Nature’s contribution to the economy

Pedro Paulo Cunha 2014
Published: 13 November 2015
Last edited: 23 September 2021
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Challenges for decision-makers can be assessing when market-based solutions to biodiversity loss are likely to be culturally acceptable, as well as effective, efficient and equitable. Economic values of ecosystem services can justify funding for nature conservation and mobilize political support.


Scale of implementation
Coastal forest
Coral reef
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Ecosystem services
Fisheries and aquaculture
Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Ecosystem loss
Infrastructure development
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 14: Ecosystem services


Bonaire, Caribbean


  • Developmental pressures challenge the physical and economic security of small island societies.
  • Understanding how nature contributes to a small island economy and human development.


  • Nature conservation organizations
  • Nature and environmental government departments
  • Policy and decision-makers
  • Tourism industry
  • Local communities
  • Fisherfolk

How do the building blocks interact?

Developmental pressures in a context of global environmental change and economic liberalization challenge the physical and economic security of the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. This requires an integrated, multi-scale research supporting the development of sustainable economies. The focus was to value nature through the perspective of various stakeholders such as local residents, visitors, tourist industry and residents in the Netherlands’ mainland. The study concludes that benefits of nature in the islands are not only enjoyed by local stakeholders but also by citizens in the mainland of the Netherlands. The valuation results are used to raise awareness, support decision-making, and develop sustainable financing mechanisms and serve as input for spatial planning. The results and their input in scenarios answer questions related to current environmental management policies. Stakeholders provide input along the way. By increasing the information and transparency on issues that are related to the natural environment of the Caribbean Netherlands more equitable decisions can be made.


  • State Secretary showcases this study to demonstrate important link between nature and economic prosperity
  • Nature policy plans mainstream the economics of ecosystem services benefitting a wide range of stakeholders
  • Local government acted on scenarios initiating goat control measures and extended costs benefits analysis determined how to utilize wastewater sustainably
  • Insight in willingness of Dutch mainland citizen to pay for nature conservation was used to secure 7.5 million Euros for nature conservation
  • Value map supports intended extension of Terrestrial Park


“Intuitively , many people were already aware of the fact that nature plays an important role,” says Pieter van Beukering, Associate Professor at VU University Amsterdam. “But now that they see the real number, and they see the real importance, the urgency of doing something – more than we currently do – has increased and people have become more aware of the importance to protect our nature and improve its quality as soon as possible.”

Contributed by

Esther Wolfs Wolfs Company

Other contributors

Wolfs Company