SDC Water Blog

Apr 24
RésEAU webinar: Session 1 - The costs of inaction: how to make the case for reform

​The RésEAU is organising a 2018 series of webinars, dedicated to water and open to all SDC staff and partner organisations to attend, which will run from April to September 2018.

The first RésEAU webinar took place on April 23rd, 2018 and focused on The costs of inaction: how to make the case for reform. This webinar is of relevance to all who are working on making environmental reform happen - be it on water, climate change, land use or clean air. It explored another way to push policy-makers to act, namely by quantifying and having a better understanding of the costs of inaction, or the economic benefits of policy action.

During this webinar, we heard from Dr Elisa Lanzi from the OECD who presented the methodology behind the analysis of the economic costs of environmental policies through the CIRCLE project, and how it has led policy-makers to push for reform by referring to concrete examples related to air pollution in particular. Dr Iskandar Abdullaev, director of the regional environmental centre for Central Asia CAREC and one of the authors of a recent study on Rethinking Water in Central Asia: The costs of inaction and benefits of water cooperation, presented the historical perspective and policy context in the water sector in the Central Asia region. We also heard from Dr Benjamin Pohl (Adelphi), lead author of the aforementioned study, about how the "costs of inaction" methodology was applied in this context.

Some of the main takeaways of the webinar are:

  • There is a need to communicate well on the details of the costs of inaction in a given sector, not only to policy-makers at the national or regional level, but also to a broader audience, to raise awareness of the issue and trigger debate which can create a 'window of opportunity' for reform;

  • There are challenges in linking analysis at the global or regional level with local-level impacts and actions; and in calculating direct and indirect costs, as well as market (related to GDP) and non-market costs;

  • Different levels of analysis on the 'costs of inaction' can be applied, from a sophisticated economic modelling approach to more pragmatic and less costly approach. However, getting stakeholders to accept the results of the analysis and consider them legitimate is key to create an enabling environment for policy reform.




Rethinking Water in Central Asia The costs of inaction and benefits of water cooperation by Pohl


Cost of Inaction Study in Central Asia: context and perspectives by Abdullaev



  • Pohl, Benjamin; Annika Kramer, William Hull, Sabine Blumstein, Iskandar Abdullaev, Jusipbek Kazbekov, Tais Reznikova, Ekaterina Strikeleva, Eduard Interwies and Stefan Görlitz (2017): Rethinking Water in Central Asia: The costs of inaction and benefits of water cooperation. Read the report and policy brief 


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