2021 Economics & Finance for Environmental Leadership

2 weeks 5 days
Course Type
Online Training


Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) held our premier annual international training course, Economics and Finance for Environmental Leadership, from July 12-30, 2021. Our 2021 course was offered as part of the soft launch of CSF’s new online Numbers for Nature Training Institute platform, which will help make our training courses accessible to more people in more places thanks to the support of the Dry Creek Foundation and other partners.

The three-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. It also marked the second year of our collaboration with Conservation Finance Alliance to add a greater focus on sustainable financing in the course. These skills are crucial at a time when environmental changes are being driven by a diversity of economic factors, and when conservation leaders are striving to harness opportunities to reward the preservation of ecosystem services.


In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Conservation Strategy Fund transformed our annual international course into an interactive, distance-learning format to reach even more participants in more places. Participants joined experienced professors, fellow environmental professionals, and special speakers for an intensive three-week virtual and online course that included recorded presentations, live interactive sessions with instructors, small group discussions and exercises, and on-demand resources.

Participants were expected to commit 3-4 hours per day over the three-week course through a combination of daily live sessions and online pre-recorded lectures and readings. Previous training in economics was not required. 


Our courses are regarded as premier training events in applied economics for environmental professionals. Throughout this course, participants learned key economic and finance concepts and tools to apply to their everyday work and help solve real-world environmental problems on the ground. Our participants experience a transformational shift in how they view environmental issues, and our course graduates use what they have learned to make a tangible difference in their communities.

“I learned a lot in such a short time! I am clearer about the methodologies for valuing natural resources and financing. Now, I feel I am more prepared to do environmental impact studies and assess the value of all the ecosystem services that nature gives us. I am looking forward to developing environmental impact projects in the future.” 

Milagros Estrada

National Center for Strategic Planning (CEPLAN), Peru, 2020 course graduate


This course is for professionals at the forefront of global conservation issues, and our past alumni come from government, NGOs/CSOs, foundations, academia, the private sector, and multilateral institutions. By taking this course, participants were connected with peers from all over the world in learning how applied economics can help them to address some of today’s most pressing issues and urgent environmental challenges. Course graduates joined a network of more than 3,000 CSF alumni in 40 countries. 


Economic Fundamentals

  • Key economic concepts
  • Market theory: supply, demand, market equilibrium, and competition
  • Why markets are inefficient when it comes to environmental protection: externalities, market failures, property rights, and public goods

Natural Resource Economics

  • Capital theory: how the time value of money and interest rates influence the use of natural resources
  • Behavior and incentives: game theory, open access and management of common resources
  • Economics of renewable resources: forestry and fisheries economics, management and policy

Ecosystem Services and Environmental Valuation

  • Links between ecosystems services and human benefits
  • Environmental values and valuation methods, including best practices and lessons learned
  • Case study examples of valuation studies to influence policy decisions 

Cost-Benefit Analysis

  • Overview and framework
  • Financial versus economic analysis, including incorporation of externalities and sensitivity analysis
  • Case study examples evaluating the economic feasibility of small-scale and large-scale projects

Conservation Finance Solutions

  • Finance solutions framework and systems thinking
  • Public and private sector finance solutions 
  • Scalable solutions and emerging tools and opportunities
  • Sustainable livelihoods and impact investment

Environmental Policy

  • Environmental policy instruments and evaluation criteria
  • Command and control regulation versus economic incentives and market-based instruments
  • Economics of illegal behavior, including wildlife poaching


    • An essential foundation in basic economic and finance concepts and language
    • An understanding of the economic drivers of environmental problems and natural resource degradation, including market failures and public goods
    • Insights into more effective strategies and policies for conservation, including economic incentives and sustainable finance solutions
    • Tools to evaluate the costs and benefits of natural resource management approaches and development decisions, including values of ecosystem services
    • The ability to articulate environmental values in a language that communities, businesses, and governments can understand

    "The course showed me the power of economics to help understand the complexity of managing our natural resources. I now see why many of the strategies that conservationists put in place don't have the impact we expect.”

    Melissa Carmody

    WCS, Chile, 2019 course graduate



    Led by experts in environmental economics and conservation finance, our professors have extensive field experience and an understanding of real-world conservation challenges. Our instructors are drawn from CSF staff, as well as academic and international institutions such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Conservation Finance Alliance. 


    David Johnson
    David is currently an Economics Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Prior to moving to UWM, he taught Microeconomics and Macroeconomic analysis at Wellesley College, Harvard University and Stanford University. He has received wide recognition for his teaching talent and animated style, and strives to make his courses interesting, important and relevant. David has been teaching CSF courses since 2004.

    David Meyers
    David is an environmental finance expert and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in sustainability, business strategy and management, environmental economics, international conservation and development, environmental impact assessment, training, education, and research in ecology and evolution. He is currently the Executive Director of the Conservation Finance Alliance. From 2012 until 2018, David was a Sr. Technical Advisor for the BIOFIN/UNDP project. He holds a PhD in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy from Duke University, and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

    Kim Bonine
    Kim leads CSF’s Economics for Environmental Leadership training program, with activities in over 40 countries and five continents. Over the past 15 years, Kim has led the design and implementation of environmental economics courses and analysis projects in Africa, Asia and North and South America on themes such as wildlife conservation, infrastructure development, fisheries management, tourism economics and sustainable development scenarios. She has teaching expertise in natural resource economics, environmental valuation, conservation finance, behavioral incentives, environmental policy, cost-benefit analysis, and strategic communication.

    Corbett Grainger
    Corbett is an Associate Professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he specializes in environmental and natural resource economics. His research studies the effects of environmental regulations on different demographic groups, the political economy of environmental policies, ambient air pollution monitoring, and market-based approaches to environmental management. His recent work utilizes remote sensing and satellite data to study the effects of environmental policy. He has taught Environmental Economics at the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as courses in applied econometrics. He has a PhD in Economics from University of California, Santa Barbara. 

    Application deadline