NUMBERS for NATURE: Economics & Finance for Environmental Leadership

1 week 5 days
Course Type
Online Training


Conservation Strategy Fund held its first-ever virtual and online training for our flagship international course, Economics and Finance for Environmental Leadership. With 57 participants from 29 different countries, the CSF training team worked tirelessly to transition our in-person course into a virtual learning format and provide an exceptional educational experience for participants from all over the world. 

Overall, the course was a huge success and provided a unique learning experience for our participants, professors, and even our CSF staff, as we learned to navigate the new online learning environment for future CSF courses! Rating the overall value of the course at 4.7 out of 5, our course respondents were extremely satisfied with the virtual format and content - and 86% said they would highly recommend our course to other colleagues interested in the intersection of conservation and economics.

To learn more, please read the full 2020 course report here.


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


Our courses are regarded as the 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 experienced a transformational shift in how they view environmental issues, and our course graduates can now use what they have learned to make a tangible difference in their communities.


Course graduates join a network of more than 3,000 CSF alumni in 40 countries. Our course is for professionals at the forefront of global conservation issues, and our past alumni come from government, NGOs/CSOs, academia, the private sector, and multilateral institutions. By taking this course, participants are 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.


  • 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
  • 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
  • Conservation Finance Solutions
    • Finance solutions framework and systems thinking
    • Public and private sector finance solutions 
    • Scalable solutions and emerging tools and opportunities
  • 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


  • An essential foundation in basic economic concepts and language.
  • Insight into the drivers of environmental problems, including market and institutional failures.
  • Tools to evaluate the costs and benefits of natural resource management approaches and development decisions, including values of ecosystem services.
  • Skills to incorporate economic incentives in order to formulate more effective strategies and policies for conservation, including sustainable finance solutions 
  • 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 leading academic and international institutions such as, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Hawai’i, and Conservation Finance Alliance. For more information on our 2020 course instructors, please see below.


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.

John Lynham
John is an Associate Professor of Economics and a UHERO Research Fellow at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is the Director of the Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate and an Affiliated Researcher at the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University. John holds an MA and a PhD in Economics from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). He also holds an MS in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology from UCSB. John’s research interests are in environmental and resource economics, marine ecology, and behavioral economics. John received the Board of Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching in 2013.

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. 


Participants were expected to commit an average of 2 hours per day over the 12-day course. The curriculum included pre-recorded lectures, live discussions, readings and interactive exercises. Previous training in economics is not required. All participants must be proficient in English.

Application deadline