Sustainable Asset Valuation of Restoring the Mallorquín Swamp, Colombia

The assessment combines a spatially explicit analysis with a system dynamics model to quantify direct and indirect costs and benefits of mangrove restoration in the Mallorquín Swamp and grey infrastructure alternatives that provide similar benefits. This study demonstrates that the restored Mallorquín Swamp will provide multiple benefits, such as income from ecotourism and improved climate adaptation, including avoided flooding and erosion.

By Edoardo Carlucci, Emma Cutler, Marco Guzzetti, Morten Siersted on May 23, 2023

Barranquilla is Colombia’s fourth largest city, and population expansion in and around the city has created numerous environmental problems. For example, encroachment in the Mallorquín Swamp on the northern edge of Barranquilla has made residents more vulnerable to climate change and harmed livelihoods. Mangroves in the swamp have historically provided significant value by mitigating floods, protecting biodiversity and fisheries, storing carbon, and supporting tourism. However, urban development and waste disposal have damaged the ecosystem and limited the swamp’s capacity to provide these important services.

We conducted a sustainable asset valuation (SAVi) assessment of nature-based infrastructure (NBI) in the Mallorquín Swamp. Throughout the analysis, we engaged with World Resources Institute Colombia and Barranquilla Verde (the city’s environmental authority). The assessment incorporates a spatially explicit analysis with a system dynamics model to quantify the economic, environmental, and social impacts of mangrove restoration in Barranquilla. We used an integrated cost-benefit analysis to assess the monetized social, economic, and environmental outcomes of restoration over 20 years.

Key results:

  • Restoration can counteract degradation and address environmental concerns.
  • NBI in the Mallorquín Swamp creates more value for society at a lower cost than the grey infrastructure alternatives.
  • The restored swamp could support the local economy and provide significant climate adaptation benefits.
  • Supporting the local economy by providing a sustainable source of income increases the net value of the investment.
  • NBI can be an effective long-term climate adaptation strategy.
  • Investing in ecotourism infrastructure has a strong impact on the financial viability of the intervention.
  • NBI is preferable to grey infrastructure from a financing perspective.

The report is complemented by technical appendices with methodological details about the system dynamics model and spatial analysis that were developed for the valuation.

Report details

Climate Change Adaptation
Focus area
IISD, 2023