Sustainable natural resource use in rural areas is of crucial importance for agricultural development and rural poverty alleviation. Efforts aimed at promoting sustainable resource use will be confronted with a number of major challenges in the near future.
First, the almost universal shift in policy making from state intervention and control towards liberalised markets and decentralized governance implies that economic instruments and informal resource management institutions are likely to increase in importance. Second, the ongoing processes of globalization and economic integration will continue to affect domestic resource and product prices and bring home international environmental regimes in an increasing number of countries. Third, rapid economic growth and the growing global role of countries like China, India and Brazil will increase pressure and competing claims on (scarce) natural resources such as land, water, and energy, and will stimulate (political and economic) demand for a shift towards sustainable resource use into new directions
Institutions of different kind play a key role in both natural resource degradation, and sustainable use and preservation. In studying the role of institutions in such a dynamic socio-economic environment, the research programme focuses on the following changing institutions:
- the system of land institutions, related to both land availability and soil quality;
- the system of water institutions, related to both water quantity and quality; and
- emerging institutions related to renewable energy in rural areas, with a focus on bio-energy.
The purpose of the programme is to contribute to an improved understanding of
- the impact of global integration, transition towards a market-oriented economy, and rapidly increasing resource scarcity on the prevailing institutional design with respect to resource use in three areas (land, water and renewable energy) and on ongoing transformations in these institutions;
- the consequences of the prevailing institutional design and its ongoing transformation for sustainable natural resource use in these three areas and for rural incomes derived from these resources; and
- the kind of further institutional change needed to better fulfil future requirements for sustainable natural resource use in these three areas and for sustainable rural development.
Sustainable Natural Resource Use in Rural China (2008-2013)