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Economics of Ecological Restoration  

Md Sayed Iftekhar and Maksym Polyakov

Ecological restoration is a complex activity that requires integrating biophysical, social, and economic factors. It requires the engagement of various stakeholders with potentially competing interests and goals. Economists have developed methods to elicit peoples’ values and preferences related to restoration. These economic tools provide information that allows decision makers to better understand how to best allocate scarce resources among alternative restoration projects and activities. The field of restoration economics can be traced back to the 1970s, but it did not gain popularity until the late 2000s. A review of the literature indicates that only about 6% of academic papers on ecological restoration have used economic tools and instruments. Economic tools and instruments can be applied at five stages of a restoration project: (a) understanding the causes and processes of degradation, (b) setting restoration targets and policies, (c) project planning and prioritization, (d) project implementation, and (e) ex-post assessment and evaluation of restoration outcomes. Generally speaking, economic tools and analysis are not extensively applied in all five stages of a restoration project, which potentially limits the effectiveness of investment. Several strategies can be applied to strengthen restoration science and practices, which include the incorporation of economic analysis into the planning of ecological restoration projects, reducing the cost of economic data collection and analysis, addressing social values, establishing links between the causes of degradation and restoration outcomes, understanding of the alignment of incentives and motives, and assessment of large-scale and long-term impacts of restoration projects.


Economics of Environmental Compliance and Enforcement  

Wayne Gray and Ronald Shadbegian

Enforcement activity by regulators plays an important and sometimes underappreciated role in the effectiveness of environmental regulation by encouraging regulated entities to comply. Nearly all ex ante cost-benefit analyses assume 100% compliance with regulation. One notable exception is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 lead renovation rule in which a 75% compliance rate was assumed when estimating the ex ante benefits and costs, based on the literature regarding compliance rates in the construction sector. Why do entities comply with environmental regulation? Economists typically use deterrence models to explain the incentives for compliance. They began with simple models that used the frequency of inspections and the size of penalties to calculate the expected cost of noncompliance, but the models have since become more sophisticated along several dimensions. Dynamic penalty strategies by regulators can significantly increase the cost of being labeled a serious violator. Stochastic fluctuations in pollution levels with regular self-reporting requirements can lead firms to over-comply on average to avoid the risk of reporting violations. Inspections and enforcement actions at one facility can have general deterrence impacts at other facilities nearby as well as a specific deterrence impact at the inspected facility. Violations and penalties may impose additional costs on firms in terms of loss of reputation and pushback from customers and people living nearby. These differences in reputational costs may help explain observed heterogeneity in compliance behavior by firms. Compliance and enforcement behaviors are also affected by the institutional, legal, and scientific context in which they occur. Even with regulations set at the national level, enforcement activity is often carried out at the sub-national level, with the possibility of considerable heterogeneity across jurisdictions in terms of enforcement stringency. This is most obvious in federal countries such as the United States, where enforcement responsibilities for many regulations are delegated to state agencies, and with supra-national regulatory systems such as the European Union, where national agencies are responsible for enforcing regulations. It can also arise in a large country, where even a strong central government may have difficulty ensuring similar enforcement behavior in different regions. Empirical research also developed over time, initially testing whether enforcement activity affected compliance, then testing for heterogeneous impacts across different firms or different enforcement tools, then moving to more robust research designs. Variations in enforcement intensity have also been used to proxy for overall regulatory stringency in empirical studies of the economic impact of environmental regulation.


