New Study Spotlights Opportunities for Landowners to Protect Hawai‘i’s Environment Through Market-Based Tools

November 15, 2017

The study released by a consortium of Hawai‘i-based businesses known as the Sustainability Business Forum outlines future opportunities to create market-based mechanisms, including a market-credit system to offset carbon emissions. Industry leaders agree such programs would put Hawai‘i in an excellent position to attract outside investments, protect undeveloped land, and encourage sustainable land practices.

The Legal and Policy Analysis conducted by Conservation International with support from Hawaiian Airlines is the first phase of a broader market analysis and carbon offset pilot project in Hawai‘i. The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii and the State Division of Forestry and Wildlife are currently exploring carbon offset and ecosystem services models, in collaboration with the SBF.

“Tourism is our community’s most important source of income and our unique environment is a central part of what makes Hawai‘i a competitive destination. We must balance sustaining our environment and growing our local economy,” noted Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “Market-based mechanisms like those mentioned in the study are by far the most effective way of finding that balance.”

The study notes that Hawai‘i faces many challenges, including limited natural resources, loss of biodiversity and risks to environmental assets, all critical to Hawai‘i’s economic prosperity. Aarin Gross, Senior Program Manager at Conservation International’s Hawai‘i program led the report together with Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Senior Vice President for Global Policy at Conservation International and former Minister of Environment and Energy for the Republic of Costa Rica.

“This report provides the essential elements of a program that could help Hawai‘i protect valuable biodiversity and become more resilient to climate change while increasing economic growth and financing for conservation,” Carlos Manuel Rodriguez said. “This is a proven approach — in Costa Rica, industry leaders came together to forge a solution to an environmental crisis, the degradation of precious forests. These leaders understood the economics of conservation and this report is intended to help businesses in Hawai‘i recognize the benefits of restoring degraded soil and forests by establishing economic instruments that value biodiversity.”

“Innovative financing mechanisms and partnerships can play a key role in driving economic and environmental outcomes,” said Celeste Connors, executive director of Hawai‘i Green Growth and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “Hawai‘i’s climate and sustainability goals send a signal to the world that we’re taking an integrated approach to development. And the business sector has an opportunity to lead this effort.”

Note: The IUCN World Conservation Congress used third party resources to estimate the amount of carbon emissions associated with the 2016 conference in Hawai‘i. Committed to making the event 100% climate neutral, the IUCN purchased carbon credits from Cordillera Azul National Park Project in Peru (10,172 tons), the Bundled Grid Connected Wind power project from Tamilnadu, India (5,000 tons) and the Wind Energy Project in Maharashtra by M/s Shah Promoters & Developers (18,328 tons). Hawai‘i did not have any carbon offset programs to meet the IUCN’s needs.

Download the full report

A related SBF Report is: Smart Sustainable Communities 2016 Annual Report

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About Hawai‘i Green Growth

Hawai‘i Green Growth serves as the backbone organization for the Aloha+ Challenge, and coordinates a broad stakeholder base to identify areas for statewide action on Hawai‘i’s 2030 sustainability goals. The partnership honors a collaborative and integrated approach to achieve environmental, social, and economic prosperity for future generations. Hawaiian culture and values are the bedrock the Aloha+ Challenge and Hawai‘i Green Growth, providing a trust-based framework to promote system-level change across Hawai‘i.

About Sustainability Business Forum

The Sustainability Business Forum (SBF) brings together top-level executives representing a broad sector of Hawai‘i businesses committed to achieve economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and community resilience. Advised by government and environmental leaders, SBF collaborates on concrete initiatives to increase livability and climate resilience in Hawai‘i. Facilitated by Hawai‘i Green Growth, the SBF helped develop specific targets and indicators to track progress on the Aloha+ Challenge 2030 Smart Sustainable Communities goal.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International and its groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign, and follow Conservation International’s work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.