The Government of the Republic of the Maldives is developing natural capital accounts through pilot testing of the System of Environmental Economic Accounting Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) framework in Laamu Atoll, an ecologically sensitive and economically important area in southern Maldives.
The project has two main objectives: a). pilot the use of the SEEA EA framework within Laamu Atoll to support the Global Environment Facility (GEF) project, ‘Enhancing National Development through Environmentally Resilient Islands (ENDhERI)’, which seeks to expand knowledge of green growth development, social capital and mainstream the use of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) in decision-making b). build natural capital accounting capabilities, in particular ecosystem accounting, within the Maldives through the provision of training for government ministries and the development of university courses by Maldives National University (MNU).
The pilot testing of the SEEA EA framework in Laamu Atoll is expected to generate valuable information on the health and productivity of the region's ecosystems and how they contribute to the local economy and people's well-being. The research garnered will provide the basis for a fit-for-purpose accounting system in line with the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) framework, and the SEEA EA framework in particular. The project team will work closely with relevant stakeholders and local communities to ensure that the accounting system is adapted to the specific needs and context of Laamu Atoll and ensure that institutional capacity and stakeholder coordination and collaboration are enhanced at every step of the project to support future replication at the national scale. The initiative will run through the end of 2024.
- March 10 - 20 2023 | Inception visit: The initiative kicked off with a series of events, meetings and site visits in Male and Laamu Atoll. These included a workshop with key stakeholders to identify priority policy areas and ecosystems to perform SEEA Ecosystem Accounting; an NCA Public Lecture at the MNU to provide insights and knowledge for MNU students and foster interest in sustainable development and ecosystem management (especially through NCA and SEEA EA); meetings with national and sub-national government (local and atoll councils) representatives and non-governmental organisations to better understand inter-government relationships, data availability, challenges, and risks to compiling SEEA EA; and site visits to identify the appropriate methodologies for collecting data on ecosystem condition.
- April 28 2023 | Preliminary report: Based on the findings from the initial site visits, a 'Preliminary survey of ecosystem extent and condition in Laamu Atoll, Maldives' was prepared by MNU, the Fisheries Resource Center of Indonesia (Rekam Nusantara Foundation) and the GOAP Secretariat and submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, Republic of the Maldives.
- August 2023 | Site visits and ministerial update: The project team assembled in August 2023 to collect data on seagrass condition while engaging and training local students on seagrass monitoring and natural capital accounting. The team surveyed 22 sites and assessed 15 ground truthing points. The parameters monitored included sediment type, seagrass species, canopy height and percentage cover, macroalgae and epiphyte percentage cover, and associated fauna. Five distinct seagrass species were identified during the survey. MNU students gained hands-on experience in data collection, species identification and understanding the ecological significance of seagrass ecosystems. The site visits were followed by a project update delivered to the Maldivian Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, as well as related meetings to strengthen collaboration for natural capital accounting.
The pilot is being implemented by the University of New South Wales, the Fisheries Resource Center of Indonesia (Rekam Nusantara Foundation) and MNU, under the directive of the Maldivian Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology. Fiscal support is provided by the United Nations Environment Program.