Planned research on socio-economic assessment of the Baltic Sea ecosystem services as part of a Horizon Europe project
AKTiiVS is among the partners of a consortium for implementing a Baltic Sea region scale research project PROTECT BALTIC, which has been approved under the Horizon Europe program.
The project will be implemented from September 2023 in a 5-year period. It is coordinated by the HELCOM secretariat and involves 17 partners from the Baltic Sea region. The project will develop and implement a Protection Optimization Framework – a holistic transboundary decision support package for identifying marine biodiversity protection and restoration targets and developing a shared approach for the spatial protection and restoration. The Protection Optimization Framework will include novel Baltic-wide state of the art algorithms and decision support tools for environmental and habitat modelling, ecosystem services identification, quantification and valuation, protection coherence assessment, Marine Protected Areas management effectiveness assessment, strategic area designation and measures prioritization, and ocean literacy. The Framework will provide the infrastructure, support and capacity for the countries around the Baltic Sea to strategically extend and optimise spatial protection efforts with an ultimate aim – securing positive marine biodiversity outcomes through protecting biodiversity and the associated ecosystem functions and services.
The project includes a dedicated work package on the assessment and valuation of the marine ecosystem services. The role of AKTIIVS is to develop further the sea region socio-economic assessment of the ecosystem services within the integrated assessment methodology and the tool for identification, mapping, quantification and valuation of the marine ecosystem services.
K.Pakalniete (AKTiiVS) is among the contributors of the HELCOM “Thematic assessment of economic and social analyses 2016-2021”, which was released in April 2023.
The HELCOM “Thematic assessment of economic and social analyses 2016-2021” (available at https://helcom.fi/post_type_publ/holas3_esa) is one of the thematic assessments of the third HELCOM holistic assessment (HOLAS III), which provides a comprehensive overview of the ecosystem health of the Baltic Sea, covering the assessment period of 2016–2021 (https://helcom.fi/baltic-sea-trends/holistic-assessments/state-of-the-baltic-sea-2023/).
The economic and social analyses linked to the marine environment give a valuable perspective on the relationship between society and the environment with the aim to provide relevant information to inform decision-making.The economic and social analyses of the thematic assessment have been prepared as part of the HELCOM BLUES project (https://blues.helcom.fi/), where AKTiiVS was involved via sub-contract with the HELCOM secretariat (the project coordinator). AKTiiVS contributed to developing methodologies, information base and assessments for all the analyses and led the sea region socio-economic assessment of the marine ecosystem services (see more about the results of the project at https://blues.helcom.fi/results-and-resources/).
AKTiiVS completed a study on assessment of socio-economic impacts of polders and their possible management scenarios in Latvia.
Within the project LIFE18 IPE/LV/000014 “Implementation of Latvian river basin management plans for achieving good status of surface waters” (LIFE GOODWATER IP), AKTiiVS was contracted for conducting an assessment of socio-economic impacts of polders and their possible management scenarios, as well as preparing guidelines for the socio-economic impact assessment of polder areas. The aim of the assessment was, based on the socio-economic impact assessment of polders and their possible management scenarios, to provide data-driven assessments and proposals for polder management, taking into account the objectives and requirements of water quality and nature protection. The assessment was prepared in cooperation with experts from the Latvian Fund for Nature and the World Fund for Nature, as well as in consultation with sectoral institutions and experts both in individual consultations and in wider expert meetings. The assessment covers such impacts as the benefits from agricultural production in polder areas, financial costs of maintaining the polders, impact on flood risk prevention, water quality and nature protection. The results include also guidelines, which could be applied to the analysis of costs and benefits for such polders in Latvia in relation to territories with diverse and conflicting purposes of use (e.g. for agricultural production, flood prevention, water quality and nature protection). The results are summarised in a report, which is available in Latvian (with a summary in English) at https://ldf.lv/sites/default/files/_lielie_faili/Nosleguma_atskaite_projektam.pdf.
