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by Tim Swanson, The Graduate Institute
SAVE THE DATE >> BIOECON 2013: Kings College Cambridge, 18-20 September 2013
BIOECON will return to Cambridge once again in 2013. The organisers will be Ben Groom (LSE) and Tim Swanson (IHEID), with assistance from Silvia Bertolin (FEEM) and Kristine Kjeldsen (IHEID). A Call for Papers will issue in autumn 2012, and the deadline for submissions will be in the Spring of 2013. The Conference will fall once again on 18-20 September. Please put the date in your diaries!
by Andreas Kontoleon, University of Cambridge
The 14th Annual BIOECON Conference on Resource Economics, Biodiversity Conservation and Development was held between 18-20 of September 2012 at Kings College Cambridge, England. It was hosted by the Department of Land Economy of the University of Cambridge and the Department of Spatial Economics of VU University Amsterdam and was Supported by the Founding Partners of the BIOECON Network (UNEP, EIB, IUCN, Conservation International, FEEM and IHEID) and in association with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia.
The conference had sessions on economic development and biodiversity conservation, and on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources. The scientific committee was co chard by Prof. Daan Van Soest and Dr. Andreas Kontoleon. A total of 74 papers were presented (selected out of 200 submitted papers).
Keynote speakers were Professor Jean-Marie Baland (Centre of Research in the Economics of Development, University of Namur, Belgium) and Professor Stefanie Engel (Institute for Environmental Decisions, Department of Environmental Sciences, ETH Zürich, Switzerland).
The conference was of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on biodiversity policy, especially natural resources in developing countries. A total of 135 delegates participated in the event. All major biodiversity conservation organisations were present.
One of the main aims of the conference was to include special policy sessions that would take stock of current understanding of key biodiversity–development issues. Beyond the regular sessions, the BIOECON conference also hosted policy sessions on REDD+ and PES policies (hosted by WCMC/UNEP), on conservation tender design and performance (hosted by CSIRO), and on assessing biodiversity policy evaluation tools (hosted by the IIED).
Policy Panel Discussion
UNEP, in cooperation with the BIOECON Founding Partners, organised and chaired a Policy Panel Discussion on ‘Capturing the Economic values of Ecosystem services in Developing Country’s context: Challenges and Options”. The primary objectives of this event was to contribute to building capacities of SGA practitioners on ecosystem assessment, management, and valuation and to provide policy makers with information and scientific inputs on the role of valuation and assessment in policy making and practice. The Policy Panel Discussion strengthened the capacities of participants in the undertaking of ecosystem assessment, management and valuation through inputs on methodologies relating to ecosystem assessment and valuation, and the provision of expert advice and assistance in the undertaking of such assessments and valuations.
The panelists were Peter Carter (EIB), Nick Hanley (University of Stirling), Jaroslav Mysiak (FEEM), and Paulo Nunes (CIESM). The moderator/chair was Pushpam Kumar (UNEP).
The session discussed how economic valuation aids biodiversity conservation in the developing world in several key ways:
- Capture some of the ‘out of market’ services
- Help resolving trade off and in alternate courses of action
- Clear the clouds of conflicting goals in terms of political, social and economic feasibility of the policies.
- Enables integration in natural capital accounting
- Strengthens decision making tools by making it more acceptable, transparent and credible.
The session also concluded that there are following sources of complexities in valuation:
- Estimates are bound to be imprecise
- Total values are often entangled with marginal ones
- Values afforded by ecosystems are state, place- and context-dependent .
The session concluded that
- Economic valuation must have a clear policy purposes
- The consumptive benefits should be valued based on consumer’s preference, demand and location
- The productive benefits can be valued by following maintenance cost approach/ restoration cost approach / Replacement Cost / cost of shadow project approach
- Replacement Cost Approach should only be used if i) Human engineered system (HES) provide the same quantity and quality of services; ii) HES is the least cost option and iii) Aggregates of individuals would be willing to incur those costs .
Lastly, the round table discussion focused on two key questions:
- What options do we have to improve credibility and acceptability of economic estimates of ecosystem services.