Economics of Fisheries Conflicts  

Ragnar Arnason

Conflicts potentially arise whenever resources are limited relative to what is desired. Conflicts are costly because to engage in them requires resources and they may cause collateral damage. Therefore, humans and other species have developed various means to avoid, deflect, and minimize conflicts. In human society, these means involve (a) customs and traditions, (b) laws and their enforcement, (c) negotiations, and (d) exchange. While analytically separable, these items are clearly interrelated and, in practice, intermingled. Their common element is the delineation and acceptance of property rights. Property rights, if sufficiently enforced, channel conflicts into exchange of valuables, that is, negotiated settlements or trade. This, as is well established in economics, has the added benefit of promoting economic efficiency. Fisheries conflicts are manifestations of human conflicts in general. It follows that fisheries conflicts are amenable to the same basic analysis as other conflicts. Cases of fisheries conflicts abound in the world. It is probably safe to assert that anytime two or more agents pursue the same fishery conflicts arise. Some of these conflicts are comparatively minor, such as disputes between two fishers about the best fishing spots. Others are more dramatic, involving armed force such as the South Africa abalone conflict. Some involve national states and the application of navies such as the cod wars between Iceland and the United Kingdom and the lobster war between Brazil and France. Most terrestrial natural resources have long since become subject to property rights, thus reducing conflicts and increasing economic efficiency of their use. This process has been much slower for fish resources, probably due to their relative unobservability and migratory nature. Nevertheless, the past several centuries have seen a creeping expansion of property rights in ocean and aquatic resources. The most noticeable of these developments have been (a) the enlargement of exclusive national economic zones (EEZs) and (b) the establishment of individual harvesting rights, the so-called individual and individual transferable quotas (IQs and ITQs). The enlargement of national EEZs has been going on for centuries. The IQs/ITQs are a much more recent phenomenon emerging in the 1970s. However, since this time, their application has become quite common, with more than a quarter of the global ocean catch being taken under ITQ or ITQ-like systems. It should be noted that an extension of the national EEZ is often a prerequisite for the introduction of ITQs. Extended EEZs have greatly reduced international conflicts for fish resources. ITQs and similar property-rights based systems have similarly reduced fisheries conflicts between individuals and companies. No less importantly, these individual property rights have promoted cooperation in the joint use of aquatic resources and the gradual transfer of the fishing activity to the most efficient operators, thus greatly enhancing the net economic benefits generated by the fisheries. There are indications that property rights in fisheries are also conducive to a negotiated resolution of conflicts between fishing and other uses of aquatic resources such as mining, recreation, and ecosystem conservation.


Economics of Gender in Resource Dependent Communities  

Biswajit Ray and Promita Mukherjee

Gender inequalities exist within commons-dependent communities in developing countries regarding the role of society’s overall attitudes to women as decision-makers. While, in forestry, women have some access to resources and decision-making, in other community resources like fisheries and irrigation water, women are absent and males entirely dominate. Different theories on gender and environment suggest that women’s inclusion is an important step toward reducing their economic marginalization and argue that in reality women’s economic advancement/empowerment may not get carried into home and community spaces as durable empowerment if society holds negative attitudes toward women’s needs, contribution and deservedness in families and beyond. Due to society’s negative attitudes toward women, women remain trapped in a vicious cycle of exclusion. Breaking this vicious cycle requires combining household assets and income to assess women’s true poverty type. A flat implementation of economic policies toward women’s pathway out of poverty may not yield the desired results and may even be counterproductive if society’s negative attitudes and the poverty characteristics of women or female-headed households are not taken into account. Since all women are not homogeneous and that a few communities hold pro-women attitudes, to promote women’s economic empowerment, the role of society’s attitudes toward women’s participation as decision-makers cannot be ignored as women’s relations to their social, economic, political, and natural environments are itself a culturally and historically specific process, which can be understood only through identifying and understanding gender-specific attitudes and actions toward those environments.


Economics of Hazardous Waste Management  

Hilary Sigman

Hazardous waste management involves treatment, disposal, or recycling of a wide range of different waste streams from industry, households, and others. The diversity of wastes and management methods means that many choices affect its environmental harms, which result from possible contamination of groundwater, surface water, soil, and air. Efficient public policies that would fully reflect such varied external costs are unlikely to be feasible. In practice, governments principally apply three policy approaches to hazardous waste: taxes on hazardous waste, liability for environmental damages, and standards-based regulation of waste management facilities. Hazardous waste taxes may help internalize environmental costs but do not reflect all the variability in these costs. By contrast, liability for environmental damage can make waste generators and managers confront environmental costs that vary with their particular choices. However, environmental liability is often linked to programs for cleanup of contaminated sites and may not create efficient incentives for active waste management because this liability does not reflect the social costs of the contamination. Regulation usually takes the form of technology and performance standards applied to treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) and affects generation decisions only indirectly. Research finds that public policies that raise costs of hazardous waste management, such as taxes and regulation, encourage less waste generation, but may also provoke detrimental responses. First, facilities may substitute illegal waste dumping for legal management and thus exacerbate environmental damage. Second, generators may ship waste to jurisdictions with weaker environmental protections, especially developing countries, giving rise to a “waste haven” effect. This effect may create offsetting environmental damage, facilitate destructive policy competition among jurisdictions, and worsen inequities in exposure to environmental harm from hazardous waste.


