The GDSA Secretariat in action: A review of 2016

As we move into the 2017 calendar year, the GDSA Secretariat has taken time to reflect on the activities and successes of 2016. For the GDSA, 2016 was a landmark year of increased momentum and high-level achievements; we highlight some of the key milestones below and in our 2016 Activity Report (available here).

Progress on the GDSA commitments

In 2016, the Secretariat made progress on all of the three commitments. Milestones included the launch of the GDSA natural capital accounting community of practice at a workshop in Nairobi (read more about the workshop here). Under the community of practice, the GDSA sent three government officials from Botswana, Ghana, and Liberia to attend a short course in December 2016 on environmental accounting in Canberra, Australia. In addition, the GDSA facilitated the initiation of a pilot ecosystem accounting project between Conservation International (CI) and the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In regards to sustainable production, the GDSA supported a wide range of activities that touched on everything from dialogue on the potential for sustainable bamboo and rattan industries to combat climate change, to organizing an exchange between the GDSA member countries and the Chinese National Energy Administration. Of course, the GDSA Secretariat also provided national-level assistance to some of the GDSA member countries. For example, in Botswana, the GDSA is facilitating the development of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) as well as supporting dialogue on payments for ecosystem services in Kenya. In 2017, the GDSA hopes to engage more systematically with the private sector and is currently drafting an extensive five-year strategy to guide these efforts.

Finally, under the third commitment and monitoring, the GDSA has renewed efforts on this commitment by establishing a partnership with Vital Signs. The resulting program – Vital Signs for Sustainability – will allow the GDSA Secretariat to explore how it can help member countries monitor their progress towards international commitments, like the Sustainable Development Goals.

GABORONE DECLARATION FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN AFRICA EXECUTIVE SECRETARY RUUD JANSEN, CENTER, LEADS DISCUSSION DURING THE FOCAL POINT MEETING AS CI'S CARLOS MANUEL RODRIGUEZ, LEFT, LOOKS ON. (CI PHOTO/NAOMI TAYLOR)

GABORONE DECLARATION FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN AFRICA EXECUTIVE SECRETARY RUUD JANSEN, CENTER, LEADS DISCUSSION DURING THE FOCAL POINT MEETING AS CI'S CARLOS MANUEL RODRIGUEZ, LEFT, LOOKS ON. (CI PHOTO/NAOMI TAYLOR)

Increasing the GDSA Secretariat’s operational capacity

As the GDSA Secretariat provides more services to its member countries, it is clear that the Secretariat’s capacity – both in staff and in partnerships – must increase. As such, the Secretariat welcomed three new staff members in 2016, including the Deputy Executive Secretary, a Technical Director, and a new Policy & Program Manager. In addition, the GDSA has developed partnerships with several entities to support work on sustainability across the GDSA; many of these partnerships will be formalized in 2017.

Looking forward

The next year will be one of milestones and next steps. The GDSA Secretariat is looking forward to celebrating the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration with expanded programming and renewed country-level outreach. This will of course be achieved via continued close cooperation with the GDSA partners. The GDSA hopes to end the year with an expanded set of partnerships across Africa and the globe, in support of the Declaration’s commitments. As always, the Secretariat is available to work strategically with the member countries on their respective sustainability goals.

REPRESENTATIVES FROM CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL, THE WORLD BANK WAVES PROGRAM AND 12 AFRICAN NATIONS GATHER TOGETHER IN NAIROBI FOR THE “REGIONAL PERSPECTIVES ON NATURAL CAPITAL ACCOUNTING” WORKSHOP JUNE 21-23, 2016 IN NAIROBI, KENYA.

REPRESENTATIVES FROM CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL, THE WORLD BANK WAVES PROGRAM AND 12 AFRICAN NATIONS GATHER TOGETHER IN NAIROBI FOR THE “REGIONAL PERSPECTIVES ON NATURAL CAPITAL ACCOUNTING” WORKSHOP JUNE 21-23, 2016 IN NAIROBI, KENYA.

