Environmental and resource economics for non-economists

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Economics, Data Analysis and Decision Making


Australia faces serious challenges in the form of local, national and global environmental problems and in sustainably managing the Country’s resources. This course will teach you how economic approaches can be used to improve the management of valuable, but often under-priced, environmental assets. The convenor will share insights into how economic ideas for environmental and resource management can be successfully communicated to policymakers, stakeholders, and the public. The day involves highly interactive learning and case studies from Australia and overseas. This course will boost your capacity to be involved in designing and communicating environmental policies. A special focus will be placed on policies for improving environmental outcomes in the energy sector.

Course overview

Australia faces serious challenges in the form of local, national, and global environmental problems and in sustainably managing important resources such as fish stocks and fresh water. Economics provides an important framework to understand the causes of these challenges and the best policy approaches for addressing them.

In this course, Associate Professor Paul Burke will show how economic approaches can be used to better manage our natural environment. You will learn how environmental policy goals can be achieved in a cost-effective manner if the appropriate policy settings are put in place. The use of economic instruments to improve environmental outcomes in the rapidly-changing energy sector will be given special focus.

The course will cover issues in the design of conservation policies and the successful use of economic approaches in managing greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution, biodiversity, salinity, and key resources such as fisheries. The economic concepts of market failure, externalities, public goods, and market-based instruments will be covered. The course will also review how ideas from the field of behavioural economics can be incorporated into environmental policy.

Learning outcomes

  • Develop an improved understanding of applying economic approaches to environmental and resource problems. This can be used for better design of environmental policies, and better private-sector adaptation to existing policies.
  • Improved capacity in communicating economic ideas related to management of the environment and natural resources.

Who should attend?

The course is designed as a foundational course and is therefore recommended for APS1-6 or equivalent. Participants with little knowledge about resource economics may also find it beneficial. If you have any questions about your suitability of the course please contact the team:

Course presenter(s)

Associate Professor Paul Burke

Paul Burke is an economist at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy. He works on the economics of energy, the environment, and developing countries. He is currently carrying out research projects in Australia, Indonesia, China, and India. In 2016 he published a paper on Australia’s Direct Action emission reduction scheme that received considerable attention. Paul has also won a College prize for his teaching excellence. He is a frequent contributor to Australian discussions on economic approaches to environmental challenges.

Updated:  17 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team