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From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Douglas Adams, Albert Einstein and economic techniques for ‘valuing’ the environment


Thursday, 15th of August 2013; 12:00 to 13:00 hrs.

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building), Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville; video-linked to the University of Queensland (GCI Boardroom, Level 7, Gehrmann Building 60).
Prof. Natalie Stoeckl, Tropical Leader in economics - School of Business and Cairns Institute, James Cook University
Prof. Natalie Stoeckl, Tropical Leader in economics - School of Business and Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Abstract: The practice of comparing monetary estimates of the value of the environment – or of the cost of damage that might occur to the environment – with other dollar estimates such as projected revenues from a mine, is accepted by governments throughout the world as a legitimate process for evaluating environment/development trade-offs.   Most of the valuation techniques used to inform these assessments are well suited to the task of assessing micro-level ‘values’ – such as an individual’s preference for a single environmental good (e.g. clean air) at a single point in time.   But government level assessments must often consider the preferences of many different people across multiple goods and services, and thus require information at a larger scale.   In many arenas information is generated by simply scaling micro-level estimates upwards (e.g. adding ‘values’ of people or of goods and services), but such practices are fraught with problems that are rarely discussed.   This seminar outlines some of those problems and discusses several alternative ways of attempting to generate macro-scale information about the value of environmental goods and services, presenting empirical examples from the GBR and elsewhere.

Biography: Natalie has a BEc from the Australian National University (ANU), a MEc from JCU and a PhD from ANU.  Prior to taking on her current position of Tropical Leader in economics (in the school of Business and the Cairns Institute, JCU), she led the economics program at JCU, worked as a researcher at the CSIRO and spent many years at the University of Canberra.    She has a keen interest in the environmental and distributional/equity issues associated with economic growth.   Arguably, what distinguishes her from many other economists is her track record of collaborative multidisciplinary research using models that combine economic, environmental and social variables to explore interactions between socio-economic and ecological systems.  She is on the supervisory panel of many (mostly multidisciplinary) research students – several from the ARC COE in coral reef studies.


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