More information

More information about the GDSA’s activities in 2016 can be found in our most recent Secretariat Activity Report, which can be viewed here.

Expanding on Payments for Ecosystem Services in Kenya

In line with the commitments of the Gaborone Declaration, the GDSA Secretariat has been working with Conservation International to raise awareness about Payments for Ecosystem Service (PES) in Africa. Under the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) mandate, Conservation International’s (CI) Africa Field Division is implementing a series of pilot programs (primarily in Kenya) to promote sustainable development through innovative conservation finance. Experiences gained and lessons learnt from these will be shared with the other GDSA member countries moving forward.

Staff members from the GDSA and Conservation International meeting with the Cabinet Secretary (Prof Judi Wakhungu) and the GDSA Focal Point for Kenya.

Staff members from the GDSA and Conservation International meeting with the Cabinet Secretary (Prof Judi Wakhungu) and the GDSA Focal Point for Kenya.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Vice President at Conservation International, addressing parliament.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Vice President at Conservation International, addressing parliament.

Conference Attendees including both ci and gdsa staff at the 2016 african esp conference.

Conference Attendees including both ci and gdsa staff at the 2016 african esp conference.

Recent Achievements

In November 2016, CI's Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (Vice President, CI) was invited to speak at the Kenya Water Week, the tagline of which was: "From aid to trade: enhancing business partnerships and innovation for sustainable water and sanitation provision and irrigation in Africa." The invitation was extended to Carlos Manuel following an exchange visit by the Kenyan Members of Parliament to Costa Rica, organized by International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) and hosted by CI.

During this week, the team had a number of very productive meetings with various government and donor agencies, and strengthened existing partnerships. Recognizing Carlos’ immense experience in setting up successful PES program, the Chair of the Environmental Committee of the National Assembly, Hon. Amina Abdualla, invited him to speak in Parliament to MPs, Ministry officials and media. The session lasted for an hour, and Carlos Manuel was able to explain about his experiences in Costa Rica, whilst sharing CI’s objectives in Kenya, specifically the Chyulu Hills. There was great interest from the MPs and many questions asked.

In addition, the senior Conservation International staff met with the Cabinet Secretary Prof Judi Wakhungu from the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as well as with the GDSA Focal Point. The meeting was requested to discuss CI’s work on PES and REDD+ in Kenya and touched on a range of topics related to CI and the GDSA’s work in the country. Cabinet Secretary Hon. Prof Judy Wahkungu expressed her great interest and wish to work more closely with Conservation International. She was also extremely supportive of the developments in the Chyulu Hills.

Learning Exchange

The GDSA participated in a CI-organized session at the 2016 African ESP conference, the theme of which was Linking Sustainable Development to Payments for Ecosystem Services: Exploring the Effectiveness of PES at Different Scales in Africa. The session featured speakers from Nature Kenya discussing local-scale PES for watershed protect, from the African Conservation Centre on PES for wildlife in communal Maasai land, and several talks from CI and GDSA staff about PES at different scales. Tiego Mpho (Policy and Program Manager, GDSA) also spoke about how the GDSA provides a regional platform for PES policy engagement. The session was attended by approximately 40 conference attendees.

Moving forward, the GDSA Secretariat aims to continue raising awareness about Payments of Ecosystem Services. As part of these efforts, the Secretariat recently published a brief on Innovative Conservation Finance as well as information about how it intends to promote knowledge exchange in this field.

Learning about Environmental Accounting in Australia

From left to right: Jeremiah Sokan (GDSA Focal Point, Liberia), Disikalala Gaseitsiwe (GDSA Deputy Executive Secretary, Botswana) and Kwame Boakye Fredua (Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana) enjoying the beauty of nature in one of the parks near Canberra, Australia, after successfully completing the course.

From left to right: Jeremiah Sokan (GDSA Focal Point, Liberia), Disikalala Gaseitsiwe (GDSA Deputy Executive Secretary, Botswana) and Kwame Boakye Fredua (Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana) enjoying the beauty of nature in one of the parks near Canberra, Australia, after successfully completing the course.

