For the last 50 years, biodiversity has been continuously eroded, as evidenced in several recent reports (MEA, 2005; CBD, 2010; UNEP, 2012; WWF, 2012; IUCN, 2013).

This in turn has consequences for ecosystem services (provisionning, regulating, support, and cultural) and humanity which depends on these (Cardinale et al., 2012). Deteriorating biodiversity and associated ecosytems negatively impacts people’s livelihoods, especially the poor (TEEB, 2009); hence a critical need to design sound environmental policies to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Against this background, the countries’ ability to tackle the issue at the national and international levels remains limited. While estimates of annual financial funds needed for biodiversity conservation range from 76 to 440 billion USD (McCarthy et al., 2012; Sukhdev et al., 2012), actual current annual funding is estimated between 6,3 and 52 billion USD (Parker et al., 2012; see also OECD work in the INVALUABLE Newsletter #3). As a result, decision XI/4 at the CoP11 in 2012 asked to «double total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries».


In this context, academics, practitioners, donors and decision-makers are increasingly calling for new policy instruments able to help filling this funding gap and conserving biodiversity. The Strategy for Resource Mobilization (SRM, goal 4), as well as the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (decision X/2) thus aim at promoting «innovative financial mechanisms», while Aichi target 3 sets that «positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity [should be] developed and applied».

Practically, the Ad Hoc Open ended Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention proposed 6 types of innovative financing mechanisms :

(i) Payment for ecosystem services

(ii) Biodiversity offset mechanisms

(iii) Environmental fiscal reforms

(iv) Markets for green products

(v) Biodiversity in international development finance

(vi) Biodiversity in climate change funding (UNEP/CBD/COP/11/14/Add.3, 28 August 2012).


However, the characterisation and use of such terms to name those new policy instruments is still heavily debated. As stated in the co-chair Summary document of the 2012 Quito informal seminar dialogue, «the choice of terminology might be important (…). Many participants found the term ‘innovative financial mechanisms’ inappropriate (…). Likewise, many felt the expression ‘markets for biodiversity’ should be avoided as (…) in any discussion of markets, it is important to be clear about what kind of market is being discussed».


As a result, the policy objective of INVALUABLE is to support a better informed use (and non-use) of market-based instruments (MBIs), especially Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and Biodiversity Offsets (BO), and economic valuations for ecosystem services, biodiversity, and society.


INVALUABLE project took place over 2012-2015 and involved 10 partners: Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI), Radboud University Nijmegen (CIDIN), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Centre de coopération International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), Universität Freiburg (IFP), Wageningen Universiteit (Environmental Sciences Group), Matthieu Wemaëre Cabinet d’Avocats.

Look for more details in the INVALUABLE Project’s Leaflet: INVALUABLE Project brochure Apr 14