- The Indonesian government is designing a new scheme to measure over time the benefits provided by the country’s marine and coastal ecosystems for sustainable ocean management.
- The ocean accounting system will become the standard indicator for the government in policymaking and zoning when it comes to the country’s fisheries, conservation areas, and marine essential ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and coral reefs.
- Indonesia’s ocean account initiative is also part of an international collaboration under the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP), which aims to “develop globally recognized and standardized methods for ocean accounting by 2023.”
- Indonesia has partnered with another GOAP member, Norway, on long-term technical cooperation on ocean accounting.
JAKARTA — The Indonesian government is designing a new scheme to measure the long-term benefits provided by the country’s marine and coastal ecosystems.
The mechanism, known as ocean accounting and in development since 2021, is part of the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries’ wider efforts to promote sustainable marine management. Proponents say it will allow managers to estimate the monetary value of marine resources, ecosystem services and degradation trends over a given period of time. The ocean accounting system will serve as the standard indicator for the government in policymaking and zoning regarding Indonesia’s fisheries, conservation areas, and marine essential ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and coral reefs.
“We’ve been working on the ocean account with the primary intention to know the marine assets that we have, kind of like using the ATM to check our savings,” Hendra Yusran Siry, secretary of the fisheries ministry’s zoning office, told Mongabay in an interview.
Hendra said the ocean account would specifically show the importance of a marine resource to the ecosystem and how much the economic and environmental cost would be if that resource were converted for commercial use.
Hendra also said his office has been working in tandem to develop the tools with the country’s statistics agency (BPS), geospatial information agency (BIG), fiscal monetary agency (BKF) at the finance ministry, and development planning ministry (Bappenas). He added the data produced would be integrated into a unified government map showing how natural resources are being used across the country.
“Hopefully this will be completed by the end of this year,” Hendra said. “One of the products is a report, but we’re also hoping to have a dashboard which can quickly calculate the changes in an ecosystem, whether it’s declining or improving.”
The pilot project for the ocean accounting mechanism was conducted between September 2021 and March 2022 on the island of Gili Mantra in West Nusa Tenggara province, according to Irfan Yulianto, one of the appointed supervisors of the ocean account. Irfan, who is also a marine and fisheries adviser at the nonprofit Rekam Nusantara Foundation, told Mongabay in a phone interview that the pilot project would help with the development of a road map for implementing the ocean account across the archipelago.
He said the mechanism would also be used to evaluate, every two years, any degradation to a marine area that has been used for any commercial activity, such as tourism or resource exploitation. It could then yield an estimate for the monetary losses which would be incurred to rehabilitate the area.
“One of the indicators is whether the use [of an area] has overwhelmed the service capacity of the ecosystem, which will result in resource degradation,” Irfan said. “This way everyone will know whether their activities are affecting positively or negatively the coastal and ocean ecosystems.”
He added the fisheries ministry is drafting the initial standard valuation of the country’s marine resources, scheduled for publication before the end of March.
Indonesia’s ocean account initiative is also part of an international collaboration under the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP), which aims to “develop globally recognized and standardized methods for ocean accounting by 2023.” The partnership seeks to support more than 30 countries by the end of this decade to complete their national ocean accounts, which are “integrated records of regularly compiled and comparable data concerning ocean environment conditions, economic activity, and social conditions.”
Another member of the GOAP is the Norwegian government’s statistics agency, which in May 2022 signed an agreement with the Indonesian fisheries ministry to conduct technical cooperation on ocean accounting and long-term cooperation on statistics and research that will run from 2024 to 2028.
“It’s important to have this partnership [as] it’s a work in progress, right,” Tarik Fanuel Ogbamichael, the senior adviser and project manager at the division for international development cooperation of Statistics Norway, told Mongabay in an interview. “Comparing different countries’ indicators, methods, it’s very valuable at this stage. So, Norway expects to learn a lot from Indonesia.
“There is actually a widespread agreement that the ocean is vital and it’s under threat, but to measure both the benefits and the threats to the ocean, it is important to be able to measure over time,” Ogbamichael added. “We’ll never know how important and threatened our ocean is if we don’t have reliable measures in place, if we’re not able to have a baseline to compare them to.”
Norway started its pilot of ocean accounting in 2020, but Statistics Norway only joined the GOAP in June 2022. The organization has worked on laying the foundations for work that could guide the preparation of a long-term system of environmental economic accounting ecosystem accounting (SEEA EA), the satellite account for the ocean, and research projects that include testing and work with a research agenda for ocean accounting. It has also developed various components of ocean accounting linked to its national accounting and environmental economic accounting.
“It’s not only about the economic value, it’s also about the environmental impact and also environmental cost,” Gabriella Kossmann, senior adviser for oceans in the department for climate and environment at Norad, the Norwegian government’s international development agency, told Mongabay. “Because economic impact can really trick you into thinking that this is the best option for society in the long term.”
Ogbamichael said ocean accounting would enable the government to have a balance sheet in place that views marine ecosystems, such as mangroves and seagrass, as assets.
Kossmann said it’s important to have countries like Indonesia take the lead and inspire others in the region to carry out long-term research and planning for ocean accounting.
“I think it’s crucial to actually have a good positive effect in the region so more countries will see the benefits from actually doing that [ocean accounting],” she said.
Basten Gokkon is a senior staff writer for Indonesia at Mongabay. Find him on Twitter @bgokkon.
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