Michael Young

Michael Young

School of Economics and Public Policy

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Mike Young holds a Research Chair in Energy, Water and Environmental the University of Adelaide and was the Founding Executive Director of the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute. He is a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

As a result of an Australian Government endowment, each year Harvard University appoints one person to the Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies at Harvard University. In recognition of his contribution to the development of water policy in Australia, Mike was appointed to this Chair at Harvard University for the 2013/14 academic year. While at Harvard, he taught a course on transformational environmental policy reform. An Earthscan book on this topic is nearing completion. In 2014, he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship at its Bellagio Centre in Italy.

Mike is best known for his contribution to the development of robust natural resource and environmental policies. In recent times, his research has focused on the development of market-based approaches to the resolution of water scarcity and quality issues and the development of policies likely to reduce greenhouse gas emisisions. He played a critical role in the consideration of water reform options for the Murray Darling Basin and, recently, developed blueprints for the transformation of water right and abstraction systems in the UK and the USA.

Frequently called upon to provide keynote addresses, internationally, Mike is known for his capacity to integrate biophysical and economic information to present the case for innovative policy reforms that catalyze change. A specialist in the development of paradigm shifts, he is regularly called upon to review reports proposing a shift in policy direction and/or investment strategy.

For three years, he worked on the integration of agricultural and environmental policies with the OECD. He also played a key role in establishing Australia’s National Land and Water Resources Audit. In the past, Mike has led teams that developed frameworks for the introduction of a greenhouse gas emission trading system in Australia; fishery management in NSW; biodiversity conservation on private land; and for rangeland management in NSW, SA and the NT.

Mike led the Global Water Partnership’s Technical Committee
work on water pricing and on water sharing. In 2010/11, he led the water component of a UNEP study on opportunities to pursue green growth strategies throughout the world. Mike served on the University of Alberta’s Water Initiative External Advisory Board and prior to that on the Alberta Ingenuity Water Research Centre’s International Reference Panel. He has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security.

In 2006, Mike was awarded Australia’s premier water research prize – the Land and Water Australia Eureka Award for Water Research. The award recognizes the significant contribution of his research with the late Jim McColl to the development of improved water entitlement, allocation and trading systems in Australia.

In 2013, he spent several months with the OECD’s Environment Directorate in Paris working on a checklist for the improvement of water abstraction regimes and, in the Netherlands, on options for the management of water scarcity challenges.

The OECD has recommended that the Dutch Government adopt the framework he developed and is recommending that all governments make use of his checklist. In the USA, irrigators in Nevada’s Diamond Valley are in the process of trialling the unbundling of prior appropriation water rights in a manner consistent with the blueprint he recommended for the improvement of water management arrangements in the western United States of America.

Professor Young is an Honorary Professor with the University College London and, in 2012 spent several months in the United Kingdom working on water policy options for the Department of Environment, Food and Regional Affairs. This included consideration of ways to significantly reform water abstraction licensing and pricing arrangements.

Prior to joining the University of Adelaide, Mike spent 30 years with CSIRO where he established their Policy and Economic Research Unit with offices in Adelaide, Canberra and Perth.

In 2003, Mike was awarded a Centenary Medal “for outstanding service through environmental economics”. In 2009, he was named South Australian of the Year in the Environment Category.

Examples of Australian policy proposals that have been adopted by government and resulting directly from research that he has led include

• The total reform of water pastoral land leasing arrangements in Australia’s Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales;
• The reform of kangaroo harvesting licensing arrangements in New South Wales;
• The conversion of fishery licenses into shares in New South Wales;
• The shift in the focus of biodiversity protection policies in Australia to ones that involve the provision of incentives for the conservation of biodiversity on private land;
• The unbundling of Australia’s water licences and the resultant development of an efficient trading system;
• The Australian Government decision to transfer responsibility for the administration of the Murray Darling Basin’s water resources to an independent expertise-based authority.

Mike Young’s curriculum vitae lists more than 250 publications. He has been Associate Editor of Ecological Economics and is a member of thirteen editorial boards. He holds degrees in economics and agricultural science. More information is available at www.myoung.net.au

Impact on Australian and International Community
• Developed Blueprint for unbundling of water rights in western USA
• Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies, Harvard University
• Member, Technical Committee, Global Water Partnership
• Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security.
• Developed new abstraction right framework for England and Wales
• Member of PMSIEC Expert Working Group to report to the Prime Minister on Challenges at Energy-Water- Carbon intersections
• Led development of water chapter in UNEP report on greening the world economy
• Proposed the replacement of the Murray Darling Basin Commission with an independent expertise-based Murray Darling Basin Authority
• Developed the idea of differentiating between maintenance water and environmental water and moving to a regime where the environment’s interest is fully specified
• Developed the theory and rational for unbundling water licences that is now required by Australia’s National Water Initiative
• Developed the framework for managing the impact of plantation forestry on water supplies in the South East of South Australia
• Developed the conceptual framework for the specification of water entitlements as shares that is now in widespread use throughout Australia and required as part of Australia’s National Water Initiative
• Developed a proposal for a Fishery Share system now implemented across most NSW fisheries
• Developed proposal for Australia’s National Land and Water Resources Audit and methodology for much of the resource accounting work that underpinned it
• Pioneered research on the use of biodiversity incentives on privately managed land that provided framework for use of biodiversity incentives in the National Heritage Trust, wider use of conservation covenants, establishment of trusts in each state and amendment of Income Tax legislation to encourage philanthropic investment in biodiversity conservation
• Led the first social and economic assessment of the case for restoring environmental flows in the Southern Connected River Murray System
• Led first OECD research on the integration of agricultural and environmental policies and developed case for the decoupling of agricultural support payments from production
• Executive officer and author of reports for inquiries into pastoral land tenure and administration in NT, SA and NSW

