Research student profile: Meilanie Buitenzorgy

Project title

The Effect of Democratic Transition on Environmental Quality: A Cross Country Empirical Analysis

Project overview

The world has been in an almost continual process of democratisation over the last 200 years. However, this process has been paralleled with unprecedented degradation of the environment and natural resources on a global scale. Countries in transition, moving from autocracy to democracy, are the ones most affected by the process of democratisation.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between democratic transition and environmental degradation, while controlling for economic and other factors that may influence the underlying causes of environmental degradation. This empirical cross-country research will be carried out into three specific papers; each paper will discuss and analyze specific environmental aspect: pollution, resources depletion and environmental commitment. Panel-data econometric will be used as the analysis tool for this research.

Insofar, similar studies were fragmented, each focus on specific environmental issues and end up with contradict results. This study will contribute to the current knowledge by:

  1. conducting comprehensive study which analyzes the representative variables from most discussed aspects of environmental degradation;
  2. investigating empirically and theoretically, why those different environmental aspects lead to different relationship pattern with political and economic development, and
  3. extending the EKC literature and providing evidence that democracy –instead of the economic performance, as commonly hypothesised– could be the source of the turning point in environmental degradation dynamics in a given jurisdiction.


I am an international student from Indonesia. I have joined the ARE research group since March 2010. I graduated from Wageningen University (the Netherlands) in 2006 with an MSc in Environmental Science (concentration in environmental policy and minor in environmental and natural resource economics). I completed my BSc (Hons) in Statistics with a minor in agriculture economics at Bogor Agricultural University/IPB (Indonesia).

Since 2006, I have been working as a lecturer at the department of Resource and Environmental Economics, IPB, Indonesia. Prior to that, I was a statistician at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) headquarters in Indonesia.

My PhD study in the University of Sydney has been granted by the Directorate General of Higher Education (DIKTI) attached to Indonesia Ministry of Education. My MSc study was funded by the Netherlands government through STUNED scholarship. My recent publication in Environmental and Resource Economics journal was exposed by some Western media including Conservation Magazine (, a US-based magazine available quarterly in 58 countries. I presented my research at the University of Hawaii (2006), Bogor Agricultural University (2009) and Australian National University (2010).

I currently reside in Campbelltown with my husband and two daughters. I enjoy singing and playing piano in my free time.


  • M Buitenzorgy and APJ Mol (2011) “Does democracy lead to better environment? Deforestation and democratic transition peak” Environmental and Resource Economics 48:59–70.
  • R Nasi, P Koponen, JG Poulsen, M Buitenzorgy and W Rusmantoro (2008) “Impact of Landscape and Corridor Design on Primates in a Large-scale Industrial Tropical Plantation Landscape” Biodiversity and Conservation 17:1105–1126.
  • U Chokkalingam, I Kurniawan, Suyanto, RP Permana, M Buitenzorgy and RH Susanto (2008) “Fire and Land Use Effects on Biodiversity in the Southern Sumatran Wetlands” in Tropical Fire Ecology: Climate Change, Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics. Ed. Mark Cochrane. Springer-Praxis joint publication. ISBN 978-3-540-77380-1.
  • M Buitenzorgy and T Ancev (2011) “Effect of Democratic Transition on Air and Water Pollution” The 23th European Association of Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE) Annual Conference. Vienna, Austria, 27-30 October 2011. forthcoming.
  • M Buitenzorgy (2010) “Indonesia Environmental Quality Index 2006-2007: A Preliminary Exercise” Asia Pacific Week 2010. Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, Australia, 8-11 February 2010.
  • M Buitenzorgy (2009) “Does Democracy Lead to Better Environment: the Case of Deforestation” The 2nd Indonesia Regional Science Association (IRSA) Conference. Bogor, Indonesia, 21-23 July 2009.
  • M Buitenzorgy (2006) “Deforestation and Democracy in Asia Pacific: An EKC Empirical Cross-country Analysis” The 5th International Graduate Student Conference. University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 16-18 February 2006.
  • M Buitenzorgy, P Wijayanti and U Rahayu (2009) “Constructing Indonesia Environmental Quality Index 2006-2007”. Ministry of Environment. Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • U Chokkalingam, I Kurniawan, M Buitenzorgy, S Anwar and G Hope (2004) “Impacts of Recent Fires on Biodiversity and the Landscape in the Middle Mahakam Peatlands, East Kalimantan, Indonesia” Centre for International Forestry Research. Bogor, Indonesia.