Written by Kwame Boakye Fredua, Environmental Protection Agency-Ghana

Editor's Note: In December 2016, the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Secretariat, together with Conservation International, provided the opportunity for three government officials to travel to Australia and participate in a short course on Environmental Accounting. This opportunity is one of several that will be afforded to GDSA member countries in the coming year, as the GDSA hopes to increase technical capacity on Natural Capital Accounting. Here, Mr. Kwame Boakye Fredua from the Environment Protection Agency in Ghana, shares his experience of participating in this course. 

Environmental Accounting has been recognized as an important tool for evidence-based policy making on the role of nature toward sound economic planning and development. It can be a useful and an effective tool for monitoring and reporting country-level progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other aligned sustainability indicators.  

In June this year, the Conservation International (CI) and the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Secretariat in partnership with the World Bank's Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) programme brought together government officials and technical experts from GDSA member countries in Kenya for a workshop on natural capital accounting

One of the key outcomes of the meeting was to facilitate the development of a Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) Community of Practice. As part of this Community of Practice, I was selected as one of three government representatives selected from respective GDSA member countries (i.e. Botswana, Liberia, and Ghana) to undertake a 5-day short course in environmental accounting organized by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in partnership with the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

Course presenters included experts from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian National University, the Department of Environment and Energy, and the National Australian Bank.  The content of the course focused on the key concepts in environmental accounting (EA), concepts and tools in national accounting, the use of EA information in public policy, valuation in EA, water accounting, land accounting, implementing the System of Economic and Environmental Accounting (SEEA), ecosystem accounting, energy and greenhouse gas accounting, and waste and environmental expenditure accounting.

Individual and group exercises as well as a field trip were part of the programme. This allowed participants to practically apply the concepts and further enhancing understanding of the accounts.

Generally, it was a good opportunity to network with experts and account managers/professionals in the field of environmental accounting. The programme was also very timely, relevant, and would facilitate studies and activities initiated in Ghana to operationalize Natural Capital Accounting within our environment and national statistical agencies. 

  From left to right: Jeremiah, Disikalala and Kwame in the classroom. The course was held at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

 
From left to right: Jeremiah, Disikalala and Kwame in the classroom. The course was held at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

Amongst others, lessons learnt from participating in the short course in environmental accounting include the need to complement current economic accounting standards like the System of National Accounts (SNA). This is important because the current SNA does not explicitly include or account for physical stocks and flows of natural capital, linkages with sustainability assessments for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and inclusive green growth. This information can assist in identifying environmental issues, regular review of existing policies, and track progress on their interventions.

More information on the GDSA Community of Practice can be found here. Watch Kwame speak about why natural capital accounting is important for Ghana in a video produced by the GDSA, Conservation International, and the WAVES partnership.

From Botswana to Australia: Learning about Environmental Accounting

Written by Disikalala Gaseitsiwe, Deputy Executive Secretary, GDSA

Editor's Note: In December 2016, the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Secretariat, together with Conservation International, provided the opportunity for three government officials to travel to Australia and participate in a short course on Environmental Accounting. This opportunity is one of several that will be afforded to GDSA member countries in the coming year, as the GDSA hopes to increase technical capacity on Natural Capital Accounting. Here, Mr. Disikalala Gaseitsiwe, Deputy Executive Secretary of the GDSA Secretariat, shares his experience of participating in this course. 

In December 2016, I had the opportunity to attend a short course on environmental accounting as part of the GDSA NCA Community of Practice. As a Government Liaison Officer, and also a focal point for NCA within the GDSA Secretariat, it is extremely important that I have a good knowledge of the environmental accounts and their uses, to facilitate informed decision making regarding sustainable use of natural assets. This is because natural capital accounting (NCA) is a key focal area for GDSA. The GDSA Secretariat and GDSA National Focal Points therefore, must be fully oriented on issues around NCA so that they can be effective in providing leadership regarding information dissemination for the benefit of GDSA member countries’ national planning, which takes into account natural capital.

