Making the Case for Increasing Public and Private Investments in Wastewater Treatment: The Importance of Integrating Effects on Natural Capital
Untreated wastewater is the number one direct source of pollution to Caribbean marine ecosystems (CEP 2015). The principle motivation of governments and multilateral organizations to invest in wastewater treatment is often the protection of human health. While a critically important objective, this fails to fully recognize and protect key ecosystem services that flow from natural capital in the Caribbean (Exhibit 1). Natural capital such as nursery habitat for fish and safe water for swimming are at risk from the discharge of untreated domestic and industrial wastewater pollution, which, in turn, threatens the commercial fishery and tourism industries and elevates health care costs. By degrading the environment, ecosystem services that are critically important to the economic viability of Caribbean countries are compromised.