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Policy Interaction Stories

Policy advice is one of the pillars of the EfD initiative, together with research and academic training. EfD strives to build a bridge between training and research, on the one hand, and policy design and decision making on the other. We are convinced that local academic capacity in environmental economics could greatly enhance the sustainability of economic policies. In order to have such impact, we need to invest in the interface between academia and government policy formulation. Below are some examples of successful policy interactions.


Putting a value on Cape Town’s green spaces

The people of Cape Town are being given a chance to tell city managers just how much they value the natural green spaces, manicured parks, sports fields, and street trees in their neighbourhoods. And what they say may help park authorities decide how to prioritise their spending, at a time when there is growing pressure to develop open green spaces for housing or business opportunities.


Surprising finding: water heating behaviour in SA

CAPE TOWN: The single most effective thing that South Africans can do to reduce their energy use related to heating water in their homes, is to switch off hot water cylinders half an hour before they are most likely to bath or shower. Those people who do switch their cylinders on and off during the day, as an energy saving measure, tend to turn them off after the geysers have refilled and reheated, which is wasteful of energy. 


Farmers are willing to pay for irrigation

How can charging money for something that was free be a good idea for poor farmers? It turns out that pricing irrigation water will help improve Ethiopian farmers’ efficiency in water use, increase agricultural and food production, and make the population less vulnerable to climate change. One unique contribution of environmental economists is that they collect data from the field and then calculate what natural resources are really worth.


Rural people must deal with threats to drinking water

People in Central America’s rural areas will face a 20 percent decline of drinking water availability by 2050, estimates show. EfD researchers are now collecting information from 8 000 households in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica. The primary aim is to map capabilities and obstacles for communities to adapt, and to provide community leaders tools and skills to respond to drier scenarios. EfD findings also support governmental adaptation policies.


Research on energy use for poverty reduction reaches grassroots

To make hydroelectric power work better in rural communities, EfD Tanzania researchers decided to have in-depth contact with the grassroots through community-based and civil society organizations. Findings from a study on management of the hydropower plants in the southern highlands region show that rural electrification has proven to boost farmers’ earnings: Electric power increases the processing and value addition of agricultural products, which helps farmers fetch premium market prices.


Mixed strategy farming is best in face of climate change

The South African node of the EfD network, the Environmental Economics Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town is working towards influencing South African policy in four key areas: climate change, biodiversity conservation, marine fisheries, and energy. One of the recent studies identified mixed farming as a crucial strategy to adapt to climate change, particularly for small farmers.


Subsidies delivered through the water tariff are not reaching the poor

Like many water utilities across the globe, Nairobi City Water and Sewer Company implements an increasing block tariff. Recent research conducted by EfD Kenya, however, finds that the increasing block tariff implemented in Nairobi does not effectively target subsidies to low-income households. Estimates suggest that non-poor households receive over 80 per cent of the subsidies.


Pollution tax will save lives and spur green growth

Half a million premature deaths a year due to air pollution. More carbon emissions than any other country. Excessive energy use per unit of GDP. China suffers many problems due to monopoly and price regulation in the energy sector, according to a policy research report from EfD China. In response, marketization reform, deregulation and pollution taxes, including carbon taxes, are highly recommended by the researchers.


Behavior change will improve air and public health

Air pollution caused by wood-burning in homes for cooking and heating purposes is one of the most important environmental problems in Chile, affecting thousands of families and causing early mortality. EfD Chile researchers study families’ and producers’ economic behavior, and advise the government to incorporate effective economic incentives to design better pollution control policies.


Community buy-in and conservancies: a Southern African perspective

Development-focused eco-tourism partnerships between local communities and private enterprises are more likely to succeed if the communities living on the edge of protected areas are able to make direct links between the conservation of an area, and their own tangible benefits, the IUCN’s World Parks Congress heard recently.


EfD Researchers Suggest Solutions to Reduce Traffic in Beijing

A plan to reduce automobile traffic in Beijing was in the hands of the city’s mayor in late 2013. EfD China played a major role in figuring out what strategies would – and would not  – be likely to reduce the pollution and congestion that Beijing residents have been facing as a result of economic growth.


Sustainable Fisheries Law Promotes Reliable Fishing in Chile

 “We make the connection between the fishers’ living conditions and the fish stock’s status.”  The newest EfD Center is not a newcomer to influencing fisheries policy.  The Research Nucleus on Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the Universidad de Concepcion has been active for several years in bringing an economics perspective into fisheries management in Chile.


    Tourist Payments and Local Stewardship Can Help Preserve South African Ecosystems

    Africa’s wild animals are the world’s heritage, but they live on the land of indigenous peoples. Researchers at EfD-South Africa have been working with the South African National Parks agency (SANParks) on the challenge of balancing conservation, affordability, and community land rights in the nation’s famous wildlife areas.


