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Ranking Environmental Projects


  • Pannell, David J.


Environmental agencies and utilities wishing to support environmental projects face the challenge of deciding which of the many possible projects they should support with their limited resources. Projects vary greatly in their benefits and costs, so selecting the best projects can make a major difference to the level of benefits that can be generated for a given budget. Key principles for ranking projects are presented and explained. Suitable formulas to use as a metrics for ranking projects are developed and explained. The formulas account for valuation of benefits, the effectiveness of management, time lags, behaviour change, various risks and various costs. The formulas are designed to strike a balance between theoretical rigour and reasonable simplifications. A number of common mistakes to avoid are outlined. Sample templates for project proposals and spreadsheets for ranking projects are provided, to make it easy to put the principles into practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Pannell, David J., 2015. "Ranking Environmental Projects," Working Papers 204305, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uwauwp:204305
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.204305

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roberts, Anna M. & Pannell, David J. & Doole, Graeme & Vigiak, Olga, 2012. "Agricultural land management strategies to reduce phosphorus loads in the Gippsland Lakes, Australia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 11-22.
    2. Pannell, David J. & Roberts, Anna M., 2010. "Australia’s National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality: a retrospective assessment," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 54(4), pages 1-20.
    3. Pannell, David J. & Gibson, Fiona L., 2014. "Testing metrics to prioritise environmental projects," Working Papers 163211, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. 259 – Increasing environmental benefits
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2013-12-02 21:00:50
    2. 262 – Environmental triage
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2014-03-17 20:00:04
    3. 263 – The EQ Index
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2014-04-07 20:00:16
    4. 272 – Additionality
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2014-09-29 20:00:44
    5. 279 – Garbage in, garbage out?
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2015-03-11 20:00:26
    6. 325 – Ranking projects based on cost-effectiveness
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2019-09-16 15:45:42


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    Cited by:

    1. Rolfe, John & Windle, Jill, 2016. "Estimating supply functions for agri-environmental schemes: Water quality and the Great Barrier Reef," 2016 Conference (60th), February 2-5, 2016, Canberra, Australia 235510, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

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    Environmental Economics and Policy; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

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