Friday, September 7, 2012

Dissertation/project thoughts/musings

I'm back in sunny Portland, OR and getting ready to start year 2 of this phd. So, like any diligent grad student I am already behind on work and projects. Instead of working on those, though, I'm going to follow in the grand tradition of phd students everywhere and think about other projects!! As always, comment as you will...could use the feedback.

Ecosystem Services and Econ Dev

My current obsession is thinking about sustainable urban development, ecosystem services, and economic development. Big, I know, but bear with me. Specifically, I'm trying to think about ways one can link ecosystem services or ecologically-centered development approaches with economic development...specifically, I'm thinking about attacking water quality issues through urban greening projects. There is a growing body of work trying to better tie ecological indicators and values into input-output analysis to assist in better calculating the economic impacts of our natural capital. I haven't read deeply into this work yet, but the Europeans seem to be diving into it. It would be interesting to see if I could adopt some of that work and apply it on a city or regional scale and combine it with economic development planning.

There's a lot here that needs to be fleshed out in terms of theory, methods, finding an appropriate case...but we could potentially expand the scope of economic development planning and environmental planning by adding in ecological benefits to induced economic impacts. Also, a recent paper in Marine Policy by Edwards et al performs an economic impact analysis of coastal restoration projects using ARRA (Obama Stimulus) money and found that for every million dollars invested in "blue infrastructure" 17 direct jobs were produced. This did not include indirect and induced jobs nor did it include long term benefits of such restoration like improved fisheries for commercial fishing, tourism, or water filtration.

The point is that in terms of infrastructure spending, blue infrastructure spending seems to be incredibly effective compared to other infrastructure projects that also have direct job counts like mass transit, road repair, or gas pipeline construction.There is definitely something here in terms of positive real economic development impacts in investing in our environment. What are some ways that this could apply in economic development and urban development strategies? This is what I'm musing on, currently.

Leave some comments if you have any thoughts, observations or what have you.

And in honor of @tnopper (a great follow, btw) I'm gonna try out a tagline for my posts now...so, without further delay, here it is-- Keep it surly. I'm out.


Tiffany Austin said...

Hey there,

Sounds to me like you're talking about Integrated Urban Water Management, especially with regard to land use/greening projects & space, and the realms of all of the interconnected social & financial institutions. I will admit, however, that the more detailed economic analyses are not my area of expertise (though I have some things from Dr. Ervin's Economics of Sustainability class that could be helpful?)

I have a decent amount of literature on things like this, and would be happy to do a check with you to see if you haven't read some of the stuff I have been reading.

Also, just off the top of my head, because you mentioned the EU, have you hear of SWITCH? Here's a link to their site: http://www.switchurbanwater.eu/index.php


Surly Urbanist said...

I hadn't...I'll check it out. we'll hook up later this week.