Issue no. 3 - Winter 2010




2010 Conference Outputs
by Silvia Bertolin and Helen Ding, FEEM

The 12th Annual BIOECON Conference, held in Venice on 27-28 September 2010, was organised by the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in association with the Basque Centre for Climate Change, Conservation International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the United Nations Environment Programme.

The 2010 edition was devoted to the identification of the most effective and efficient instruments for biodiversity conservation, such as auctions of biodiversity conservation contracts, payment-for-services contracts, taxes, tradable permits, voluntary mechanisms and straightforward command and control measures. Special attention was given to the role of public bodies/NGOs in the creation of innovative mechanisms for the delivery of ecosystem benefits and in promoting the participation of a wider range of economic agents (business/families/local communities) in biodiversity conservation. Moreover, policy reforms were recognized to be essential for the sustainable development of many economic sectors, including agriculture, urban planning and green buildings, fisheries, forests, industry, renewable energy, waste management and water, tourism and transport. In addition, a significant portion of the research presented in the conference has focused on analysing the impacts and dependencies of different businesses on biodiversity and ecosystems, and the potential contributions of corporations to a more resource-efficient economy. The role of biodiversity as an employment generator was also addressed. Finally, many studies have investigated on the beneficiaries of biodiversity and ecosystem services, exploring the potential use of these resources for poverty alleviation, and with examples of successful policies to this end.

In conclusion, the papers presented in the 12th meeting ranged from theoretical investigations to practical applications, experiences and case studies at different geographical scales across nations. Many studies have shown specific applications in a number of developing countries, including India, Kenya, Nigeria, Iran, Vietnam, Philippines, Colombia and Cuba. The topics presented have covered the following themes: 1) assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of biodiversity conservation instruments, taking into account spatial considerations and/or governance settings; 2) the development of new, incentive-based instruments to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services; 3) the determination of ecosystem services opportunities for business and management, with particular emphasis on the potential for minimizing corporate risk with respect to these services; 4) the potential contribution of businesses to the implementation of more ecosystem services-based economic development; 5) application of ecosystem services assessment and valuation methodologies in the public, private and non-governmental settings; 6) innovative, participatory, economic valuation methods of biodiversity and their social implications; 7) assessment and valuation of marine and coastal ecosystems and their contribution to human livelihoods; 8) the role of property rights in the provision of ecosystem services and employment opportunities for local communities; 9) the role of local community members in the creation and enforcement of norms and regulations that lead to successful and sustainable economic governance models; 10) the role of forestry in poverty alleviation and in supporting human livelihoods in developing countries; and 11) macroeconomic indicators/national accounting systems adjusted to include the values of provision, flows and benefits of ecosystem services, and ultimately human well-being (i.e. Genuine Progress Indicator, Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, GDP of the poor, etc.).

The presented state-of-the-art research has shown an innovative view on the identification and analysis of locally owned and locally developed solutions that can prevent and/or resolve tensions arising from existing and new methods of natural resource use. There have also been successful cases with respect to policy implementations in national or sub-national contexts. Finally, empirical research was also found in the emerging fields of economic valuation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage benefits, exploring the role of intercultural dialogue in the promotion of regional sustainable development.

The Conference was structured in two days. Each day hosted a plenary session, where leading international environmental economists presented their latest research, and twelve parallel sessions; at the end of each day a panel discussion gave the audience an interesting perspective that is the link between theory and practice. A round table closed the first day's works.

The first plenary session was held by Geoffrey HEAL (Columbia Business School, USA), whose speech revolved around how to treat natural resources as assets. From a definition of natural capital the presentation moved to the definition of ecosystem services, stating the biggest challenge in sustainability: how to link changes in the biogeochemical state of an ecosystem to changes in flows of ecosystem services and subsequent welfare losses.

The second key-note speech, by Joshua BISHOP (International Union for Conservation of Nature, Switzerland) focused on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity ( initiative, "a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward".

The panel discussions closing each day's programme have become a highly appreciated tradition in the last BIOECON annual conferences. The first one, organised by Conservation International, discussed the critical role of forests in mitigating climate change and focused on REDD+ carbon markets as an incentive to maintain forest on the land. REDD+ is an incentive program that goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The key speeches were given by: Andrew MITCHELL (Global Canopy Programme, UK), Celia HARVEY and Jonah BUSCH (Conservation International, USA).

The second panel discussion was organised by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei. The panellists, Pushpam KUMAR, (University of Liverpool, UK), Nicholas HANLEY (University of Stirling, UK) and Rudolf S. DE GROOT (Wageningen University, Germany), examined the innovations in participatory methods on valuation from a social point of view. Particular attention has been given to the use of an ecosystem-based valuation approach to assess the economic benefits of biodiversity and their contributions to human wellbeing.