- What are the best ways to integrate economic estimates of ecosystem services into decision making tools and policies (macro, meso, micro scale)?
A special issue to be published in Environment and Development Economicsl is being assembled by the Scientific Partners of BIOECON that will focus on PES policies and how they can capture the value of ecosystem services I the developing world.
By Tom Dedeurwaerdere, Helen Ding, Arianna Broggiato and Florin Popa
Centre for the Philosophy of Law (CPDR) - BIOGOV Unit Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Research over the last two decades has shown that human influences on global life support systems have reached a magnitude unprecedented in human history. On the one hand, pro-growth economic policies have encouraged rapid accumulation of manufactured goods and technological innovations, and resulted in increased human prosperity in many parts of the world. On the other hand, overexploitation of the world’s stock of natural wealth on the global scale has increasingly detrimental impacts on the wellbeing of present generations, leading to a broadening ecological crisis and ever widening social disparities. Concomitantly, the conventional development models also present tremendous risks and challenges for future generations.
In response to these challenges, an increasing interest has raised in interdisciplinary sustainability science over the last two decades. Sustainability science is not a scientific discipline by any usual definition, but a research field characterized by a new form of collaboration amongst disciplines and between disciplines and practitioners. As noted by Elinor Ostrom, if sustainability science is to grow into a mature field of research, we must use the knowledge acquired in the separate disciplines of anthropology, biology, ecology, economics, environmental science, geography, history, law, political science, psychology and sociology to build and strengthen diagnostic and analytical capabilities of the stakeholders that are directly confronted to practical sustainability problems (Ostrom, 2007).
To address global challenges in such an interdisciplinary way and seek new solutions to the sustainability problems that we are facing today, a new research unit on Biodiversity governance (BIOGOV) has been recently established in the Centre for Philosophy of Law (CPDR) at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium. Led by Tom Dedeurwaerdere, the young team consists of 5 PhD and 10 Postdoctoral researchers from interdisciplinary backgrounds including law, philosophy, political science and environmental economics. Its research is developed through international (EU-FP7) and national (IUAP VI/06) research networks, focusing on the development of methodological approaches in two dimensions: (1) deepening our understanding of the motivations behind the individual and/or collective actions in the conservation of common goods that are beyond the sole economic rationale, and (2) strengthening the existing governance regimes over resource commons and biodiversity, through demonstrated successful cases worldwide.
The Research Architecture and Expected Outcomes
To accomplish its ambitious objectives, the activities of the BIOGOV unit are organised under three different research themes, serving as the three pillars for supporting the effective governance of common goods (See figure below).
(1) The socio-economic dimension: This research line focuses on motivations of the conservation activities that combine market and non-market motives.
Economic research has shown that biodiversity has total economic values running into the trillions of Euros worldwide and hundreds of millions even for ‘minor’ ecosystem services on local scales. In spite of these immense values, politicians and the public in general do not appear to respond swiftly and effectively to prevent further biodiversity degradation. Why is that? What could really work to motivate publics and politics into action for biodiversity?
In fact, economic valuation is only one element in the effort to improve biodiversity policy and a degree of pessimism continues to surround economic valuation efforts. Even if all methodological problems would have been surmounted and the Total Economic Value of biodiversity could be assessed with great certainty, would that really motivate publics and policies into swift and effective action? Nothing points at a positive answer yet. It would seem that TEV values are simply too big to handle, too abstract and too weakly connected to our core motivations.
This concern increases further if we look at research results of people’s ‘visions of nature’ in Europe (De Groot et al. i.p., De Groot and De Groot 2009). Surveys conducted in France, the Netherlands and Germany show that the majority respondents strongly adhere to notions of Stewardship or even more ecocentric images of the human/nature relationship. People often remark that the value of nature is infinite. Yet, only very few people really take action for nature or demand their governments to do it.
