According to information coming out of the Government Information Service (GIS), the first 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.
Some of the data covers decisions that impact 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 s green post-COVID economic recovery, and in particular a sustainable tourism sector.
Local Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) 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.
“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.”
He said finally, part of the project’s legacy is the strengthening of the capacity of local practitioners to advance future updates to the national green accounts for the Territory.
Honourable Wheatley added that the VI is blessed with an abundance of natural assets, estimated to contribute benefits worth at least $125 million annual value.
“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.
The full report of the Virgin Islands 2019 Ecosystem Account can be found here.