Eliminating subsidies harmful to biodiversity

27 June 2012 | News story

A report by the Strategic Analysis Centre on public subsidies harmful to biodiversity was released in October 2011 in France. The report follows an important decision by the Grenelle Environment, at the initiative of conservation NGOs and the IUCN French National Committee, requesting a general audit of tax measures unfavourable to biodiversity and a study on the feasibility of more favourable taxation. 

This work contributes to the French National Strategy for Biodiversity 2011-2020, adopted in May 2011 and the European Commission’s efforts. The French Biodiversity Strategy calls for the integration of biodiversity conservation in the economic sphere, removal of the harmful incentives for biodiversity, reforms on taxation and development of new positive incentives (goal 7). Likewise, the European Commission in its Communication of 20 September 2011 also calls for "subsidies that damage the environment" to be eliminated by 2020. 

On the international level, this report is an important contribution to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through the new Strategic Plan. The 93 Parties to the CBD have agreed to "eliminate, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies harmful to  biodiversity in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and to develop and apply, positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity" (Aichi target number 3).

As part of its annual conference, the IUCN French Committee met in Paris on 12 April 2012 for its 11th session and adopted a motion on the reform of public subsidies harmful to biodiversity. This motion will be proposed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which meets from 6 to 12 September in Jeju, South Korea.

It is proposed that the IUCN Congress:

  1. INSISTS that the removal of incentives and subsidies harmful to biodiversity is an essential goal of public policy, in accordance with the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 of the Convention on Biological Diversity;
  2. CALLS UPON all governments and local authorities to engage on reforming and reducing the public subsidies they distribute which can be harmful to biodiversity;
  3. RECOMMENDS Members, experts and National Committees of IUCN to support the efforts of researchers and institutions to establish complete assesment in their countries and create proposals for reforms of public subsidies;
  4. STRESSES that reducing government subsidies and tax expenditures damaging biodiversity leads to double benefits: the benefit of biodiversity on one hand, and the benefit of public accounts on the other.