the European Society for Ecological Economics, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds. My research focuses on the relationships between resource use and human well-being, and the changes that would be needed to achieve a sustainable economy within planetary boundaries.

One of the ideas that I have explored in depth is the concept of a 'steady-state economy'. Simply put, this is an economy where resource use and waste emissions are stabilised, and kept within ecological limits. Stabilising resource use may have important consequences for national economies, and I investigate how to manage these in my research. Some of the changes that may be required are explored in my book Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources (co-authored with Rob Dietz), which has also been made into a short documentary film by UK film-maker Tom Bliss.

More recently, my colleagues and I have assessed the environmental and social performance of ~150 countries with respect to the requirements of a good life, and the constraints imposed by planetary boundaries. We have published two major studies on this topic, both in the journal Nature Sustainability. In the first study, we determined that no country is currently meeting the basic needs of its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use, while in the second study, we discovered that countries are transgressing planetary boundaries faster than they are meeting people’s basic needs. Our results suggest that major changes are needed to both physical and social provisioning systems if all people are to live a good life within planetary boundaries.

You can explore the results of both studies on our interactive website.

In the video below, Giorgos Kallis interviews me about the findings of the first study:


  • President, European Society for Ecological Economics

Research interests


Journal Articles

  • O’Neill, D.W. (2022). Herman E. Daly (1938–2022). Nature Sustainability, in press. doi:10.1038/s41893-022-01041-0 New! Open Access!
  • Hickel, J., Kallis, G., Jackson, T., O’Neill, D.W., Schor, J.B., Steinberger, J.K., Victor, P.A, Ürge-Vorsatz, D. (2022). Degrowth can work — here’s how science can help. Nature 612, 400-403. doi:10.1038/d41586-022-04412-x New! Open Access!
  • Slameršak, A., Kallis, G., O’Neill, D.W. (2022). Energy requirements and carbon emissions for a low-carbon energy transition. Nature Communications, in press. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-33976-5 New!
  • Hickel, J., O’Neill, D.W., Fanning, A.L., and Zoomkawala, H. (2022). National responsibility for ecological breakdown: a fair-shares assessment of resource use, 1970-2017. The Lancet Planetary Health 6 (4), e342-e349. doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00044-4 New! Open Access!
  • Brand-Correa, L., Brook, A., Büchs, M., Meier, P., Naik, Y., and O’Neill, D.W. (2022). Economics for people and planet—moving beyond the neoclassical paradigm. The Lancet Planetary Health 6 (4), e371-e379. doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00063-8 New! Open Access!
  • Apostel, A., and O’Neill, D.W. (2022). A one-off wealth tax for Belgium: Revenue potential, distributional impact, and environmental effects. Ecological Economics 196, 107385. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2022.107385 New!
  • Fanning, A.L., O’Neill, D.W., Hickel, J., and Roux, N. (2022). The social shortfall and ecological overshoot of nations. Nature Sustainability 5, 26-36. doi:10.1038/s41893-021-00799-z New!
  • Vogel, J., Steinberger, J.K., O'Neill, D.W., Lamb, W.F., Krishnakumar, J. (2021). Socio-economic conditions for satisfying human needs at low energy use: An international analysis of social provisioning. Global Environmental Change 69, 102287. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2021.102287 Open Access!
  • O’Neill, D.W. (2020). Beyond green growth. Nature Sustainability 3, 260-261. doi:10.1038/s41893-020-0499-4
  • Fanning, A.L., O'Neill, D.W., Büchs, M. (2020). Provisioning systems for a good life within planetary boundaries. Global Environmental Change 64, 102135. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102135
  • Fanning, A.L., O'Neill, D.W., (2019). The Wellbeing–Consumption paradox: Happiness, health, income, and carbon emissions in growing versus non-growing economies. Journal of Cleaner Production 212, 810-821. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.11.223
  • O'Neill, D.W., Fanning, A.L., Lamb, W.F., and Steinberger, J.K. (2018). A good life for all within planetary boundaries. Nature Sustainability 1, 88-95. doi:10.1038/s41893-018-0021-4 Open Access!
  • Marshall, A.P., and O'Neill, D.W. (2018). The Bristol Pound: A tool for localisation? Ecological Economics 146, 273-281. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.11.002
  • O'Neill, D.W., Fanning, A.L. (2017). New beans to count. Alternatives Journal 43 (1), 42-44.
  • Hardt, L., and O'Neill, D.W. (2017). Ecological macroeconomic models: Assessing current developments. Ecological Economics 134, 198-211. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.12.027 Open Access!
  • Cosme, I., Santos, R., and O'Neill, D.W. (2017). Assessing the degrowth discourse: A review and analysis of academic degrowth policy proposals. Journal of Cleaner Production 149, 321-334. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.02.016
  • Fanning, A.L., and O'Neill, D.W. (2016). Tracking resource use relative to planetary boundaries in a steady-state framework: A case study of Canada and Spain. Ecological Indicators 69, 836-849. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.04.034
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2015). The proximity of nations to a socially sustainable steady-state economy. Journal of Cleaner Production 108, 1213-1231. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.07.116 Open Access!
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2015). What should be held steady in a steady-state economy? Interpreting Daly's definition at the national level. Journal of Industrial Ecology 19 (4), 552-563. doi:10.1111/jiec.12224
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2012). Measuring progress in the degrowth transition to a steady state economy. Ecological Economics 84, 221-231. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.05.020
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2010). Economic growth: enough is enough. Nature 468 (7326), 897. doi:10.1038/468897b
  • O'Neill, D.W., and Abson, D.J. (2009). To settle of protect? A global analysis of net primary production in parks and urban areas. Ecological Economics 69, 319-327. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.08.028
  • O'Neill, D.W., Tyedmers, P.H., and Beazley, K.F. (2007). Human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) in Nova Scotia, Canada. Regional Environmental Change 7, 1-14. doi:10.1007/s10113-006-0021-1

