Regional Flyway Initiative (RFI): Understanding Wetland Ecosystem Services and How to Assess Them


Regional Flyway Initiative (RFI): Understanding Wetland Ecosystem Services and How to Assess Them

14 March 2023 to 15 March 2023



This training activity was held during the 11th Meeting of Partners of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) in Brisbane, Australia. It takes off from the goal of enhancing knowledge-sharing and site-level capacity in wetland management in RFI's participating developing member countries (DMCs) and in the flyway in general, while building the capacity of policymakers and site managers in understanding and assessing ecosystem services and helping DMCs build a business case for investing in wetlands. 

Learning objective: Build capacity of wetland managers, policymakers, and conservation practitioners in the development of the Regional Flyway Initiative through a deeper appreciation of  

  • the natural, cultural and economic values of wetlands  
  • tools and best practices in assessing the natural and economic value of wetlands 

Target audience: Site managers, conservation practitioners and policymakers from ADB DMCs and EAAFP partners.


Understanding How this Training-Workshop Feeds into the RFI's Goals

This training, along with a further proposed training planned in Manila, Philippines (June 2023), are expected to contribute to Output 1 of the RFI Technical Assistance Report: institutional capacity for understanding of East Asian-Australasian Flyway wetland values regionally enhanced. 

The training and workshop series will ensure that national stakeholders improve their knowledge of the natural and economic values of wetlands. It will also assist EAAFP, governments and other relevant actors to identify and characterize key knowledge and capacity gaps concerning sustainable wetlands management and identify actions to fill these gaps, building interest in investing in wetlands.


Why capacity building is key to avoiding the pitfalls of reverting to business as usual approaches 

The region, as well as the whole world, are dealing with challenges that are becoming more complex and unprecedented. As can be imagined, governments are looking for practical and financially viable solutions—with likely hesitation or reluctance to invest in nature. To many, the pandemic dampened growth prospects so it is understandable that many DMCs have gone back to business as usual.

While COVID-19 may have slowed the unsustainable growth demonstrated in Asia over the last 15 years, as the world rebounds there is more urgency to recover and rebuild—and often this seems to be yet again done at the expense of the environment. 

As bleak as prospects may seem, the recently agreed Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework gives great hope as it “sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050 (CBD, 2023).” The linkage with the thrust of RFI to develop and promote nature-based solutions toward sustainable wetlands could not be stronger. 

The RFI recognizes that it need not always be a difficult choice between people and the planet. For our long-term survival, a balance must be sought and while this may take some time to achieve, a commitment to pursue sustainable growth that avoids and minimizes harm to wetland environments should still be the order of the day.

Such a commitment will be difficult to do if wetlands are not properly valued. Therefore, building capacity through shared learning and collaboration in the understanding of the values of ecosystem services that the wetlands provide will be critical to significantly shift the dial and persuade policy makes to invest in wetlands. 

This capacity building activity which focused on wetlands will then hopefully motivate practitioners and policymakers /decision-makers to look at their current needs (including capacity needs) and from there, imagine the future in terms of innovative, viable, and bankable projects in sustainable wetlands management—significantly anchored on green principles. In more practical terms, by giving the participants tools in understanding the natural, cultural, and economic values of wetlands, project design /development becomes a more meaningful and focused exercise—ultimately leading to nature-positive, relevant, and innovative outcomes.

While theory is helpful, ultimately, capacity development initiatives should find meaning on the ground. Therefore, it is hoped that by directly involving site managers, this will have identified more opportunities to improve the lives of the people while establishing mechanisms through which they can become better stewards of the only planet that we all have.


Program and Learning Materials: 
Date Session / Activity Presentation Material Speaker(s)
14 Mar 2023 Session 1 Introduction to Wetland Ecosystem Services and Payment for Ecosystem Services
Knowing and appreciating the ecosystem benefits that are derived from the natural environment improves our ability to preserve benefits or understand ...
Emily Pindilli
14 Mar 2023 Session 2 Introduction to ecosystem services assessment tools: the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA)
Economic valuation of ecosystem services (ES) isfrequently used to present ecosystem value in a policy-relevant and accessible way (which can be leveraged...
Kelvin Peh
14 Mar 2023 Session 3 Adapting ecosystem service assessment tools: Experiences and lessons learned
Aside from TESSA, there are other tools that are used to measure and valuate ecosystem services. Two of them are the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem...
Stefano Barchiesi
14 Mar 2023 Session 4 Conservation of Wetlands and Migratory Birds in Viet Nam Nguyen Xuan Dung
Date Session / Activity Presentation Material Speaker(s)
15 Mar 2023 Session 5 Best Practices for Restoring and Rehabilitating Ecosystem Services in Wetlands: Examples from the United States
The restoration and rehabilitation of ecosystems (and their services) is an important approach in ensuring sustainable management of wetlands. There is...
Fred Wurster
15 Mar 2023 Session 6 Connecting ecosystem services values to decision-making
Knowing the full range of benefits and values offered by different wetland ecosystem services is important in making decisions, not just for the purpose...
Emily Pindilli
15 Mar 2023 Session 7 Case studies: Sustainable agriculture and its role in maintaining ecosystem services
Wetlands, if sustainably managed for agricultural and conservation purposes, can significantly contribute to ensuring food security. Cases in sustainable...
Li He
15 Mar 2023 RFI in the Meeting of Partners 11 (Plenary) Building a Business Case for the Future of our Shared Flyway
The Regional Flyway Initiative (RFI) team joined the 11th East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) Meeting of the Parties in Brisbane, Australia...
Duncan Lang


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