Toward TomorrowToward Tomorrow

The Common Agenda

Priority Action 6

Harness the Market to Enhance Human and Ecosystem Health

This action calls on the public and private sectors to examine economic incentives and disincentives for protecting public health and the environment. Economic instruments such as price and tax incentives, full-cost accounting, labeling, and preferred procurement will be used to stimulate the development of sustainable technologies and healthy products, materials and processes, with the goal of making them the dominant technologies within one generation.

Recommendations for policy changes to reverse current economic disincentives and to promote healthy and sustainable production include:

  • requiring full cost accounting for the environmental and health impacts of manufacturing and consumer choices, and encouraging labeling, taxes and/or pricing to reflect full costs;
  • establishing a system of ecosystem services taxation to encourage conservation practices and the use of safer alternatives in the production of materials and products, using revenue to fund programs to restore and protect environmental and human resources;
  • establishing caps for activities impacting natural resources, such as total allowable amounts of pollution, deforestation, fish harvest, and other threats to ecosystem function, using an auction system to distribute 100% of allowances. Revenues from these auctions will fund ecosystem restoration and preservation programs as well support communities disproportionately impacted;
  • transitioning subsidies from those that create environmental harm and degrade social capital (e.g. support for chemical-intensive agro-industry, fossil fuel production, polluting industries, unsustainable fishing and timber practices, etc.) to those that support public health, and restore and preserve environmental resources and biodiversity.