Understanding ecological-economic trade-offs in environmental offsetting

Exploring the complex trade-offs in environmental offsetting

Environmental offsets have become a dominant policy tool for compensating for the environmental impacts of development. There has been considerable attention paid to understanding the environmental consequences of alternative offset policy settings. However, the economic consequences of offset policy settings have been largely ignored. As a consequence, we understand very little about the trade-offs that occur in environmental offsetting. Examples of these trade-offs include trade-offs between economic costs and environmental benefits, and trade-offs between different types of environmental benefits (including ecosystem services) and the equity in the distribution of those benefits and costs.

This PhD project will aim to explore the complex trade-offs that occur in environmental offsetting using an existing modelling framework that we have developed. The modelling framework has been developed for South-East Queensland, Australia but could be extended to other areas and for multiple ecosystem services.

The outputs of the project will include making important policy contributions to the offset debate and have the potential to influence how future environmental offsets are developed.

This project is a collaborative project between the University of Western Australia (UWA), Perth and the University of Queensland (UQ), Brisbane and the successful student could be based in either of these locations.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Project goals

Goal 1

Develop ecological-economic models

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Goal 2

Assessing trade-offs between multiple types of benefits and costs

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Develop policy recommendations for environmental offsets

Research team leader: Dr Sayed Iftekhar

I am an environmental and resource economist with broad interests in the interactions between humans and nature. Currently my research interests include urban water management, behavioural biases in regulators, environmental service payments and social networks. I use different economic tools such as agent-based modelling, laboratory experiments and simulations to study these issues.

This project will be working in collaboration with Dr Jonathon Rhodes, University of Queensland

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • the ideal student will have quantitative modelling skills (or the ability and interest to learn these skills) and interests in environmental policy, environmental economics, biodiversity conservation, or ecosystem services.
  • prior to beginning the PhD the successful student must also obtain a postgraduate scholarship (or equivalent) from either the University of Western Australia or the University of Queensland.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an applicationDifferent application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


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