During the course, I was able to work together with individuals from a range of countries and backgrounds. Out of the 22 course participants, three were government officials from the GDSA, including my colleagues from Ghana and Liberia. Other participants included economists, ecologists, environmental scientists, statisticians, accountants, public policy analysts, and natural resource managers.

The course covered quite a number of areas, which I found very relevant and useful for my work. In particular, I was interested in gaining an introduction to key concepts in environmental-economic accounting. Specifically, I benefitted greatly from an exercise on how physical flows are treated, how to complete the physical supply and use tables, as well as completing the asset accounts. In addition, a hands-on group project encouraged us to focus on how environmental accounting can be used in practice. In my case, my group looked at the applicability of environmental accounting as a tool for policy analysis to develop a government response to the growing concerns about potential environmental degradation and economic loss due to overstocking by subsistence cattle farmers in Botswana.

As a result of the course, and my engagement with experts in this field, I am now in a better position to engage with NCA practitioners and work with them to ensure that information from the environmental and ecosystem accounts is disseminated to the users including decision-makers. 

Making Progress in Liberia: Joint Mapping Natural Capital and Natural Capital Accounting Initiative Hosts Stakeholder Meeting

A landscape in Liberia. Photo © Rachel Neugarten

A landscape in Liberia. Photo © Rachel Neugarten

In December 2016, Conservation International (CI) held a one-day stakeholder workshop in Monrovia, Liberia to present the first findings from the joint project on Mapping Natural Capital and Natural Capital Accounting. This project is being conducted in partnership by Conservation International and the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the auspices of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA). This was the third such meeting in 2016, the first of which was hosted by CI and the GDSA in March 2016 and the second hosted by CI in August 2016.

The workshop was well attended by a range of Liberian government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well at the Forestry Development Authority, Ministry of Finance and Development planning and the Ministry of Agriculture, civil society, and the private sector. Mr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, a presidential advisor, was a special guest and shared remarks on how NCA could support Liberia’s sustainable development aspirations.

The workshop included presentations on several natural capital maps that provided a spatial perspective of Liberia’s biodiversity, forest carbon, and freshwater natural resources. Additional analyses were presented showing areas of high importance for coastal protection as well as preliminary analyses on pilot forest and timber accounts. The data needs and ‘next steps’ for potential coastal ecosystem accounts were discussed. 

Workshop participants expressed support for the early project outputs, noting that the information could help inform food security programming, natural resource management, and land use planning. The day ended with a brainstorming session on the way forward, focusing on a roadmap for future work on Natural Capital Accounting in Liberia. In support of this effort, stakeholder attendees provided commitments — both large and small — to facilitate ongoing progress.

In the coming months, CI and the EPA will publish a report once these preliminary mapping and accounting results are finalized, including a Map Atlas. More information about CI’s efforts on mapping natural capital and natural capital valuation can be found online. CI has been working in Liberia since 2002, supporting the government on initiatives including conservation agreements, sustainable development in the public and private sector, and conservation of key biodiversity areas. 

 

 

 

The Natural Capital Protocol: Accounting for the value of nature in the private sector

by Dr. Kim Reuter, Natural Capital Accounting Director, Africa Field Division, Conservation International

Downtown Cape Town, South Africa business district. © Mlenny Photography

Downtown Cape Town, South Africa business district. © Mlenny Photography

The private sector in Africa is booming

Africa’s private sector is booming and the continent’s economic growth is already a defining global story and likely to remain so throughout the 21st century. With its economic growth rate for 2016 predicted to be 3.6%, above the 3.2% global growth rate and just behind Asia’s (6.3%), Africa is the second fastest growing region in the world. In Africa, the private sector accounts for about two-thirds of total investments in the economy and 90% of total employment opportunities.

The private sector is recognized as a key engine of economic development in Africa. However the negative impacts of climate change, loss of natural ecosystems, water shortages and desertification are beginning to be felt by businesses in Africa. Most recently, southern African countries have had to cope with one of the worst regional droughts seen in over 30 years. This drought has negatively impacted southern Africa’s economies.  

