A new professional network, the Pacific Resource and Environmental Economics Network (PREEN), was established at a technical workshop in Suva yesterday.
The 2-day workshop held at the IUCN Oceania office in Suva was co-sponsored by IUCN, SOPAC and SPC. This technical workshop was the first of its kind in the region, bringing together practicing resource and environmental economists to discuss and share experiences and ideas in using economics to manage resources.
Talks and presentations covered a variety of topics, including the feasibility of biofuel, costs of climate change and disaster, and how to protect the coasts and fisheries. The participants also discussed ways to improve the way decisions are made about natural resources drawing on not only scientific but also economic information.
“Economic information helps us work out how to use our scarce resources and how and where to invest in their management” said Mr Taholo Kami, Director of the IUCN-Oceania which hosted the workshop. “Governments can use economic analysis, for instance, to decide whether it is better to declare a protected area over a forest or to sustainably manage the area for timber and non-timber products and other services valued by humans. Or they can use economic analysis to work out why people, say, choose to overfish so that we can then work out how best to control that”.
“One of the challenges” said Ms Cristelle Pratt, Director of SOPAC, when opening the workshop, “is to make the use of economic information about resource use part of normal decision making, especially when there are so few people who understand its role”. The workshop participants therefore also talked about options to target improved capacity for economic analysis in the Pacific, and how to ‘mainstream’ the analysis to normal decision making, as well as how to provide peer support for future work.
The proceedings of the PREEN workshop including copies of papers presented to the workshop are now to be reviewed and collated in a compendium to be published early next year. A website containing case study examples from the region and other useful reference material will also soon be online. “Making this information public is important to demonstrate how economic analysis can improve decision making in the Pacific”, noted Dr Padma Narsey Lal, IUCN’s Chief Technical Adviser. “There are a few great examples from the region about how economic information is helping to improve sustainable development. These also gives us”, she said, “a lot to think about for how we can continue to improve in the future”.
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