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Unveiling the Economic Value of Urban Ecosystem Services in Addis Ababa: A Path to Sustainable Development

The Policy Studies Institute (PSI) organized an internal validation workshop on the "Valuation of Urban Ecosystem Services in Addis Ababa." on August 29,2023.

Dr. Tsega Adego

The workshop brought together researchers from the Addis Ababa Environmental Protection Authority, and PSI who were involved in the study. The purpose of the workshop was to internally validate the research methodology, results, and recommendations before disseminating the findings to external stakeholders and the wider public.

During the opening of the Validation Workshop, one of the research team members, Dr. Tsega Adego, said the valuation of urban ecosystem services in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia provides insights into the economic worth and significance of the city's natural assets. By quantifying the value of ecosystem services, policymakers and stakeholders can make informed decisions about sustainable urban planning and development. The valuation process involves assessing the various services provided by urban ecosystems, such as green spaces, rivers, and parks, and quantifying their economic contributions to the city and its residents.

Dr. Tsega said one approach used in the valuation of urban ecosystem services is the Benefit Transfer method. This method involves estimating the economic value of ecosystems by transferring values derived from previous studies conducted in similar contexts. By applying this method to Addis Ababa, the study was able to estimate the overall value of urban ecosystem services provided by the city. This highlights the significant economic contribution of urban ecosystems to the city's overall well-being and sustainability.

                                         Dr. Dawit

Another aspect of the valuation process is understanding the public's willingness to pay for the restoration and preservation of specific urban ecosystem components. In the case of Addis Ababa, the research project focused on the Kebena River. Through the Contingent Valuation Method, the study estimated the amount that households were willing to pay for the restoration of the river. This insight provides valuable information for policymakers in designing conservation and restoration strategies for urban rivers, ensuring that they align with the preferences and values of the local community.

Furthermore, the study also assessed the recreational value of Entoto Park, a significant urban green space in Addis Ababa. By employing the Travel Cost Method, the researchers estimated the value that residents derived from visiting the park. This underscores the importance of preserving and enhancing Entoto Park as a recreational asset, promoting the well-being and quality of life for the city's inhabitants.

The research   has also revealed the hidden economic value of urban ecosystem services. Comprising three interconnected research reports, the study employed innovative valuation methods to assess the worth of ecosystems within the city. The first report utilized Benefit Transfer to value the entire ecosystems, while the second report employed the Contingent Valuation Method to estimate public willingness to pay for the restoration of the Kebena River. Lastly, the third report utilized the Travel Cost Method to determine the recreational value of Entoto Park. These findings shed light on the importance of recognizing and preserving urban green spaces, rivers, and parks for a sustainable and resilient future.

The study emphasizes the significance of urban ecosystems in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims to create inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities. Urban green spaces and areas play a critical role in enhancing the quality of life, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability for urban dwellers. By valuing the existing stock and flow value of urban ecosystem services, governments can make informed decisions about investing in the creation and restoration of these essential natural assets. The research findings indicate that the total stock value of ecosystem services in Addis Ababa amounted to approximately $270.8 million in 2022, equivalent to 0.08 percent of Ethiopia's GDP. The study highlights the dominance of provisioning and cultural ecosystem services, while emphasizing the need for continuous investment in urban green infrastructure to maintain and enhance Addis Ababa's ecosystems.

The study also explains about Elicitation of the Public Willingness to Pay for Kebena River Restoration Using a Contingent Valuation. Understanding the public's willingness to pay for the restoration of urban rivers is crucial for informed decision-making and sustainable urban planning. Through the utilization of the Contingent Valuation Method, the research project estimated the public's willingness to pay for the restoration of the Kebena River in Addis Ababa. The findings revealed that households were willing to pay an average of 204 Ethiopian birr per year for the next five years, as per the Turnbull method, or 272 Ethiopian birr per year using the interval data model. The study also identified household income as a significant determinant of willingness to pay, highlighting the importance of equitable policy implementation. These insights provide policymakers with valuable information for designing effective conservation and restoration strategies for urban rivers, promoting ecologically sound environments, and preserving the intrinsic value of these natural resources.

The study also addresses the Recreational Value of Entoto Park. Entoto Park, a cherished ecosystem in Addis Ababa, holds significant recreational value for the city's residents. The research project employed the Travel Cost Method to estimate the recreational value of the park based on visitor data. The findings indicated an average recreational value of 4228 Ethiopian Birr per person per visit, with an estimated annual value to the city residents ranging from ETB 1.9 to 2.8 billion per year. The study confirmed the inverse relationship between transportation costs and park visitation frequency, validating the travel cost method's underlying premise. The results underscore the importance of preserving and enhancing Entoto Park, recognizing its substantial recreational significance and the positive impact it has on the well-being of Addis Ababa's inhabitants.

Overall, the valuation of urban ecosystem services in Addis Ababa provides a foundation for informed decision-making and sustainable urban development. By recognizing the economic value of green spaces, rivers, and parks, city officials, urban planners, and stakeholders can prioritize sustainable land management practices and ensure the preservation and enhancement of these natural assets. The research findings emphasize the need to integrate the valuation of urban ecosystem services into green infrastructure planning and development initiatives, enabling decision-makers to harness the benefits of urban ecosystems while creating resilient and ecologically sound cities. Through these efforts, Addis Ababa can thrive as a model for sustainable urban development and inspire cities worldwide to embrace the value of their natural environments.

During the workshop on the valuation of urban ecosystem services, participants expressed the need for concrete recommendations regarding urban ecosystem financing and management and the clarity of the language the researchers should impart the research findings to the public. They emphasized the importance of translating research findings into actionable recommendations that can be implemented on the ground. Participants recognized that practical recommendations are crucial for policymakers and stakeholders to effectively allocate resources and make informed decisions regarding urban ecosystem conservation and development.

 

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