Environmental Trade-Offs from Coastal Reclamation: The Case of Cebu, Philippines

  • Lourdes O. MontenegroEmail author


Coastal land reclamation—the process of creating new land by infilling coastal areas—is becoming a popular way of expanding the space available for economic activity in East and Southeast Asia. Although this method can provide more land for economic activity, these reclamation projects are not without their environmental trade-offs. These trade-offs are not often explicitly considered or valued when evaluating project feasibility. As a result, there is an absence of a clear conception of the types and magnitudes of the trade-offs that could be used to guide policy decision-making and implementation. This study fills this gap by investigating the case of a proposed large-scale reclamation project in Cordova, a town in Cebu, Philippines. Environmental impacts and costs were identified and monetized for use in a social cost-benefit analysis, which accordingly assessed whether the project would generate net social value to the appropriate reference community. The total potential environmental costs were estimated to be almost USD 60 million (PHP 3.3 billion). Among the environmental costs valued in the study, damage to corals and externalities from landfill quarrying were the most significant. The prevention of damages to the coral reef alone would reduce the estimated environmental costs by more than half. The relatively large value of forgone recreational benefits from the coral reef could be avoided if the reclamation activity would not be in the coastal areas where fair to good coral cover exists. This potentially high environmental cost also suggests an alternative development strategy that the municipality could pursue: one that has more to do with sustainable ecotourism than with attracting new industry.


Environmental valuation Coastal reclamation Cost-benefit analysis Project evaluation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lee Kuan Yew School of Public PolicyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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