Positions on Boards and Significant Committees
• Chair and Member, Socio-Economic Modelling Assessment and Advisory Committee, Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Nuclear Cycle, South Australia (2015- )
• Member, Technical Committee, Global Water Partnership (2014- )
• External Advisory Board, Water Initiative, University of Alberta (2012-13)
• Member, World Economic Forum’s Water Security Global Agenda Council (2012-14 )
• Technical Advisory Panel, Water for Nature Program of Nature Foundation SA (2011-14)
• Patron, International Sustainable Water, Environment and Access Responsibility (2011-)
• Honorary Member, Leaders Institute of South Australia (2010- )
• Member, PMSIEC Expert Working Group on the Carbon/Energy/Water Intersection
• Member Board, Goyder Water Research Institute established by the South Australian Government (2010-2011)
• Member Board, Torrens Resilience Institute (2009-2011)
• Member Board, Environment Institute, The University of Adelaide (2008-2011)
• Member, PMSIEC Working Group on Energy, Water and Carbon (2010)
• Member, NSW Government Riverbank Sub-Committee of NSW Environment Trust, (2006-13)
• Member, Board, Healthy Rivers Australia (2010-2013)
• Member, Alberta Ingenuity Water Research Centre, International Reference Panel (2006-2011)
• Member, South Australian Government, State of Environment Steering Committee (2007-09)
• Member, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists (2003-2012)
• Member Sustainability Roundtable, SA Government (2003-2007 )
• Barton Group Leading Environment Industry Action Agenda (2003-2007)
• Member, Working Group on Market-based Instruments (2003-2006)
• MDBC Salinity Trading Project Steering Committee (2004-2006)
• Chair, Adelaide Hills Winery Development Water Quality Study Steering Committee (2003-2004)
• Member, Native Vegetation Reform Implementation Group chaired by Hon Ian Sinclair (2004)
• MDBC Living Murray Social and Economic Reference Panel (2003-2004)
• Environmental Management Systems Working Group (2001-2002)
• PMSIEC Working Group on Sustaining our Natural Systems and Biodiversity (2003)
• Integrated Water Strategy Steering Committee, SA Government (2003)
• Council for Sustainable Vegetation Management (NHT Peak Council) (1997-2003)
• Board Member, International Livestock Research Institute (1994-1997)
• Board Member, International Livestock Centre for Africa (1993-1994)
• Foundation President, Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics (1995-2000)
• Honorary Secretary/Treasurer, International Society for Ecological Economics (1992-1993)
• Environment Advisory Committee, ACT Government (1996-1998)
• Namoi Groundwater Expert Reference Panel (1998-1999)
• Member NSW Western Division Review chaired by Honorable John Kerin (1998-1999)
• Secretary/Treasurer, International Society for Ecological Economics (1995-98)

Editorial boards
• Ecological Economics Reviews
• Ecological Economics
• International Journal of Agricultural Research
• Governance and Ecology
• International Journal of Environment and Pollution
• Australian Journal of Environmental Management
• Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
• Economic Analysis and Policy
• Solutions for a Sustainable and Desirable Future
• International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
• Environmental Development
• Water Resources and Economics
• New Water Policy and Practice Journal

  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Improving the Robustness of Water Management in Indonesia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Sitti Rahma Ma'Mun
    2014 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Economic Analysis of Farm Household Perceptions and Preferences for Salinity Intrusion Risk Reduction in the Mekong River Delta Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Tien Dung Khong
  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2012 - 2014 Council Water Security Global Agenda Council World Economic Forum -
    2012 - 2013 Advisory Board Member Water Initiative University of Alberta Canada
    2011 - ongoing Advisory Board Member Water for Nature Program Advisory Panel - Australia
    2010 - 2013 Board Member Healthy Rivers Australia - Australia
    2010 - 2011 Member Member Board Goyder Water Research Institute Australia
    2010 - 2011 Director Goyder Institute Government of South Australia Australia
    2009 - 2011 Director Torrens Resilience Institute Cranfield University, Flinders University, Adelaide University and University of South Australia. Australia
    2008 - 2011 Representative Environment Institute THe University of Adelaide -
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2015 - 2016 Chair Socio-Economic Modeling Assessment and Advisory Committee Royal Commission into the Nuclear Cycle Australia
    2014 - ongoing Member Technical Committee Global Water Partnership -
    2006 - 2013 Advisory Board Member Riverbank Sub-Committee of NSW Environment Trust Government of NSW -
    2003 - 2012 Member Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists - Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2010 - ongoing Member Leaders Institute of South Australia Australia
  • Consulting/Advisories

    Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country
    2009 - 2010 PMSIEC Expert Working Group on the Carbon/Energy/Water Intersection Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Advocacy Australia
  • Offices Held

    Date Office Name Institution Country
    2011 - 2016 Patron International Sustainable Water Environment and Access Reponsibility Australia

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