Reclaiming the balance: social and economic assessment -- lessons learned after ten years of water reforms in Australia

Baldwin, C.; O'Keefe, V.; Hamstead, M.
June 2009
Australasian Journal of Environmental Management;Jun2009, Vol. 16 Issue 2, p70
Academic Journal
Australia's National Water Initiative has identified an important role for the use of social and economic assessments in the water sharing and allocation planning process. Such assessments can be used to identify locations and sectors at highest risk; advise on possible social and economic impacts of water sharing options; inform transparent and fair trade-offs; identify ways of mitigating negative impacts, including structural adjustment; provide accurate information to stakeholders and decision-makers on which to base decisions; and provide an understanding of the cultural context in relation to 'other public benefit outcomes', including indigenous objectives and values. This paper reviews the lessons learned about water sharing planning by water planners and stakeholders around Australia based on experience since the COAG water reforms in 1994. Eleven case studies from the Australian states and the Northern Territory are used to illustrate the state of practice in the use of social and economic assessments to inform decisions on risks and trade-offs in developing Water Allocation Plans. Recommendations are made about how water planning can be improved with the use of social and economic assessments.


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