Here’s the abstract for my mid-term presentation next week – hope to see Canberra people there!
An interdisciplinary approach to evaluating the efficacy of biodiversity offsetting policies
Mid-term review, Wednesday 10th December, 9:45am, Fenner Seminar Room 1.01, Frank Fenner Building
Megan Evans, Fenner School of Environment and Society
Biodiversity offsetting is a highly topical and increasingly widespread policy instrument which aims to compensate for environmental impacts of development activities. Much of the academic research to date has been focused on developing and refining offset metrics in order to best capture losses and gains of biodiversity over time and space. Despite a large and growing volume of research, biodiversity offsetting in practice faces a number of unresolved issues. First, there is no ‘standard’ approach to offsetting, and many of the existing approaches currently in use are flawed. Second, little is known of what outcomes are being delivered by offset policies, despite policies being in place for at least three decades in the USA, and up to 20 years in Australia. Finally, the reasons for this lack of information are not well understood. In this seminar, I will outline my research to date on biodiversity offsetting, which falls broadly into the formulation, implementation and evaluation stages of the policy cycle. I will first describe the offset metric which colleagues and I developed that is now in use as part of the Australian EPBC Act Environmental Offsets Policy, as well as the process taken to introduce this policy. Next, I will outline work which suggests there is a risk that current implementation of offset policies across Australia may even exacerbate biodiversity loss. Finally, I will spend the majority of this seminar describing in-progress work on how to evaluate the environmental outcomes delivered by biodiversity offsetting policies. The common theme of this part of my research is on understanding and overcoming barriers to evaluation: whether they are methodological, economic, or institutional. I will conclude with a road-map to completion of my thesis, and I welcome insights and suggestions from the audience.