Biodiversity, water and natural resource management

Working and policy papers on biodiversity and ecosystems



‌This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies on environmental issues drawing on the work of the OECD Environment Directorate.

Authorship is usually collective, but principal authors are named. The papers are generally available in their original language English or French with a summary in the other.



Biodiversity, natural capital and the economy, Policy Paper

Nature underpins all economic activities and human well-being. It is the world’s most important asset. Yet humanity is destroying biodiversity at an unprecedented rate, posing significant but often overlooked risks to the economy, the financial sector and the well-being of current and future generations. This report provides the latest findings and policy guidance for G7 and other countries in four key areas: measuring and mainstreaming biodiversity; aligning budgetary and fiscal policy with biodiversity; embedding biodiversity in the financial sector; and improving biodiversity outcomes linked to international trade. 


Managing the biodiversity impacts of fertiliser and pesticide use: Overview and insights from trends and policies across selected OECD countries, Working Paper

This paper reviews the impacts and costs of pesticide and fertiliser pollution as well as the policy responses to counter these in selected OECD countries. The paper also provides an overview of the trends in both pesticide sales (per 1000 ha of agricultural land area), and pesticide use (in tonnes of active ingredients), as well as soil nutrient balances in OECD countries before reviewing policy instruments available to promote more sustainable fertiliser and pesticide use. Case studies of specific policy responses used to address adverse impacts of pesticides including in Denmark and France are presented along with case studies of policies to counter nutrient pollution in Denmark, Japan and the United States. Based on the literature review and case studies, the paper concludes with policy insights and recommendations.


Evaluating the effectiveness of policy instruments for biodiversity, Working Paper

This paper provides an overview of methodologies to evaluate the effectiveness of policy instruments for biodiversity, covering impact evaluation, cost-effectiveness analysis and other more commonly used approaches; including an inventory of biodiversity-relevant impact evaluation studies, across both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.


Sustainable financing for marine ecosystem services in Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau, Policy Paper

This Policy Paper summarises key messages from the case study on European Union payments to Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau for the conservation of marine protected areas under the Fisheries Partnership Agreements. The detailed case study is available in the 2017 OECD report The Political Economy of Biodiversity Policy Reform


Reforming agricultural subsidies to support biodiversity in Switzerland – Country Study, Policy Paper

The paper outline the process involved in designing and implementing the reform as well as its environmental and socio-economic impacts. It also highlights the challenges encountered and concludes by discussing the wider lessons for other governments seeking to tackle similar challenges. The country study draws on the 2017 OECD report The Political Economy of Biodiversity Policy Reform.


Sustaining Iceland’s fisheries through tradeable quotas – Country Study, Policy Paper

The paper outlines the process involved in designing and implementing this reform. It also reflects on the challenges encountered and the environmental, economic and social impacts of the reform. It concludes by discussing some wider lessons learned for other governments seeking to tackle similar environmental problems. The country study draws on the 2017 OECD report The Political Economy of Biodiversity Policy Reform.


Indicators on Terrestrial and Marine Protected Areas: Methodology and Results for OECD and G20 countries, Working Paper

This paper details a methodology for calculating the extent of terrestrial and marine protected areas recorded in the World Database on Protected Areas by country, type and IUCN management categories. The method allows the data on protected areas to be summarised in a harmonised and more detailed way than is currently available, without requiring any additional reporting by countries.


Key Ingredients, Challenges and Lessons from Biodiversity Mainstreaming in South Africa: People, Products, Process, Working Paper

This paper provides an in-depth review of experiences and insights from mainstreaming biodiversity and development in South Africa. More specifically, it describes how biodiversity considerations have been mainstreamed in five key sectors/areas, namely: land use planning, mining, water, infrastructure, and the agricultural sector.


Cost Benefit Analysis and the environment: How to best cover impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services, Policy Paper

There are a large number of valuation studies on the benefits of biodiversity and on ecosystem services, the services provided by different ecosystems (ESS). Both ideas have been used to elicit values from nature but in recent years the research community has focussed on ESS as the main organising framework, with some additional use of the biodiversity concept to value entities that have intrinsic value and are of an extraordinary nature.


The Economic Feedbacks of Loss of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services, Working Paper

The topic of biodiversity loss has been the subject of a vast and growing scientific and economic literature. Species are estimated to be going extinct at rates 100 to 1000 times faster than in geological times. Globally, terrestrial biodiversity is projected to decrease by a further 10% by 2050. 


Biodiversity Policy Response Indicators, Working Paper

This paper reviews a number of OECD data sources to examine their potential for establishing indicators which can contribute to monitoring progress towards two of the 2011-2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), namely Target 3 on Incentives and Target 20 on Resource Mobilisation. Aichi Target 3 refers to the need to eliminate, phase out, or reform incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity and to develop and apply positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. 


The Role of National Ecosystem Assessments in Influencing Policy Making, Working Paper

An ecosystem assessment is a social process through which the findings of science concerning the causes of ecosystem change, their consequences for human well-bring, and the management and policy options are evaluated. Ecosystem assessments can play an important role in synthesising and communicating complex information and can both inform and influence decision-making processes. This paper draws insights from experience with National Ecosystem Assessments (NEAs) recently undertaken in the UK, Japan, Spain, and Portugal, as well as other ecosystem assessments undertaken at regional and international geographical scales, and highlights lessons learned so that the impact of NEAs on policy can be enhanced.


Promoting Biodiversity Co-Benefits in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), Working Paper

This report examines how biodiversity co-benefits in REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) can be enhanced, both at the design and implementation level. It discusses potential biodiversity implications of different REDD design options that have been put forward in the international climate change negotiations and proceeds by examining how the creation of additional biodiversity-specific incentives could be used to complement a REDD mechanism, so as to target biodiversity benefits directly.


Report on Implementation of the 2004 Council Recommendation on the Use of Economic Instruments in Promoting the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity 

This report is designed to take stock of the economic instruments for biodiversity management that have been newly introduced or further strengthened since the Recommendation was adopted in 2004. In order to do that, it lists the economic instruments which have been implemented in 19 member countries (and the European Commission) that fall under six different categories of instruments and for eight policy areas. It provides a snapshot on what economic instruments are more commonly used for certain policy purposes and in certain policy areas, as well as what economic instruments are less frequently applied.



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