In the News

Tragedy of the Commons - How the scramble for sand is destroying the Mekong

Graham Watson

22nd December 2019

AQA chose sand as a topic in a recent A-level economics exam. Here is classic example of a common access resource being over-exploited as it inevitably will be.

This is a fantastic story that has a variety of angles - you could start by highlighting that it ties in with the rise of China, because China's demand for cement is driving the demand for the sand from the Mekong river's banks.

However, the real interest in the story is about how to protect increasingly rare riverbank sand, and how the market is operating to encourage the use of alternatives like desert sand in the creation of alternative building materials. You might start by thinking about how property rights could play role in resolving the issue.

The banks of the Mekong River are collapsing & half a million people are at risk of losing their homes due to the world's insatiable demand for sand. 50 billion tonnes of sand are dredged globally every year - the largest extractive industry on the planet

Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to Tutor2U, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

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