The plenary roundtable presented a brief overview of the development of The Inclusive Wealth Report (IWR)- joint initiative by the World Bank, UNEP and IHDP. The Inclusive Wealth Indicator is an index that provides a framework to give an idea of the degree of substitutability among capitals. Three speakers composed the round table: Karl-Göran MÄLER (The Beijer Institute, Sweden), Anantha Kumar DURAJAPPAH (International Human Dimensions Program, Germany), Pablo MUÑOZ (International Human Dimension Program).

In conclusion, the conference readdressed the many important issues with embedded socio-economic and political reasons, such as climate change, growing population and economy, land conversion that cause the significant loss of biodiversity and the underpinning ecosystem services. In addition to the theoretical exploration, a lot of efforts have been devoted to field study and empirical applications that seek solutions to halt the continuous loss of biodiversity and ecosystem degradation at regional and national scales. Finally, to correct market failure and reallocate resources among identified winners and losers, issues such as property right and equity over nature resources should be reinforced, as they are of particular importance for promoting economic incentives and designing effective policy instruments for biodiversity conservation. Innovative approaches/techniques such as the integration of GIS mapping tools and economic valuation techniques should be encouraged in future research, both in terms of methodological investigation and empirical applications.

The conference hosted in total 135 participants, coming mainly from Europe, United States, Canada, and Australia. This year, 10 grants to researchers coming from developing countries offered by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei and the United Nations Environment Programme raised the number of Countries represented (we registered presences from India, Kenya, Nigeria, Iran, Vietnam, Philippines, Colombia, Cuba), thus offering a more complete vision of biodiversity economics issues worldwide.

The 2010 edition of the BIOECON Conference introduced a novelty with respect to the past, which registered a complete success: the Ecosystem Services Training Day, held the day after the Conference and co-organised by the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei and Conservation International. This training format was conceived to give an overview on the following aspects of Ecosystem Services: Valuation of Ecosystem Services, Payment for Ecosystem Services, Climate Mitigation and Adaptation, REDD+, Decision-Making Tools followed by the presentation of case studies. The invited instructors brought along with them the most updated knowledge, including model work and software that cover the above-mentioned themes. During the lectures, interaction between the instructors and the trainees was encouraged. This provided an excellent studying ground and learning process for students from different backgrounds, including law, economics, biology, ecology, and so on and greatly encouraged an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge.

The Ecosystem Services Training Day counted 56 participants, 16 of which registered exclusively to this event (after passing a selection of over 37 total submitters).

Download the Conference Proceedings




Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Alleviation

Andreas Kontoleon and Bhaskar Vira co-authored a major state of knowledge review commissioned by the Secretariat to the Convention on Biological Diversity, assessing the links between biodiversity and poverty alleviation. In particular, DEFRA team intervention focussed on the nature of the relationship between biodiversity and poverty, presenting a systematic review of literature on the ways in which poor people depend on biodiversity as a direct contribution to their subsistence, income and other livelihood needs, and as a source of risk coping and insurance, in order to document broad trends emerging from existing knowledge about these relationships, and to identify key areas where there are knowledge gaps.

The complete work appears as a CBD technical series publications that formed part of the Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10), 18 to 29 October 2010, Nagoya, Japan. See the review

UK's National Ecosystem Assessment project (2009-2011): the first national application and extension of the UN's Millennium Ecosystem

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment is the first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and future economic prosperity. Covering terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, the assessment will create a compelling and easily understood explanation of the state and value of the UK’s changing natural environment and ecosystem services.

The expected project outputs are basically targeted to policy makers, who will have policy options outlined to secure the continued delivery of the UK's ecosystem services, and will also have the evidence base needed to strengthen decision making and ensure effective management in the future. In addition, the NEA will feed into the Environment White Paper.

Visit the National Ecosystem Assessment page

Assessment of livelihood and conservation impacts of the Gola Forest Conservation Programme in Sierra Leone

The importance of integrating the needs and livelihoods of local communities with biodiversity conservation efforts is now widely recognised as a key element for sustainable conservation solutions. The policy mechanisms through which to achieve this integration, however, have rarely been tested and remain poorly understood. This project aims to addresses this gap by developing a framework for evaluating the livelihood and conservation impacts of biodiversity projects which is then applied to the case of the Gola Forest Reserves in Sierra Leone, one of the largest remnant of Upper Guinea Tropical forest in west Africa and one of the world’s global biodiversity hotspots. The vision of the Gola Forest Programme (GFP) is ”To Conserve the integrity of the Gola Forest in perpetuity, ensuring that local people living around the Gola Forests will have enhanced livelihoods as a result of income generating schemes which remove the need for unsustainable use of the Gola Forest resources” (Management Plan 2007-2012). To date extensive baseline surveys of key components of its biodiversity (e.g. woody vegetation, primates, birds) have been completed or are ongoing as a result of research activity by the RSPB.

