World Bank Welcomes African Leadership on Natural Capital Accounting

May 25, 2012

Announces $3m in support from Japan to help countries around the world put it into action

GABORONE, BOTSWANA, May 25, 2012 – The World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte, today welcomed the strong endorsement from ten African countries for natural capital accounting - a tool for factoring countries’ natural assets into their systems of national accounting.
Speaking at the conclusion of the African Sustainability Summit in Botswana, Kyte said African leaders had shown the way forward through a joint communiqué on natural capital accounting which recognized GDP’s limitations as a measure of well-being and sustainable growth and underscored the importance of a tool for taking natural capital into account for improved economic decision-making.
“Africa is where sustained and sustainable economic growth and the stewardship of natural wealth become one and the same thing,” Kyte said. “Making progress means more than just a strong GDP - it means giving equal attention to the economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainable development. By endorsing natural capital accounting as a tool for delivering on more inclusive green growth, Africa is showing the way for the rest of the world.”
Kyte said that 24 countries around the world were already compiling natural capital accounts. With so much on-the-ground experience to draw upon, she said the World Bank was hoping to see at least 50 countries and 50 private corporations follow Africa’s lead by endorsing natural capital accounting at the upcoming Rio+20 Conference.
The World Bank is supporting countries to factor their natural capital into systems of national accounts through a global partnership called WAVES (Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services). Ms Kyte took the opportunity of the Botswana Summit to announce the Government of Japan’s financial commitment of $US3 million to support the WAVES Partnership.

“Japan’s generous commitment helps us step up to meet the increasing demand from countries to make natural capital accounting a reality,” Kyte said.

Japan’s Deputy Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs and Executive Assistant to the Prime Minister for Global Environmental Finance, Naoko Ishii said “Japan has long been a supporter to enhancing biodiversity and preserving ecosystems, and is excited to strengthen this initiative.”

WAVES is working to build capacity in countries to implement Natural Capital Accounting based on the UN’s recently endorsed System for Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA). The SEEA provides an internationally agreed method, on par with the current System of National Accounts, to account for material natural resources like minerals, timber, and fisheries.
WAVES is also working to develop an agreed methodology for accounting for ecosystem services, including for example, the `regulating’ services of forests for pollination and wetlands for reducing the impacts of floods.
The WAVES partnership includes the United Nations Environment Program, the UN Development Program, and the UN Statistical Commission; the countries of Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Madagascar, and the Philippines, which are implementing programs; as well as financial or technical support from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, and several NGOS.

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