The Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat successfully held its first Wetlands Valuation Expert Panel workshop from September 4-5, 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya to initiate a platform for dialogue, communication and information-sharing on wetland ecosystem valuation, and refine the focus and methodology of the Nile Basin Wetlands TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) study.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is a global initiative focused on "making nature's values visible". Its principal objective is to mainstream the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services into decision-making at all levels. It proposes a structured approach to valuation that helps decision-makers recognise the wide range of benefits provided by ecosystems and biodiversity, demonstrate their values in economic terms and, where appropriate, capture those values in decision-making.
The NBI Secretariat Executive Director, Eng. Innocent Ntabana, opened the meeting by recalling the importance of water related ecosystems and the importance they have in overall water resource management. He however deplored the fact that so far little has been done to assess the economic value of this ecosystem as a way to build a case for their conservation. He cited, among other constraints, the lack of data. He explained that the TEEB study undertaken by the Nile-SEC is aimed at filling that gap and to serve as a model for countries to follow and use in advocating with policy makers on the need for ecosystem conservation.
"Ecosystem protection in the Nile Basin is not given the importance it deserves. Do we as communities give value to our ecosystems? Do we have the necessary information to give ecosystems economic value?" Eng. Ntabana said.
Leonard Akwany, NBI Regional Wetlands Expert, described the key importance of the concept of 'green infrastructure', also variously known as, or linked to, 'natural infrastructure', 'nature-based solutions' and 'ecosystem-based approaches'. He underlined the contribution of wetland ecosystem services to the facilities and services that societies and economies require to survive, grow and prosper.
NBI has a programme of work looking at wetlands as green infrastructure, and identifying nature/ecosystem-based infrastructure, climate adaption and disaster-risk reduction solutions in the Nile Basin. The TEEB study can play an important role in strengthening river basin planning by helping to make the case for, and promote investment in, wetlands as green water infrastructure i.e. mobilise financing, incentives and other support for wetland conservation and wise use.
The workshop ended with a great deal of excitement about the on-the-ground case studies to be carried out in key Nile Basin wetland sites.
More than 40 participants attended the meeting, drawn from government agencies, non-governmental organisations, research institutes and universities in Nile Basin countries. The experts represented a wide range of disciplines, including economists, biologists, ecologists, hydrologists, engineers and social scientists. Participants included partner organisations such as IUCN, Wetlands International, Conservation International and UN Environment.
Conserving biodiversity in the Nile Basin transboundary wetlands is funded with support from GIZ, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under the International Climate Initiative (ICI).