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Abstract

Most markets have evolved as buyers and sellers constantly search for ways to create value, however this has not occurred naturally in all areas of the economy - markets are missing for some goods, including the environment. In such cases, transaction costs linked to property rights, asymmetric and hidden information and packaging problems have often prevented otherwise valuable deals from being negotiated in relation to the environment. However new capabilities and a better knowledge and understanding of the problems at hand now mean that where the objective is clear, and the knowledge, skills and capability exist to understand, model and measure the relevant characteristics of the problem transaction costs are low enough that economists can, in certain cases, design market based instruments that match demand with supply. In general the findings from the National MBI Pilot Program indicate that cap-and-trade systems, auctions and offsets systems can be effective tools to achieve natural resource management. The type of mechanism that is appropriate in a particular circumstance will depend on the transaction costs involved, which are strongly influenced by the features of the problem at hand. Mechanisms therefore require careful design to ensure they are tailored to each particular case.

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