Economics of Insurance Against Natural Disaster Risks  

W. J. Wouter Botzen

Increasing natural disaster losses in the past decades and expectations that this trend will accelerate under climate change motivated the development of a branch of literature on the economics of natural disaster insurance. A starting point for assessing the implications of climate change for insurance and developing risk management strategies is understanding the factors underlying historical loss trends and the way that future risks will develop. Most studies have pointed toward socioeconomic developments as the main cause of historical trends in natural disaster risks. Moreover, evidence reveals that climate change has been a contributing factor, which is expected to grow in importance in the future. Several supply and demand side obstacles may prevent natural disaster insurance from optimally fulfilling its desirable function of offering financial protection at affordable premiums. Climate change is expected to further hamper the insurability of natural disaster risks, unless insurers and governments proactively respond to climate change, for example by linking insurance coverage with risk reduction activities. A branch of literature has developed about how the functioning of insurance should be improved to cope with climate change. This includes industry-level responses, reforms of insurance market structures, such as public–private natural disaster insurance provision, and recommendations for addressing behavioral biases in insurance demand and for stimulating risk reduction. In view of the rising economic losses of natural disasters, this field of study is likely to remain an active one.


Economics of Invasive Species  

Mark Eiswerth, Chad Lawley, and Michael H. Taylor

Introductions of nonnative invasive species can harm ecosystems, heighten the risk of native species extinctions and population reductions, and lead to substantial economic damages on a worldwide scale. Increasingly, economists have made contributions that help other researchers, policymakers, and society better understand the economic implications of invasive species as well as the most economically efficient approaches for managing them. The complexity of invasive species management problems has pushed economists to ask novel economic questions and to develop new analytical approaches in order to address specific policy questions. There are three areas, in particular, where the economic analysis of invasive species management has led to significant innovations. First, there are substantial challenges to quantifying economic damages from invasive species for application in benefit−cost analysis. The challenges relate to defining the counterfactual state of an invaded ecosystem with and without management/policy and to the fact that, in a given ecosystem, estimates of economic damages are available for only a subset of the species and for only a subset of damages for any one species. Recent economic research has proposed innovative approaches to systematically dealing with these two issues in the context of invasive species that have implications for applied benefit−cost analysis more broadly. Second, unique among natural resource management problems, invasive species have the feature that their current and future extents are directly tied to a country’s participation in international trade. This feature has led to innovative research into the design of efficient measures to prevent or delay invasive species introductions along national borders, and into the trade-offs between these measures and the use of border controls as protectionist tools. The issues of optimal inspection policy and the use of nontariff barriers as a form of covert protectionism both have implications beyond invasive species management. Third, researchers have developed bioeconomic models that integrate economic and biological factors in order to analyze strategies to more cost-effectively reduce the damages caused by invasive species. These modeling efforts have dealt with issues related to temporal and spatial dynamics of the biological invasions, imperfect information regarding the extent of the invasion and the effectiveness of management, linkages between management applied at different stages of an invasion, and complications arising from ecosystems’ crossing over ecological thresholds due to invasions. In the face of increasingly rapid ecosystem change due to global climate change, increases in extreme weather, urban encroachment into wild lands, and other factors, many of these features of invasive species management problems are likely to become features of ecosystem management more broadly in the near future if they are not so already.


