Environmental economics research increasing, becoming more relevant in Southeast Asia

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PHUKET—More than 80 researchers, economists and speakers are gathered today for the annual conference of the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA). The event once again showcased the very best work researchers have to offer.

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In her opening remarks, EEPSEA’s Director Herminia Francisco said the conference provides a platform for researchers in the region to present their work and exchange ideas with their peers, top economists and research advisors.

“ Over the past 21 years, we have seen a tremendous increase of various research that deals with environmental economics. At the same time, academic influence through both training and research is high and can be expanded,” Francisco said. “Policy influence is also taking place albeit more difficult to measure and monitor.”

Established in May 1993, the EEPSEA supports training and research in environmental and resource economics.  Its goal is to strengthen local capacity for the economic analysis of environmental problems so that researchers can provide sound advice to policymakers.

Francisco said that since its establishment, more than 370 research projects have been conducted and presented to the policymakers in Southeast Asian countries, including China.  She added that more than 120 researchers have undergone EEPSEA training.

Citing the EEPSEA data on research area, Francisco said most of it focus on water resources; protected areas and biodiversity; pollution control; forestry; energy and mineral; coastal or marine; behavioural economic and social capital; agriculture; and climate change.

Most of the EEPSEA-funded projects were conducted in the Philippines, Vietnam and China.

“ Collaboration is indeed a key where EEPSEA has been instrumental in providing grants, training people and developing new courses, produce manual and textbooks on environmental economics topics to our researchers. We have witnessed that most environmental economics research influence policy,” Francisco said.

At this year’s conference alone, more than 40 research were presented focusing on climate change; mangrove ecosystem;  water resources; air and water pollution; management of mangrove ecosystems; pollution; solid waste management, among other research topics.

Anna Maria Oltorp from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), applauded the quality of EEPSEA research involving several countries in Southeast Asia.

“ Environmental economics has such an important role in influencing policymaking and decisions made by finance ministers,” Oltorp said. “So there is a need for EEPSEA to stay relevant and continue to influence policies, address vulnerability, continue to support academic research, build partnership and work more in collaboration among researchers.”

Oltorp said that while she sees the region with rapid economic growth, more research should be done to address environmental and social issues such as climate change and poverty.

Stephen Hall, Director General of WorldFish, on the other hand, said the increasing number of EEPSEA-supported-research is most relevant in addressing the many dimensions of environmental economics issues in the region.

“ We are delighted to see the quality of research our researches have conducted. We are seeing more of these research in the coming years and that is raising the bar in the field of research,” Hall said.

The three-day conference also features international experts presenting studies on water resources issues, fisheries and globalization, and ecosystem services tools.

 

–IVAbano

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