COAG water policy reform agenda is used as a backdrop to illustrate how the ideas, propositions and recommendations being developed by ecological economists differ from those that have been developed by conventional economists. Ecological economics is a new trans-discipline, characterised by models, that take the laws of nature seriously; a vision that economies are nested within and dependent upon maintenance of a global ecological system; and a concern for the welfare of people in this generation and in future ones. Ecological economics seeks to understand the underlying and fundamental causes of environmental degradation and the means to redress them. Efficiency is not seen as a sacrosanct objective but maintenance of the integrity of our global ecosystem is. The market is important but not the source of all information. Recognition of uncertainty, a willingness to consult with and use social welfare functions set by communities; and attention to institutional issues are part of the core agenda.