Cultural Ecosystem Service (CES) for Local Community in Aruba

This research is based on the TEEB framework- The Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity.TEEB is a branch in United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Ecosystem Divisions work, which aims to derive insight in the strong link between Economy and Nature. The objective of this research - which forms part of a larger umbrella TEEB Aruba research project - is to determine the cultural ecosystem service (CES) value that the marine and terrestrial environment of Aruba provides to its local community. The latter in order to improve decision making on conservation efforts on the island by internalizing externalities in policies that affect the environment and its ecosystems in favor of residents. Governments around the world are taking a keen interest in the measurement of subjective well- being, with a view to measuring progress more effectively, improving their policy decisions, and increasing the well-being of citizens. Aruba has started the process of implementing and localizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The research employed a multi-method approach to value the CES of Aruba. For the economic/monetary value both Choice Experiment (CE) and Contingent Valuation (CV) were employed. To elicit information within the socio-cultural domain, Public Participation Geographic Information System (PPGIS) and Crowdsourcing for CES mapping. The results of this research are useful for feeding into spatial development planning, identifying areas of high cultural value, identifying opportunities for sustainable financing for conservation efforts and identifying the current gaps to efficiently monitor the sustainability of ecosystems on Aruba such that these can keep providing services for future generations.

The TEEB Aruba research shows that nature plays an important role in the lives of the local population, 95% of the local community has the perception that nature has an influence on their overall well-being and the majority finds it extremely influential. Around 70% visit natural environments to destress and relax and natural areas also serve as a bonding opportunity with around 25% of the local community on Aruba visiting a natural environment to spend time with family and friends at least once a week and another 39% at least once a month. The average amount that households are willing to pay per month towards management of Aruba's marine and terrestrial environment can be ranged between 25 AWG (14 USD) (CV) and 64 AWG (36 USD 1) (CE). Taking the conservative side of the range leads to a yearly willingness-to-pay towards management of Aruba's marine and terrestrial environment of 6.5 million AWG (3.6 million USD) by the local community.

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