Water Policy Lab – Corvinus Vízkör
What is our goal with the Corvinus Water Policy Lab initiative?
Our goal is to establish a strong presence for Corvinus University in the field of applied water economics. In our understanding, water economics covers the economics of the sustainable use of scarce water resources and the management of infrastructure related to both water use and water related risks – with a strong emphasis on the links between water management and land use.
Water is viewed as a strategic element for the 21st century. While there is a growing interest in the social impacts of water scarcity and from a climate perspective about water’s role in the disruption of predictable environmental conditions, the role of economics in water management is still ambivalent. Currently, the established classical tools of economics play a limited role in shaping policy responses to water challenges. Professionals in engineering positions and those with a background in ecology lack a deeper knowledge of economics, while there is also a lack of economists familiar with the field of water.
There is an increasing need for economists with a good understanding of the operational logic of the relevant sectors and stakeholders (as users), the physical operation of the underlying infrastructure systems and the relationship with natural processes. Water economists can translate complex water management situations and water use conflicts into the language of economics and rely on the tools of standard economics to formulate, in cooperation with other qualified professionals, the complex resource management problems of the area and the responses to them. The Water Policy Lab aims to provide economics students not only with academic knowledge, but also with interdisciplinary project opportunities in which classroom knowledge can be enhanced by a wide range of experiences.
We wish to strengthen those links within the university where our activities can lead to mutually beneficial cooperation.
What do we offer?
- Perspectives – as a first step, we have launched an optional course, Introduction to Water Economics (2KT51LCK01B). The course provides insights into scarcity issues of water resources and infrastructure capacity, landscape-scale natural resource management and water related risk management that can be understood along the lines of water uses, and finally framed by the multifaceted links between land use and climate instability. During the learning curve the water economics context is gradually widened.
- Addressing relevant topics; providing supervisory support for theses, and implementation of research ideas What do we wish to further develop in collaboration with others? The complexity of water issues results in failed policy attempts and poor crisis management in much of the world. These are typically due to administrative and regulatory failures rather than technological shortcomings. We want to reduce the entry costs of access to this subject area.
- Establish a water economics related case centre, identify and organise project topics for education and research.
Municipal level: drinking water and water utility infrastructure
Access to drinking water is both a resource issue and a water infrastructure management and regulatory issue, mixing social, economic and natural challenges for both smaller and larger settlements as well as suburban agglomerations in the organisation of a public service in a monopoly position. In addition to the organisation and regulation of the service in Hungary, we have experience of regional and wider international cases.
Landscape level: river basin management and water related risk management issues
In Hungary we use only a fraction of the high level legal framework provided by the EU’s interlinked Water Framework Directive and Floods Directive. The Directives provide the key preconditions for the use of economic policy instruments as landscape (natural resource) management tools and provide information set for interpreting scarcities and externalities at the landscape scale.
We participate (or have participated) in numerous collaborations to promote the practical application of this scientific content, such as the LAND4FLOOD program, the network of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights, the EPI-Water – Evaluating Economic Policy Instruments for Sustainable Water Management in Europe (EU-FP7 research programme, GA: 265213), or Natural Water Retention Measures project
Global connections: the Energy-Water-Land-Climate nexus
Successful water governance is impossible without understanding and addressing the multiple scientific and sectoral interlinkages. This requires a coherent approach. In the case of environmental and climate change issues, the economic approach and its potential usefulness is ambivalent and the subject of debate. Extending the water economics view to the wider water management processes offers the potential for a coherent and integrative approach that can help to resolve prevailing conflicts. All this can be seen as a long-term, conceptual, synthesising research theme, which we are trying to give form to along the evolution of the approach. The concept is described in more depth in our article.