Ecological economics brings together and connects different disciplines, within the natural and social sciences but especially between these broad areas. As the name suggests, the field is dominated by researchers with a background in economics and ecology.

An important motivation for the emergence of ecological economics has been criticism on the assumptions and approaches of traditional (mainstream) environmental and resource economics. Ecological economics presents a more pluralistic approach to the study of environmental problems and policy solutions, characterized by systems perspectives, adequate physical and biological contexts, and a focus on long-term environmental sustainability.

Ecological economics can be regarded as a version of environmental science with much emphasis on social, political, economic and behavioral issues.