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"Research can transform the environment into a driving force for growth"

Environmental economics is an area in which the School of Business, Economics and Law is very much to the fore, both in research and education. A good example is the Environment for Development initiative, where Sida and the School have employed unique working methods. In doing so, they have succeeded in making a true difference in developing countries throughout the world.

Sida saw the need to build up environmental economics in its recipient countries. At the School of Business, Economics and Law, they found a partner with expertise and motivation.

PhD students from developing countries bring a new future home with them
Gunnar Köhlin is an Associate Professor of economics, a driving force at the Environmental Economics Unit and the Director of the Environment for Development initiative.

"We admit PhD students from poor countries. During two years we provide them with a solid economics education with specialization courses in environmental evaluation, natural resource economics, system ecology, climate modelling and environmental policy instruments," explains Gunnar Köhlin. "Then they have a further two years to write their theses, dealing with key environmental and poverty issues in their home countries. The hope is that they will continue to work with these issues and help train the next generation of academics and public officials."

Right knowledge and support at home
To provide the PhD students with a greater opportunity to exert an influence at home, the Environment for Development initiative was created with environmental economics centres in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and China. The centers are provided with the means to build up academic programmes, carry out applied research and interact with public agencies.

"The aim is to improve welfare in these countries and it is therefore important to utilize the resources as efficiently as possible to make real change. We therefore not only offer courses on economics and the environment, we also provide our PhD students with a specific course on policy processes and how they can be influenced."

Environmental economists in exciting posts
Over 200 students have taken the PhD courses over the years. Those who have returned to their home countries have lived up to expectations.

"Several hold prominent positions at universities, authorities and international organisations throughout the world. They have become incredibly influential and they really can change the situation in their home countries," states Gunnar Köhlin.

Considerable external interest
Environment for Development has also generated considerable interest from international actors. UN organisations such as UNEP and UN DESA are impressed by how simple EfD makes it to reach key researchers in these countries

"We have seen the need for knowledge and we know now that research can transform the environment into a driving force for growth,” concludes Gunnar Köhlin.

This is an article from the School´s presentation brochure.

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