Economics of Low Carbon Agriculture  

Dominic Moran and Jorie Knook

Climate change is already having a significant impact on agriculture through greater weather variability and the increasing frequency of extreme events. International policy is rightly focused on adapting and transforming agricultural and food production systems to reduce vulnerability. But agriculture also has a role in terms of climate change mitigation. The agricultural sector accounts for approximately a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, including related emissions from land-use change and deforestation. Farmers and land managers have a significant role to play because emissions reduction measures can be taken to increase soil carbon sequestration, manage fertilizer application, and improve ruminant nutrition and waste. There is also potential to improve overall productivity in some systems, thereby reducing emissions per unit of product. The global significance of such actions should not be underestimated. Existing research shows that some of these measures are low cost relative to the costs of reducing emissions in other sectors such as energy or heavy industry. Some measures are apparently cost-negative or win–win, in that they have the potential to reduce emissions and save production costs. However, the mitigation potential is also hindered by the biophysical complexity of agricultural systems and institutional and behavioral barriers limiting the adoption of these measures in developed and developing countries. This includes formal agreement on how agricultural mitigation should be treated in national obligations, commitments or targets, and the nature of policy incentives that can be deployed in different farming systems and along food chains beyond the farm gate. These challenges also overlap growing concern about global food security, which highlights additional stressors, including demographic change, natural resource scarcity, and economic convergence in consumption preferences, particularly for livestock products. The focus on reducing emissions through modified food consumption and reduced waste is a recent agenda that is proving more controversial than dealing with emissions related to production.


The Economics of Oil Spills  

Maria L. Loureiro and Maria Alló

Vessel oil spills are very serious natural hazards that have affected coasts worldwide for many decades. Although oil spills from tankers are highly publicized, very little is known about the role played by the incentives and regulatory instruments in place to prevent them. In order to shed some light on these issues, data were collected worldwide on large oil spills from multiple databases, starting in the 1970s, and merged with other socioeconomic records. A crucial concern is that that large oil spills have been undercompensated over time with respect to the damages caused. A meta-analysis was estimated in order to assess relevant factors affecting the damage claimed in oil spills and the compensations received by the affected parties. Meta-regression results show that the legislation applied (strict unlimited liability versus limited liability) played a crucial role in both the amount claimed and the final compensation received. Also, time-trend variables are shown as determining factors for both the damages and claims that are finally paid. To correct the large gap between damage claimed and compensation scenarios, it is recommended to strengthen compensation funds, while carrying out more comprehensive assessment studies which apply valuation methods comparable with those proposed by green capital initiatives for marine ecosystem services, and which could be used successfully during the litigation process.


Economics of Reforestation and Afforestation  

Daowei Zhang

Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands that have been harvested or depleted, and afforestation is the establishing of a forest in an area where there were no trees. For economic and practical purposes, reforestation and afforestation have similar goals and processes and thus can be treated as identical activities. Although reforestation and afforestation have a long history, large-scale reforestation and afforestation activities started with industrialization, which caused scarcity in timber and forest-based ecosystem services. In a unified economic model of reforestation and afforestation, factors influencing investments in reforestation and in afforestation on private and public lands include timber prices, unit reforestation cost, interest rate, the responsiveness of tree growth to silviculture, and the value of nontimber benefits, such as ecosystem services. Market and public policies may facilitate, enhance, or hinder reforestation and afforestation activities, and nontimber benefits are an increasingly important motive for reforestation and, especially, afforestation efforts around the world.


Economics of Renewable Energy: A Comparison of Electricity Production Costs Across Technologies  

Govinda R. Timilsina and Kalim U. Shah

The levelized costs of electricity generation for renewable energy technologies differ and fluctuate depending on factors including capital costs, operation and maintenance costs, utilization factors, and economic lives. In addition to these factors, In the case of fossil fuels, prices and heat rate are also responsible for fluctuations. There is a global movement in favor renewable energy. Many countries have announced carbon-free electricity within the next 30–40 years, which implies massive expansion of renewable energy technologies. The newer investment trends in electricity generation technologies indicate the same. Technological breakthroughs and cost reductions of energy storage technologies would further favor renewable energy technologies and would decrease their intermittency hurdles. Developments that expand the scaling effect of renewable energy and the potential improvement in efficiency through continued research and development could bring the cost of renewable energy further down in the future. When the levelized costs of electricity generation are estimated, the declining trends of renewable energy costs are observed and can to a large extent (but not fully) be explained by certain potential drivers. Particularly for wind and solar, these drivers include technological innovation/improvements that have increased efficiency, policy supports such as research and development funding, economy of scale both in the manufacturing of equipment (solar panels, wind turbines) and installation of plants, and monopoly rent dissipation due to increased number of manufacturers and suppliers. Competition among equipment manufacturers and project developers may also contribute to cost decline as could cost reduction through improved product efficiency related to technological improvements and innovations.


