2023 Economics and Finance for Environmental Leadership

1 month 2 weeks
Course Type
Online Training

In 2023, Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) welcomed 43 participants to the 25th year of our Economics and Finance for Environmental Leadership course. This course is designed for professionals at the forefront of global sustainability issues, and participants come from government, NGOs/CSOs, academia, the private sector, and multilateral institutions. Our participants this year represented 33 different organizations and logged on from 23 countries.

The seven-week course covered economic fundamentals and drivers of natural resource degradation, environmental policies and economic incentives, conservation finance and sustainable livelihoods, valuation of ecosystem services, and cost-benefit analysis of projects and policies. This valuable training will help course participants design more effective conservation programs and enable them to better assess the socio-environmental impacts of planned development projects.

Hosted on the Numbers for Nature Training Institute platform, this course combined asynchronous lessons with virtual discussion sessions over Zoom. Participants were asked to complete about 6 hours of work per week, from watching pre-recorded lectures, to reading through case studies of applied economic tools in conservation projects worldwide. Two live sessions were held each week, where CSF’s experienced instructors reviewed key points, responded to questions, presented case studies, facilitated discussions, and led group exercises. 

The course included six modules covering the following topics:

  1. Environmental Economics: Key economic concepts like market theory (supply, demand, market equilibrium, and competition), and why markets are inefficient when it comes to environmental protection (externalities, market failures, property rights, and public goods)
  2. Natural Resource Economics: How the time value of money and interest rates influence the use of natural resources (capital theory), property rights, collective action and common pool resources, and efficiency versus fairness in the use of natural resources
  3. Environmental Policy: Environmental policy instruments and evaluation criteria, command and control regulation versus economic incentives and market-based instruments, the economics of illegal behavior (wildlife poaching, overfishing, etc.) 
  4. Conservation Finance Solutions: Finance solutions framework and systems thinking, public and private sector finance solutions, scalable strategies, and emerging tools and opportunities for financing nature
  5. Ecosystem Services and Environmental Valuation: Links between ecosystems services and human benefit, environmental values, valuation methods (including best practices and lessons learned), with case study examples of valuation studies and their influence on policy decisions.
  6. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Overview and framework of CBAs, financial versus economic analysis, incorporating externalities and sensitivity analysis, and case study examples evaluating the economic feasibility of small-scale and large-scale projects
Participants, instructors and course staff in smile from their webcams. The CSF and Numbers for Nature logo are on the bottom left and right of the photo.
Some of our 2023 course participants, staff, and instructors

Course participants obtained: 

  1. An essential foundation in basic economic concepts and language.
  2. Insight into the institutional and market drivers of environmental problems.
  3. Tools to evaluate the costs and benefits of both development and conservation decisions, including values of ecosystem services.
  4. Tools to identify and evaluate the value of ecosystem services.
  5. Skills to incorporate economic incentives in more effective strategies and policies for conservation, including sustainable finance solutions.
  6. The ability to articulate environmental values in a language that communities, businesses, and governments can understand.
  7. Access to a network of nearly 5,000 CSF alumni in 131 countries representing 3,000  organizations.

Participants were very satisfied with this course, rating its overall quality and value, on average, at 4.7 out of 5. They were also  impressed with the breadth and depth of topics covered in only 7 weeks. Over 50% of course participants reported that this course was “among the best” professional development courses they have ever taken and 88% reported they would recommend this course to others. Many noticed the immediate applications to their work, with some providing testimonies on  the course’s impact:

“The course gave me a solid foundation to interact with economists and financial specialists and understand their language. I also hope to be able to translate the "environmental" language into something they can also understand and appreciate.” -Francesco Ricciardi, Senior Environment Specialist for the Asian Development Bank

"I'm working on two parametric reinsurance products at the moment and I know that what I learned will come in handy when it comes time to pitch the proposals to potential funders." - Ali Hochberg, Outreach Manager at the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme

“Excellent course! It took me almost 10 years to almost reach the amount of time needed for it. I strengthened my knowledge and grew in my professional training. Thank you very much to all the instructors and colleagues who interacted in the live sessions and community board!” - Pablo Granados-Deiseldorff, Sustainable Fisheries Director for the Waitt Institute


  • Kim Bonine, Training Director, Conservation Strategy Fund
  • Marcello Hernández-Blanco, Lead Economist, Conservation Strategy Fund
  • David Meyers, Executive Director, Conservation Finance Alliance
  • David Johnson, Senior Economics Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Jennifer Raynor, Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Corbett Grainger, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
How to register

Dry Creek Foundation

Dry Creek Foundation generously support CSF's training arm, Numbers for Nature, and the Numbers for Nature Training Institute platform.