Center for environmentally

sustainable economics policy

Director Dr. Mihaela Popovici

Senior Policy Advisor for Sustainable Development

Deputy Director Oana Tortolea

Junior Policy Advisor for Sustainable Development

Drumul Sarii 75 Sector 5 Bucharest

Tel/Fax +40 1 4102519

email: mpopovic@fx.ro

email: otortolea@yahoo.com






There has been much interest by the donor community to support an independent insti­tu­tion that would create and maintain a critical mass of environmentally oriented applied econ­omists and policy advisors. Such a group would not only promote donor capacity-building goals per se but also act as a source of local expertise for their technical assistance funds. Below is a description of such an insti­tution, which was founded in January 1998 as Centre for Environmentally Sustainable Economics Policy (CESEP).


Background. It became painfully clear that Romania has a serious lack of environmental econ­o­mists and envi­ron­mental law­yers (with practical experience). In short, some mechanism was needed given:

(a)       the urgent need to strengthen Romania’s expertise in the economics of sustainable devel­opment and in environmental economics in particular, and

(c)        the need to provide the government with a source of modern, empirically rigorous envi­ronmentally attuned economic policy analysis on which to base their decision-mak­ing.


Description.            The CESEP focuses on:

(a)             Supporting government economic decision-making by carrying out studies applying mod­ern economic analysis (especially in natural resource management and environmental econ­omics) and applied econometric methods;

(b)            Training economists in Romania on how to include the sustainable development dimen­sion in their sub-discipline (be it macroeconomics, labor or trade economics etc.), thereby ensuring that professors also have an applied policy background on which to base their academic course preparations;

(c)        Having the CESEP as a repository for the critical mass of “environmentally sen­si­tized” economists being trained in the country (e.g., as they work on donor-related activities);

(d)            Providing an opportunity to interest students in environmental economics-related cour­ses of study, or at least familiarizing students studying related disciplines as to the key econ­omic con­cepts. CESEP offered such opportunities to assist in their pro­fes­sors’ applied policy research, by attending CESEP seminars, and by participating in student (and visit­ing professor) exchanges.


CESEP focus. Today, environmental sustainability is recognized to involve much more than natural resource and environmental asset management but also macroeconomic and fiscal policy, privatization, industrial restructuring, urban development, agriculture and even international trade. As such, the CESEP’s approach is threefold. First, its focus is economic and emphasizes well defined and protected property rights, use of market-based instru­ments where possible, and full-cost pricing (polluters and ser­vice beneficiaries pay); second, it focuses on equity by stress­ing local level involvement, dem­o­cratic and accountable insti­tutions and strong economic growth (since poverty encour­ages environmental degra­da­tion). Third, because of the import­ance Romania places on Euro­pean Union accession, the CESEP's legislative and regulatory emphasis stresses har­moni­za­tion with European Union laws and directives.


Donor opportunities. A number of donors have expressed interest in supporting the cre­ation of a critical mass of envi­ron­mental engineers and econ­o­mists, the key-missing ingredient in the Roman­ian policy landscape. At a minimum, donors are being encouraged to have their envi­ron­mental economics-related studies chan­neled through the CESEP rather than searching for, contracting, and then man­aging local experts them­selves.


Selected projects:

1.      UNEP "Structural Adjustment Program impacts on the environment" with 2 components: Impact of higher water price on economic competitiveness and impact of timber price and trade liberalization on environment, 1997-2000.

2.      Regional Environmental Centre  “Sofia Initiative on economic instruments” 1998-2001.

3.      IUCN “Incentives measures to conserve biodiversity for six selected countries in CEE and NIS.

4.      USAID/Harvard University “Survey on the Determinants of Firm-Level Environmental Performance” 1998-2000.

5.      USAID/Harvard University “Research into Privatization and Environmental Liability” 1998-2000.

6.      Ministry for Water and Environmental Protection, Romania: Economic valuation for floods prevention and control. GIS and tele-detection methods for floods forecast (2000).

7.      Regional Environmental Centre  “Survey on Environmental Funds” 2001

8.       National Social Research Institute, Greece: Environmental information management for environmental institutions in Romania, (2001).