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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Climate change poses a threat to reliable supplies of drinking water in rural areas. EfD Central America (CATIE) is working with rural communities in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua to develop solutions.
Charcoal is the most commonly used cooking fuel for urban households in Tanzania. But charcoal use has complex implications for climate change, poverty, and health.
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.
Who controls the forests in Kenya? Who benefits from conservation? These are some of the questions that EfD-Kenya has been evaluating in 2013.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Within the unique wetland area Mpumalanga Lake District lies the site of a proposed, and controversial, opencast coal mine, the Lusthof colliery. It will require a preliminary ‘set-aside’ of about 70 million South African rands.
“Key messages resulting from the multi-year study include redistributing management responsibility between central and local governments, and allowing localized decision on reforming state forest enterprises,” says Jintao Xu.
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.
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.
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.
EfD researchers show that the Payments for Ecosystem Services program has no positive nor negative effects on people's income or jobs. And in the first three years of its implementation, the program had no effect on the deforestation rate. However, in the following five years, the program did slow down deforestation.
A child was killed by bees, and the fish did not survive. These were two sad outcomes of the investments in beehives and fishponds as alternative income sources for fishermen in marine protected areas in Tanzania.
Martine Visser is part of an inter-disciplinary research group at UCT working on Climate Change and affiliated with the African Climate Development Initiative.
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)
ESKOM (national Energy Service Provider) has contracted Martine Visser, Grant Smith (masters student) and Steven Davies to do research on consumer understanding of billing practices.
In another ongoing project with Kerri Brick (PhD student) dealing with risk preferences and constraints to adaptation, as well as the role of micro financing and insurance amongst informal dwellers in South Africa in dealing with Climate Change.
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.
The third wave of the survey has just been completed by June this year and since then data capturing (of data from 2011 and 2012) has been ongoing.
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.
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.
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.
In 1994 the Khomani San “bushmen” community successfully reclaimed land inside and outside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Yet despite ownership of a portion of land still part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Khomani San community has never directly benefited from tourism revenues from entrance fees.
Flower production around Lake Naivasha and its role in attaining inclusive and sustainable growth: EfD Kenya researchers Dr. Wilfred Nyangena and Geophrey Sikei are contributing to the European Report on Development 2011/2012
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 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.
This policy interaction provides clear examples of how research based results can be used to inform decision-making by government authorities.
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.
A big sign made by EfD-Central America and CATIE provides information for visitors and the importance of donations to enter the Park.
ICAP Training Course in Costa Rica. From 19-28 March 2012. Applications deadline extended to 20 December 2011 (previously 15 December 2011).
Experts from around the world converge to discuss new approaches and policies for understanding the links between ecosystem services and evaluating the effects of agricultural development strategies and human well-being.
“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.
A highly selected interdisciplinary group of experts working on water and climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean met in Panama City, Panama from Thursday, September 29th to Saturday, October 1st, 2011.
Project will conduct socioeconomic studies of the links between water and climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean
The project seeks to promote capacity building for research, analysis and evaluation of the impacts of climate change and water, using the tools of environmental economics.
Arranca proyecto de estudios socioeconómicos de los vínculos entre agua y cambio climático en América Latina y el Caribe
Con el proyecto se busca promover la creación de capacidad de investigación, análisis y la evaluación del impacto del cambio climático y agua, utilizando las herramientas de la economía ambiental
Success in achievement. Congratulations!
Participants from Latin America and the Caribbean completed the Environmental and Resource Economics Training Course on Impact Evaluation by LACEEP at CATIE