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.

There is today a substantial and growing body of literature on the political economy of environmental policy, in particular on climate and energy policy. Previous OECD work in this area includes The Political Economy of Environmentally Related Taxes (2006) and Fisheries Policies Reform: National Experiences (2011). Much less attention, however, has been paid to biodiversity relevant policy reform, a gap which this report contributes to addressing. This report draws on the literature on salient issues that arise in the context of environmental policy reform and highlights examples relevant to biodiversity. Four new case studies are then examined: the French tax on pesticides; agricultural subsidy reform in Switzerland; European Union payments to Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau to finance marine protected areas management 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. Insights from this report can serve as inspiration for reform efforts elsewhere, as countries seek to implement more ambitious and cost-effective policies to enhance biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.