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
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.
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).