Dr Stuart Whitten designs incentives to support natural resource management. He is pictured here at his computer using modelling software.

Dr Stuart Whitten designs incentives to support natural resource management.

Dr Stuart Whitten: using economics to support natural resource management

Dr Stuart Whitten specialises in the design and implementation of market-based instruments (MBIs) and other policy instruments to support environmental outcomes. He is a team leader in the Social and Economic Sciences Program and a stream leader in CSIRO’s Biodiversity Theme (BRABA).

  • 3 March 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Whitten is currently working on:

  • policy mixes to deliver integrated landscape scale biodiversity outcomes.
  • improved market based instrument design including metrics, information needs of participants, and learning in repeated conservation tenders.
  • water quality policy costs and benefits and novel policy mechanisms for future application.

His expertise includes environmental and resource economics with specialisation in:

  • market-based instruments
  • incentive design and implementation
  • institutional design and analysis
  • environmental valuation
  • project management
  • research and reporting for complex multi-disciplinary and multiple stakeholder research projects.


Dr Whitten joined CSIRO in 2002 as Leader of the Markets for Ecosystem Services project. He has since led the development of a small team specialising in the design, implementation and support of natural resource management including:

  • market-based instruments (MBIs)
  • incentives
  • right and entitlement structures
  • institutional support. 
    Dr Whitten joined CSIRO in 2002 as Leader of the Markets for Ecosystem Services project.

He has led a number of significant research projects including:

  • design of a new, multiple ecological community biodiversity investment metric underpinning the Australian Government's Caring for our Country Environmental Stewardship Programme.
  • the Markets for Ecosystem Services project focusing on investigating, designing and facilitating the implementation of MBIs at the regional scale across Australia
  • the Tradeable Recharge Credits project in Coleambally Irrigation Area, which examined the potential for a market to manage salinity impacts of irrigated agriculture
  • the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority Catchment Tender design and implementation plan, which successfully achieved over 700 ha of reafforestation to reduce salt movement into the Wimmera River
  • collaborations with the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre to investigate the design and implementation of appropriate incentives to support biodiversity conservation across Australia’s rangelands
  • the design of an innovative tender to enhance conservation of ground-nesting bird habitat with Murray Catchment Management Authority
  • the design and implementation of a best practice incentive design for the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage (now Environment and Water Resources)

The success of the Markets for Ecosystem Services project has resulted in CSIRO engagement in a number of MBI support roles including:

  • evaluation of MBI performance
  • strategic advice on MBI design and implementation. 

Dr Whitten has broad-based experience in environmental valuation and policy design.

Prior to CSIRO employment Dr Whitten was the primary researcher for the Private and Social Values of Wetlands project at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

This project focused on estimation of the values generated by wetlands to private land owners and the wider community and the costs of changing wetland management to improve conservation outcomes.

He also has substantial utility experience with ACTEW Corporation, in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), where he was responsible for preparing pricing submissions and demand modelling of water supply and sewage treatment in the ACT.

Academic qualifications

Dr Whitten has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Agricultural Economics from the University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
  • Masters of Philosophy in Economics from Cambridge University, England
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Economics from The University of New South Wales.


Dr Whitten's achievements include:

  • Visiting Fellow, The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), 2003-06
  • CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems ‘Leadership’ Award, 2005
  • Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, ‘Travelling North’ Fellowship, 2004
  • Land and Water Australia Travel Fellowship, 2000
  • Political Economy Research Center, Bozeman, Montana, USA, Graduate Fellowship, Summer, 2000
  • Commonwealth Scholarship and BTR/FCO Scholarship (honorary) University of Cambridge, 1994–95
  • University Medal and seven academic awards from the University of New England, 1990–93.

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