A research project joining a multidisciplinary team of researchers from economics and natural sciences | Researcher: Antonieta Cunha e Sá
The Economic Valuation and Governance of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services (MCES) is a two-year research project which aims to value from an economic perspective marine and coastal ecosystem services provided at a specific location in Portugal – the Peniche-Nazaré coast and adjacent sea.
Scientific research is coordinated by Nova School of Business and Economics in partnership with the Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM) from the University of Aveiro, thus joining a multidisciplinary team of researchers. This is, in fact, a distinctive aspect of this project, as the integration of economics and natural sciences is still at an early stage.
The project is sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in the context of the Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative (GOI).
The study site is located in the western coast of Portugal, north of Lisbon. This is an important region for the provision of MCES, which have been for centuries the main support of the local socio-economic activities. Currently, its contribution at national level is mainly due to fishing and recreational activities, namely going to the beach and surfing. However, other contributions can be related to the recognition of additional potential of the region, such as to explore offshore renewable energy, namely wind and wave, or the development of marine biotechnology.
At the study site, we find the Peniche and Nazaré fishing ports, the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of the Berlengas Archipelago, also designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2011, the Óbidos Lagoon, as well as several beaches, such as São Martinho do Porto, Peniche and Nazaré. Its distinctive natural conditions like the Nazaré Canyon, one of the largest submarine canyons in the world also close to the coast, give its waves the characteristics treasured by big wave surfers like Garrett Mc Namara, a hawaiian surfer who has put Nazaré on the map by surfing a giant wave at Praia do Norte (North Beach) in November 2011.
To promote sustainable development it is important to better understand not only the ecosystem dynamics but also how it feeds back on human activities. This is a crucial step to improve environmental decision making at all levels by providing information on the benefits of nature conservation. In particular, an understanding of key stakeholders’ MCES values can inform an ecosystem approach to marine and coastal management, especially decisions involving trade-offs, and hence, opportunity costs associated to the development of the blue economy.
Important economic questions are expected to be addressed, such as how can multiple and linked ecosystem processes and services in the context of human decision-making be modeled; how does conservation of ecosystems and changes in ecosystem service flows affect human well-being and what policy instruments can be used to manage human impacts on those services equitably and efficiently; and how can policies and institutions be designed to sustainably manage ecosystems and the services provided. By promoting networking between researchers, stakeholders and communities, this project is expected to contribute to building social capital, informing policy makers, NGOs and businesses in improving planning and regulatory decisions at the local, national, and/or EU levels.
Nova School of Business and Economics
Nova SBE’s research seeks to produce knowledge in economics, finance and management that can foster positive change. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics is one of the fields of active research in the School. Its researchers focus on developing research in some of the most challenging economic and social issues, informing on public policies and management practices.
The Principal Investigator of this project is Nova SBE's Professor Maria A. Cunha-e-Sá.
Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM)
CESAM is one of the largest research units in the University of Aveiro with the mission of developing research on the coastal and marine environment integrating the biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere and sociosphere processes. In the last years, it has given support to Portuguese government and EU (DG Mare).
Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative
The Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative aims at increasing public and political understanding of the role of the oceans in human well-being and economic development. It supports the economic valuation of our oceans to recognize its multiple values to society.