Economics of Solar Power  

Christine L. Crago

Energy from the sun has vast potential for powering modern society. The first decades of the 21st century saw a rapid increase in the deployment of solar power, with global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity growing over 25-fold, from 23 GW to 627 GW, between 2009 and 2019. Growth in the solar PV market is supported by financial and regulatory incentives offered by many governments worldwide. These incentives include feed-in tariffs, rebates, and tax incentives, as well as market-support policies governing permitting and grid interconnection. Despite the rapid growth in solar PV capacity, solar electricity accounts for under 3% of global electricity generation, suggesting that there is huge potential for the solar PV market to expand and meet global energy demand. Foremost among the benefits of solar power is its potential to drastically cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity sector. Solar electricity can also reduce local air pollution, and growth of the PV market can enhance energy security and contribute to the green economy. However, there are challenges to future expansion of the solar PV market. One of the key barriers is the cost of solar projects. Although as of 2020 the cost of utility-scale solar projects was beginning to be competitive with the cost of conventional energy sources, further reductions in costs are needed to achieve deeper penetration of solar electricity. Other challenges associated with solar electricity have to do with the predictable and unpredictable aspects of solar resource. On the one hand, solar resource varies predictably based on season and time of day. When solar electricity output coincides with peak electricity demand, solar electricity provides added value to the electrical grid. On the other hand, weather variation, air quality, and other factors can drastically alter predicted output from solar PV systems. The unpredictable aspect of solar electricity poses a major challenge for integrating solar electricity into the electrical grid, especially for high levels of penetration. Grid operators must either store electricity or rely on standby generators to maintain grid reliability, both of which are costly. Advances in storage technology and grid management will be needed if solar electricity is to be a major source of electricity supply. Residential adoption of rooftop solar PV systems has led to the growth of “prosumers” (households that consume and produce electricity) and has provided a novel setting to examine several aspects of consumer behavior related to adoption of new technology and energy-use behavior. Studies show that financial incentives, pro-environmental preferences, and social interactions affect adoption of solar PV technology. Prosumers are also likely to consume more electricity after they install solar PV systems. Decarbonization goals related to society’s response to climate change are expected to drive future growth in the solar PV market. In addition to technological advances, market mechanisms and policies are needed to ensure that the transition to an energy system dominated by solar and other renewables is accomplished in a way that is economically efficient and socially equitable.


Economics of the Biodiversity Convention  

Joanne C. Burgess

Biological diversity refers to the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and interactions. Biological diversity, or biodiversity for short, is being lost at an unprecedented rate. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 25% of mammals, 41% of amphibians, 33% of reef building corals, and 13% of birds are threatened with extinction. These biodiversity benefits are being lost due to conversion of natural habitat, overharvesting, pollution, invasive species, and climate change. The loss of biodiversity is important because it provides many critical resources, services, and ecosystem functions, such as foods, medicines, clean air, and storm protection. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse pose a major risk to human societies and economic welfare. The CBD was established in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio “Earth Summit”) and enacted in 1993. The international treaty aims to conserve biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. The CBD has near universal global participation with 196 parties signatory to the treaty. The non-legally binding commitments established in 2010 by the CBD are known as the Aichi Targets. They include the goal of conserving at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water habitats and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. Biodiversity continues to decline at an unprecedented rate and the world faces “biological annihilation” and a sixth mass extinction event. There are several underlying causes of the continuing loss of biodiversity that need to be addressed. First, the CBD Aichi Targets are not ambitious enough and should be extended to protect as much as 50% of the terrestrial realm for biodiversity. Second, it is difficult to place an economic value on the range of direct, indirect, and nonuse values of biodiversity. The failure to take into account the full economic value of biodiversity in prices, projects, and policy decisions means that biodiversity is often misused and overused. Third, biodiversity is a global public good and displays nonrival and nonexcludable characteristics. Because of this, it is difficult to raise sufficient funds for conservation and to channel these funds to cover local conservation costs. In particular, much of the world’s biodiversity is located in (mainly tropical) developing countries, and they do not have the incentive or the funds to spend the money to “save” enough biodiversity on behalf of the rest of the world. The funding for global biodiversity conservation is $4–$10 billion annually, whereas around $100 billion a year is needed to protect the Earth’s broad range of animal and plant species. This funding gap undermines CBD’s conservation efforts. Governments and international organizations have been unable to raise the investments needed to reverse the decline in biological populations and habitats on land and in oceans. There is an important role for private-sector involvement in the CBD to endorse efforts for more sustainable use of biodiversity and to contribute funds to finance conservation and habitat protection efforts.


