Research Thesis Topic
Applying Social Ecological Approaches to Water Markets
Water trading systems provide an economic framework for the transfer of quantities of water—private ownership of which is endowed by statutory water rights legislation—to enhance/ensure highest value end use (i.e. optimisation) of scarce water resources. In this way, water markets commoditise water within an economic production-focused framework. However, water resources have significant value beyond their function in short-term economic activity. In reality, there are many competing demands for water resources and ensuring and allocating sufficient water of acceptable quality for different uses and users is a highly complex task, often subject to value conflicts. Despite this, the environmental and social impacts of water markets are relatively unknown. The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment espoused an ecosystem services framework for investigating the wider socio-ecological values associated with biodiversity and natural systems which has since gained acceptance as a guiding principle in environmental policy making. This research applies an ecosystem services valuation approach to contemporary water markets operating in the Murray Darling Basin, Australia, to better understand the socio-economic-ecological trade-offs and synergies associated with this form of water resource governance. It will investigate the broader socio-ecological values related to water trading to develop an integrated water benefits model of the total transaction system. It will also explore techniques to link bio-physical and socio-economic values, as well how these values change over different spatial, temporal and social organisational scales. Finally, it will critically analyse a range of policy settings (including a range of instruments and interventions) and provide a foundation for improved water resource decision-making and management.
- Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
- International Centre for Applied Climate Sciences
- Environmental Science and Management
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