Consultant - Preparation of Economic Valuation of Marin Ecosystem

Location : Aqaba, JORDAN
Application Deadline :01-Apr-14 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
Arabic   English  
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :4 months
Expected Duration of Assignment :45 working days during the period (April to July)

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


The most significant feature of Jordan’s marine environment is the coral reef ecosystems. The Jordanian reefs lie within the Red Sea which is designated as a World Wide Fund for Nature global 200 ecoregion on account of its unique marine biodiversity. The Gulf of Aqaba is a separate biogeographic zone within the Red Sea, and is of global significance in having the northern-most latitude reefs in the Western Indo-Pacific.

Reefs in Jordan are among the most threatened in the Red Sea because they are shallow, easily accessible, and adjacent to a major population and industrial centre. They are suffering from a combination of factors common to reefs worldwide, that includes sedimentation caused by construction, algal overgrowth due to nutrient enrichment from sewage, physical damage from divers, boats and other recreational activities, and pollution from toxic industrial waste

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) in cooperation with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is currently implementing a project titled “Mainstreaming Marine Biodiversity Conservation into Coastal Zone Management in The Aqaba Special Economic Zone”. The main goal of this project is to internalize biodiversity as an asset and value for economic development and promoting more effective and integrated management of the coastal zone in Aqaba.

The project main components are:
  • Project Component 1: Knowledge management systems for planning and investment;
  • Project Component 2: Promotion of biodiversity friendly investment and development;
    Project Component 3: Institutional capacity for Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Biodiversity Conservation;
  • Project Component 4: Coral reef protection.
Natural environment is vital to human health and prosperity. Over recent years, much progress has been made towards getting a better understanding of the role of the natural environment in contributing to   economic performance as a country and as individuals. Among the tools to do so is the valuation of  Ecosystem Services. Ecosystem services are defined as services provided by the natural environment that benefit people. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) four broad functional categories of ecosystem services are identified:
  • Provisioning services (e.g. food, fiber and fuel);
  • Regulating services (e.g. regulation of the climate, purification of air and water, flood protection;
  • Soil formation and nutrient cycling);
  • Cultural services (e.g. recreation and tourism);
  • Supporting services.

The reason behind   the valuation of ecosystem services is that it will contribute towards sound decision-making, by ensuring that policy appraisals fully take into account the costs and benefits to the natural environment and by highlighting much more clearly the implications for human wellbeing, while providing policy development with new insights. This broader framework allows a shift in emphasis from a focus mainly on valuing environmental damage to highlighting the value of changes in the services provided by the natural environment. Ecosystem services contribute to economic welfare in two ways – through contributions to the generation of income and wellbeing and through the prevention of damages that inflict costs on society. Both types of benefits should be accounted for in policy appraisal. With a broader focus on valuing the benefits provided by ecosystems, policy options that enhance the natural environment are also more likely to be considered that demonstrate that investing in natural capital can make economic sense.

Coastal and marine ecosystems provide a range of goods and services to human being, they are also vulnerable to various resource extractive activities like fishing. In addition to above, anthropogenic activities like rapid industrialization and large coastal infrastructure development projects like ports and oil terminals damage the natural capital of coral reef and associated systems.

Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth, providing valuable and vital ecosystem services. Coral ecosystems are a source of food for millions; protect coastlines from storms and erosion; provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for economically important fish species; provide jobs and income to local economies from fishing, recreation, and tourism; are a source of new medicines, and are hotspots of marine biodiversity. They also are of great cultural importance in many regions around the world, particularly along the Red Sea and gulf of Aqaba.

Economic valuation can be used to estimate the full range of benefits provided by an ecosystem, thus, providing an indicator of the importance of the ecosystem to society. It can be used to value the costs and benefits of different management options, including conservation, controlled fishing or ecotourism, and hence, assist in policy decision- making.

Valuation can further help estimate the appropriate fees to charge resource- users, such as tourists, or the appropriate taxes to impose on individuals or firms causing negative impacts on the ecosystem in question. It can also be used for advocacy purposes, to “get numbers on the table’ to help policy-makers make efficient and equitable decisions regarding resource use and management.

According to the Status of Coral Reefs of the World Report; 2008, Coral reef declines will have alarming consequences for approximately 500 million people who depend on coral reefs for food, coastal protection, building materials, and income from tourism. This includes 30 million who are virtually totally dependent on coral reefs for their livelihoods or for the land they live on (atolls). 

On the other hand, the total net benefit of the world's coral reef ecosystems has been calculated in a recent estimate to be $29.8 billion/year.

Duties and Responsibilities

The main reason for not considering ecosystem resources and services is the fact that there are no economic (monetary) values which are attached to therefore, many countries started to apply a monetary value per unit area for environmental resources. Such estimate is eventually used in Cost and Benefit analysis (CBA) or project appraisal as well as in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The economic valuation of the ecosystem services provided by coastal resources in Aqaba is one of the main activities that will be undertaken in the framework of the “Mainstreaming Marine biodiversity into CZM in Aqaba” project.

The main objective of the assignment is to estimate the total economic value (TEV) of the coastal and marine resources/ecosystems in Aqaba. The underlying case for this type of valuation is to estimate the economic value of   ecosystem services provided by the coastal resources in order to contribute towards better decision-making and provide tools   that justify the protection of these resources. It specifically aims at illustrating the significant contribution the natural environment to well being and the high dependency of society on its ecological base. The proposed valuation is a first step towards embedding impacts on the coastal resources in decision-making.

