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Join us for a presentation of the report, The Ocean as a Solution for Climate Change: 5 Opportunities for Action, which will show that the ocean and coastal regions can play a much bigger role in shrinking the world's carbon footprint and limiting global temperature rise than previously realized.

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Plastic pollution and dying coral reefs may dominate the news, but beneath the surface, ocean conservation is making headway. Examples from Indonesia, Norway, Africa and more reveal signs of progress.

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As part of the Climate Vulnerable Forum Virtual Summit, this panel will bring together governments, research institutions, civil society and the UN to explore the urgent need to protect, produce and prosper from the ocean in the face of a changing climate. It will explore opportunities to build resilience, harness innovation and ensure future livelihoods, food security and economic development.

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There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the course the oceans are on, but Peter Thomson, U.N. Special Envoy for the Ocean, is optimistic. He joins WRI's Lawrence MacDonald and Kristian Teleki to discuss why a 2017 conference marked a sea change.

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Governments, businesses, development agencies, and NGOs are increasingly turning to economic valuation as a way to protect coral reefs and mangroves. This process makes the economic case for protection and sustainable use of natural resources by showing the monetary, employment, and infrastructure benefits ecosystems provide—metrics that are easily understood by decision-makers.

But not all economic valuations are created equal. WRI's new guidebook shows how NGOs and other stakeholders can conduct economic valuations in ways that lead to real change on the ground.

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Tropical coastal ecosystems—including coral reefs, mangroves, beaches, and seagrasses—provide a range of valuable goods and services to people and economies across the Caribbean. These ecosystems contribute to tourism, fisheries, shoreline protection, and more.

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Governments, corporations, and development agencies are increasingly interested in putting a dollar value on ecosystems in order to balance conservation and development needs, a concept known as “economic valuation.” For example, St. Maarten’s government recently established the country’s first marine national park after a local organization found that the area’s coastal ecosystems contribute $58 million per year through tourism and fisheries. Belize enacted a host of new fishing regulations based on a WRI valuation, which found that coral reef- and mangrove-associated tourism contributes $150 million-$196 million per year to the country’s economy. And in Bonaire, park managers used economic valuation to justify the Bonaire Marine Park’s establishment of user fees—making it one of the few self-financed marine parks in the Caribbean.

These stories show that economic valuation can indeed lead to better coastal policy, conserving these ecosystems and securing their important economic contributions. However, according to new WRI research, these cases tend to be the exception in the Caribbean.

Economic Valuation and Coastal Policy in the Caribbean

In the Caribbean, there is keen interest in economic valuation of coastal ecosystems to inform policy and improve natural resource management. But while the literature on the value of coral reefs and mangroves in the Caribbean continues to grow, these ecosystems continue to decline.

WRI and the Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership (MESP) took a closer look at the impact of previous economic valuation studies in the Caribbean. Out of more than 200 studies of the economic value of the Caribbean’s marine ecosystem goods and services, we were only able to identify 13 that actually influenced marine and coastal management policies, such as those in Bonaire, St. Maarten, and Belize.

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