Investing in biodiversity: an economic perspective on global priority setting

Authors: Moran, D.; Pearce, D.; Wendelaar, A.

Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 6, Number 9, 1 September 1997 , pp. 1219-1243(25)

Publisher: Springer

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Biodiversity investment priorities are a major concern for funding agencies and parties to the Convention on Biodiversity. We present a cost-effectiveness index designed to rank global biodiversity investments addressing weaknesses identified in several existing procedures. First, we explicitly address the issue of cost. Biodiversity conservation can be expensive -- ensuring that money is efficiently spent is important if conserving maximum biodiversity is an objective. Second, a high degree of threat to biodiversity is commonly accepted as constituting the principal reason for intervention and a basis for prioritization. The possibility that a high degree of threat might constitute a reason for non-intervention is rarely considered. The index presented in this study seeks to address these shortcomings by incorporating biodiversity `cost', as measured by investment, and biodiversity `benefit', as measured by a representative biodiversity indicator, species, richness. These elements form the basis of the cost -- benefit ratio needed for cost-effectiveness analysis. Investment in biodiversity is affected by issues of vulnerability (threat) and viability (success). A successful investment intervention will, however, depend on the probability or likelihood of success and the degree of threat prevalent in a particular country. These are integrated into the index as probabilities which will influence the amount of biodiversity `saved' by an intervention. We apply the index using data for the Asia – Pacific region, to provide a cost-effective priority investment index (CEPII) ranking by country. Acute data limitations at the global level particularly in applying complementarity, necessitate caution in the interpretation of the index which, like other methods, requires some subjective choice of success and threat surrogates. The index continues the task of combining scientific and socioeconomic criteria relevant to global priorities.

Keywords: cost-effectiveness; option value; priorities; socioeconomic indicators

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, University College London and University of East Anglia, NR4 7TJ, L UK

Publication date: September 1, 1997

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