Background to PREM programme
In 1993, a programme of ‘Collaborative Research in the Economics of Environment and Development’ (CREED) was initiated by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), in London, and the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), in Amsterdam. Funding for an initial five years, later extended to six years, was provided by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS). Priority research themes during the first phase centered on international trade and the environment, macroeconomic policy and the environment, valuation and incentives for optimal resource management, and poverty and environment linkages.
The main objective of the CREED programme was to strengthen developing countries’ capacity to undertake economic research and policy analysis on environmental and natural resource management issues. The principal focus of the programme was on fostering long-term links between Northern and Southern research institutes, based on collaborative research on topics of mutual interest.
The CREED programme aimed to fill a gap left by other similar initiatives that tend to focus more on providing training courses or small research grants of short duration and are usually targeted at individual researchers rather than teams. CREED aimed to complement these other initiatives by building capacity at an institutional level through long-term partnerships. During the first phase of activities (1993-99), the programme provided a unique opportunity for Southern researchers to apply skills acquired through academic training in policy-relevant research (involving multidisciplinary teams), and to receive feedback from an international network of experienced researchers.
Major achievements of CREED are listed below:
· 19 collaborative research projects were funded under the programme and some twenty institutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been supported by CREED.
· A supportive framework was established for Southern researchers to conduct rigorous analysis in the economics of environment and development. This was achieved through formal and informal training, one-on-one mentoring by external reviewers, and overall management of the programme by a Steering Committee consisting of representatives from IIED and IVM, and leading environmental economists from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
· CREED projects have made important contributions to policy debates on the valuation of environmental costs and benefits, design of policy instruments and the effect of macroeconomic and trade policy on the environment.
· CREED made a significant contribution to strengthening research capacity in the field of environmental and developmental economics. This was the consensus among participants in a mid-term review of the programme. The success of the programme was also demonstrated by the fact that several developing world partner institutions were motivated to establish permanent environmental economics units to conduct research and policy analysis, and have been invited by other organisations to participate in projects on similar themes.
· CREED provided an important outlet for developing world researchers to present their work publicly. 35 working papers were published under the CREED publications series (as of December 2000), in most cases jointly authored by Northern and Southern researchers. These papers were all subject to peer review by internationally recognised experts. They were distributed to a worldwide mailing list of over 1000 people involved in environmental policy and natural resource management. All CREED working papers are also available in full-text versions on the Internet (www.iied.org/creed).
· CREED research findings have been published as books and in international, peer-reviewed journals, including: Ecological Economics; the Journal of Income Distribution; Environmental and Resource Economics; the Journal of Industrial Ecology; Transport Policy; and Environment and Development Economics. This has helped Southern collaborators achieve the status and reputation needed to secure support for further independent research.
The first 5-year phase of CREED was extended by one year to March 1999, followed by a further extension of publication and dissemination activities to May 2001. However, the feasibility study initially undertaken for CREED envisaged that achieving the programme's long-term objectives might require extension beyond a single phase. Support for this view came from CREED participants and partner organizations, members of the programme’s Steering Committee, and external evaluators. In response, a follow-up programme has been formulated. Given the growing importance of the poverty-environment nexus in developing countries, poverty-reduction and environmental management has been chosen to be the central focus of the programme. This new research initiative has been termed the ‘Poverty Reduction and Environmental Management’ (PREM) programme.