Understanding environmental values to improve environmental management and policy

Valuing the environment to make it count in decision making


Environmental agencies struggle to know how best to measure the relatively intangible benefits from environmental projects and policies but doing so is important to ensure that projects and policies are delivering benefits that matter to people.

Benefits from environmental policies are often unpriced “non-market values” (NMVs). Environmental agencies struggle to know how best to measure these relatively intangible benefits but doing so is important to ensure value for money from public investments.

Environmental economists have developed and applied a wide range of methods for quantifying NMVs. The methods vary in their comprehensiveness, accuracy, and cost, so environmental decision makers face difficult trade-offs when deciding how to tackle this issue. The student will work closely with environmental managers from a range of Australian agencies.

This broad-ranging project will include surveys and workshops with environmental managers, conducting non-market valuation surveys, and development and testing of strategies to improve environmental managers’ understanding of the options for measuring environmental values. The specific PhD topic will be developed jointly between the student and supervisors.

If successful in your application, you'll be part of a strong community of PhD students (Australia’s largest in this discipline) within the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Many past PhD students from this group have won national or international awards for their thesis. There will also be strong support to assist you in publishing your research in leading international journals.

Project goals:

  • Understand the needs and preferences of environmental agencies for information about the magnitudes of relatively intangible environmental benefits (“non-market values”);
  • Understand the trade-offs when environmental managers are considering whether to invest in sophisticated methods for quantifying environmental values, versus simper and cheaper but less reliable methods;
  • Develop and test strategies to improve environmental managers’ understanding of the options for measuring environmental values, leading to better environmental decisions.

Suggested readings


Research team leader: Dr Abbie Rogers

I am an environmental economist who is very interested in using the tools of economics to protect and restore the natural environment. I work closely with various government agencies and other bodies to assist them to bring economic thinking into their planning and decision making. My research includes projects related to coastal management, natural hazards, rivers and environmental accounts. I co-lead the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy and am Deputy Director of the Oceans Institute at UWA. Our work on environmental values has a strong national and international profile.

For more information on this project, watch our Benefit: Cost Analysis for Environmental and Social Projects video.


Funding, Collaborations and Project Supervision


  • This project is supported by a stipend scholarship of $35,000 per year for 3 or 3.5 years. Read more about this here.  
  • The project has an operating fund of at least $4,500 and access to resources within the Australian Research Council (ARC) project (funds for travel and meetings that benefit the whole project)
  • A travel scholarship from UWA valued at $1,800 is also available

External collaborators: 

  • Professor Robert Johnston, Clark University
  • Dr Sayed Iftekhar, Griffith University
  • This project will also involve collaboration with a set of policy makers in Australian Environmental agencies


  • Supervisors for this PhD will be Dr Abbie Rogers and Associate Professor Michael Burton. This PhD project is part of a larger project on environmental valuation, led by Professor David Pannell and funded by the ARC and UWA.


How to Apply 

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Interested applicants should have a background in economics and competence in statistical analysis. Knowledge in environmental economics is preferred.
Submit enquiry to research team leader 
  • Contact the research team leader Dr Abbie Rogers with your CV and university transcripts, together with a cover letter explaining your background and interests that are relevant to this project. Expression of interest due no later than 16 June 2023.
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact to proceed with your application. The preferred candidate must be enrolled at UWA by 24 August 2023.



Scholarships specific to this project
  • This project is supported by a stipend scholarship of $35,000 per year for 3 or 3.5 years. Read more about this here.
Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.