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Waikato economist appointed to support policy development

Waikato economist appointed to support development of water quality policies

University of Waikato economist Graeme Doole will provide training and advice to regional and central government as they develop new policies to improve the water quality of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and streams.

Professor Doole has been appointed for the next four years as a Chair in Environmental Economics, a new role jointly funded by the Ministry for the Environment and the University of Waikato’s Management School.

Ministry for the Environment chief executive Vicky Robertson said the new position would support government and communities to make decisions about managing fresh water based on robust evidence.

“The government has instigated a new approach for water management, and communities across New Zealand are banding together to identify how best to manage these resources,” says Ms Robertson.

“A key aspect of Professor Doole’s role is to increase skills across New Zealand by training regional council and central government staff how to conduct high-quality economic analysis of proposed plans for managing water resources – such as using less fertiliser on farms or building a new wastewater treatment plant,” she says.

Professor Doole’s appointment comes in the wake of the government’s new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which requires regional councils to introduce rules for managing freshwater assets by 2025, in consultation with community stakeholders.

“My role is about helping people make more informed decisions about the costs of achieving water quality targets in a specific catchment area, in a way that seeks to balance the competing interests of environmental, social, cultural and economic goals,” says Professor Doole.

“A leading cause of water quality deterioration in New Zealand is the loss of nutrients and microbes from farmland. So if we want to improve the water quality of our rivers and streams, we’re going to have to radically change the way that we’re managing land, and that can be very costly in some circumstances.”

“Decisions around water are tough, because they involve making difficult trade-offs between important values that vary among different stakeholder groups. This is not easy work, and the courage being shown by the people getting involved and representing their constituents is amazing,” he says.

“People working in the field of water resource management have a great passion for improving the environment; without harming our way of life. My job is essentially to help people gain a better understanding of economic issues and methods so they can make well informed decisions around water issues.”


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