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WB grants $4.5m for underwater ecosystem

By Jennifer Ambanta | October 1, 2013 BusinessWorld Online

The Philippines and Indonesia received a $4.5-million grant from the Global Environment Facility of the World Bank to improve their underwater ecosystem.

The program, Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services Project, aims to quantify the value and market potential of coral reef and mangrove ecosystem services.

Marea Hatziolos, senior environmental specialist and the World Bank’s team leader for the project, said the funding was critical to capture the value of the underwater ecosystem to improve the level of stewardship of the coastal areas.

The bank is looking at the provinces of  Batangas, Palawan, Central Visayas (Bohol or Negros), and northern Luzon as pilot areas.

“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,” she said.

“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,” she added.

The World Bank in a statement said the study would also find out how communities could sustain the life of the ocean while equally benefiting from it.

The project is a five-year program, which includes surveying of corals in different areas in the Pacific region.

The WB report said more than 450 million people in East Asia-Pacific still live on less than $2 a day and a disproportionate number of these poor are fishers, whose livelihood options are limited and who compete for fewer and fewer fish in open access, and coral reef-based fisheries in a race to the bottom.

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