What is the role of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists?
In this interview granted to Re3, EAERE president Karine Nyborg explains what are the Association’s short- and medium-term objectives. The sketch is completed by a set of video interviews to EAERE 2012 conference keynote speakers Ian J. Bateman, Kerry Smith and by the videos of the policy sessions at the same conference.
What is the role of the EAERE ?
It is a professional organization and a place for networking, mainly for economists working with issues related to resources and the environment, so that they can meet and learn from each other, while also reaching out to students and people interested to know what researchers do. The main goal is to make it easier for researchers and students to meet, but also to get in touch with newcomers and policy makers.
How did you see the EAERE Conference evolve over the years?
My first Conference was in 1992, almost at the beginning of the Association (activities began in 1990). At that time there were much fewer participants, perhaps 200 or so. It was a little bit like a small, friendly group of idealistic people, some of them more oriented towards the environment than towards high-quality economics research. As EAERE expanded, it also became more professional. Today it has more than 1,000 members.
The Association has always had very good researchers among its members, but in the beginning, the overall quality at the Conference was very mixed. In these 20 years, the quality of scientific research on environmental and resources economics has increased a lot in Europe, and our Conferences reflect this aspect. Still, the spirit of the Conference remains the same, perhaps not as idealistic as in the beginning, but friendly and family-like.
What role can the Association play in the coming years?
One of the current goals of the current council is to improve the connections with the policy arena, since both researchers and policy makers need to be in touch with each other. On one hand, researchers can gain new ideas and interesting hypotheses from policy makers in order to understand how things work in the political sphere; on the other hand policy makers need to know the most important research results. This is a connection that is hard to keep, since many researchers don’t usually have time to disseminate the results of their work and most policy makers don’t have time to actually read research papers.
So one of my main aspirations for the Association would be to help overcome this gap. During our last Conference, in order to improve this aspect, we introduced policy sessions, where it was possible to have presentations not necessarily peer reviewed, since policy makers don’t usually write scientific papers.
How do you wish to influence the policy debate?
The Association is a place for networking rather than a standard NGO, so we don’t have an ideological program that we want to convey to policy makers. The researchers that are our members have quite different ideas on how their results should be translated into policies, so we would usually not push specific policy ideas. I do believe that it would be good for policy makers to get a better understanding of research results, and this is an important task for the future of our Association.