Greening the economy: economic benefits of sustainable development
EEPSEA – Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia
1 Nov 2012
31 Oct 2016
Balancing human demand for land and food with the need to protect the world’s dwindling natural resources is a global challenge. For developing nations, the challenge can seem insurmountable in the face of booming populations, entrenched poverty and limited institutional know-how for creating sustainable resource management policies. Developing nations can also miss out on tapping into the vast economic benefits that can come with reducing environmental damage and over-exploitation.
The Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) project is helping nations in Southeast Asia towards an environmentally sustainable and economically profitable future through investment in local research, training and policy development. The aim of the project is to help the countries and regional political organizations of Southeast Asia evaluate the economic and environmental impacts of projects, programs, and policies through the local capacity that it helps develop. The project also develops local capacity to analyze environmental problems, and use economic tools to find economically viable solutions that bring the minimum environmental damages.
The WorldFish project is being funded through a well-established partnership between the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The four-year project builds upon nearly two decades of work by the IDRC and SIDA to support capacity building for environmental economics research in Southeast Asia.
The project is taking a three-pronged approach to improve local research capacity and environmental economic researchers’ ability to influence policy.
Supporting Research Efforts
Three types of research grants are available through the project, each responding to differing levels of researchers’ capacity to conduct environmental economic research. Competitive research grants are available to high-capacity graduate student researchers in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. These grants are training the next generation of environmental economics researchers. Support for study and field trips to developed countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK is also included. Small research grants are funding researchers from provincial colleges and universities in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia and Myanmar – countries where capacity-building is needed most – and emphasize collaboration with high-capacity countries to maximize learning opportunities. The final category of research grants is for cross-country research projects that focus on shared environmental challenges and capture insights and perspectives from multiple nations. These projects are extending the work of previous initiatives and aim to bridge the gap between research and policy by putting research findings into the hands of policy makers and relevant regional organizations.
A cornerstone of the EEPSEA program is researcher mentoring. Researchers new to the field of environmental economics are teamed up with international and regional experts, who can provide valuable guidance and encouragement throughout the research project.
Training a Research Community
Ongoing professional development is an essential research activity. The project is bolstering research capacity in Southeast Asia by supporting researchers’ training needs. Short-term regional training courses that focus on environmental economic research tools, and in-country training courses for low-capacity countries, are both enhancing research know-how in the region.
The project is providing support for national and regional environmental economics associations to hold regular meetings, and helping to establish an EEPSEA alumni network. These activities foster regional collaboration and knowledge exchange, and create a vibrant and interactive community of researchers. Support for researchers to attend regional and
international conferences and courses, is also provided. In addition, annual conferences and researchers’ workshops will bring together grant holders to share their research findings and policy implications.
Communicating Results for Policy Impact
Ensuring that research is translated into practice is one of the ultimate goals of the project. Researchers are encouraged to engage with policy-makers through policy-maker forums and dialogue sessions. The project also providing researchers with support to produce high-quality research reports, policy briefs for policy-makers, and information booklets for natural resource managers.
The media and judiciary can play an important role in improving environmental management. The project is training ‘green’ members of the judiciary and environmental journalists in the region to ensure that environmental economic considerations are not overlooked by these institutions.
By building the discipline of environmental economics at the national and regional level, the complex interaction between the environment and economics will remain at the forefront of future policy development. Taking into account the impact of economy-wide impacts of environmental policies, and the environmental impacts of economic policies, will ensure that the pursuit of sustainability will also benefit the poor.
Photo credit: Lloyd Jumpay courtesy of SEARCA