In response to these questions, much thought has recently been given to the positive role of commons in modern economies, in response to what had become conventional wisdom concerning a supposedly ineluctable “tragedy of the commons” (Hardin, 1968). The seminal work of Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues focused on commons-based management of natural resources, as regulated by a clearly defined group of local users (Ostrom 1990). Empirically, the formal proprietary scheme underlying the administration of such resources varied in practice, from a purely private property regime to various forms of collective ownership, including direct state ownership (Ostrom 1990; Ostrom et al. 2002; Platteau 2000). Ostrom’s work accordingly sought to establish the possibility of a sustainable intermediate economic alternative, situated midway between market regulated exchanges of private entitlements and pure public goods that typically depend on state-based governance of resources.
Inspired by the work of Ostrom, this line of research will take successful actions for biodiversity as its point of departure and then ask what understandings of the value of biodiversity has motivated these actions in terms of engagement in the successful governance actions across the world. Furthermore, it will analyse the most appropriate economic metrics to express the value of biodiversity in supporting policymaking. Finally, document analysis and interviews with key actors will be conducted as the empirical basis. As a result, this research line aims to deliver new insights into how biodiversity values can be put to work in biodiversity governance at the local to the global scales, in particular through three case studies:
- Agro-environmental payments in Walloon region for biodiversity conservation (led by Audrey Polard)
- Multi-criteria assessment of sustainable animal farming systems in Europe for the LowInputBreed project (led by Helen Ding)
- Collective actions at local level for the management and development of ‘cultivated biodiversity’, in France – network of Semences Paysannes (AgroBio Perigord Association) (Led by Fulya Batur)
- Socio-economic study of the motivations behind successful biodiversity initiatives in Europe (Led by Dimitra Manou and Jose Louis Viveropol)
- Modeling network goods in public good games and analysing the effect of intrinsic preference and coalition formation on the provision of natural goods (Led by Paolo Melindi Ghidi)
(2) The institutional and legal dimension: This research line explores stewardship and liability regime as an alternative to proprietary solutions for ownership over biodiversity and genetic resources
The institutional and legal dimension for managing biodiversity is fundamental, as it provides incentives for actors to engage and respect environmental friendly initiatives and regulations, and defines the framework where enforcement and compliance ensures an improvement of biodiversity indicators and enhances research.
This research line focuses on existing frameworks for the management of genetic resources and seeks alternatives to the strong proprietary regimes and monetization of biodiversity and genetic resources emerged with the Convention on Biological Diversity. It analyses self-regulatory conservation frameworks and exchange regimes shaped as commons, whose concept has been applied to a wide range of tangible research resources in the life sciences, such as pooled genetic resources (Byerlee and Dubin, 2010; Dedeurwaerdere, 2010), to intangible information goods that are pooled and distributed through digital networks (Lessig, 2001; Benkler, 2006), and to natural resources.
This research line will conduct a comparative institutional assessment of the effectiveness of governance of local, national, and global networks of exchanges of genetic resources and initiatives for conservation of biodiversity, in order to evaluate existing institutional solutions for building various commons. In particular, we will propose innovative governance arrangements in the following Projects:
- Analysis of commons case studies in the field of genetic resources (plant, animal, microbial) within the GENCOMMONS Project (Led by Arianna Broggiato, Dimitra Manou and Arul Scaria)
- Proposing globally accepted templates of an access and benefit sharing agreement for marine genetic resources and a data license agreement for genomic data based on a combination of liability rule, viral license clause and a public domain approach for non-commercial activities under project MICROB3 (Led by Arianna Broggiato and Arul Scaria)
- Research on alternative IPRs in agro-biodiversity for “mass selection” (Led by Fulya Batur)
- Geographical indications of origin for regional sustainable development (Led by Nicola Lucchi)
- Research on international law and governance of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in a global public good framework (Led by Christine Frison)
- Mapping the motivations of developing countries compliance with the CBD (Led by Brendan Coolsaet).
(3) The normative dimension of sustainability: environmental ethics and theories of environmental justice
Sustainability has become part of the mainstream policy discourse over the last two decades. However, despite its interdisciplinary approach, sustainability research is still a long way from genuinely integrating concepts and methodologies from ecology, economics and social sciences. A more thorough reflection on values and theoretical assumptions is needed in order to provide structure to this rapidly-developing field.