This assignment refers to Outcome 2.1 of Project Component 2: Marine biodiversity and ecosystem services accounted for within the ASEZ decision-making.

This outcome, particularly its respective Output no. 2.1.1 " Ecosystem services identified, their economic value and carrying capacity estimated, and a ‘business case’ for marine biodiversity conservation prepared”, aims and calls to better integrate the consideration for marine environmental resources into the decision-making framework of ASEZA, including the identification of existing information and evaluation of their economic benefit. The outcome is expected to include the provision of a business case reasoning for including and promoting marine biodiversity into decision-making processes.

The preparation of the economic valuation  of coral habitat and other marine ecosystems - in terms of eco-tourism potential, fisheries resources, education and scientific research and other potential-represents and reflects the scope of the present TOR.

Objectives and Activities:

Under the direct supervision of the Project Manager and the project focal point at ASEZA, the consultant will undertake the following specific tasks and activities using consultative and participatory approaches and methods: 

Objective 1:

Preparing of the economic valuation of coral habitat and other marine ecosystems in terms of eco-tourism potential, fisheries resources, education and scientific research and other potential uses of the resource represents and reflects the scope of the present TOR.

Proposed Activities (but not limited to)

 Develop a methodology for economic valuation of ecosystem services; The economic valuation will focus on a range of ecosystem services provided, which potentially include but are not limited to:

  • Supporting services, e.g. Role of Marine/coastal/coral reef in carbon sequestration and storage;  
  • Provisioning services e.g. Food and medicines;
  • Recreational Services, e.g. Recreational and touristic value of the coastal environment and associated coral reefs;
  • Identify the key goods and services provided by the coastal and marine ecosystems in Aqaba particularly coral reef;
  • Estimate the full costs of resource-use in order   to make more efficient decisions concerning resource use and management i.e. Value the key direst uses, indirect uses and non-use values of  these resources, particularly coral reef with reference to both current and potential use and the socioeconomic significance;
  • Value the changes in ecosystem services;
  • Determine the value of the total flow of benefits from ecosystems;
  • Examine how the costs and benefits of ecosystems are distributed (for the sake of understanding the magnitude and mix of net benefits received by particular groups);
  • Estimate of the net benefit of establishing and maintaining the Aqaba Marine Park (the focus shall be made on estimating the change in the value of the ecosystem due to the establishment and management of the park);
  • Assist in developing a presentation summarizing the study and its recommendations;
  • Assist in developing a “summary for policymakers” version of the study, and in communicating its results in the most effective way;
  •  Facilitating a half-day workshop to present and explain the scope of the   economic valuation for the concerned stakeholders;
  • Facilitating a one-day workshop to present and explain the findings of the   economic valuation for all concerned stakeholders.
 Objective 2:

Assist in developing and adopting a business case for marine biodiversity conservation based on, but not limited to, carrying capacity of ecosystems, potential revenue from local initiatives in eco-tourism (i.e., to glass boat operators, dive operators, marine park facility, hotel investments), fisheries, and scientific research).

Proposed Activities (but not limited to)

  • Providing a business case reasoning for including and promoting marine biodiversity into decision-making processes;
  • Propose a list of incentive measures and financial schemes to be included within the ASEZA regulatory system;
  • Quantify the impacts of policy options on specific ecosystem services;
  • Identify and provide qualitative assessment of the potential impacts of policy options on ecosystem services.
The expected outputs of the consultancy:
  • List of Ecosystem key services provided by the coastal and marine environment in Aqaba;
  •  Economic Valuation study for the Aqaba’s coastal and marine resources and their services;
  • A ‘business case’ for marine biodiversity conservation.
The Consultant will be required to deliver and present the following;
  • Summary inception detailing methodology and approach for carrying out the assignment;
  •  Report summarizing and discussing Ecosystem key services in Aqaba;
  •  Economic Valuation study for the Aqaba’s coastal and marine resources;
  •  A ‘business case’ for marine biodiversity conservation;
  • Two workshops, the first  to present/introduce the concept of economic valuation of ecosystems services and methodology proposed for the implementation of the assignment and obtain feedback, while the second to present the findings of the Valuation study.


  • Ability to work with a broad range of individuals of diverse institutions and levels;
  • Ability to synthesize complex information and present findings accurately, clearly, and effectively to a broad variety of audiences;
  • Demonstrated ability of analytical and report drafting work;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, with an ability to communicate with a wide range of audiences;
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability;
  • Highest standards of integrity, discretion and loyalty.

Required Skills and Experience


  • An advanced degree (M.Sc or Ph.D) in the  field of Natural Resource Economics, Environmental Economics or equivalent. 


  • 10 years of experience in economic valuation studies of marine and coastal ecosystems;
  • Outstanding analytical and quantitative capabilities, including economic theory, mathematics and statistics, and quantitative methods to measure economic benefits and costs of projects and policies;
  • Demonstrated expertise in economic valuation techniques, valuation of coral reef ecosystem services,   Cost-benefit analyses, scenario testing;
  • A good understanding of the challenges related to marine environment conservation versus its utilization and uses.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in spoken and written English. Knowledge of Arabic is a plus.

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