Natural Capital Workshop March 7-8th 

Although the Muri Lagoon has long been the nation's top tourist destination, runoff from coastal expansion and wastewater contamination have caused serious pollution in recent years.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Stanford-based Natural Capital Project jointly organized a workshop in the Cook Islands on March 7-8, with the participation of the Cook Islands Government’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Management and National Environment Service. In order to discuss how the island nation’s natural capital—its lands, waters, and variety of life—and the benefits these assets provide to the nation can be taken into account in development planning and financing efforts, the workshop brought together participants from across government and civil society. I’m 

The Cook Islands’ economy is susceptible to the effects of natural disasters due to its reliance on tourism-related earnings. The infrastructure and resources of the islands, particularly wastewater treatment and sanitation, are further taxed by tourism. Although the Muri Lagoon has long been the nation’s top tourist destination, runoff from coastal expansion and wastewater contamination have caused serious pollution in recent years. The community’s livelihoods, fishing, leisure, and cultural pursuits, as well as the tourism-related income that supports their economy, are all at risk due to the ecosystem’s effects.

As a result, to enhance the quality of the water in Muri Lagoon, the Cook Islands and ADB have been collaborating on a possible project centered on a centralized wastewater system. In order to map and value some of the significant benefits that the Muri Lagoon and surrounding areas provide to people—such as luring tourists, guarding against coastal hazards, generating local employment and livelihoods, and storing carbon—the Natural Capital Project and ADB are currently assisting with the natural capital assessment for the area. An evaluation of this kind will benefit both the community and decision-makers by assisting them in comprehending the various values of nature and guiding development choices that will benefit Cook Islanders and the natural systems they depend on.

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The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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