The Environmental-Economics Policy Research Unit (EPRU) is the South African branch of EfD. EPRU is based at the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. EPRU is a collaborative association of researchers specializing in environmental and natural resource issues. Dr Tony Leiman is the Director of EPRU since January 2010.
The unit was established in 2007 to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction in Southern Africa. To achieve this EPRU aims to enhance the effectiveness of environmental policy making by adopting a threefold strategy of research, teaching and policy consultation.
During the last five years, EPRU has built extensive policy-relevant experience in research pertaining to ecosystems management, bioersity conservation, air quality and water quality. The centre also has previous research capacity and experience relevant to the socio-economics of agriculture, fisheries and conservation. Specifically, this strain of research has been concerned with farm workers’ wages, land use and rural poverty, inequality among subsistence fishermen, as well as the role of community-based wildlife conservation in poverty mitigation. EPRU has successfully worked with a number of local and national stakeholders on medium-size projects, such as The South African National Parks in the wildlife sector, The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in the water sector, The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on marine and coastal management, and the City of Cape Town on air quality management and energy savings. In the next few years, EPRU plans to bid for larger research projects that will enhance collaboration among EPRU research fellows, with other researchers and, importantly, with key stakeholders.
EPRU research fellows are involved in the teaching of environmental and resource economics courses in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. EPRU also has the capacity to run short training programs for policy makers and civil servants. Such courses inform decision makers of the relevant environmental economic tools available to improve policy making and analysis.
EPRU strives to produce and disseminate policy-relevant research of a high academic quality on current environmental economic issues in South Africa. A core activity of the EfD initiative is international research collaboration on poverty-environment issues and EPRU’s research agenda is thus driven in part by EfD partnership projects.
3. Policy consulting
EPRU’s main objectives in terms of policy interaction are to (i) be a resource where high quality research and economic opinion on environmental policy issues can be sought by policy-makers, and (ii) be a resource which engages with policy-makers in respect of agenda setting, policy design, formulation and implementation. EPRU’s work caters to the demands of domestic institutions as well as international organizations. EPRU research fellows have extensive links with policy makers and practitioners in South Africa and have worked with various government units. Information is disseminated in the form of policy briefs and research papers.