The use of resource and environmental economic analytical information to support and or underpin economic development and environmental conservation decisions is relatively new in the Pacific. Resource management has conventionally either not involved consideration of economic factors at all or has involved it only inadequately.
Similarly environmental conservation decisions often did not include livelihood or opportunity cost considerations. The failure of some environmental or natural resource management initiatives has consequently been attributed to the poor policy or project design arising from that economics gap.
Part of the reason for inadequate consideration of economic issues in natural resource management is the lack of capacity in natural resource economics in the Pacific. Many Pacific island country governments do not have the resources to employ dedicated natural resource economists in their administration. In any event, there are few trained resource and environmental economist around to employ; most economics graduates find employment in the financial, macroeconomic or general planning sector while others may move overseas or not use their economics training at all. For those few natural resource economists that do operate in the Pacific, progress in conducting economic analysis can be hampered by isolation; there are few resource economists around with whom to share ideas, develop initiatives or share work.
Building on loose network of resource and environmental economists and those interested in the use of economics to inform resource and environmental management in the Pacific, the IUCN Oceania regional Office with the support of the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and the South Pacific Community, formally established the Pacific Resource and Environmental Economics Network (PREEN).
The main goal of PREEN is to foster improved cooperation and communication between practicing economists and other stakeholders to help mainstream the use of economic analysis in resource and environmental management in the Pacific.
The network was kick-started with a two day workshop held in late September to facilitate discussions on current research, issues and experiences between the members. Abstracts of these papers have been published in the first PREEN newsletter which is downloadable from PREEN's newly created homepage. Read more about this and visit the website:
The peer-reviewed papers presented at this workshop will be made available in the workshop proceedings in early 2010.