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Beyond Engineering – The Value Of Water & Other Natural Resources: Public Lecture

Posted in Events, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 16th, 2010


Image: noodle_snacks via flickr CC

Dr Brian Davidson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Resource Management, University of Melbourne:

Technologists spend significant effort delivering natural resources, but the context we work in is economic. Water is a critical resource, but without an understanding of its value, water delivery projects are problematical. Is water overvalued or undervalued?

Catchment Management Authorities (the true suppliers of water) cannot readily alter prices, raising them to update or improve infrastructure or reducing them to sell more water.

According to market theory the absence of a functioning market in water means that it isn’t priced correctly, so how is it possible to make a meaningful rational decision on whether to invest in new infrastructure or undertake some economic adjustment? If water were traded more freely would water be allocated so that it maximised social benefit? Or could it be that the desired outcomes that are believed to come from the market may not be achieved?

The same may be considered true for many natural resources. The aim in this talk is to examine these theoretical and practical questions, to make a judgement call on whether they hold and in light of that to suggest an alternative way some of the benefits that are meant to be derived from a free market may be delivered to all water users.

Wednesday 18th August 2010 6:00pm
Theatre 3, Alan Gilbert Building (Cnr of Grattan St & Barry St)
The University of Melbourne
Public welcome — no entry charge

Presented by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology