ARE seniors Matt Chen and Hannah Colonies-Kelley were awarded an Environmental and Social Sustainability Grant from the Office of Sustainability to study the procurement practices of UConn dining. Through initial interviews with Dining Services personnel, Chen and Kelley learned about UConn’s high levels of local food procurement (approximately 36% pre-pandemic compared to 20% or less at most other institutions) and innovative initiatives to reduce food waste. They are designing a survey to understand students’ food insecurity challenges and awareness of UConn Dining’s sustainability practices, and will be interviewing local agricultural producers. These results will help them develop marketing recommendations for Dining Services, and a report detailing their final results should be forthcoming in July.
You can read more about the grant and Matt and Hannah in UConn Today:
Hannah Colonies-Kelley Senior Spotlight
Matt Chen Senior Spotlight
PhD Candidate Binod Khanal was recently quoted in an article in The Guardian, “Paying extra for milk alternatives: unfair, illogical- and a little bit racist?”.
““In the long term, the prices for plant-based milk might go down as the size of the industry increases, allowing for more competition in the market,” said Binod Khanal, who researches agricultural economics and consumer behavior at the University of Connecticut. He said the preference for plant-based milk among consumers is largely due to concerns for climate change as well as lactose intolerance, predominantly among the non-white demographic. “
ARE Undergraduate Liam Ena was recently featured in a UConn Today article about his work with the Clean Energy Society, created in 2021, to push for transitioning to clean energy in Connecticut. Ena says, “CAHNR’s focus on environmental economics and civics brought me to UConn.”
Charles Towe‘s research on the effect of stream restoration on home values was featured in UConn Today
Charles Towe was awarded a grant for $499,930 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study water quality and economics. The grant title is Valuing Rural Stewardship of Riverine Ecosystems: Transfer-Ready Water Quality and Land Cover Co-Benefits, Linked Rural and Urban Economies.
Water quality is the basis for many critical ecosystem services. Runoff of nutrients from the agricultural sector is now the main contributor to the current degradation ofUS waters. Policymakers have found it a challenge to encourage reductions by agriculture for at least two reasons. First, by statute, many agricultural operations are explicitly excluded from regulation. Second, when decision-makers move to set pollution targets it is a challenge to conduct benefit-cost analyses at both the regional and federal levels, exacerbating stasis over the setting of an ambient pollution target that promotes the general welfare.The policy community realizes that estimates of the public value for water quality are critical inputs for robust welfare analyses.Programs for water quality improvement span rural, suburban, and urban communities, and the benefits extend across these same dimensions. To date, much of the focus for water quality changes and benefit calculation has been placed either in urban areas. Given the dominance of non-point sources in our current water pollution portfolio and the fact that the acceptance of, and voluntary participation in, government programs to reduce this pollution is required for further success, a statistically valid and transferable estimate of rural water quality benefits is needed. These estimates are an important input to near-term spending priorities and in the longer term to aid in evaluating the potential for new, perhaps state-level, regulations, or market-based trading mechanisms (environmental markets) to meet water quality targets.Therefore, with the resulting absence of benefits information, it is hard to evaluate an investment in water quality in rural communities and current investment in such areas is likely inadequate. The value of water quality improvement is conditional on the target area of quality-improving management practices and the downstream areas that accrue benefits. Thus, a national or even region-wide assessment of the value of water quality changes with specificity to a local decision-scale is costly. The ecological, land-cover, and social context are critical to value measurement, and comprehensive information requires many valuation studies across a spectrum of locations.Overcoming these challenges requires valuation models that account for social, economic, and environmental context and tradeoffs and are constructed in a fashion that allows estimation of benefits even outside of the studied areas. In this study, we conduct targeted valuation surveys across these dimensions that allow for a benefit estimate of quality improvements along the entirety of the riverine system. These benefit calculations will fill a gap in knowledge and assist policymakers in targeting practice changes that produce the greatest social welfare improvement.
Stephen Swallow was awarded a $50,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study ecosystem services. The grant title is Ecosystem Services Foundations for Resilient Communities: Agriculture, Land Use, Coasts and Energy for Human Well-Being.
The proposed workshop facilitates discussion amongst experts about the impacts of environmental regulations on the local environmental quality and economic well-being of rural communities. We examine the relationship between agriculture, natural resource conservation, policies, and actions that enhance rural community resilience. The workshop addresses best management practices to improve or mitigate changes in ecosystem services. We focus on rural and rural-fringe community’s efforts that adapt to changing frequencies and magnitudes of natural storms, by creating resilience for built infrastructure in consort with resilient provisions of the ecosystem. The research workshop builds upon a long history of successful annual workshops addressing related themes in natural resource, environmental and agricultural economics and policy. The targeted focus of the workshop is designed to promote in-depth dialogue, debate and policy discussions among a small group of invited speakers, selected presenters and other attendees, with session coordinators chosen for their expertise and relevance of ongoing work. The workshop also follows a plan for dissemination and publishing of research and policy discussion. It enables attendees to learn about and evaluate recent advances in theoretical and empirical research in the area of ecosystem services foundations for resilient communities. The meeting also provides participants a venue to present the policy significance of their work and convey their data needs to relevant agencies. This approach benefits the scientific community as research findings are published in a special issue. Moreover, the workshop informs a wide range of groups, including rural community advocates, environmental advocacy groups, local businesses and technology companies, national and local policymakers, and others.