Results of 5-year national research study on economic and social analysis to support marine policies
AKTiiVS completed a 5-year national research study on building knowledge and information base for economic and social analysis of the use and protection of the marine environment.
To support implementation of the marine protection policies a national research project was implemented by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development entitled “Improving knowledge on the state of the marine environment” (No 17-00-F06803-000001), which received funding from the EU EMFF. AKTiiVS was contracted for implementing a research study with respect to the economic and social analysis of the project.
The work included developing national methodologies, conducting research and preparing assessments on economic and social analysis of marine waters’ use and cost of degradation, on socioeconomic assessment of marine ecosystem services, economic valuation of welfare impacts of environmental changes and evaluation of sufficiency and impacts of measures for protecting the marine environment, including cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis of the measures. The results are summarised in 12 thematic reports, which are available (in Latvian) at https://www.varam.gov.lv/lv/petijuma-zinasanu-un-informacijas-bazes-veidosana-juras-udenu-izmantosanas-un-juras-vides-merku-sasniegsanas-ekonomiskai-un-socialai-analizei-atskaites.
Kristīne Pakalniete shares her thoughts on the work and expected results of Activity 1 of the Helcom BLUES project
In the interview Kristine Pakalniete says: “The HELCOM BLUES Activity 1 “Effectiveness and measures” supports the design and implementation of effective policies for reaching good state of the Baltic Sea environment. Activity 1 produces information on the effects, sufficiency, costs and benefits of measures for reducing pressures and protecting the marine environment. Such analysis accounts the links between human uses, the marine ecosystem and human well-being, and assesses the welfare impacts of protecting the marine ecosystem.”
See the whole interview here and results of the Helcom BLUES project at https://blues.helcom.fi/results- and-resources/.
The EU co-funded project “HELCOM Biodiversity, Litter, Underwater noise and Effective regional measures for the Baltic Sea” (Helcom BLUES) supports development of regionally coordinated measures and assessments of the state of the Baltic Sea in relation to relevant pressures affecting the sea. AKTiiVS (Kristīne Pakalniete) is involved in the project’s Activity 1 on the analyses to support effective regional measures and policies, based on a sub-contract with the coordinating partner HELCOM secretariat.
A publication on the economic valuation of ecosystem service benefits and welfare impacts ofoffshore Marine Protected Areas
A newly published article provides novel approach and evidence on the benefits of marine ecosystem services and welfare impacts of potential offshore Marine Protected Areas in Latvia. The results are published in an open access scientific article Pakalniete K., Ahtiainen H., Aigars J., Andersone I., Armoškaite A., Hansen S.H., Strāķe S. (2021) Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Service Benefits and Welfare Impacts of Offshore Marine Protected Areas: A Study from the Baltic Sea. Sustainability, 2021, 13, 10121. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810121. Available here.
The study evaluated benefits from ecosystem services (ES) provided by offshore marine areas, citizens’ willingness-to-pay for potential changes in the provision of ecosystem services, and welfare losses to citizens due to restrictions on economic activities from establishing new offshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Latvian waters. Scenarios for the economic valuation were based on analysing the supply of ES from the protected marine habitats, showing changes in the ES supply in policy relevant scenarios of the MPA size. The study evaluated a wide array of ES delivered by offshore protected habitats and revealed that citizens’ willingness-to-pay for preserving habitats and ES supply exceeds their welfare losses from restrictions in economic activities. The approach supports the prioritisation of habitat types according to their contribution to ES supply and benefits for citizens. The analysis can be complemented with spatial data regarding distribution of habitats, providing an opportunity to identify areas with the highest ES benefits to support marine protection and spatial planning.
The article has been prepared based on results of two projects – the BONUS research project “Baltic Sea Spatial Planning for sustainable Ecosystem Services” (BONUS BASMATI) and the national project “Improving knowledge on state of the marine environment” funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.