Businesses depend on Africa’s nature for success

Businesses both in Africa and around the world depend heavily on fresh water, healthy soil, stable climate, pollinators and other natural benefits to create their goods and services. For example, 30% of the world’s agricultural crops depend on pollination services provided by insects and other animals.

A sunflower in Tanzania. © Benjamin Drummond

A sunflower in Tanzania. © Benjamin Drummond

Businesses also have an impact on the natural environment and society, such as through extraction of raw materials and during the manufacturing process. However, the financial information that businesses have long used to guide their decisions, including balance sheets and profit and loss, has historically excluded their dependence and impact on nature, by omitting one form of capital from their assessments: natural capital.  

Natural capital is the stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources on Earth that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people. Accounting for natural capital leads to smart business decisions and in the long-term, it helps ensure that a business is resilient in the face of current and future threats, such as climate change. For example, in Africa, accounting for natural capital could help businesses understand their impacts and dependencies on nature, lead to improved risk management, increase competitive advantage, and ultimately more informed decision-making.

Many businesses, especially in Africa, recognize the need to begin understanding their impacts and dependencies on nature. Conservation International, working in partnership with numerous organizations and on behalf of the Natural Capital Coalition, has helped to develop the Natural Capital Protocol — a standardized approach to enable all businesses to measure and value their impacts and dependencies on natural capital, and to generate information to guide business decisions. The protocol was developed via an extensive pilot testing process in partnership with over 50 companies from a range of industries, including the Dow Chemical Company, Kering (owner of Gucci, Puma, and Stella McCartney), Hoffman-La Roche, Coca-Cola Company, Hugo Boss, Natura, Nespresso, Nestlé, Olam International, and Shell.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) recently launched this new video designed to explain how business can account for the value of nature and why this is important. More than 25 of the world's top organizations working on the value of nature in business have come together behind one message in this "Pitch for Nature" video, that's available in 20 languages.

The Protocol seeks to help businesses to identify, measure and value their impacts and dependencies on nature. With the Protocol, businesses are empowered to account for natural capital, and to make efforts to sustainably use and to conserve ecosystems,  the services they provide, and non-renewable resources used in their supply chain and operations. The Protocol also enables business to better understand and manage the environmental impact associated with the distribution, consumption, recycling and disposal of products.  

The GDSA + the private sector + natural capital

The exploration of the valuation and measurement of natural capital, in both the public and private spheres, is core to the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability of Africa (GDSA). For example, following the 2012 launch of the GDSA, Conservation International (CI) provided support in the launch of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, which brings together 13,000 South African companies to increase compliance with environmental standards throughout the supply chain. In addition, the GDSA Secretariat has been involved in discussions around sustainable finance in Botswana, which involve both private and public sector actors. Moving forward, the GDSA will continue to work with CI to promote the consideration of natural capital by the private sector through various programs and initiatives.

More information

The Natural Capital Coalition recently launched the Natural Capital Protocol, which is open to any business interested in understanding its impacts and dependencies on nature. The protocol is available online with additional resources available for the food and beverage industry. Scientist from Conservation International’s Moore Center helped lead the technical development of the Protocol; check out this podcast interview with Dr. Rosimeiry Portela, the technical lead of the NCP.

In Kenya’s famed ‘green hills,’ saving water means saving forests

Namawe Sompol is a mother of two who works as a clinical health worker in the village of Illtalal near Kenya’s Chyulu Hills. She has noticed a decline in fresh water available to her Maasai community in recent years. (© Conservation International/photo by Christina Ender)

Namawe Sompol is a mother of two who works as a clinical health worker in the village of Illtalal near Kenya’s Chyulu Hills. She has noticed a decline in fresh water available to her Maasai community in recent years. (© Conservation International/photo by Christina Ender)

By Christina Ender, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) Program Manager, Africa Field Division, Conservation International

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Conservation International's blog, Human Nature. 

Ernest Hemingway called them “The Green Hills of Africa” in 1935 — but these days they’re not so green.

