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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Delegation of Decision-Rights for Wetlands

Elofsson, Katarina


Different nutrient abatement activities jointly determine water quality. Policies are determined by governments at central and local level, implying that decisions can be affected by strategic considerations. In this article, decentralization of wetland policies is analyzed with regard to the environmental and economic consequences. A two-stage game is used to investigate strategic abatement decisions regarding nitrogen fertilizer reductions, waste water treatment plant phosphorus reductions and wetlands, assuming that wetland decision can be decentralized. It is shown that under particular circumstances, strategic consideration may imply that a central government undertakes more abatement than socially optimal, but in most cases the opposite is likely to occur. Decentralization of wetland decisions is advantageous to the central government but only benefits the local government if its wetland technology is considerably more efficient that the central government’s. This paper explains why local governments often hesitate to take on additional responsibilities for environmental management, and identifies conditions under which local governments make smaller losses or even gain from delegation. The results also contribute to understanding how strategically optimal matching grants are chosen when governments only take into account their own direct costs of abatement and the central government needs to satisfy the local government’s participation constraint


Hierarchical governance · Nitrogen · Phosphorus · Stackelberg · Water Framework Directive · Wetlands

Published in

Environmental and Resource Economics
2011, Volume: 50, number: 2, pages: 285-303

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication identifier


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