    Ethiopian Communities Work Together to Conserve Forests

    Forest conservation is getting more attention in Ethiopia, from the highest level of government to the community level. As part of these efforts, the EfD center in Ethiopia, Environmental Economics Policy Forum for Ethiopia (EEPFE), based at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI), has been addressing the issue for long period of time and reflected its ideas in different forums.


    EPRU hosted EfD Policy Day 2013 in Cape Town

    On Wednesday 23 October, EPRU hosted the EfD Policy day at Commodore Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa. The policy day brought together policy makers from various governmental levels, practitioners, NGOs, international and national researchers.


    EfD Knowledge Aid

    In a brief interview with UNU-Wider Wisdom Akpalu, Associate Professor of Economics at SUNY-Farmingdale, NY, shares his view on the effectiveness of development knowledge aid and the impact of the “Gothenburg mafia” on Africa. A maybe misleading expression which relates to Wisdom himself and his former PhD colleagues who studied at the Environmental Economics Unit of the Economics Department at Gothenburg University.


    Climate change research in COMESA region

    EfD-Kenya fellows Wilfred Nyangena and Geophrey Sikei, were engaged in the review and synthesis of literature on climate change research in the COMESA region and how it has influenced policy.


    Biofuels increase incomes of poor, EfD Ethiopia study shows

    Contrary to the notion that increased biofuels production will undermine the food security of developing countries, EfD research results show that it can increase production of both food cereals and cash crops in Ethiopia. However, the effects vary by region.


      Behavioral project on Climate Change

      Martine Visser, Grant Smith and Kerri Brick have been involved in a Behavioral project on Climate Change as part of a joint initiative by IDEA42 (a Harvard Based Behavioral Economics group and RUBEN at UCT.


        African Climate Development Initiative

        Martine Visser is part of an inter-disciplinary research group at UCT working on Climate Change and affiliated with the African Climate Development Initiative.


        Legal Resource Centre and AWARD

        Martine Visser and Jane Turpie advised the Legal Resource Centre and AWARD (NGOs working on behalf of the public and especially poor stakeholders such as farm workers)


          Water Research Commission on water savings and billing practices

          Martine Visser and Grant Smith (masters student) is also involved in a project with the Water Research Commission on water savings and billing practices where we are using various interventions (including social norms) to elicit behavioral change.


            Potential impacts of MPA

            Senior research fellow Jane Turpie presented a talk on the potential impacts of MPA expansion on commercial fisheries at the annual meeting of the Marine Protected Area Forum, a meeting of over 70 managers and researchers involved in MPAs in southern Africa.


            Should the squeaky wheel get all the oil?

            Payments for ecosystem services in Costa Rica: Does it matter who gets paid and why for the efficiency of payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs aimed to reduce deforestation and forest degradation? This is being studied by EfD Central America researchers.


              EfD Tanzania Policy Board gets researchers and policy makers communicating

              Four years ago, Razack Lokina, Research Fellow and Director of EfD Tanzania, took the initiative to establish a research policy board for his EfD Center. The aim was to facilitate transfer of research findings to decision makers and other stakeholders, as well as to bring in ideas about what types of research are actually needed by society.


                Stakeholder Meeting to Discuss Priority Research and Training Needs

                EEPFE held a half-day meeting with representatives from four of the major government-level stakeholders working on environmental issues- the Ministry of Water and Energy, Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry of Agriculture - Natural Resource Directorate and Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority - to discuss priority research and training needs on May 3, 2012.


                  Promoting EEPFE and Policy Interaction

                  Promoting EEPFE in different platforms has been a resourceful means of increasing awareness of the existence of the forum and hence a way of promoting environmental economics throughout the country. These platforms are an effective means of disseminating resources such as discussion papers and brochures and a great opportunity for policy interaction. With this objective in mind, EEPFE has participated in high level policy dialogues and workshops through exhibitions and displays.


                  Climate Change hits Africa the hardest – what can be done?

                  Ethiopia risking average income cut of 30 percent The impacts of climate change on agricultural productivity may reduce the Ethiopian average income by as much as 30 percent within the next 50 years. This and other EfD findings on how climate change is hitting Africa, and in particular Ethiopia, were presented to 60 workshop participants from government, NGOs and multilateral organizations assembled in Addis Abeba. Strategies for adaptation, mitigation and a stronger position in international climate negotiations were discussed.


                  REDD may lead to the revival of colonialism

                  “If we aren’t careful, a system like REDD may lead to a revision of colonialism. The crucial problem is that we in Tanzania don´t have the required facts about our own forests,” said Professor Claude Mung'ong'o of University of Dar es Salaam's Institute of Resource Assessment to the audience of policy makers and researchers attending the Policy Day of the fifth EfD Annual Meeting 2011.