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Comparative Environmental Economic Assessment

Edited by Raymond J.G.M. Florax, Peter Nijkamp and Kenneth G. Willis

Over the last decade, economists have increasingly recognized the role of meta-analysis and value transfer in synthesizing knowledge and efficiently exploiting the existing pool of knowledge. Comparative Environmental Economic Assessment explores the potential significance of using these techniques, particularly in environmental economics. Both meta-analysis and value transfer constitute major research tools which efficiently use knowledge previously acquired from other studies. The book focuses on the potential role and usefulness of these tools in environmental economic research, and goes on to address their validity, relevance and applicability
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Chapter 6: Environmental value transfer: state of the art and future prospects

Roy Brouwer


Roy Brouwer 1 INTRODUCTION Environmental value or benefits transfer has become a controversial issue in various policy contexts, not least because of academic and political reservations over the usefulness and technical feasibility of economic valuation tools to demonstrate the importance of environmental values in project or programme appraisal.1 The technique of transferring estimated monetary values for non-market environmental goods and services across sites and populations is much more widely accepted and applied in the United States than in Europe as a result of, inter alia, the official support for cost–benefit analysis (CBA) by the US Environmental Protection Agency. European authorities are much more circumspect about the role of benefits transfer. As a result of recent unconditional applications of value transfer in the policy context of water management of low flow rivers in the United Kingdom, its potential role in informing environmental decision making has been compromised together with the UK Environment Agency’s efforts to further develop the use of CBA in the policy decision process.2 A lot of the controversy surrounding value or benefits transfer can be related back to the longstanding debate about the role of CBA in informing decision-making (for example, Turner, 1978). For most critics of CBA, economic value theory underlying CBA and economic valuation techniques are overly restrictive. The assumptions underlying the theory are considered too narrow and simple to properly describe people’s held environmental values, the process of value construction or the way individual values are aggregated into...

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