In 2009, a severe drought killed as much as 90 percent of livestock in Kenya’s Chyulu Hills. Chronic drought, deforestation and overgrazing are taking an increasing toll on the hills, whose springs are a major water source for the more than 1 million people living in the downstream city of Mombasa.

Namawe Sompol, a mother of two who works as a clinical health worker in the village of Illtalal near the Chyulu Hills, has witnessed the change in the ecosystem over the years. “Water shortages during the dry season are a serious problem,” she said.

This has become a common story in much of the developing world including in sub-Saharan Africa: a watershed in which a mutually reinforcing nexus of poverty, high population growth rate, overexploitation of ecosystem goods and services and water scarcity further entrenches poverty and erodes ecosystem resilience. How can communities living in these and similar conditions, like Sompol’s, protect their life-giving springs?

The Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) proposes a solution. The GDSA is an initiative agreed to by 10 African countries including Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania. The countries came together in May 2012 for the Summit on Sustainability in Africa to discuss the future of Africa and prepare for Rio+20. The Summit resulted in the Gaborone Declaration, in which countries, amongst others, committed to integrating the value of natural capital into national accounting and corporate planning and reporting processes, policies and programs.  

If done right, putting a price on the value of nature’s benefits can help people across Africa protect and benefit from their historically rich resources. One project in the Chyulu Hills could show how.

The strikingly beautiful Chyulu Hills landscape in Kenya. The area also holds a huge diversity of species. (© Conservation International/photo by Christina Ender)

The strikingly beautiful Chyulu Hills landscape in Kenya. The area also holds a huge diversity of species. (© Conservation International/photo by Christina Ender)

The hills under threat

Overlooking the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro across the border in Tanzania, the Chyulu Hills emerge between Kenya’s world-famous Tsavo and Amboseli national parks. Savanna grassland and acacia woodlands dominate the low-lying areas as far as the eye can see, contrasting starkly with the lush green cloud forest atop the hills.

From the hills’ highest point (2,188 meters, or 7,180 feet), the surrounding area may appear devoid of people or wildlife — but looks can be deceiving. The area holds a huge diversity of species, ranging from the critically endangered black rhino to large herds of zebra and wildebeest. Local Maasai herders have also been grazing their cattle here for generations, co-existing alongside lions and other predators.

Over the years, however, a number of challenges have arisen. Growing human populations, reduced land area on which to graze livestock, poverty and the need for quick income have meant that there is increased pressure on the land. As Maasai communities experience degraded pasture resulting from their unsustainable livestock numbers, the Chyulu Hills National Park, although officially under the protection of the Kenya Wildlife Service, is victim to illegal practices such as degrading forest for charcoal production and wood-carving and encroachment by small-scale farmers.

Especially in the dry season, lack of water and vegetation due to degradation make it very difficult for herder and head of the morans (Maasai warriors) Masheer Torei to sustain his livestock. Torei now needs to travel long distances in search of pasture, and even further to find water. (© Conservation International/photo by Christina Ender)

Especially in the dry season, lack of water and vegetation due to degradation make it very difficult for herder and head of the morans (Maasai warriors) Masheer Torei to sustain his livestock. Torei now needs to travel long distances in search of pasture, and even further to find water. (© Conservation International/photo by Christina Ender)

The project

Through the Chyulu Hills Conservation Trust, a number of local non-governmental organizations have joined forces with communities, government agencies and international NGOs including Conservation International (CI), which is the delegated Secretariat of the GDSA, to reduce the threats to and manage the Chyulu Hills sustainably. This is being done through a REDD+ (Reduced Emission From Deforestation and Forest Degradation) project, a global initiative to compensate countries and landholders that protect and restore the world’s forests. In addition to absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, trees are crucial for keeping soil in place, preventing erosion and filtering and storing rainwater.

The Chyulu REDD+ project covers an area of 410,000 hectares (more than 1 million acres), and will prevent an estimated 33 million tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted over the next 30 years — as much as keeping more than 232,000 cars off the road each year. Revenue from these carbon credit sales are expected to generate sustainable financing for conservation projects as well as provide benefits to local people.

