Since 1993 the Beijer Institute annually organizes informal workshops for internationally leading ecologists and economists at the island of Askö in the Baltic Sea. The Askö meetings have generated unique cooperation between these disciplines.

Twenty years ago the disciplines of ecology and economy stood far apart. Ecologists and economists generally viewed one another with suspicion, and economic growth and environmental protection seemed incompatible. When Professor Karl-Göran Mäler in the beginning of the nineties became the director of the new Beijer Institute it was with a conviction that the big environmental challenges could only be solved if ecological and socioeconomic systems were viewed as coupled, which called for transdisciplinary cooperation between economists and ecologists.
To pave the way for such cooperation he decided in 1993 to organize a workshop at the Askö Laboratory, a marine field station off the Swedish east coast. The meeting was to be informal with a selected, open minded group of people discussing a given theme.
-I was keen on creating a warm and open atmosphere so that the participants would feel comfortable in interacting with people from different scientific backgrounds, says Karl-Göran Mäler. Thus, we spent the first evening eating, drinking wine and singing together.

The first Askö meeting was a great success and the discussions and comparisons of economic and ecological models resulted in an article in Bioscience titled “Ecologists and economists can find common ground”.