Water economics research receives Marsden fund grant

School of Government academic Dr Julia Talbot-Jones has received a Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant for her project to redesign water markets to incentivise the provision of environmental flows.

Dr Julia Talbot-Jones
Dr Julia Talbot-Jones

Dr Talbot-Jones' research project, Fresh ideas for water economics and policy, will use institutional analysis, game theory, and choice modelling to tackle three diverse research questions centred around water markets:

  • What happens in a water market when a river owns itself?
  • How can we design markets to be more cooperative at lower cost?, and
  • How can we improve our estimates of missing socio-cultural-environmental values of water in Aotearoa New Zealand?

The research findings aim to advance water economics and policy, provide reliable evidence to inform water management globally, and help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The project is one of 27 projects from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington to be awarded a Marsden Fund grant this year. From the University’s initial 166 proposals, it had a success rate of 16 percent, compared with a national rate of 11.5 percent.

The Wellington-led projects announced as grant recipients this year are the highest number for the University in the fund’s 26-year history and the grants’ total value of more than $16 million is the most the University has received in a round.

The success—achieved in the face of the challenges to researchers posed by COVID-19 and its impacts—reinforces the University’s position as New Zealand’s number one university for research intensity in the last Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) assessment, the country’s main measure of research quality. The University also topped the previous PBRF assessment.

“In 2020 of all years, the success of these projects is a great achievement for the researchers involved and the professional staff supporting them in their applications during the upheavals of COVID-19. Two of the projects even tackle issues raised by COVID-19,” says the University’s Vice-Provost (Research), Professor Margaret Hyland.