[Coral-List] Economic Valuation and Market-bas​ed Consevatio​n

Christopher Hawkins chwkins at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 1 16:59:24 EDT 2011

Hi Francesca-
I think that expecting the common language of the sectors you mentioned (business, government, and conservation) to be that of "true" ecology is unrealistic.   
The fact is that coral reefs have social value.  Some of these values are economic and many are non-economic.  Either way, understanding the nature of these values provides public policy folks with "marching orders" in terms of expending public moneys on management and conservation of public trust resources.  Of course, if it were private money only being spent, then the calculus might be somewhat different..  However, these, for the most part, would still be public trust resources.   
While neoclassical economics is often indequate to articulating the diversity of reefs' social value, at least it recognizes that trying to persuade society that protecting coral reefs for their own intrinsic value has not historically been a big winner.  In fact, the paradigm shift has been away from the approach you advocate for this reason.   

All of this highlights the practical thorniness inherent in your statement "we would automatically keep them healthy using common sense motivations and universal values." As soon as you start talking about "health" of reefs (a term I avoid), you soon find that that term is value laden..  Your motivations and idea of health is very likely to be different than someone elses.  The result is the universal values you mention are unlikely to be all that universal.  
Best regards,
--- On Fri, 7/29/11, frahome at yahoo.com <frahome at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: frahome at yahoo.com <frahome at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Economic Valuation and Market-bas​ed Consevatio​n
To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Date: Friday, July 29, 2011, 3:59 AM

Sorry but I couldn't resist to write a short comment when I read in the subject "marked-based conservation". I also precise that although my post is going to be a bit polemic I do respect the work some people are doing on this as I understand where it comes from and I do not exclude it might be necessary in the short term.

Nevertheless, I wish the common language spoken between conservationist, government and business was not that of economists but rather that of  true ecologists.

Then we won't be here trying to assess the monetary value of coral reefs (mad) to create market incentives to protect them (how safe) but we would automatically keep them healthy using common sense motivations and universal values. I don't think the future is having ecologists thinking and speaking as economists. We need a major paradigm shift away from that language and culture...


From: Jos Hill <joskhill at gmail.com>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Thursday, July 28, 2011 7:33 PM
Subject: [Coral-List] CALL FOR ABSTRACTS @ ICRS 12: Economic Valuation adn Market-bas​ed Consevatio​n


Dear colleagues,

The 12th International Coral Reef Symposium call for abstracts is open from
1 July – 1 October 2011 (www.icrs2012.com). We would like to invite
submissions to the mini-symposium "Economic valuation and market-based

We have provided a description of this session below; however, if you have
any questions with respect to this mini-symposium, please do not hesitate to
contact any of the conveners:

Nathalie Hilmi: hilmi at centrescientifique.mc
Tamatoa Bambridge: tamatoa.bambridge at criobe.pf
Jos Hill:  jos.hill at presidioedu.org

Mini-symposium abstract:
The dire problems facing coral reefs are caused by human interactions with
them. The search for solutions requires a multi-disciplinary team that is
able to navigate the social, economic, cultural and ecological factors that
affect coral reef health. This session will bring together economists,
lawyers, geographers, anthropologists, biologists and ecologists to discuss
how to create and structure incentives for people to protect coral reefs.
This session will incorporate a discussion of two key issues:

1.      Why do we need to determine the economic value of coral reef
2.      How can policy be used to create market incentives that enable the
sustainable use of coral reefs?

*1.           Why do we need to determine the economic value of coral reef
*Coral reefs are an important input into the local economies of many
tropical countries, mainly through tourism and fisheries, however also
provide other important ecosystem services such as coastal protection, beach
nourishment as well as support millions of people who subsist off these
resources. Unfortunately, environmental services are often taken for granted
as a “public good” and not integrated into economic decision-making with
regard to development or resource use. In addition, economic rationality
does not always fall in line with the social logic of populations highly
dependent on reefs. The resulting degradation of coral reefs then adversely
affects the economic stability of these areas.

Placing value on a coral reef can help conservationists to communicate with
governments and businesses in a common language as well as to help create
market forces to protect coral reefs. Unfortunately valuing coral reefs is a
challenging exercise and this session seeks to further our understanding of
how to conduct such economic valuations as well as to determine where to
prioritize our efforts to help demonstrate to businesses and governments the
cost of engaging in damaging practices.

*2.           How can policy be used to create market incentives that enable
the sustainable use of coral reefs?
*This session will explore opportunities to use ecosystem and capital
markets to drive coral reef conservation and how government policy can
catalyze the development of these systems.

Examples of ecosystem markets include the carbon market and Payments for
Ecosystem Service (PES) programs. PES can be used to leverage payments from
the beneficiaries of an ecosystem service to support the sustainable
resource management of the system; as well as to create economic incentives
to foster more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources when full
conservation protection is unrealistic or too expensive.

In summary, this mini-symposium will welcome presentations dealing with the
following broad questions:
a)      What is the monetary and non-monetary value of a coral reef
b)      What features of ecosystem service best lend themselves to creating
a successful financial argument for protecting a coral reef? Therefore,
where should we focus our valuation efforts?
c)      What are the optimal spatial and temporal scales for economic
valuation of coral reef ecosystems?
d)     Can we find a common valuation tool that enables comparison between
different territories?
e)      What will be the socio-economic impacts of biodiversity loss on
coral reefs? Can we estimate this?
f)       Who do we need to engage in this conversation about the economic
value of coral reefs?
g)      What economic tools can help us to mitigate the degradation of coral
reefs? For example, how can capital markets be used or catalyzed to promote
coral reef sustainability (for example, impact investing, payments for
ecosystem services or carbon markets)?
h)      How can we use economic valuations to influence policy change?
i)       What information do we need to make the financial (business) case
for sustainability to businesses?
j)     What policy changes do we need to put in place to establish
market-based incentives that protect coral reefs?

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