Mobilizing Resources for Marine Turtle Conservation in Asia: A Cross-country Perspective

Abstract
"This article reports the results of a comparative study conducted in China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to assess households’ willingness to pay for marine turtle conservation and the potential to mobilize funds. Results suggest that many people place a low priority on marine turtle conservation compared to other public policy issues. The referendum to impose a mandatory surcharge on residential electricity bills would only pass for the lowest surcharge of 0.02 USD/month. If the poor were to be exempted, this modest surcharge would only generate a sum of 1.52 million USD per year which is under 8% of the total global expenses for marine turtles conservation. Nevertheless, there is some potential for voluntary contributions. Based on the percentages of respondents who would voluntarily pay 1 USD/month, the potential revenue could reach 50 million USD/year. Mobilizing these also presents problems. The voluntary payment explored, asking people to ‘check off’ for marine turtle conservation program on monthly electricity bills might work once, but unlikely to be repeatable for other endangered species and environmental causes. The traditional prescription of ‘raising awareness’ is unlikely to yield results as urban Asians are already well informed about the existence and plight of marine turtles. Efforts to develop conservation financing mechanisms should therefore be directed in a different and more difficult direction to improve the trustworthiness of government tax collection and expenditure systems. Charities could explore potential for voluntary contributions focusing on the relatively small segment willing to voluntarily contribute and developing cost-effective ways of collecting payments. Finally, until Asia develops higher per capita incomes and trustworthy payment vehicles, the international community will need to play an important role in financing conservation in the region."
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Keywords
willingness to pay, marine resources, sea turtles, conservation
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