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FAO supports capacity building on economic valuation of ecosystem services

28/05/2017

To support the development of functional capacities of officials of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently organized a training course on “Economic Valuation of Forest-based Ecosystem Services in Bangladesh”. The training was held on 16-18 May, 2017 at the Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka.
Nineteen (19) participants, including five (5) women, from 13 different agencies attended the training. The training was funded by the USAID, and organized by the project ‘Strengthening the Environment, Forestry and Climate Change Capacities of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and its Agencies’ (MoEF Support Project). Most of the participants attended earlier a basic training course on “Financial and Economic Analysis (FEA) in Environment, Forestry and Climate Change (EFCC)” held on 9-13 April 2017, as a foundation for this advanced training course.
Mr. Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests graced the opening session as the chief guest, while the session was chaired by Dr. Marco Boscolo, Chief Technical Advisor of the MoEF Support project. Dr. Patrick E. Meyer, Science and Environment Advisor, USAID Bangladesh and Dr. Matieu Henry, Chief Technical Advisor of the Bangladesh Forest Inventory Project (BFI), among others, also joined the opening session as guests of honor.
Mr. Chowdhury in his speech, underscored the need for technical capacity enhancement within the government in the area of valuation of ecosystem services.  He also thanked USAID for providing financial supports to the MoEF through four forest-based projects including the MoEF Support project. Dr. Meyer in his address mentioned that in Seventh Five Year Plan (7FYP) the GoB has emphasized that improved environmental management is necessary for sustaining social and economic development. He also spoke about how USAID values ecosystem services in their programmes and investment decision making and welcomed the opportunity to provide financial and economic analysis training for GoB officials. Dr. Henry, in his comments, focused on the importance of simplifying things and on systematic analysis for better understanding of complex ecosystem services, while Dr. Boscolo referred to this training as being in response to Training Need Assessment (TNA) conducted earlier in the project. He mentioned that ecosystem services valuation is one of the key functional topics identified by the officials of the MoEF and its agencies where they need capacity enhancement for developing and implementing better investment projects.
The three-day training course curriculum was jointly developed by the MoEF Support project and University of Padova, Italy, one of leading universities for research on ecosystem services valuation. It was a blend of theoretical and practical sessions with significant time allocated to practical exercises. Training sessions were delivered by Dr. Mauro Masiero, Assistant Professor (Forest Policy and Economics, University of Padova), and Dr. Sepul Kanti Barua, international expert on natural resources and environmental economics and presently contributing to the MoEF Support project as an Environmental Economist, FAO. They provided the participants with conceptual ideas on various approaches and methods for ecosystem services with a special focus on the forest-based ecosystem services. Issues discussed included – state of forests and key forest-based ecosystem services in Bangladesh and related researches; valuation methods for non-priced goods; valuation approaches and methodological aspects in regulating, cultural and provisioning services. In the practical sessions the participants carried out spreadsheet-based exercises on cases relating to provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services. On the concluding day, participants worked in four groups and discussed among themselves on the overall issues taught throughout the training. They also presented their learnings afterwards. Presentations were recorded and replayed before them with a view to help them assess their performance themselves.
In their evaluation, participants considered the training as being an effective one and expressed that this training course helped them understand clearly the ecosystem services, its classification and valuation methods. The officials noted that learning from the training will be useful in project identification, preparation and appraisal as well as in policy making and advocacy. Modality of the training was well accepted by the participants. They made specific comments like “group discussions throughout the training was very interactive and informative as those were led by representative from different organization” and “the trainer was excellent. Had scope to learn many new things, as well as important topics”.
Mr Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, Additional Secretary (Development), Ministry of Environment and Forests and the National Project Director, Mr. Amit Kumar Baul, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests officiated at the closing of the training. In their addresses they acknowledged the contribution of the USAID and FAO in building the technical capacity, especially in EFCC, within the GoB and expressed their gratitude. They also requested the participants to make use of their learning and to disseminate it among their colleagues. In this session, Ms. Shakila Yasmin from the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust (BCCCT) and Mr. Mohammad Alamgir form Bangladesh Water Resource Planning Organization (WARPO) spoke on behalf of the participants and expressed their profound satisfaction with the training and their optimism for the likely impacts of the training within the GoB.