The primary goal of this course was to give natural resource managers in Bhutan familiarity with the main concepts of economics and how these concepts apply to conservation of the environment and natural resources. By the end of the course, many participants had formed specific ideas on how to use economic analysis to better accomplish their environmental objectives. The course presented the fundamental concepts of microeconomics, which deal with market theory, and then moved on to the area of environmental valuation and environmental policy. The course also included a module on cost-benefit analysis, during which participants learned how to assess the economic feasibility of projects and policies.
Microeconomics (1/2 day): The microeconomics, or market theory, module occupied the first morning of the course. This session included the conditions for competitive markets, supply and demand, market equilibrium and price elasticity.
Environmental Economics and Policy (2 days): The environmental economics and policy module started with an analysis of market failures that lead to environmental damage or overconsumption of resources. Participants studied public and private goods and the role of property rights. The module proceeded to an explanation of the range of environmental values and the methods used in their estimation. Mixed in throughout this session was an exploration of environmental policies and how economics can predict whether policies will succeed or fail.
Cost-Benefit Analysis (1½ days): The cost-benefit module enabled students to calculate rates of economic return on projects and policies. Participants learned how to construct a basic cash-flow in an Excel spreadsheet, and calculate all the major indicators of economic feasibility. Students performed a cost-benefit analysis and presented their results in a role-play exercise.
Project Workshop (1 day): The project workshop was the students’ opportunity to present to the instructors and fellow participants ideas for applying economic analysis to conservation project and policy questions. Not all students were required to present ideas. 10-20 minutes was allocated for each project depending on the number of presentations. Students were encouraged to present joint projects. The course faculty provided comments and guidance on the research proposals