Economics of the Genuine Progress Indicator  

Junior Ruiz Garcia

The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is an interesting alternative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator of society’s development. Historically, GDP has been used by policymakers, media analysts, and economists as the main indicator of development, even though economics textbooks often state that it is not a measure of social welfare. Strictly speaking, GDP is only an indicator of the production of economic goods and services, not an index of well-being or development. It does not include the environmental, social, or economic costs of producing goods and services. The theoretical basis of GDP is conventional macroeconomics, which adopts an isolated economic system as the object of analysis. In this approach, there is no flow of matter and energy to produce economic goods and services. The economy is considered a perpetual motion machine that does not need material and energy to produce and which consequently does not generate waste. However, the economy is a subsystem open to the flow of matter and energy, supported by a closed, natural subsystem—the global environmental system. In practice, the production of economic goods and services is dependent on the continuous flow of matter and energy from the environment, and inherently, the result of GDP is also the generation of waste. The GPI adopts this perspective. In the 1990s, Daly and Cobb created the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), hereafter termed GPI. The objective was to incorporate environmental, social, and economic costs associated with GDP growth, and to generate an indicator that reflected a genuine development of society. The GPI has been estimated for several countries, including the United States, Australia, China, and Brazil. This indicator is neither perfect nor complete for assessing development or human well-being, but it is superior to GDP. Despite technological development, there has been an unequivocal increase in environmental degradation, contrary to the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) hypothesis. The result of environmental degradation has been an increase in the environmental, social, and economic costs of GDP growth. However, these costs have been ignored by policymakers, companies, and society in their production and consumption decisions. Improving the GPI and its estimates can provide better information for decision making by economic and political agents.


The Economics of the Law of the Sea  

Till Markus and Gerd Markus

The Economics of the Law of the Sea (LoS) quite generally investigates how the LoS has developed in the past, how it functions at present, and how it could serve in the future. It explores economic factors that shape the LoS, assesses its economic effects, and evaluates different legal options from an economic perspective with a view to achieving specific goals. Accordingly, it can address a large variety of topics and pick from a wide range of ideas, analytical frames, and tools. Studies in this area can, for example, investigate economic drivers that have influenced the development of the modern LoS, analyze general economic characteristics of ocean resources, explore the economics of specific ocean-related activities governed by the LoS (exploiting the sea floor, fishing, protecting coasts against sea level rise, etc.), and assess important economic effects of selected LoS measures (drawing boundaries, creating marine enclosures, and establishing permit regimes). Economic analyses of the LoS are particularly valuable in linking information regarding facts and norms, for example, by illuminating the economic dimensions of conflicts to lawyers or translating specific regulatory approaches into costs and benefits. In this way, it may contribute to managing oceans more rationally, efficiently, sustainably, and peacefully.


