Past Seminar

Water Conflicts and Resolution: Economy vs. Environment?

Mar 2, 2011 Video

About the Event

Water Conflicts and Resolution: Economy vs. Environment?
RFF First Wednesday Seminar
Wednesday, March 1, 2011

In many parts of the United States, water has become a source of increasing conflict. Current policies are failing to meet demands for water supply reliability, water quality, and flood protection. Meanwhile, freshwater aquatic ecosystems are in sharp decline despite several decades of well-intentioned but insufficient and poorly coordinated policies designed to protect them. Climate warming is expected to increase these challenges in the coming decades.

California—with its many diverse native ecosystems—is at the forefront of many of these conflicts. Drawing on a new in-depth report from the Public Policy Institute of California, Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation, this panel explored new approaches to balancing economic and environmental goals for water management. What are the emerging lessons from ecological science about how to achieve greater environmental success? How can available management tools, such as markets for water supply and quality, improve performance and reduce costs? And what kinds of changes in water management institutions and regulations are needed to facilitate these transitions?

Water development projects in the American West were among the earliest subjects of cost-benefit analysis by environmental economists, and much of that work was done at Resources for the Future. Today, this area of research is now being carried out by RFF’s Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth, which works with natural and social scientists, policymakers, and public and private sector experts to incorporate ecological science into solutions that recognize the social and economic benefits arising from natural systems.

Audio and Video
Event Audio (mp3) click to stream and right-click to download ​

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  • James W. Boyd, Senior Fellow and Director, RFF Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth
  • Sheila M. Olmstead, Visiting Fellow
  • P. Lynn Scarlett, Visiting Scholar and Co-Director, Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth