Benefits of Valuing Nature for the Caribbean Netherlands

26 August 2014 | Article

A research conducted between 2012 and 2014 not only values the ecosystem services provided by the three islands’ natural world, but produces reports and policy briefs for decision-makers with guidance on how to maintain these values for the benefit of the economy.

Economic value of the Ecosystem Services:

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Caribbean Netherlands’ – Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius islands - research draws attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity and highlights the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation by assigning economic values to the main ecosystem services of the Caribbean Netherlands. The Total Economic Value (TEV) of the ecosystem services provided by marine and terrestrial ecosystems represents an important part of the economy of these islands. The TEV of the natural environment of the Caribbean Netherlands amounts to $122 million per year. This is close to $5,800 per capita for Caribbean Netherlands’ residents and clearly demonstrates that the economies of the three islands are highly dependent on natural assets.

Some positive impacts of the study

The valuation results are used to develop several tools to raise awareness, support decision-making, develop sustainable financing mechanisms and serve as input for spatial planning. The impact of the study has been tremendous: it has been discussed in the Dutch Chamber of Parliament and used by the State Secretary of Economic Affairs to showcase the important link between nature and economic prosperity. Nature policy plans have been developed to maintain the important TEV of the ecosystem services that currently benefit a wide range of stakeholders in the Caribbean Netherlands. The local government took on the scenario results to initiate active goat control measures and used the extended costs benefits analysis results to determine how to utilize wastewater sustainably in order to maximize benefits from the sewerage system. Insight in the discrepancy between the willingness of Dutch mainland citizen to pay for nature conservation in the Caribbean Netherlands and the lack of actual funding was used by the Ministry of Economic Affairs for securing a 10 million Euros investment for nature conservation on the three islands. Also WWF Netherlands used the Non-use Value to allocate a budget for conservation efforts in the Caribbean Netherlands. Furthermore, the Total Economic Value map supports the intended extension of the terrestrial park on Saba.

Stakeholders’ consultations

From the onset of the study, stakeholders on each island participated by providing data and by simultaneously creating support for the concept of ecosystem services among the target audience. By surveying over approximately a thousand people on each island including tourists, local residents as well as continental Dutch residents this study estimated the willingness of individuals to pay for the protection of nature on Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. Furthermore, stakeholders were involved in scenario analyses to inform decision-makers about the most effective strategies to protect the ecosystems of the islands in order to improve the economy and wellbeing of its residents. And several ecosystem valuation workshops have taken place on the islands.

Study’s outputs

The study resulted in the following report and policy briefs:

Report:  The Non-use value of nature in the Netherlands and Caribbean Netherlands
Policy brief:  The Non-use value of Caribbean Netherlands
Policy brief:  Benefits of TEEB Caribbean Netherlands
Policy brief:  TEEB Caribbean Netherlands

Report and policy briefs specific to each island can be found here: www.wolfscompany.com

Credits 

The research has been realized by the VU University Amsterdam and Wolfs Company and has been commissioned by the ministry of Economic Affairs The Netherlands. More information can be found at www.wolfscompany.com.