The Economics of Tropical Rainforest Preservation  

Carlos Eduardo Frickmann Young

Tropical forests are among the most biodiverse areas on Earth. They contribute to ecosystem functions, including regulating water flow and maintaining one of the most important carbon sinks on the planet, and provide resources for important economic activities, such as timber and nontimber products and fish and other food. Rainforests are not empty of human population and are sites of ethnically and culturally diverse cultures that are responsible for many human languages and dialects. They also provide resources for important economic activities, such as timber and nontimber products. However, tropical deforestation caused by the expansion of agricultural activities and unsustainable logging continues at very high levels. The causes of forest loss vary by region. Livestock is the main driver in the Amazon, but commercial plantations (soybeans, sugar cane, and other tradable crops) also have an impact on deforestation, in many cases associated with violent conflicts over land tenure. In Southeast Asia, logging motivated by the tropical timber trade plays an important role, although palm oil plantations are an increasing cause of deforestation. In Africa, large-scale agricultural and industrial activities are less important, and the most critical factor is the expansion of subsistence and small-scale agriculture. However, trade-oriented activities, such as cocoa and coffee plantations in West Africa and logging in Central Africa, are becoming increasingly important. Public policies have a strong influence on these changes in land use, from traditional community-based livelihood practices to for-profit livestock, cultivation, and timber extraction. Investments in infrastructure, tax and credit incentives, and institutional structures to stimulate migration and deforestation represent economic incentives that lead to deforestation. Poor governance and a lack of resources and political will to protect the traditional rights of the population and environmental resources are another cause of the continuous reduction of tropical forests. Consequently, deforestation prevents the expansion of economic activities that could be established without threats to the remnants of native forest. There are also negative social consequences for the local population, which suffers from the degradation of the natural resources on which their production is based, and is hampered by air pollution caused by forest fires. In some situations, a vicious cycle is created between poverty and deforestation, since the expansion of the agricultural frontier reduces the forest areas where traditional communities once operated, but without generating job opportunities. New approaches are required to reverse this paradigm and to lay the foundation for a sustainable economy based on the provision of ecosystem services provided by tropical forests. These include (a) better governance and public management capacity, (b) incentives for economic activities compatible with the preservation of the tropical forest, and (c) large-scale adoption of economic instruments to support biodiversity and ecosystem services. Public policies are necessary to correct market failures and incorporate the values of ecosystem services in the land use decision process. In addition to penalties for predatory actions, incentives are needed for activities that support forest preservation, so the forest is worth retaining rather than clearing. Improving governance capacity, combining advanced science and technology with traditional knowledge, and improving the management of existing activities can also help to ensure sustainable development in tropical forest regions.


Economics of Waste Minimization, Recycling, and Disposal  

Rawshan Ara Begum and Sofia Ehsan

With rapid population growth and urbanization around the world, waste generation (solid, liquid, and gaseous) is increasing. Waste management is a critical factor in ensuring human health and environmental protection, which is a major concern of both developing and developed countries. Waste management systems and practices, including collection, transport, treatment, and disposal, vary between developed and developing countries or even in urban and rural areas. In response, economic models have been developed to help decision-makers choose the most efficient mix of policy levers to regulate solid waste and recycling activities. The economic models employ different kinds of data to estimate the factors that contribute to solid waste generation and recycling, and to estimate the effectiveness of the policy options employed for waste management and disposal. Thus, economic analysis plays a crucial role in the proper and efficient management of solid waste, and leads to significant developments in the field of environmental economics to reflect the costs of pollution related to waste, measure the environmental benefits of waste management, find cost-efficient solutions, and shape policies for environmental protection and sustainable development. Economic assessment and cost-benefit analysis help to determine optimal policies for efficient use of resources and management of waste problems to achieve sustainable waste management, especially in developing and least developed countries. Crucial challenges include issues such as the limits of waste hierarchy, integration of sustainable waste management, public-private cooperation, and linear versus circular economy.


