Guidance from the Rio Conventions

The economic valuation of natural resources has increasingly gained significant interest and importance, more recently arising from the economic losses attributed to the impacts of climate change, land degradation and in a more in direct way from the loss of globally significant biodiversity.  All three Rio Conventions and their accompanying instruments contain specific directives calling on countries to do their share to address these impacts.  In more recent years, behavioral changes have been found to be more effective by having a more clear understanding of the economic costs and opportunities arising from the conservation of these shared environmental goods and services.

With respect to the CBD, the Conference of the Parties at its Tenth session agreed on Decision X/7, which included a call for Parties to develop economic indicators of “biodiversity and ecosystem services and the benefits to people derived from these services.”  The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing is indeed based on the principle that “the economic value of ecosystems and biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of this economic value with custodians of biodiversity are key incentives for the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.”  Article 22, paragraph 5(c) of this protocol specifically calls for Parties to support measures for the “development and use of valuation methods.”

For desertification and drought, economic valuation is largely framed as a cost, with the Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought calling for Parties to “pay special attention to the socio-economic factors contributing to desertification processes” (Article 5).  To this end, Article 16(c) calls for scientific and technical cooperation among Parties to support and develop “programmes and projects aimed at defining, conducting, assessing and financing the collection, analysis and exchange of data and information, including … economic indicators.”  Parties to the Convention have followed up on this call in the Ten Year Strategic Vision, which includes expected outcomes for improved knowledge on the impacts of economic incentives on desertification and drought.

The FCCC takes a similar perspective of the CCD in that climate change is most significant in terms of its economic costs.  An important principle underlying the recommendations of the FCCC is that Article 10(e) of the Kyoto Protocol thus calls on all Parties to assess the adverse economic impacts of climate change (as well as adverse social and environmental impacts).  More generally, the three Rio Conventions call for Parties to strengthen the underlying capacities deemed necessary to achieve sustainability of environmental programme outcomes.

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