Improving Economic Accountability when using Decentralised, Collaborative Approaches to Environmental Decisions

Australia is at the forefront in pursuing decentralised community-based approaches to environmental governance. These approaches recognise the importance of collaboration among key stakeholders in planning and implementing integrated responses to the complex natural resource problems we face. The 'regional delivery model' for public funding of on-ground investments in natural resource management (NRM) exemplifies this new approach to governance.

When the regional delivery model was established, economic evaluation was identified as having a key role to play in keeping regional NRM bodies accountable to investors, communities and other stakeholders. However, economists have struggled in developing methods of economic evaluation that are, firstly, consistent with the reasons for adopting this model, and, secondly, feasible to apply given the resourcing constraints and decision timelines faced by regional bodies. The project seeks accordingly to develop and test a cost-effective method of economic evaluation that is consistent with the rationale of the regional delivery model and other collaborative community-based approaches to environmental governance.

A project funded by the Australian Government's Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities (CERF) program.  The final report for this project has been submitted to the CERF program and is available for download below.

Final project report

Final Report
Improving economic accountability of investment decisions under community-based environmental governance
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Final Report - Executive Summary
Improving economic accountability of investment decisions under community-based environmental governance - Executive Summary
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Project working papers

Working Paper 1 - Investment Under Regional NRM Delivery: Current processes and issues in three NSW regions
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Working Paper 2 – Economics for Accountability in Community-based Environmental Governance
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Working Paper 3 – Economic evaluation of investments in natural assets under community-based environmental governance: Developing and testing a method
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Working Paper 4 – Developing and testing a method for cost-effective investment in building capacities for community-based collaborative natural resource management
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Other publications and presentations from project

Marshall, G.R. 2009, 'What does 'community' mean for farmer adoption of conservation practices: Some logic and evidence', IRF Occasional Paper 2009/01, Institute for Rural Futures, University of New England, Armidale. Download PDF >

Marshall, G.R. 2010, 'Extending INFFER to account for community and other capacity spillovers in economic evaluation of environmental investments', Paper presented to the 54th Annual Conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Adelaide, 10-12 February.
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Marshall. G.R. and Stafford Smith, D.M., 2010. Natural resources governance for the drylands of the Murray-Darling Basin, The Rangeland Journal, 32(3), 267–282.
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Marshall, G.R., 2010. 'Climate change, economics and hope: A comment on Brennan', Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 54(1), 1-4.
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Marshall, G.R. 2010. 'Governance for a surprising world.' In Resilience and Transformation: Preparing Australia for Uncertain Futures, ed. S. Cork. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. pp. 49-57.
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Marshall, G.R. 2011. 'What 'community' means for farmer adoption of conservation practices', in D.J. Pannell and F.M. Vanclay (eds), Changing Land Management: Adoption of New Practices by Rural Landholders, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, pp. 107-127.
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Marshall, G. R. 2013. 'Transaction costs, collective action and adaptation in managing complex social-ecological systems.' Ecological Economics.
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Marshall, G. R. 2013. 'Transaction Costs, Collective Action and Adaptation in Managing Complex Social-Ecological Systems.' contributed presentation to the 57th Annual Conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Sydney, 14 February 2013.
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Marshall, G. R. (2013). 'Economics, Complexity and Resilience Thinking', invited presentation to the minisymposium 'Resilience Thinking, Economics and Natural Resource Management' held as part of the 57th Annual Conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Sydney, 14 February 2013.
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Supplemented PAF Method

Supplement Form, Manual and Modified BCI Calculator
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Capacity Building Project Development Framework

Introduction, Forms, Manuals and Calculators
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Project bulletins

A series of bulletins were issued over the three-year term of the project (2008-10) to spread awareness of the project and provide updates on its progress.

Bulletin no. 1 - About the project, August 2008
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Bulletin no. 2 - Understanding investment planning processes and issues in three Australian NRM regions, October 2008
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Bulletin no. 3 - Economics for Accountability in Community-based Environmental Governance, March 2009
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Bulletin no. 4 - Trialing a method for economic evaluation of asset-focused investments under community-based environmental governance, August 2009
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Bulletin no. 5 - Findings from trialing a method for economic evaluation of asset-focused investments under community-based environmental governance, March 2010
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Bulletin no. 6 - Findings from developing and testing a method for cost-effective investment in building capacities for community-based collaborative natural resource management, March 2011
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Completed in 2011

Funded by: Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities

Contact: Graham Marshall