UNEP Manual Provides Guidance on Valuing SIDS’ Ecosystem Services

26 January 2015: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a manual on calculating the value of ecosystems in small island developing States (SIDS), with the aim of supporting a transition to a green economy. The manual underscores the importance of accounting for the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being in order to quantify and value these benefits.

The ‘Guidance Manual on Valuation and Accounting of Ecosystem Services for SIDS' highlights the interdependence between SIDS' economies and the natural environment. In Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Seychelles and Vanuatu, 50% of gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the tourism industry, according to the manual. In the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), fisheries contribute 10% of GDP while 52% of Grenada's exports come from tuna, albacore, cocoa beans and nutmeg.

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.

UNEP launched the manual at an event marking the close of the 2014 International Year of SIDS. [Publication: Guidance Manual on Valuation and Accounting of Ecosystem Services in Small Island Developing States] [UNEP Press Release] [UNEP Publications Website]