At the same time, policy objectives related to sustainability are often very modest and research results have a limited impact on the science-policy interface. There are a number of reasons for this.
One of them has to do with the uncritical acceptance of methodological assumptions such as weak sustainability (the possibility to indefinitely substitute natural capital with produced capital) or the possibility of decoupling economic growth from resource consumption, in spite of the growing evidence against the possibility of global decoupling (Jackson 2009). Another reason has to do with the under-consideration of values and normative commitments in sustainability science, in a positivist tradition for which value-neutrality is a necessary condition of objectivity.
If sustainability is to become a powerful concept informing developmental policies, it has to clarify its epistemological and normative foundations, by integrating contemporary debates in environmental ethics, theories of justice and economic valuation. Our research unit contributes to this process by focusing on three key issues:
- the development of specific notions of efficiency and justice for human-environment systems, and the corresponding ethics that explicitly deals with complexity and uncertainty in a holistic and long-term perspective;
- the clarification of the relationships among the different value-laden goals and assumptions underlying sustainability research, and the identification of potential conflicts and trade-offs;
- the development of operational qualitative and quantitative indicators for research and the determination of adequate targets and thresholds for specific research problems.
These interrelated research lines are currently pursued through the following cases:
- Research on the capabilities approach developed by Amartya Sen and the wilderness concept in biodiversity ethics (Led by John Pitseys);
- Foundations of ecological psychology in William James’ philosophical pragmatism (Led by Benjamin Six)
- Epistemological and normative foundations of sustainability science and its application to integral ecology (Led by Florin Popa)
- Development of a concept of nature compatible with contemporary quantum physics and evolutionary biology (Led by Matthieu Guillermin)
- Multi-criteria assessment of sustainable animal farming systems in Europe (Led by Helen Ding).
- Developing systematic approaches for research on environmental justice in the context of international politics of the environment (Led by Brendan Coolsaet)
Note: More information on our research and projects is available at: biogov.uclouvain.be. In the meanwhile, we welcome any form of comments, suggestions, and research collaborations.
Benkler, Y. 2006. The Wealth of Networks. Yale UP
Byerlee, D. and H. J. Dubin. 2010. “Crop improvement in the CGIAR as a global success story of open access and international collaboration” Int J of the Commons 4(1): 452–480.
De Groot, M. and W.T. de Groot. 2009. ‘”Room for river” measures and public visions in the Netherlands: A survey on river perceptions among riverside residents. Water Resources Research 45, W07403, doi:10.1029/2008WR007339.
De Groot, M., M. Drenthen and W.T. de Groot. In press. “Public Visions on the Human/Nature Relationship and the Role of Environmental Ethics”, accepted by Environmental Ethics.
Dedeurwaerdere, T. 2010 "Self-governance and international regulation of the global microbial commons." Introduction to the special issue on the microbial commons. International Journal of the Commons. Vol. 4, n 1, pp. 390-403.
Hardin, G. 1968. The Tragedy of the Commons, Garrett Hardin, Science, 162(1968):1243-124
Jackson T. 2009. Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. Earthscan, London.
Lessig, L., 2001. The Future of Ideas. Random House.
Ostrom E. 2007. “A diagnostic approach for going beyond panaceas”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA;104:15181–15187.
Ostrom et al. 2002. The Drama of the Commons. National Academy Press
Ostrom, E., 1990. Governing the Commons. Cambridge UP
Platteau J.-Ph. 2000. Institutions, social norms and economic development. Routledge
Authors' contact: Helen Ding (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Prof. Jean-Marie Baland from the Centre of Research in the Economics of Development (CRED) of the University of Namur, and Prof. Stefanie Engel, from the Professorship for Environmental Policy and Economics (PEPE) of ETH Zurich, invited sepakers at the past XIV BIOECON Conference, have joined in that occasion the BIOECON Network.
