Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
The Virgin Islands has published the 2019 ecosystem accounts that would provide evidence to support environmental and economic management for the Territory.
These ecosystem accounts generate environmental statistics that complement other national economic and social statistics (such as GDP and demographic trends), and this evidence can support policy development and decision making, including:
- Decisions which impact on the environment and the benefits it provides.
- Action on climate change, including mitigation, adaptation, and resilience to impact.
- Delivery of international initiatives, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and
- A green post-COVID economic recovery, and in particular a sustainable tourism sector.
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent Wheatley said determining the economic and financial contribution that healthy ecosystems provide to the Virgin Islands is of vital importance to balance development, conservation and protection of its natural resources.
Honourable Wheatley said, “Future ecosystem accounts will benefit from additional information currently being gathered on the state of coastal, marine and terrestrial habitats and their direct benefits to several sectors, not the least tourism. Finally, part of the project’s legacy is the strengthening of capacity of local practitioners to advance future updates to the national green accounts for the Territory.”
Honourable Wheatley stated that the Virgin Islands are blessed with an abundance of natural assets, estimated to contribute benefits worth at least $125 million annual value. These benefits he said include the attraction of some of the world’s most beautiful beaches for tourists ($47 million per year); coral reefs for coastal protection ($74 million per year); terrestrial and marine ecosystems sequestering carbon ($4 million per year); and additional difficult to measure values such as the biodiversity that makes life richer to both local inhabitants and visitors.
“The ecosystem accounts provide a framework for measuring these benefits, and produces evidence which can help to address several fundamental questions for policy and planning,” the minister added.
The account was developed with financial support from the Darwin Initiative (funded by the UK Government) and delivered through a partnership between EFTEC, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour, and Immigration as a part of the “Caribbean Overseas Territories Regional Natural Capital Accounting Programme”. Support is also provided across four other Caribbean Overseas territories including Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres, has described ecosystem accounting as the, “adoption of this economic and environmental framework is a historic step towards transforming the way how we view and value nature. No longer will we allow mindless environmental destruction to be considered as economic progress."
Global Director for Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice, World Bank Karin Kemper, added that ecosystem accounting is a giant leap towards measuring nature’s contributions to the economy.
For more details on the Virgin Islands 2019 Ecosystem Account please find the full report on the Government’s webpage at https://bvi.gov.vg/content/virgin-islands-2019-ecosystem-account-summary.
Link to full report: https://bvi.gov.vg/content/virgin-islands-2019-ecosystem-account-summary
Photo: Official photo of Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent Wheatley