How important is the unique Caribbean environment for the Dutch citizen? How does one value the worth of these islands’ ecosystems to the citizens of both the Dutch mainland, even these people will never visit these beautiful islands? Does the fact that these Caribbean islands recently became special Dutch municipalities while having to manage a huge nature area create a sense of solidarity among the population of the Netherlands? These questions are addressed in an elaborate case study with the aim to advice policy makers in the Netherlands about the level of public support for assisting the Caribbean Netherlands in their effort to sustainably manage their ecosystems.
This study applied the contingent valuation method and choice experiments to determine the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the conservation of ecosystem goods and services in the mainland and on the islands. Over 800 face-to-face interviews of people living in the Netherlands were conducted, and additional 500 respondents filled out an online survey.
Results & Recommendations:
The most agreeable result is that Dutch mainland citizens have a positive WTP for protecting nature on the other side of the ocean. Individual’s initial value on the environment as a whole and their level of consumer confidence in economy were strong explanatory variables in deriving their WTP. Despite a negative perception of Dutch economic prospects, respondents nonetheless placed significant emphasis on environmental protection. After adjusting for preference and payment uncertainty of the respondent, the aggregated monthly amount for the non-use value of nature protection in the mainland Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands is estimated at €34 million and €17 million, respectively. Raising awareness that 16,000 inhabitants of Bonaire are in no position to fundamentally support the level of nature conservation that is needed is an important step to take.