Prof. Vippala on South-South Cooperation: “Draw Lessons from One Another”

  • 2017/09/13     Dresden, Germany

    Prof. Ratna Reddy Vippala is Director of the Livelihoods and Natural Resource Management Institute in Hyderabad, India. An economist by training, he has worked in the fields of environmental economics and natural resource management, climate change, livelihoods, and institutions. Prof. Vippala brings rich experiences of undertaking policy-relevant research. Beyond academia, he has served the Government of India and has also served as consultant for a range of international organisations such as the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. At UNU-FLORES, Prof. Vippala has contributed towards developing nexus-relevant curriculum for the UNU-FLORES online course on life-cycle cost assessments of infrastructure projects and co-authored a chapter on the same topic for a book publication Governing the Nexus (Springer 2015). He is currently a visiting scholar under the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship.

    On United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, we spoke with Prof. Vippala who has worked extensively on management of environmental resources in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Somalia as well as Ghana.

    You are an expert in the Life-Cycle Cost Approach (LCCA). Tell us more about it, and how does it relate to the management of environmental resources?

    LCCA is an approach towards determining the most cost-effective option among competing alternatives, which covers the entire life of a particular project, that is to say, from cradle to grave. In the process it considers all the resources that go into its making and their linkages and impacts on other resources (externalities). It also considers the replacement, rehabilitation and operation, and maintenance of the capital investments. As a result, it provides a comprehensive estimate of the costs involved, including environmental degradation and benefits. Besides that, resource protection costs are accounted for in the project costs and evaluation. Such a comprehensive analysis allows us to better allocate resources to ensure their sustainable use, altogether increasing the life of the project outcome.

    How does the Nexus Approach facilitate LCCA? How is being here at UNU-FLORES fruitful for your work?

    LCCA is a tool to achieve nexus-oriented objectives. LCCA provides a methodology to estimate the costs and benefits from several resource linkages and loops that are part of the Nexus Approach framework.My time at UNU-FLORES has been productive and enjoyable. During my stay at UNU-FLORES, I got to work with colleagues engaged in nexus-oriented research, with whom I have developed a concept note entitled “Revisiting Watershed Management: A Water-Energy-Food Nexus Perspective on the Challenge of Eutrophication” which was presented in a Nexus Seminar. A revised version of the paper will be submitted for publication, and the concept note is being developed into a multi-country research proposal.

    Your book on LCCA offers concepts, tools, and practical advice for its adoption in developing countries. What distinguishes the case between different levels of development?

    The need for the application of LCCA does not depend on the levels of development. Its implementation is important at any level of development. Our book emphasises on developing countries because these countries need to put more efforts in terms of understanding and generating data for the application of LCCA.

    UN Day for South-South Cooperation falls on 12 September. What’s your take on South-South cooperation particularly in the realm of resources management?

    There is lot to be learnt within the South (across the countries). They face similar problems, especially in the context of natural resource management. Research projects covering these countries are likely to find more common ground and find feasible policy interventions. For example, the governance structures and policy process are very much comparable. Mutual cooperation makes them stronger economically. They have to start thinking in the lines of solving their problems on their own by drawing lessons from one another rather than depending on the North. This is more so in the context of technology transfer.

    Interview by Atiqah Fairuz Salleh, Communications and Advocacy