A review on cost-effectiveness analysis of agri-environmental measures related to the EU WFD: Key issues, methods, and applications
The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) explicitly integrates economics into water management and water policy in Europe. Specifically, Article 11 and Annex III of the Directive call for a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of alternative mitigation measures as a requirement in formulating Programme of Measures (PoMs) to achieve 'good ecological status' for all waters in Europe. As agriculture is supposed to be the major contributor to diffuse water pollution, CEA of agri-environmental measures has been given paramount importance in establishing the PoMs. This paper summarises the status, significance, and methodological limitations of WFD-related CEA studies in Europe. Cases from the United Kingdom, countries surrounding the Baltic Sea and central and southern Europe were included in the review. Review results indicate that most WFD-related CEA studies: (1) were based on models of 'representative' farms without capturing the variability among real-world farms; (2) concentrate on a single ecological effect of measures or are based on cost estimates of the sectors directly involved in the pollutant-reduction programme (i.e., co-benefits, trade-offs, and external costs were not examined); and (3) did not incorporate uncertainties in both cost and effectiveness estimates. Based on the review results, the paper suggests policy implications and recommendations for future research in the field.
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