Vanuatu’s ocean is worth billions of Vatu every year. Over 5.7 billion Vatu, in fact. This is about 1/3 of government budget expenditure in 2015 (which was Vt16 billion). It’s a lot!!!! Some of these values we see in the marketplace, for example, tourism brings in over Vt 1 billion per year and tuna taken from Vanuatu’s waters is worth over Vt 2 billion.
More importantly, much of the value is “hidden”; it is NOT revealed in the market system. For example, many people in Vanuatu rely on marine resources that they harvest, for food –this is valued at more than Vt 635 million per year. Imagine if those resources were lost and if we would need to replace that food somehow?
Other hidden values, also not revealed in normal market transactions, include the value of marine ecosystems in coastal protection. For Vanuatu, our coastal ecosystem provide over Vt 2 billion by protecting coastal communities and infrastructure from storms and cyclone damage –not that they prevent the damage -but can reduce the damage that would otherwise occur.
Vanuatu’s marine ecosystems also contribute to the world’s efforts to store carbon. By storing carbon, marine ecosystems prevent increased in climate change impacts. In Vanuatu, this service is worth over Vt 460 million annually.
A detailed report assessing these values has been provided to the Government of Vanuatu. The research was undertaken in a collaboration between researchers and government partners.
Mr Toney Tevi, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, said, “The government can use the results, for example, to:
- build the value of subsistence fishing into decision-making
- better integrate marine biodiversity values into planning by all government agencies
- inform the development of the new policies
- assess the relative pros and cons of alternative development and/or management actions
- contribute to national planning
- inform environmental impact assessments,
- review the adequacy of fines and penalties for marine environmental crime, and
- inform vulnerability assessments, spatial planning and other initiatives in disaster risk reduction.”
Mr Henry Worek, the Director of Ports and Harbour, thanked the MACBIO project for partnering with the Government to produce this report and noted how important it will be for Vanuatu to protect the entire range of goods and services that the marine environment of Vanuatu provides to her people.
The report was produced with the support of the Government of Vanuatu and the MACBIO project (funded by the IKI program of BMUB, implemented by GIZ with technical support from IUCN and in close collaboration with SPREP).