The main focus of BIOECON was to promote research that (a) furthers our understanding of the anthropocentric causes of biodiversity depletion and b) provides policy prescriptions on how the conservation of biodiversity can be reconciled with economic development. In particular the project was directed to the better understanding of the interface between human societies and biological resources, and how this interface might be better managed and directed to the purpose of conserving biological diversity.
BIOECON's overarching objective has been the advancement of economics and policy for conservation of biodiversity, both in the EU countries and globally. The principal aim of BIOECON was to investigate the economic and policy driven forces responsible for decline of biodiversity, and accordingly, to develop and implement incentive mechanisms that could halt if not reverse the effects of these forces. More specifically, the scientific and socio-economic objectives of the of BIOECON were ( i) to advance the economic theory of incentive mechanism design focusing on three types of mechanisms including (a) Property Right Mechanisms; (b) Trade policies and (c) Contract Mechanisms; (ii) to apply the range of instruments identified in the theoretical framework within a series of case studies, which dealt with three key biodiversity areas: forestry, wildlife and genetic resources for food and agriculture; (iii) to derive policy implications that reconcile the objectives of biodiversity conservation and economic development.
To this end, BIOECON gave rise to a wide array of theoretical and applied scientific studies. On the theoretical side the resultant outputs of BIOECON has assessed but more importantly extended the current literature on property rights, trade and contract mechanisms as a means for reconciling biodiversity conservation and economic development. This was achieved by the implementation of novel game theoretic concepts, optimal control theory, international trade theory, bio-economic modelling, principal agent modelling, law and economics, environmental valuation and institutional economics. The applied studies consisted of several case studies, which examined the efficiency and efficacy of these economic instruments on the conservation of biodiversity resources. These case studies focused on three key biodiversity areas: forestry, wildlife and genetic resources for food and agriculture and covered a wide array of biodiversity conservation issues in various locations, including conservation of important wild species, such as Giant Panda in China, rhinoceros in Africa, moose in Finland; sustainable use and management of genetic resources for food and agriculture such as cereal diversity in Southern Italy, rice diversity in India and Nepal, coffee and sorghum diversity in Ethiopia, agroecosystem diversity in Hungary; conservation of forests as biodiversity rich habitats, including Galician forests in Spain, Finnish forests and the Brazilian Amazon. The results of these studies are expected to aid national and supra-national policy makers in designing optimal policy instruments (in the form of incentive mechanisms such as property rights, contracts and trade) for conservation of optimal level of the world's remaining biodiversity riches while contributing to economic development and growth.