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Series of workshops focus on economics of biodiversity and ecosystem services

asuncion_workshopTransport specialists and workshop participants, Asuncion, Paraguay

Ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) sustain hundreds of millions of people, but are threatened by a series of interlocking challenges. Rapid development and population growth have placed increasing pressure on natural resources. Pollution, deforestation, infrastructure, large-scale tourism development, invasive species, and over-fishing all threaten these highly bio-diverse ecosystems, as do the effects of climate change.

Economics is driving many of the problems but can also drive solutions. Economic benefits in terms of food and livelihoods are particularly tangible and irrevocably tied to intact natural ecosystems, as are less tangible determinants of human wellbeing, such as regulation of hydrological cycles, scenic beauty and undiscovered uses of genetic material. Policy makers, environmental professionals and community leaders in LAC need economic skills to find realistic, adaptable models for ecologically sustainable growth.

In response to this need, Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) has developed an In-House Training program for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the leading source of development financing for LAC. Over the past year, CSF has led five capacity-building workshops for IDB’s Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Program. CSF Training staff and instructors have equipped bank staff and their regional counterparts with information and tools to consider the economic importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services in their loan approval processes. A key goal of these workshops is to help IDB further incorporate environmental sustainability considerations into its work.

The first three training sessions took place in November 2013 in Washington D.C. and included a one-day workshop for IDB economists, a three-day workshop for IDB transport specialists, and a three-day workshop for IDB water specialists. Sector-specific curriculum included economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, impact evaluation of policy interventions and envrionmental programs, recent developments in mitigation and compensation practices, and case studies of integrated environmental-economic project appraisal.

In 2014, we conducted a training in Washington, D.C. in May for IDB agricultural economists, and a follow-up training for transport specialists in Asuncion, Paraguay earlier this month. Highlights from course curriculum included economic valuation case studies of pollination and pest control, case studies of payments for ecosystem services related to watershed management, and an in-depth review of transport related cost-benefit analyses conducted by CSF staff in Latin America. We are currently planning a three-day workshop in D.C. for IDB energy specialists to be held in November of this year.

We are optimistic that our unique style of tailored, In-House training will have an impact on project selection, direction, and investment decisions by IDB, resulting in benefits for people and ecosystems in LAC for generations to come.

Contact us if you are interested in a short-format workshop with CSF or an in-house training for your organization.