The Political Economy of Biodiversity Policy Reform

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Author(s):
OECD
25 Apr 2017
Pages:
116
ISBN:
9789264269545 (PDF) ; 9789264269552 (EPUB) ;9789264269521(print)
DOI: 
10.1787/9789264269545-en

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This report provides insights on the political economy of biodiversity related policy reforms. It draws on existing literature and four new case studies covering the French tax on pesticides, agricultural subsidy reform in Switzerland, EU payments to Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau to finance marine protected areas via conservation trust funds, and individually transferable quotas for fisheries in Iceland. Each case study focusses on the drivers of reform, the types of obstacles encountered, key features of the policy reform, and the lessons learned from the reform experience.

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  • Preface

    The sustainable management of ecosystems and biodiversity is vital both for economic development and human well-being. The need for more far-reaching and ambitious policies has been repeatedly called for under the Convention on Biological Diversity. More recently, the Sustainable Development Goals reiterated this imperative with dedicated goals for both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

  • Foreword

    More ambitious policies for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use are necessary to stem the global decline in biodiversity. However, progress on scaling up biodiversity policies, and the reform of policies that are harmful to biodiversity, has not been as rapid or effective as needed. As countries strive to implement more ambitious and cost-effective biodiversity policies, policy makers often encounter a number of barriers. These may include concerns about potential competitiveness impacts or distributional issues, and the influence of vested interests or the political and social acceptability of reform. Greater insights are needed into how policy decisions are made, in whose interests and how reform is promoted or obstructed and why – in other words, understanding the political economy of biodiversity policy reform.

  • Acronyms
  • Executive summary

    The need for more widespread and ambitious policy instruments for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, including the reform of incentives that are harmful to biodiversity, is widely acknowledged. Progress, however, has not been as rapid and effective as needed. Global biodiversity trends continue to decline and the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 projects this to continue under a business-as-usual scenario (OECD, 2012). Loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystems in turn, results in adverse and costly impacts on human health, well-being and economic growth.

  • The political economy of biodiversity policy reform: Lessons learned

    This chapter draws out the main themes related to the political economy of biodiversity policy reform, derived from the analysis of the case studies in this report. It summarises the lessons learned from the case studies and provides a number of insights on overcoming obstacles to effective biodiversity policy reform.

  • The political economy of environmental and biodiversity relevant policy reform: Key obstacles and examples

    This chapter summarises the salient political economy issues that arise in environmental policy reform generally and provides examples of how they may create barriers to biodiversity related policy reforms. It draws on a literature review to identify common obstacles to reform. These include: potential competitiveness impacts, concerns about the distribution of costs and benefits, the influence of vested interests and rent seeking behaviour, as well as the political and social acceptability of reforms.

  • The evolution of the tax on pesticides and the pesticide savings certificates in France

    This chapter examines the evolution of the tax on pesticides and the recent introduction of the pesticide savings certificates in France. The analysis takes a political economy perspective to identify potential barriers to reform that were encountered and if and how they were overcome. This case study illustrates how potential competitiveness impacts may or may not influence reform, the benefits of broad stakeholder engagement and how a solid evidence base can help the government resist the influence of vested interests.

  • Agricultural subsidy reform in Switzerland

    This chapter analyses the reform of agricultural subsidies in the Swiss Agricultural Policy 2014-17. From a political economy perspective, it examines how the direct payments system for farmers was reformed to better target policy objectives, including for biodiversity. The case study draws lessons learned for overcoming barriers to reform, including the importance of seizing windows of opportunity, building an alliance of economic and ecological interests, engaging a broad range of stakeholders and devising politically and socially acceptable compromises, including the use of transition payments to offset negative distributional impacts.

  • EU payments to Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau for MPA conservation under the Fisheries Partnership Agreements

    This chapter examines efforts to establish sustainable financing for marine protected areas in the biodiversity-rich West African countries of Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau. The case study focusses on how both countries secured financial resources from Fisheries Partnership Agreements with the European Union to capitalise conservation trust funds that are intended to provide long-term and sustainable financing for marine protected areas. This case study draws lessons from the political economy aspects of establishing and capitalising these trust funds. It emphasises the importance of building a shared understanding of the benefits of marine ecosystems to an economically important industry. It also highlights the role of environmental NGOs to secure agreement among key actors and how advances to secure sustainable financing for marine conservation can be threatened by changing political priorities.

  • The political economy of the ITQ system and resource rent tax in Icelandic fisheries

    This case examines the political economy of the reform to establish an economically efficient and more environmentally-sustainable fisheries management system in Iceland based on individually transferable quotas. It also discusses the introduction of a resource rent tax to more broadly share the benefits from harvesting a common property resource with the general public. The case study draws lessons learned about the drivers of reform, how distributional issues were addressed, and how subsequent reforms were undertaken to respond to specific stakeholder demands.

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