Another Drop Lecture Series: Payments for Watershed Services by Roy Brouwer

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 7:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

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Forests, wetlands and grasslands all provide “watershed services” by enhancing water quality and supply, biodiversity and carbon storage. They have economic value but unfortunately their market price is $0, says Prof. Roy Brouwer, Executive Director of the Water Institute.

Payments for watershed services is a growing practice, where economists are studying how to attach the right price to the essential services that watersheds provide. Brouwer says, “when used properly, these payment schemes could significantly help preserve water ecoystems around the world.” But, in general, there is a lack of effective water pricing practices, which means there is no direct economic incentive for water users to conserve valuable water resources. 

There are currently over 100 payments for watershed services schemes operating around the world. During World Water Week in Stockholm, Brouwer said the payment schemes are more common in developing countries but are also of interest elsewhere. 

The challenge lies in understanding what payment schemes are most effective under which circumstances: Who should pay and how much? What indicators should be monitored? Pinpointing what makes these schemes effective is what Brouwer is investigating.


Roy Brouwer
Roy Brouwer is a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Waterloo and the Executive Director of the Water Institute at the University of Waterloo. Before moving to Waterloo, Brouwer was head of the Department Environmental Economics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2009-2015). He also worked for five years outside academic research as an economist in the Dutch Water Ministry (2000-2004) where he was responsible for the economic underpinning of national and transboundary water policy in areas such as climate change and flood risks, water quality, urban water management and river restoration.