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 decision IX/11, encouraged the Parties and relevant organizations to intensify related efforts.

Two of the Aichi targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the 2011-2020 period relate to the valuation of biodiversity:

Target 1: By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

Target 2: By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems.

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.

Cooperation with relevant international initiatives

COP-10 welcomed the reports of the initiative on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB), initiated at the G-8 meeting of environmental ministers in Potsdam, Germany, in March 2007, and acknowledged the support provided by the United Nations Environment Programme in hosting the initiative, as well as the financial support provided by Germany, the European Union, and others.

An important 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, and continues to work closely with TEEB partners, under TEEB Phase III, as well as UNDP, in follow-up activities.

In the context of national accounting, the Secretariat is collaborating with the Partnership on Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES).

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.