Our mission is to deliver world-class research and research-led teaching with strong links to governmental bodies and the private sector, benefitting the wider community.
Overview of the Centre
In contemporary times, environmental economics has come to the forefront of the economic and developmental debate. Resource management is now pivotal in the face of growing modern economies and an ever increasing world population. Ensuring equitable economic growth to further the global developmental agenda while ensuring sustainability of resource use and mitigating the impacts of climate change as an externality of world economic growth remains key in protecting the livelihoods and quality of life for future generations. One of the key mechanisms available to governments to remedy environmental concerns is fiscal and tax policy.
The realm of public economics focuses on key aspects of market failure, including mitigating externalities and ensuring efficient pricing that promotes an equitable use of resources but simultaneously protecting the basic human rights of access to key amenities and services. Public economic policy provides the mechanisms to change human behaviour via improved regulation and tax policy to support sustainable development and limit market failure. The relationship of public and environmental economics is clear.
PEERC is endorsed and supported by its strategic stakeholders such as the South African Local Government Association, the Water Research Commission, the Financial and Fiscal Commission, Department of Water and Sanitation and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit. International partners include the Environment for development initiative based at the University of Goteborg, in Sweden which is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency.
The role of PEERC is to:
- Provide leadership and excellence in public and environmental economics;
- Emphasise the link between public economics and environmental economics in the South African developmental agenda;
- Promote research and knowledge creation in the fields of public and environmental economics that is nationally and internationally recognised;
- Promote policy-relevant research that contributes to the national and international policy arena;
- Promote the development of dedicated teaching and learning in the fields of public and environmental economics;
- Build strategic partnerships with key international and national bodies and provide research and teaching support to such organisations; and
- Contribute to South Africa's sustainable economic development and the protection of the basic human and economic rights of current and future generations.
Such a distinction is most apparent in the South African economic and political system. From a macroeconomic level, key environmental concerns lie within the ambit of national government. This includes the strategic use of the country's scarce water resources or the promotion of renewable energy sources to promote sustainable economic growth. The fiscal debates in the country have clearly shifted to policies that are sensitive to the environmental agenda. South Africa also boasts a complex intergovernmental system with sub-national governments empowered with key service delivery responsibilities and fiscal powers and functions. Such powers and functions of provincial and local government include environmental management, agriculture, water, energy and solid waste management. Sub-national government in the country is thus required to use their fiscal instruments in a manner that promotes the equitable and sustainable delivery of services to communities in the face of increasing demand, financial constraints and limited resources. A well capacitated public sector equipped with well-designed policies is thus key for the achievement of the country's sustainable development.