Environmental Economics with the UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean (EEWOC)

 
One of the biggest constraints in the UK Overseas Territories is the lack of quality information and analysis relating to the environmental impacts, values, costs andLagoon dredge, Majuro Atoll © Emily McKenzie/JNCC benefits of alternative development activities and strategies.  The Environmental Economics with UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean Project (EEWOC) was a JNCC initiative, in partnership with a number of UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, which aimed to help stakeholders to address these problems. This project took place in 2007/2008.
 
The objective of the project was to enable stakeholders in Overseas Territories to generate, understand and apply robust information on the value of ecosystem services in the context of decision-making.  In achieving this objective, the outcome was a better understanding of the causes and costs of biodiversity loss, and identification of more effective, integrated and sustainable approaches to development in the UK Overseas Territories.
 
EEWOC developed and provided tools, training and technical support to allow Caribbean Overseas Territories to use environmental valuation to inform and improve decision-making.  EEWOC had three key elements:
 
  • Developing and disseminating an environmental economics toolkit on Valuing the Environment in Small Islands.
  • Organising a capacity building workshop on environmental valuation in small islands for key stakeholders in UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, held in Grand Cayman in October 2007. 
  • Providing technical assistance to a number of UK Overseas Territories that are conducting their own environmental valuation studies in 2007-2010.  A project in Montserrat was recently completed and another in underway in Bermuda.  This short video illustrates what prompted the work in Montserrat and how the people there felt about it. See below 
 
EEWOC was funded jointly by JNCC and the Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP).  OTEP is a UK Government fund jointly managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID).
 

The following video clip shows the economic valuation process in action in Montserrat

 

What problems can environmental economics tools help to address?

 

Outer Island Kiribati © Marc OvermarsPolicies in UK Overseas Territories and other small islands can cause deterioration of ecosystems and loss of associated biodiversity, which reduce the quantity and quality of vital ecosystem services, such as food production, water supply, coastal protection, natural hazard protection and aesthetic values for tourism and recreation.  Islands face a number of critical biodiversity issues, particularly relating to the impacts of invasive alien species, depletion of coastal fisheries, limited water resources, and adapting to the impacts of climate change. 
 
Island ecosystems continue to be degraded in part due to the lack of recognition by decision-makers of the value of the environment, and, conversely, of the costs of environmental degradation.  In order to improve the sustainability of policy in small islands there needs to be better understanding of the costs, values and risks of environmental damage. Economic tools can support improved decision making by helping to assess the impacts, values and trade-offs of alternative development options.