Book Chapters

Reports, Policy Briefs, and Conference Papers

  • da Silva Vieira, R., Domingos, T., Sousa, T., Teixeira, R., Felício, L., Morais, T., O’Neill, D.W., Ribeiro, T., Santos, J., Teixeira, C., Lopes Rodrigues, O., Líbano Monteiro, M., Almeida, M., and Canaveira, P. (2021). Environmental Boundaries: The Intergenerational Impacts of Biophysical Resource Use. Final report. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Associação para o Desenvolvimento do Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon.
  • Stratford, B. and O’Neill, D.W. (2020). The Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery. Policy Brief No. 5. Policy Leeds, Leeds, UK. doi:10.5518/100/59.
  • Stratford, B. and O’Neill, D.W. (2020). The UK’s Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery. Full Report. University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
  • Büchs, M., Baltruszewicz, M., Bohnenberger, K., Busch, J., Dyke, J., Elf, P., Fanning, A., Fritz, M., Garvey, A., Hardt, L., Hofferberth, E., Ivanova, D., Janoo, A., O’Neill, D.W., Guillen-Royo, M., Sahakian, M., Steinberger, J.K., Trebeck, K., and Corlet-Walker, C. (2020). Wellbeing Economics for the COVID-19 Recovery: Ten Principles to Build Back Better. WEAll Briefing Paper. Wellbeing Economy Alliance, UK.
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2017). A Sustainable Economy. Policy Brief for the Progressive Economics Group.
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2013). How close are countries to a socially sustainable steady-state economy? Results from the Degrowth Accounts. 10th Biennal Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics, Lille, France, June 18-21.
  • O'Neill, D.W., Dietz, R., and Jones, N. (Eds.), 2010. Enough Is Enough: Ideas for a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources. The Report of the Steady State Economy Conference. CASSE and Economic Justice for All, Leeds, UK.
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2010). Measuring progress: indicators for degrowth. Second Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity. Barcelona, Spain, March 26-29.
  • Bowen, A., Forster, P.M., Gouldson, A., Hubacek, K., Martin, R., O'Neill, D.W., Rap, A., and Rydge, J. (2009). The Implications of the Economic Slowdown for Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Targets. Working Paper 11, Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), University of Leeds, UK.
  • O'Neill, D.W. (2008). Steady state economies and recession: the same or different? Preliminary results of an empirical analysis. Pages 116-122 in Proceedings of the Green Economics Conference 2008. Green Economics Institute, Oxford, UK.

Popular Press

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Member of the European Society for Ecological Economics

Research groups and institutes

  • Economics and Policy for Sustainability
  • Sustainability Research Institute

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>