Sompol knows which benefits she would like to see in her village. “Through this project, I hope to see more schools being built and support for scholarships. In addition, it will be important to have more boreholes for cattle and human consumption alike.”

What’s next

In order to ensure the sustainability of this iconic landscape, CI is working with partners to protect the area from further habitat loss, with communities to improve grazing and rehabilitate degraded areas and with the government to find a way to improve water provision for those who need it. The REDD+ project is currently being verified by a third-party audit, and should be on track to generate carbon credits by early 2017. In the coming years, we hope to also establish a payment scheme in which downstream water consumers help support the protection of the Chyulu watershed that provides for them.

African nations convene for landmark workshop to set priorities for natural capital accounting

Representatives from Conservation International, the World Bank WAVES program and 12 African nations gather together in Nairobi for the “Regional Perspectives on Natural Capital Accounting” workshop June 21-23, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Representatives from Conservation International, the World Bank WAVES program and 12 African nations gather together in Nairobi for the “Regional Perspectives on Natural Capital Accounting” workshop June 21-23, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Conservation International (CI) and the World Bank's Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) program brought together government officials and technical experts from member countries of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA)  for a “Regional Perspectives on Natural Capital Accounting” workshop June 21-23, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. Workshop participants included representatives from twelve countries, including 9 of the 10 GDSA signatory countries (Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania, plus supporting countries Madagascar and Uganda as well as non-member Mauritius).

Perhaps more than anywhere else, natural resources such as forests, wildlife and minerals play a crucial role in the economies of sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, for example, it has been estimated that the forests annually contribute ecosystem services equivalent to 3.6% of the national GDP. In Namibia, where Natural Capital Accounting has been utilized since the 1990’s, Wildlife Resource Accounts estimated that the country’s wildlife assets are valued at N$10.6 billion. As NCA gains global momentum in both the private and public sector, countries are increasingly exploring ways of mainstreaming the results of these accounts into decision making processes.  

View of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Kenya with elephants in the foreground. © Ian Lenehan/500px

View of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Kenya with elephants in the foreground. © Ian Lenehan/500px

This regional workshop on NCA — the first of its kind — capitalized on the increasing desire for information on NCA and collaboration across Africa. CI made public the results of a year-long scoping study on NCA across GDSA countries. GDSA Executive Secretary Ruud Jansen opened the meeting, saying that the main impetus for creating the GDSA was to look after African resources, and as such the need to know how to value them. He was followed by the H.E. John Moreti, the Ambassador of Botswana to Kenya, who talked about the immense benefits NCA can bring to the continent emphasizing that the the approach can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and a number of other aims. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CI’s Vice President and Senior Advisor of Global Policy, used Costa Rica as a case study to highlight the catalytic need for key policy makers to “speak the same language” towards proving that environment is a productive sector. “NCA can help us take the leap forward from the industrial to the green economy, and the GDSA is a great platform for this change of institutional structures to happen,” he said.

WAVES is a global partnership that aims to mainstream Natural Capital in development planning, economic policy and decision-making in support of sustainable development. Stig Johansson, World Bank WAVES Program Manager, discussed how NCA has emerged as a response to go beyond GDP as a measure of progress and well-being. WAVES is currently working in eight countries, looking at implementation and cooperation at national, regional, and global levels.

Workshop participants shared successes and lessons learned. In a series of Case Studies, Gaborone Declaration countries Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Rwanda presented on the successes and challenges in developing national accounts in their countries. In Botswana, for example, one of the first countries supported by WAVES, natural capital accounting is included in the keynote paper for the forthcoming National Development Plan, and water accounts have been identified as a key tool for water sector reforms. Other nations such as Ghana and Tanzania who are just beginning the NCA process were able to learn from these diverse experiences. Participants explored ways to build or enhance country programs in NCA and expressed the need to continue and expand regional engagement.  

Portia Segomelo, National Advisor for WAVES Botswana, makes a point for discussion during the "Regional Perspectives on Natural Capital Accounting” workshop.

Portia Segomelo, National Advisor for WAVES Botswana, makes a point for discussion during the "Regional Perspectives on Natural Capital Accounting” workshop.

