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New Study Sheds Light on Hawaii's Green Economy

Report Explores Economic Indicators and Opportunities for Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Sectors


HONOLULU, HI | May 31, 2012

A new University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) study released today by Hauoli Mau Loa Foundation and The Nature Conservancy provides the first comparison of standard economic indicators for three sectors that are key to Hawai‘i's sustainability future: Renewable Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resource Management.  The report, which includes unprecedented data collected about Hawai‘i’s natural resource management sector, will help inform policy- and decision-makers of the current contribution and the future potential of these sectors.

Utilizing a combination of existing economic data and a first-of-its kind survey of organizations engaged in natural resource management in Hawai‘i, UHERO explored four economic indicators: employment, average salaries, total expenditures and share of State Gross Domestic Product.  Among the key findings:

 ·         There are promising future job opportunities for Hawai‘i’s youth in renewable energy and natural resource management, with renewable energy jobs alone growing at an annual rate of 23 percent over the past five years. 

 ·         While almost all agricultural economic indicators declined dramatically from 1970 to 2007, the number of farms increased steadily from 3,000 in 1974 to 7,500 in 2007, suggesting a transition to smaller farms and diversified agriculture.  This sector is likely to strengthen given the public’s growing interest in food self-sufficiency, school garden programs, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and buying local produc

·         Natural resource management jobs in Hawai’i increased roughly 1.5 percent over the past five years, at a time when the state lost 1 percent of jobs overall.  There are now a total of 3,279 full-time natural resource management jobs statewide.  (Note: this figure represents a lower bound estimate, as the natural resource management survey response was approximately 58 percent. ) 

  ·         Hawaii’s natural resource management expenditures in 2010 were at least $465 million, with likely future growth in public and private sector management of watersheds, invasive species, marine resources and other natural resource management priorities.

“Hawai‘i’s economy and environment depend on one another,” said Suzanne Case, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Hawai‘i Program.  “Our globally uniquegeography, natural beauty and resources draw people and commerce to the state.  When Hawai‘i’s environment is healthy and well cared for, our natural resources can provide abundant fresh water, food from the land and sea, and other benefits that allow life—and business—to thrive in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean,” continued Case.  “This UHERO study provides the first snapshot of the economic indicators needed to track our public and private investment in caring for our precious environment.”

 The report’s findings also suggest opportunities to strengthen Hawai‘i’s economy and sustainability at the same time, such as local training and education programs to match anticipated “green job” growth; the strategic use of government incentives and funding to accelerate growth in key sustainability sectors; and the inclusion of economic indicators for the natural resource management sector in economic reports and projections of green growth and green jobs prepared by State and other government agencies.  Other recommendations include investing in valuation of the State’s natural capital and identifying and tracking basic economic indicators for all key “sustainability sectors” to demonstrate the progress that is being made toward Hawai‘i’s green economy.

 “The UHERO report is important to Hau`oli Mau Loa Foundation and its Partners for a number of reasons,” said Janis Reischmann, Executive Director of Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation.  “A primary way in which we will use this report is to inform our efforts to support Hawai`i’s youth in becoming the next generation of environmental resource professionals in Hawai`i.  The report provides an unprecedented baseline for better understanding and quantifying this promising and specialized sector of our economy and our workforce; a segment of the workforce that we believe is essential to develop for Hawai`i’s future.”    

 To receive a copy of the report, “Foundations for Hawai‘i’s Green Economy: Economic Trends in Hawai‘i Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resource Management,” visit www.uhero.hawaii.edu.


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

Contact information

Grady Timmons
Director of Communications
(808) 587-6237
(808) 545-2019
gtimmons@tnc.org

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