Wageningen University has recently kicked off the BESTTuna project (http://www.besttuna.wur.nl). BESTTuna focuses on the ecology and fisheries of skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna, and bigeye tuna in their interaction with Fish Aggregating Devices, the composition, behaviour and interests of different fishing fleets, the incentive structure and economic and social relations of related market actors and the response of state and intergovernmental fisheries management arrangements to new market-based mechanisms. The project features 12 PhD students and one postdoc. Our partners in this project are Bogor Agricultural University, University of the Philippines Visayas, University of the Philippines Mindanao, University of the South Pacific, WWF Indonesia, and WWF Philippines.
The Natural Resources and Environment Research Center at the
University of Haifa is conducting a research concerning " A combination of ecological and economic indicators as a tool for sustainable management of ecosystem services in aquatic ecosystems- Lake Kinneret as a test case". The research is carried out by Shiri Zemah-Shamir, Mordechai Shechter, Gideon Gal and Arkadi Parparov. Aquatic ecosystems provide a range of ecosystem services (ES) which are often over-exploited such as in cases of over pumping, fishing, and shore based development resulting in damage to the ecosystem. As a consequence ecosystem resilience and stability are compromised limiting its ability to cope with increasing natural and anthropogenic threats. Nevertheless, ES are critical to society. Lake Kinneret, is an example of a water resource that provides a series of critical ES. Lake ecosystem managers often rely on ecological indicators to assist in resource allocation to ES. Ecological indicators have been developed and applied, in tandem with an ecosystem model, to assist in the management of Lake Kinneret. There has, however, been no attempt to develop lake economic indicators (EI) as a management tool. Additionally, there has been no attempt to compare the true cost of the ES and their social benefits.
In this study, we will determine EI and merge them with the ecological indicators in order to evaluate management measures. The indicators along with the lake model will provide a means of determining the costs and benefits (CBA) of various management measures and ES. The use of economic indicators will provide policy makers with tools to examine possible outcomes of ES resource allocation. We will use them to conduct a CBA of various management steps based on economic and ecological criteria. We don't know of other studies that have attempted to merge these two fields in order to achieve optimal management of an aquatic resource.
A research proposal submitted concerning "Mediterranean acidification and temperature effects under global climate change scenarios: integrating physiological experiments, genetic data and multi-scale modeling to predict Ecosystem impacts and socioeconomic consequences (MultiMed), with partners from Holland, Spain and other universities from Israel.
For more information, contact Shiri Shamir
Optimal species Preservation Policy in a symbiotic relationship between species
by Zemah-Shamir S., Shitovitz B. and Shechter M., forthcoming in Economics of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, edited by Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, Pushpam Kumar and Tom Dedeurwaerdere
In recent years, economists and ecologists have become increasingly interested in optimal conservation policies to protect natural areas and the biodiversity embodied in them. A famous metaphor that describes this conservation policy is the Noah's Ark problem: Noah had to decide which species he should take aboard the ark to survive, and which were to become extinct (Weitzman, 1998). One of Weitzman's conclusions is that the optimal policy is an extreme policy. Thus, in the Noah's Ark model, almost all species go aboard either in full or not at all. In the case of a symbiotic relationship, the classic optimal policy of Noah's Ark problem might not stand. We examine optimal preservation policies in different costs functions and obtain a ranking criterion based on cost-effectiveness analysis.
The University of Stirling hosted a three day Environment Camp on Environmental Valuation Methods for Ecosystem Services between 4-6 September 2012. The Environment Camp is organized as part of the University of Stirling’s Eco-Delivery Project, funded by the European Investment Bank and the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
More information about the event is available at http://www.eco-delivery.stir.ac.uk/2012/03/stirling-environment-camp/
How should we incentivize private landowners to "produce" more biodiversity?
by Nick Hanley, Simanti Banerjee, Gareth D. Lennox and Paul R. Armsworth), Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Volume 28(1), pp. 93–113
Abstract: Globally, much biodiversity is found on private land. Acting to conserve such biodiversity thus requires the design of policies which influence the decision-making of farmers and foresters. In this paper, we outline the economic characteristics of this problem, before reviewing a number of policy options, such as conservation auctions and conservation easements. We then discuss a number of policy design problems, such as the need for spatial coordination and the choice between paying for outcomes rather than actions, before summarizing what the evidence and theory developed to date tell us about those aspects of biodiversity policy design which need careful attention from policy-makers and environmental regulators.