The proposed project aims to address the second, vital component of the GFP, through a robust, quantitative assessment of its effectiveness of the poverty alleviation goals. This will be accomplished via pooling expertise from within the CCI from economics, anthropology, and conservation science in order to undertake an experimental policy evaluation field study that will provide an unbiased assessment of the livelihoods impacts of the programme. It will be the first ever application of this approach for the assessment of a biodiversity-poverty conservation project. The outputs will be a series of policy recommendations detailing the most cost-effective and sustainable policies for meeting conservation and poverty alleviation goals. The work will provide a novel framework for similar studies in and around protected areas throughout Africa and, potentially further afield.

The project is funded by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Collaborative Fund for Conservation (CCI Fund), the Isaac Newton Trust Grant, The Universities of Wagenignen, Chicago and Cambridge and the Gola Forest Programme.

Contact: Dr. Andreas Kontoleon


Valuation of Linkages between Climate Change, Biodiversity and Productivity of European Agro-Ecosystems
by Ruslana Rachel Palatnik, Paulo A.L.D. Nunes - FEEM Note di Lavoro 2010.138

Abstract: It is clear that climate change involves changes in temperature and precipitation and therefore directly affects land productivity. However, this is not the only channel for climatic change to affect agro-systems. Biodiversity is subject to climatic fluctuations and in turn may alter land productivity too. Firstly, biodiversity is an input into agro-ecosystems. Secondly, biodiversity supports the functioning of these systems (e.g. the balancing of the nutrient cycle). Thirdly, agro-systems also host important wildlife species which, though not always, play a functional role in land productivity, nonetheless constitute important sources of landscape amenities. The present paper illustrates a unique attempt to economically assess this additional effect climate change may imply on agriculture. We first empirically evaluate changes in land productivity due to climatic change effect on temperature, precipitations and biodiversity. Then we estimate the economic cost of biodiversity impact on agro-systems. Our key finding is that climate-change-induced biodiversity impact on European agro-systems measured in terms of GDP change in year 2050 is sufficiently large to deepen the direct climate-change effect in some regions and to reverse it in others. Different economies show different resilience profiles to deal with this effect.

Download the paper

Biodiversity Valuation in Developing Countries: A Focus on Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
by Sonja S. Teelucksingh, Paulo A.L.D. Nunes - FEEM Note di Lavoro 2010.111

Abstract: The Millennium Development Goals explicitly recognise “sustainable development” as a target. A step towards this is a greater understanding of the significant role of biodiversity in rural communities of developing countries who depend most on the ecosystem goods and services and who as a result may suffer most from its continued degradation. Understanding the input of biodiversity in developing countries to the provision of the ecosystem goods and services (EGS) that are essential to their human well-being is seen as a significant first step in sustainable development, and environmental valuation is a necessary tool for achieving this objective. However, valuing biodiversity in a developing country context can be an intricate affair. While economic valuation literature yields a range of tried and tested methodological techniques for measuring biodiversity, the question remains as to whether these generalised techniques are capable of revealing the complexities of local environmental use in developing countries. A heterogeneous group, “developing countries” can be characterised by a range of factors existing in different intensities that can (1) impact the ways in which local communities interact with their environmental resources (2) impact the efficacy of the methodological and data collection process (3) impact the values obtained from the application of valuation techniques and (4) impact the implementation, success and sustainability of policy and management prescriptions. This paper attempts to address these issues by discussing the main characteristics of developing countries that can impact the biodiversity valuation process and, with specific reference to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), discussing how knowledge of these characteristics can assist the valuation process to better reveal the complex interaction between biodiversity and human welfare in a developing country context.

Download the paper

New Book
Deforestation and Climate Change. Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

Authors/Editors: Valentina Bosetti and Ruben Lubowski

Deforestation and forest degradation have long been recognized as environmental problems, with concerns over conservation of natural habitats and biological diversity capturing both scientific and public attention. More recently, the debate over tropical forest conservation has radically shifted to the approximately fifteen percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are caused by deforestation and forest degradation, and to the potential synergies from integrating forest management with climate change policies.
The goal of this book is to shed light on some of the major concerns, issues and challenges related to the inclusion of forest carbon in international climate policies, as well as to illustrate some of the potential solutions and paths forward. In addition, the book describes the status of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in international climate policy negotiations, providing an historical perspective and highlighting the current positions of key international players that will frame the future debate at the national, regional, and international level.
This volume will find a broad readership among researchers and policy makers interested in the environment, climate change and resource management.

Contributors: Kentaro Aoki, André Aquino, Federica Bietta, Hannes Boettcher, Valentina Bosetti, Benoît Bosquet, William Boyd, Andrea Cattaneo, Graham Floater, Steffen Fritz, Alexander Golub, Mykola Gusti, Petr Havlik, Georg Kindermann, Raymond Kopp, Florian Kraxner, Lou Leonard, Ruben Lubowski, Ian McCallum, Michael Obersteiner, Stefano Pagiola, Pedro Piris-Cabezas, Rey Juan Carlos, Nigel Purvis, Ewald Rametsteiner, Belinda Reyers, Duncan Stone

More info