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An Evaluation of Economic and Non-economic Techniques for Assessing the Importance of Biodiversity and associated Ecosystem Services to People in Developing.

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Presentation on theme: "An Evaluation of Economic and Non-economic Techniques for Assessing the Importance of Biodiversity and associated Ecosystem Services to People in Developing."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Evaluation of Economic and Non-economic Techniques for Assessing the Importance of Biodiversity and associated Ecosystem Services to People in Developing Countries. 1 EnvEcon conference (20 March 2009) Dr Mike Christie

2 Overview Background to study Research aims Method Results: from systemised review Results: methodological, practical and policy issues Conclusions and recommendations 2

3 Background Biodiversity supports a range of ecosystem services that are of fundamental importance to people, for health, well-being, livelihoods, and survival (MA, 2005). People from the poorest nations tend to have the greatest immediate dependency on these ecosystem services. Gaining a better understanding of the role of biodiversity is fundamental for securing the livelihoods and well- being of people in developing countries. 3

4 Aims and objectives Aims: – To evaluate economic and non-economic techniques for assessing the importance of biodiversity to people in developing countries. Objectives: – assess the ability of a range of techniques to: (i) reveal the complex relationship between people and their natural environment; (ii) identify meaningful preference revelation; and (iii) produce results that are meaningful to policy-making. – use case studies to illustrate the difficulties, issues and solutions encountered and delivered by the techniques examined; – identify ways in which people use and think about the natural environment in the contexts being examined. 4

5 Research method A systemised search of: – Environmental Valuation Research Inventory (EVRI); – Web of Knowledge. A survey of researchers and policy makers. Five in-depth case studies to examine methodological and practical problems experience when applying techniques in developing countries: – Southern Africa, – Montserrat, – Uganda, – Solomon Island, – Agatti Islands, India. 5

6 Methods reviewed 6 Economic techniquesNon-economic techniques Market price approaches Market cost approaches Replacement costs approaches Damage cost avoided approaches Production function approaches Revealed preference methods Travel cost method Hedonic pricing method Stated preference methods Choice modelling Contingent valuation Participatory approaches to valuation Deliberative valuation Mediated modelling Benefits transfer Consultative methods: Questionnaires In-depth interviews Deliberative and participatory approaches: Focus groups, in-depth groups Citizen juries Health-based valuation approaches Q-methodology Delphi surveys Rapid rural appraisal Participatory rural appraisal Participatory action research Methods for reviewing information: Systematic reviews

7 Results of the review 7

8 No. of studies that valued biodiversity in developing countries: – EVRI: 195 economic studies – Web of Knowledge: 183 economic studies 101 non-economic studies. Developing country studies represent 1/10 th of all published biodiversity valuation studies. 8 Cumulative total of biodiversity valuation studies sourced from EVRI for all National Income States from

9 Geographic distribution of papers 9

10 Method used in biodiversity studies 10

11 Authors from a developing country 11

12 Results: Methodological, practical and policy issues Based on expert survey and case studies. 12

13 Methodological issues Low levels of literacy, education and language – Creates barriers to valuing complex environmental goods – Makes it difficult to utilise traditional survey techniques such as questionnaires and interviews. – More deliberative and participatory approaches to data collection may overcome these issues. Informal or subsistence economies – People may have little or no experience of dealing with money. – People find it difficult to place a monetary value on complex and unfamiliar environmental goods / services. Valuation methods have been developed in developed countries – Are the current best-practice guidelines appropriate for applications in developing countries? 13

14 Practical issues Extreme environmental conditions – Affect the researcher’s ability to access areas or effectively undertake research. Lack of local research capacity to design, administer and analyse research projects – Involvement of local people is considered essential within the research process to ensure that local nuances / values are accounted for. Sometimes easier to administer valuation studies in developing countries – Response rates are typically higher – Respondents are receptive to listening and considering questions posed – Interviewers are relatively inexpensive (allowing larger sample sizes). 14

15 Policy issues Lack of local research capacity – Lack of awareness of valuation methods and of the importance of biodiversity to people. Lack of empirical valuation studies in developing countries – Little evidence to illustrate the importance of biodiversity to people. – Makes future benefits transfer difficult. Existing research is often extractive – Often little engagement with local communities, researchers or decision makers. – Research therefore has very little impact on the welfare of local people. 15

16 Conclusions The way people in developing countries think about the natural environment is different to those in developed countries. – They have much closer ties to their natural environment. – Their knowledge is often implicit and / or experiential knowledge – Low levels of literacy and education mean that most people will have little or no scientific understanding of their natural environment. – The above means that people from developing countries may have difficulty in expressing their value for natural resources. Given the above, standard approaches to valuation are unlikely to effectively reveal the preferences of people in developing countries. Valuation may be more effective if: – Local researchers are used throughout the research process – Deliberative, participative and action research approaches are incorporated into the valuation methods. 16

17 Recommendations Further research is required: – To develop best-practice guidelines for valuation research in a developing country context. – To explore ways in which deliberative, participatory and action research approaches might best be incorporated into economic valuation. – To build local research capacity to allow local researchers to be utilised at all stages in the design, administration and analysis of valuation studies. 17

18 The research team would like to thank Defra for funding this research project. Copies of the full report can be found at: 18


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