European local government could reap "first mover" benefits by getting "eco-efficient," according to a report prepared by the Freiburg-based International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI). First developed as a concept for industry by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, eco-efficiency can also provide a framework for local government to make much better use of economic instruments, ICLEI argues. Opportunities open to municipalities include charges, fees, fines, surcharges, taxes and subsidies, according to the group's report, which includes a "toolbox at local level" intended to encourage authorities to introduce their own economic instruments. Local authorities could benefit in three main ways from using economic instruments, ICLEI says: an increased quality of life for citizens, a decrease in resource use through an increase in resource efficiency, and "short-run" gains such as reduced costs for treating environmentally-related illnesses.
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