Economic valuation can play a critical role in the formulation of more effective resource management, policies and programmes.

This was highlighted by Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, yesterday as he addressed the 7th Biennial Global Environment Facility (GEF) Conference under the theme: Economic Valuation as a Tool to Bridge the Science-Policy Gap, at Hilton Barbados yesterday.

Dr. Lowe said that economic valuation could be defined as the process of ???monetizing??? the benefits or costs associated with a good or service. ???It can therefore be used to assess the economic benefit of a planned project or policy that may cause harm to the natural environment, or to understand the gains that may be realised from conservation or environmental preservation efforts,??? he said.

He added that the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, suggested that there was a need for a valuation agenda for the wider Caribbean region.

Areas identified by CERMES for future valuation work in the Caribbean include looking at the economic benefits derived from the economic value of the culture and food security benefits of small-scale fisheries, and the economic contribution of Caribbean reefs and other coastal ecosystems to climate change mitigation and adaption.

Part of those recommendations Dr. Lowe said, included the fact that policy makers should promote a decision-making environment supported by an appropriate science-policy interface that would remedy the dearth of valuation knowledge and the uncoordinated approach to valuation.

Senior Environmental Specialist International Waters with the GEF, Astrid Hillers also said bridging the gap between science and policy was important, and noted that during the visit they would be looking at what is happening in Barbados and the solutions.

She also commended the island for being the first Small Island Developing State to host the biennial GEF International Waters Conference.

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