Natural Capital Accounting Taking Hold Across the Globe
In the Philippines, one of WAVES’ eight core implementing countries, NCA is taking hold. “Governments and the private sector are being challenged to incorporate NCA into development planning,” said Emmanuel F. Esguerra, Deputy Director General of the Philippines National Economic and Development Authority. “Now we have the resources to build capacity.”
Esguerra said important lessons that have come out of NCA are the need for strong government ownership, the early involvement of stakeholders and strong collaboration with experts and partners. He said the path to making NCA the "new normal" would not be a straight line because the challenges are different in every country.
Many other country examples were presented to a packed auditorium on the opening day of the partnership meeting. For example:
- In Guatemala, the forest account showed that the country’s deforestation rate was the highest in Central and South America with the majority of uncontrolled logging being done by households for their basic cooking needs. The information has fueled strategies to control the use of firewood and unauthorized logging, a review of the forestry law, updated regulations, and the support to negotiate greater budget resources for these initiatives.
- In Indonesia, the government was “shocked” to find out the value of standing timber in Borneo was US$28 billion—over three times the potential revenue from logging the forest and replacing it with oil palm.
- In Botswana, the first set of water accounts is helping the government understand who the main water users are in the country and whether there is room to expand economic sectors like agriculture and tourism.
- In the Philippines, 60 percent of GDP is fueled by industries and associated services in the Laguna Lake region outside of Manila. Ecosystem accounts will be instrumental in determining how to manage this resource and “realize the cost of inaction.” Additionally, there is a moratorium on mining activity because legislators feel the profits haven't benefited local communities or the government. NCA can help inform this debate by presenting accurate data on mineral resources.
- In his first public address, Madagascar’s incoming Minister of Economy and Planning, Herilanto Raveloharison, committed to make NCA a priority and that WAVES would be instrumental in the country’s development plan and fight against poverty.
“In Colombia, we look at accounts as a tool rather than an end in itself. They give more political power to Colombia’s natural capital at a critical point in time when we are losing 3.5% of GDP to environmental degradation. This is a red flag,” said Neider Eduardo Abello Aldana, head of the Green and Sustainable Business Office within Colombia's Ministry of Environment.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included: the role of the private sector in NCA, how NCA can contribute to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and how international organizations help countries go beyond GDP.
WAVES plans to increase the number of core implementing countries while raising awareness globally on the concept of looking “beyond GDP” for a more complete picture of growth and well-being. WAVES also partners with UN agencies—UNEP, UNDP, and the UN Statistical Commission—that are helping to implement natural capital accounting.