Economics, Trade and Incentive Measures


The Convention repeatedly emphasized that biodiversity has various values. This includes but is not limited to (socio)economic value, as it also includes intrinsic value as well as the ecological, genetic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic values of biodiversity and its components (decision 10/3, paragraph 9(b)(iii)).

Many components of biodiversity have economic value that bears the characteristic of a “public good”, including the key characteristic of public goods that nobody can be excluded from their use. As markets can thus not develop for public goods, the economic value of these biodiversity components will not be reflected in a market price. Consequently, the prices of many marketed goods and services will not adequately reflect the essential role of biodiversity in their production.

Eliciting this “hidden” value of biodiversity through appropriate valuation tools is an important component of policies that aim to correct the incentives of societal actors. Identifying economic value is an important precondition to the internalization of this value in prices and thus in the decision making of these actors. Assessing biodiversty values more broadly can also act as an incentive measure in its own right, because it raises awareness of the hidden values of biodiversity.

Overview of CBD Activities

The importance of valuation has been repeatedly underlined by the Conference of the Parties, and the assessment of the values of biodiversity, as appropriate and applicable to the circumstances of the Parties, is an activity under the Convention's programme of work on incentive measures. The Conference of the Parties decided to put more emphasis on this topic, as one important basis for public-awareness campaigns and policy action, and, by encouraged, the Parties and relevant organizations to intensify related efforts.

At its thirteenth meeting, in 2016, the Conference of the Parties, agreed to introduce or scale up the use of environmental economic accounting and natural capital accounting, as well as diverse methods and methodologies to assess the multiple values of biodiversity.

Guidance on valuation and accounting methodologies was developed under the Convention identifying options for the application of valuation tools and providing technical background information on the application of such tools, as well as on methodologies for ecosystem accounting.

Relevant international work

Released in 2021, the Final Report of the Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta (Dasgupta Review) provides a state-of-the-art analysis of the economic value of biodiversity. Spnosored by the Government of the United Kingdom, the review describes Nature as “our most precious asset” and finds that humanity has collectively mismanaged its “global portfolio”: our demands far exceed Nature's capacity to supply “goods and services” we all rely on.

The earlier initiative on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB), initiated at the G-8 meeting of environmental ministers in Potsdam, Germany, in March 2007, was welcomed by the COP. The COP also acknowledged the support provided by the United Nations Environment Programme in hosting the initiative, as well as the financial support provided by the Government of Germany, the European Union, and others.

An regional study of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) highlights the critical role of biodiversity and ecosystems in economic development, with a view to inform and engage decision makers in Latin America and the Caribbean on the need to maintain, and invest in, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The Secretariat was a close partner in implementing both initiatives.

The Secretariat is represented in the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA), and is cooperating with the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the UN Environment in the implementation of ecosystem or natural capital accounting in countries. A Quick Start Package on ecosystem accounting commissioned by the Secretariat and the associated training framework has been rolled out on the margins of the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.