Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH)

ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology,
Chair of Environmental Policy and Economics

Main tasks: Lead of WP4, participant of WP2
Address: Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland

The Professorship for Environmental Policy and Economics (PEPE) was established in April 2006 and forms part of the Institute for Environmental Decisions at ETH. It consists of an inter-disciplinary team of economists, political scientists and a lawyers working with a range of methods (e.g., econometrics, ecological-economic modelling, economic experiments, network analysis) and engaging in environmental challenges across ecosystems and nations, from Alpine regions in Switzerland to forests in Ethiopia and freshwater ecosystems in Brazil. We focus on the formal and informal rules of a society (policies, laws, norms, etc.) as important factors influencing human behaviour and decision making towards the environment, and as steering mechanisms towards more sustainable outcomes. In the course of global change, the way in which these rules are set has changed considerably over the past decades, a trend referred to as a shift ‘from government to governance’. Our mission is to advance our knowledge of environmental governance in a changing world, in order to develop effective and efficient steering mechanisms for complex environmental challenges. Existing steering mechanisms, their evolution, strengths and weaknesses as well as their impacts are analysed, and solutions are sought to what constitutes optimal environmental governance. We contribute to understanding and overcoming knowing-doing gaps through research, teaching, outreach and collaborations with academics as well as practitioners.

Role in the project and previous experience:
ETH will lead WP4. It will participate in WP2, WP3, WP5, WP6 and WP1. PEPE has participated in a number of book publications oriented toward policymakers and regularly publishes in more outreach-oriented journals and newsletters. A book on the policy and economics of REDD, co-edited by C. Palmer and S. Engel is featured on United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) websites and newsletters. A special issue on the design of payments for environmental services has become a major reference for practitioners in this field and was featured in the European Commission Environment News Alert Service. PEPE members were also lead author for the ‘environmental governance’ chapter of UNEP’s Yearbook 2010 and contributors to a handbook on policy evaluation that has attracted high attention among scholars and in public administrations. In 2005, S. Engel organized an expert workshop on PES in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), resulting in a special issue of Ecological Economics on PES (Engel, Wunder & Pagiola, forthcoming).

Project participants: