EfD South Africa director, Martine Visser, has been awarded the Governance and Economics of Ecological Infrastructure Research Chair presented by The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) and co-funded by DSI/NRF-DEA/WRC Water RDI Roadmap.
The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) aims to strengthen and improve research and innovation at South African public universities through the appointment and long-term investment of Research Chairs. Recently Professor Martine Visser, director at EfD South Africa was awarded a Research Chair focusing on Governance and Economics of Ecological Infrastructure which supports the implementation of national research and development policies related to ecological infrastructure and nature-based solutions.
Martine Visser also hopes to use this platform to expand research within the newly restructured Natural Capital Collaborative (NatCap), an EfD project which aims to improve the knowledge and empirical experience of valuing ecosystem services and biodiversity, water systems, and sustainable agriculture in order to better account for these services throughout the Global South.
“This research chair presents a unique opportunity to bring economic behavior and nature-based solutions into the same room with a combined long-term goal of resilient ecosystems and livelihoods,” explains Martine Visser.
The role of behavioral economics
Behavioral Economics is a scientific field/discipline which can help promote a unified understanding of ‘pro-social’ behavior and has been a primary focus for Martine Visser in recent years. Pro-social behavior can be derived from the fair distribution of rights and responsibilities of shared resources (e.g. freshwater, climate, marine ecosystems, and biodiversity) but also focuses on society’s needs for joint provision of ecological public goods such as water infrastructure, wetlands, and soil conservation.
“This Research Chair allows us to highlight behavioral insights as a tool to understand economic infrastructure and development and encourage sustainable livelihood development within a long-term nature-based solutions headspace,” states Martine Visser.
Spearheading research development and innovation
Through this Chair, Martine proposes to spearhead research, development, and innovation that will explore ways to unlock the resources needed for creating resilient ecosystems and associated future-proof ecological infrastructure that addresses climate variability, urbanization, water scarcity, economic upliftment, and food security. The Chair aims to promote collaborative interlinked research within public universities as well as between entry-level and experienced researchers.
“I’m excited to be able to draw together a diverse array of stakeholders, academics, policymakers, and those working on the ground, with new exciting projects. And support post-grad students and early career researchers to develop their career path within an exciting avenue of applied research” explains Martine Visser.
Martine has identified three core work packages that will be the primary focus for research under this Chair, namely: behavioral nudges and insights, innovation/community-driven solutions and development, poverty, and livelihoods.
By: Dr. Michelle Blanckenberg