Working towards sound water policy and resilient landscapes

Blog post prepared with contributions from Prof. Sarah Wheeler and Prof. Mike Young.  

Today is World Water Day!

According to reports from World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home and globally, 80% of the people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water resources live in rural areas. The theme for this year’s World Water Day is ‘Leaving no one behind’ which is underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: ‘Water for all by 2030’.

As well as the fact we are one of the few universities in the world who teaches a course on water economics (e.g. Water Security and Governance), in today’s blog we highlight some of the work Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) academics and researchers are doing in the area of water policy and resilient landscapes.  Some of our researcher are focusing on the Murray Darling Basin, others are working internationally.

In the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), researchers in GFAR are exploring issues such as irrigator behaviour, environmental vs agricultural water use, and the design and operation of water markets. Further, our researchers are applying 

Murray River

MDB projects include:

  • A future fellowship project funded by Australian Research Council (ARC) of farmer behaviour in water-stressed basinsis developing a greater understanding of farm behaviour and adaptation to water stress and drought. By developing a greater understanding of the drivers of farm exit across the Murray-Darling Basin; and identifying some of the consequences of non-adaptation for farmers (such as drivers associated with farmer suicide and mental health issues), our research aims to provide solutions that enable farmers to adapt for an uncertain future. It also considers the path of water policy and adaptation in the MDB, and looks at the issues of environmental flows and the performance of irrigation infrastructure programs. This project involves Prof. Sarah WheelerAssoc. Prof. Alec ZuoDr. Adam LochDr. Ying Xu, PhD students Benjamin FeeJames FullerConstantin Seidl, Sahar Daghagh Yazd and recent PhD graduates Dr. Juliane Haensch and Dr. Claire Settre.
  • Other work funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) explored the transaction costs of water markets, the impact of impediments and policy in water markets; how further water market products may increase water market efficiency in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB). Prof. Sarah WheelerAssoc. Prof. Alec ZuoDr. Adam Loch, PhD student Constantin Seidl and recent PhD graduates Dr. Juliane Haensch and Dr. Claire Settre were involved in the project. A book on global water markets is currently in process that has 15 different case studies on the feasibility of water markets around the world.
  • Senior research fellow Dr David Adamson through the funding from Australian Research Council (ARC)’s Discovery Early career researcher award fellowship is conducting research to examine how the national benefits from returning water to the environment in Australia’s MDB could be maximised. Currently no economic modelling of the MDB Plan’s implementation exists, and without an informed debate of the feasibility of the strategies that could be implemented, the trade-offs between alternative water users (economic, social and environmental) cannot be determined.

Our international research includes

More information on our research in the area of water policy is available here.

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