Economics of Water Scarcity in China  

Yong Jiang

Water scarcity has long been recognized as a key issue challenging China’s water security and sustainable development. Economically, China’s water scarcity can be characterized by the uneven distribution of limited water resources across space and time in hydrological cycles that are inconsistent with the rising demand for a sufficient, stable water supply from rapid socioeconomic development coupled with a big, growing population. The limited water availability or scarcity has led to trade-offs in water use and management across sectors and space, while negatively affecting economic growth and the environment. Meanwhile, inefficiency and unsustainability prevail in China’s water use, attributable to government failure to account for the socioeconomic nature of water and its scarcity beyond hydrology. China’s water supply comes mainly from surface water and groundwater. The nontraditional sources, wastewater reclamation and reuse in particular, have been increasingly contributing to water supply but are less explored. Modern advancement in solar and nuclear power development may help improve the potential and competitiveness of seawater desalination as an alternative water source. Nonetheless, technological measures to augment water supply can only play a limited role in addressing water scarcity, highlighting the necessity and importance of nontechnological measures and “soft” approaches for managing water. Water conservation, including improving water use efficiency, particularly in the agriculture sector, represents a reasonable strategy that has much potential but requires careful policy design. China’s water management has started to pay greater attention to market-based approaches, such as tradable water rights and water pricing, accompanied by management reforms. In the past, these approaches have largely been treated as command-and-control tools for regulation rather than as economic instruments following economic design principles. While progress has been made in promoting the market-based approaches, the institutional aspect needs to be further improved to create supporting and enabling conditions. For water markets, developing regulations and institutions, combined with clearly defining water use rights, is needed to facilitate market trading of water rights. For water pricing, appropriate design based on the full cost of water supply needs to be strengthened, and policy implementation must be enforced. An integrated approach is particularly relevant and greatly needed for China’s water management. This approach emphasizes integration and holistic consideration of water in relation to other resource management, development opportunities, and other policies across scales and sectors to achieve synergy, cost-effectiveness, multiple benefits, and eventually economic efficiency. Integrated water management has been increasingly applied, as exemplified by a national policy initiative to promote urban water resilience and sustainability. While economics can play a critical role in helping evaluate and compare alternative measures or design scenarios and in identifying multiple benefits, there is a need for economic or social cost–benefit analysis of China’s water policy or management that incorporates nonmarket costs and benefits.


Economics of Water Security in India: Need for Strengthening Natural Capital  

V. Ratna Reddy

Water security forms the basis for achieving multi-dimensional poverty alleviation. Water security is necessary for moving toward sustainable development. It reduces poverty and improves quality of life. Achieving water security is increasingly becoming a policy challenge in most of the developing countries like India. Water security is a comprehensive concept that comprises access to quantity and quality for different users and uses, ensuring environmental, economic, and social sustainability in the long run. It needs to be achieved at different scales (i.e., household, regional, and national levels). This calls for an integrated approach incorporating hydrological, socioeconomic, and ecosystem aspects. Water resources accounting is critical for ensuring water security. Resource accounting helps in identifying efficient and optimum allocation of resources to various components of water security. Integrating the costs of strengthening the natural resource base and environmental externalities is likely to help sustaining services in the long run. Integrating the economics of protecting the natural resource base into the planning and designing of service delivery is critical in this regard.


The Economics of Watershed Management  

Brent M. Haddad

Watersheds are physical regions from which all arriving water flows to a single exit point. The shared hydrology means that other biophysical systems are linked, typically with upper-gradient regions influencing lower-gradient ones. This situation frames the challenge of managing economic and other uses of watersheds both in terms of individual activities and their influence on other connected processes and activities. Economics provides concepts and methods that help managers with decision making in the complex physical, biological, and institutional environment of a watershed. Among the important concepts and methods that help characterize watershed processes are externalities, impacts of economic activity that fall upon individuals not party to the activity, and third parties, individuals impacted without consent. Public goods and common pool resources describe categories of things or processes that by their nature are not amenable to regular market transactions. Their regulation requires special consideration and alternative approaches to markets. Benefit-cost analysis and valuation are related methods that provide a means to compare alternative uses of the same system. Each is based on the normative argument that the best use provides the greatest net benefits to society. And intergenerational equity is a value orientation that argues for preservation of watershed processes for the benefit of future generations. The need for effective watershed management methods pushed 20th-century economists to adapt their discipline to the complexity of watersheds, from which emerged subdisciplines of natural resource economics, environmental economics, and ecological economics. The field is still evolving with a growing interest in data gathering through land-based low-cost data collection systems and remote sensing, and in emerging data analysis techniques to improve management decisions.