National Ecosystem Assessment: the UK Experience
Ian J. Bateman
The need for the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) arose from findings of the 2005 global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which not only demonstrated the importance of ecosystem services to human well-being, but also showed that at global scales, many key services are being degraded and lost.
The UK NEA - commenced in mid-2009 and reported in June 2011- was the first analysis of the UK's natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity: it was an inclusive process involving many government, academic, NGO and private sector institutions.
Ian J. Bateman, Head of Economics for the UK-NEA, summarises in a non-technical language the rationale for such a comprehensive exercise and illustrates some of its main results.
Mapping of ecosystem services’ (ESS) values means valuing ESS in monetary terms across a relatively large geographical area and assessing how values vary across space. Thereby, mapping of ESS values reveals additional information as compared to traditional site-specific ESS valuation, which is beneficial for designing land use policies for maintaining ESS supply. Since the well-known article by Costanza et al. (1997), who mapped global ESS values, the number of publications mapping ESS values has grown exponentially, with almost 60% being published after 2007. Within this paper, we analyse and review articles that map ESS values. Our findings show that methodologies, in particular how spatial variations of ESS values are estimated, their spatial scope, rational and ESS focus differ widely. Still, most case studies rely on relatively simplistic approaches using land use/cover data as a proxy for ESS supply and its values. However, a tendency exists towards more sophisticated methodologies using ESS models and value functions, which integrate a variety of spatial variables and which are validated against primary data. Based on our findings, we identify current practices and developments in the mapping of ESS values and provide guidelines and recommendations for future applications and research.
Eco-entrepreneurs in developing countries are often subject to market or institutional constraints, e.g. via credit rationing or missing markets. Conservation interventions which relax constraints may be both cost-effective and poverty reducing. A simulation using data from an intervention in Madagascar to relax the technological constraints of forest honey production investigates this possibility. Cost-effectively achieving dual environment-development goals is shown to depend on the severity of constraints, relative prices and, importantly, the nature of technology. Success is more likely for technologies exhibiting close to constant returns to scale or high input complementarity. Forest honey does not meet these requirements, whereas sustainable forest management may well do. Ultimately, where market or institutional constraints are present, knowledge of the recipient technology is required for more informed, efficient and perhaps, more politically-acceptable conservation policy.
This paper updates the existing meta-analysis in coral reef recreation taking into account the previous work of Brander et al. (2007) but considering some stated preference biases and/or effects. The present meta-analysis uses twice the number of observations as the previous one and sheds more light in understanding the influence of these common biases and/or effects found in valuations. The results show the common biases/effects in varied methodology types significantly influence the willingness to pay (WTP) estimates and in turn this has implications in welfare and benefit transfer at local, regional and global levels.
Forecasting intentional wildfires using temporal and spatiotemporal autocorrelations
Jeffrey P. Prestemon, Maria L. Chas-Amil, Julia M. Touza and Scott L. Goodrick, International Journal of Wildland Fire 2012, 21, 743–754
Globally, illegal wildfires cause deaths, property loss and resource damages that exceed rates produced by wildfires of other origins. Their prevention, perhaps enabled by enhanced predictive tools, could therefore bring many benefits. In this paper, we report daily time series models containing both temporal and spatiotemporal lags, which are applied to forecasting intentional wildfires in Galicia, Spain. Poisson autoregressive models of order P and static Poisson models included covariates deriving from crime theory, including the temporal and spatiotemporal autoregressive time series components. We find that the spatiotemporal effect is statistically significant, economically and operationally important, and consistent with expectations of a process that contains copycat as well as serial elements in the firesetting population. Models also applied to predict the effect of increased arrest rates for illegal intentional firesetting.
The BIOECON Newsletter is prepared with the contribution of all the BIOECON Partner Institutions. Please send comments and questions to: email@example.com.
The BIOECON Newsletter is a six-month publication. Next issue: Spring 2013
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