WASHINGTON, September 30, 2013 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a project to support the Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services Project, with US$4.5 million in grant funding provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This regional project will design innovative models for valuing mangrove, sea grass and coral reef ecosystems services to inform policy and decision making for improved environmental stewardship of these critical resources.
Coastal and marine resources and their associated ecosystem services in the region are linked to globally important marine biodiversity and underpin an enormous part of the regional economy.
“Capturing the economic and cultural values of marine natural capital through the valuation of ecosystem services, and quantifying the cost of lost services due to environmental degradation, has enormous potential. We can transform the development and stewardship of coastal areas by translating ecological value into financial terms for local stakeholders and policy makers,” said Marea Hatziolos, Senior Environmental Specialist and the World Bank’s team leader for the project.
“This wealth of natural capital has the potential to be a major driver of inclusive green growth in the region, if we overcome some huge challenges. We especially need better resource governance regimes, measures to adequately value the environment for current and future generations when calculating economic benefits, and good scientific information to inform decision making and tradeoffs,” she added.
The world’s biodiversity epicenter lies within the Coral Triangle – an area that extends from the northern Philippines to Malaysia in the west, East Timor to the South, Eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the East and trailing off to the Solomon Islands toward the Southeast. Here, coral reefs are most abundant and diverse and support large populations of people who are highly dependent on coral reef fisheries for the livelihoods and food security. In the Western and Central Pacific, healthy coral reefs and mangroves form the first critical line of defense against storm surge and sea-level rise for low lying islands and atolls.
The GEF grant will be administered by the Global Change Institute of the University of Queensland.
The University is contributing US$2 million in additional financing and research partners will provide another $3.9 million in contributions. An additional $21.9 million in parallel co-financing is provided by World Bank-financed projects: the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program-Coral Triangle Initiative (COREMAP-CTI) in Indonesia and the Rural Development Project in the Philippines.