The Mediterranean wetlands represent about 18 million hectares (Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory, 2012), from 1 to 2% of the world’s wetlands. They represent an important wealth and contribute to the fact that the Mediterranean represents the second largest hotspot of biodiversity in the world.
Wetlands represent a nature-based solution in the fight against the effects of climate change through the various services they provide. Unfortunately, despite their importance, they remain among the most endangered ecosystems in the world due to climate change and human activities.
Med-ESCWET project: economic valuation for ecosystem-based adaptation strategies
This project, co-funded by the MAVA Foundation and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, aims to promote the ecological services provided by wetlands so that their “buffer to climate change” role can be integrated into climate change adaptive strategies in the Mediterranean.
Led by Plan Bleu in partnership with the Tour du Valat research institute, the project contributes to sensitizing decision-makers to the importance of protecting these fragile ecosystems through four cases studies in the Mediterranean.
Four Mediterranean wetland areas, each associated with only one of its ecosystem services, were selected by the project steering committee for the study:
- the coastal protection service provided by the Étang de Vic coastal lagoon (France, 1,900 ha);
- the flood control service provided by the Lonjsko polje floodplain (Croatia, 22,280 ha);
- the carbon sequestration service provided by the Lake Burullus (Egypt, 41,000 ha); and
- the carbon sequestration service provided by the Yeniçağa peatlands (Turkey, 384 ha).
For each site, the analysis involves a biophysical assessment phase and an economic assessment phase of the ecosystem service.
The Med-ESCWET project is at the interface of academic fields:
- Economic valuation of ecosystem services is a multidisciplinary exercise (involving both biophysical and economic methods);
- Commonly used economic valuation methods aim at a “total economic value”, covering all ecosystem services in the studied area. The Med-ESCWET project, in contrast, reviews the value of a single ecosystem service in each selected area.
An internationally recognized strategy: ecosystem-based adaptation
According to forecasts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change in the Mediterranean will lead to an increase in extreme events (floods, heat waves, droughts, etc.). While many studies of the impact of climate change on ecosystems already exist and are underway, it seems that the study of the role of ecosystems as an adaptation tool is still largely to be developed. There is some evidence that using nature’s capacity to absorb or control impacts in urban and rural areas can be a more efficient and cost-effective means of adaptation than simply focusing on physical infrastructure. As such, international institutions such as IUCN highlight this ecosystem-based adaptation strategy.
An innovative approach at the Mediterranean level
In order to sensitize decision makers to the importance of wetlands for climate change adaptation, the Med-ESCWET project undertakes to enhance these services of mitigation (through greenhouse gas sequestration) and adaptation to natural hazards (floods, droughts, flooding) in an economical way in order to inform the decision-making process.
At the Mediterranean level, today, there are few economic valuations of the ecological services provided by wetlands, particularly with regard to regulation services. This type of study is a means of reconciling development and conservation issues, while being integrated into an important topical issue at the international level.
– Visit the project web page on the Plan Bleu website.
– Download the report of 2014 on “Economic valuation of the ecosystem services provided by wetlands in terms of climate change adaptation in the Mediterranean”
– Download the publication of the Plan Bleu: ‘’Mediterranean wetlands: an economic valuation of their services to climate change adaptation and regulation
For further information, please contact Plan Bleu:
Dr. Céline Dubreuil Imbert
Water Program Officer and Project Coordinator