New marine indicators highlight decline in the world’s oceans
WASHINGTON, May 17, 2012 – The World Bank today released its annual compilation of environmental data for more than 200 countries, providing up-to-date information on agriculture, forests and biodiversity, energy and emissions, water and sanitation, environment and health and oceans.
The World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte said the Little Green Data Book 2012 was an important addition to the toolkit for countries to measure, value and manage their natural capital.
Among other sustainability measures, the Little Green Data Book includes an Adjusted Net Savings indicator—also known as “genuine savings”—which calculates the true rate of savings in an economy after taking into account investments in human capital, depletion of natural resources and damage caused by pollution. It also includes an Adjusted Net National Income indicator, which provides a broader measure of national income that accounts for the depletion of energy, mineral and forest resources.
“The information in the Little Green Data Book can help policymakers, communities and other stakeholders take into account the value of natural resources and their role in development,” Rachel Kyte said.
This year’s Data Book introduces a new set of indicators on the marine environment - including the percentage of country’s territorial waters covered by marine protected areas, coral reefs and mangroves as well as volume of capture fisheries and aquaculture.
“Over-exploitation and poor management of marine resources have resulted in lost opportunities to develop livelihoods, heightened risks to global food security, and diminished economic opportunities for the world’s poorest,” Kyte said. “Wealth from seafood, nature-based tourism, coastal protection, carbon storage and a vast array of marine ecosystem services can only be provided by a healthy living ocean.”
The Bank estimates that global fisheries wealth, if better managed, could increase from $120 billion to $900 billion, with the potential for the greatest gains in Asia. Marine fisheries are particularly important for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and many coastal communities.
The Little Green Data Book’s focus on oceans this year illustrates the need for countries to “measure and manage” their natural resources. For many low-income countries, natural capital is a critical asset, making up nearly 36 percent of their total wealth. The poorest communities depend on ecosystems such as forests, rivers and soil productivity for their daily existence. As these countries grow, pressure on land and water increases, threatening ecosystems and livelihoods in countries with few resources to cope with the loss.
Through the Little Green Data Book and the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) partnership, the World Bank is contributing to countries’ efforts to incorporate their natural capital into national accounts to inform priority-setting and decision-making.