UNEP Manual Provides Guidance on Valuing SIDS’ Ecosystem ServicesTools
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a manual on calculating the value of ecosystems in small island developing States, with the aim of supporting a transition to a green economy.
The manual highlights the strong interdependency between the natural environment and the economy of small island developing States (SIDS) and the importance of accounting for the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being in order to be able to quantify and manage those benefits.
The Guidance Manual on Valuation and Accounting of Ecosystem Services for Small Island Developing States is seen as a timely and critical tool for mainstreaming island ecosystem services in conventional economic decision-making frameworks, and ultimately supporting policymakers’ ability to achieve sustainable development.
UNEP’s SIDS Foresight Report, launched in 2014, identifies climate change impacts and related sea-level rise as the chief concern among twenty emerging issues impacting the environmental resilience and sustainable development prospects of SIDS – including coastal squeeze, land capacity, invasive alien species and threats from chemicals and waste.
In all SIDS regions, coral reefs, the frontline for adaptation, are already severely impacted by rising sea surface temperatures. The global net loss of the coral reef cover – around 34 million hectares over two decades – will cost the international economy an estimated US$ 11.9 trillion, with SIDS especially impacted by the loss.
In the insular Caribbean, for example, up to 100 per cent of coral reefs in some areas have been affected by bleaching due to thermal stress linked to global warming. Climate threats are projected to push the proportion of reefs at risk in the Caribbean to 90 per cent by 2030 and up to 100 per cent by 2050.
The manual includes many examples of accounting and valuation techniques in action, and is related to The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, which is a global initiative focused on attracting attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity and the growing cost of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.
The manual provides a step-by-step methodological approach to select, design and implement island ecosystem services valuation and accounting exercises, and shares case study examples of accounting and valuation techniques. For instance, a 1% increase in the number of coastal protected areas is associated with a 2.9% increase in international coastal tourism arrivals. The manual also provides guidance on designing a payments for ecosystem services (PES) scheme in SIDS, using the example of Palau’s Green Fee.
The manual aims to support policymakers in achieving sustainable development, taking into consideration SIDS’ unique environmental, socio-economic and capacity issues. The manual emphasizes that “there is no simple solution” to valuing and accounting for SIDS’ ecosystem services, emphasizing that economic valuation and accounting techniques depend on the category of island ecosystem services (cultural, provisioning or regulating) and the island’s type of economic policy.
(Story courtesy of UNEP)