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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Copenhagen Consensus Latin America: Environment

Assessment Paper

By Roger A. Sedjo

The working paper used by the Expert Panel is available for download here, the finalized paper has been published in the Latin American Development Priorities: Cost and Benefits book by Cambridge University Press. 

Short Summary 

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the benefits of forests and biodiversity in Latin America and to move toward the selection of cost-effective solutions for the protection of these resources. It draws from the literature to describe the situation with forests and biodiversity, both generally and within the context of Latin America. 

The various techniques for estimating the value of biodiversity are particularly subtle and are developed at some length. The value of the benefits of forests and biodiversity and the costs of protection are identified and drawn from the literature. Utilizing these data, a number of cost–benefit analyses are developed and some possible “solutions” are posited. It is noted that the literature related to the costs and benefits of forests and biodiversity is poorly developed for many values and much of the world. Despite these limitations, the solutions are assessed, their strengths and weaknesses noted, and a preferred solution is selected. Since some of the selections are built on contentious numbers from the literature and for cost systems that are not fully developed, the choice of solution considers questions of data reliability and completeness, as well as benefit-cost ratio.