This dynamic discussion resulted in the Gaborone Declaration Natural Capital Accounting Statement , which provides the foundation to launch an African-led Community of Practice. The statement calls upon the GDSA and partners to work to establish Community of Practice (COP) on Natural Capital Accounting “for the specific purpose of learning and sharing of approaches, experiences, and best practices in NCA among the GDSA countries via south-south exchanges, dialogue by both practitioners and decision-makers on NCA, and training opportunities as appropriate including both technical practitioners (account producers and analysts) and decision-makers (account users).”  

The workshop agenda and presentations are available on the World Bank WAVES website. For next steps: later this year, CI and WAVES will release a workshop report which will include an actionable timeline for building upon the momentum of the workshop

 

 

GDSA attends the World Bank WAVES Annual Partnership Meeting in Costa Rica

Dr. Kim Reuter of Conservation International presents at the World Bank WAVES Annual Partnership meeting in Costa Rica. Photo © the World Bank

Dr. Kim Reuter of Conservation International presents at the World Bank WAVES Annual Partnership meeting in Costa Rica. Photo © the World Bank

From May 31st to June 1st 2016, the World Bank WAVES program held its Annual Partnership Meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica. This year’s meeting was designed to bring together WAVES’ partners and highlight their cutting-edge work on natural capital accounting (NCA) as well as the work of WAVES’ Core Implementing Countries. The objectives of the meeting were to explore lessons learned from various NCA initiatives and to increase understanding of how these lessons can inform work at the global level. In addition, the meeting focused on the process of using NCA in decision-making and packaging the outputs of NCA in a way that appeals to decision-makers.

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and the NDC’s with natural capital accounting (NCA)

On the second day of the conference, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez – a Vice President at Conservation International and policy advisor to the Gaborone Declaration – joined Paula Caballero (Senior Director, World Bank) and representatives from Indonesia and the UNDP to discuss how NCA can help with measuring progress towards several international commitments. Carlos Manuel, who also is a former Minister of Environment for Costa Rica, articulated the challenges and opportunities that are inherent to the field of NCA. Carlos cited his own evolution as a minister who pioneered the use of ecosystem valuation in decision-making in Costa Rica. He closed by noting the importance of WAVES and related programs, such as the UNDP BIOFIN initiative, in mainstreaming ecosystem valuation and natural capital accounting into global dialogue.

The GDSA as a platform for regional collaboration on natural capital accounting

In addition to Carlos’ panel discussion, the GDSA was highlighted as one of the platforms for regional collaboration on NCA in Africa. Represented by Kim Reuter (Natural Capital Accounting Director, CI’s Africa + Madagascar Field Division), the GDSA was featured alongside the Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean and the WAVES program. Topics of discussion included the importance of regional collaboration in moving NCA forward across the globe, breaking down communication barriers between countries, linking multiple partners together via regional networks, and using regional networks to scale-up WAVES work. The importance of the GDSA was re-emphasized by Portia Segomelo, WAVES Advisor for Botswana, who noted that Gaborone signatory countries are now linking their NCA initiatives to the GDSA, given its regional importance. 

Moving Forward

 WAVES will continue to play an important role across the GDSA, as three of its five global Core Implementing Countries are also Gaborone signatory countries (or otherwise affiliated with the GDSA). As such, the GDSA looks forward to supporting the work of WAVES and to ensuring the lessons learned in WAVES countries are shared across the rest of the Gaborone Declaration. 

Natural Capital Accounting in Liberia, Tanzania, and Mozambique: In-Country Dialogues to Scope New Opportunities

jeremiah sokan  of the liberian government presents during the liberia natural capital accounting workshop. photo by conservation international

jeremiah sokan  of the liberian government presents during the liberia natural capital accounting workshop. photo by conservation international

One of the three pillars of the Gaborone Declaration is to “incorporate the value of natural capital in public and private policies and decision-making”; this places Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) front and center as one of the top priorities of the Gaborone Declaration in the coming years.

In particular, the subject of NCA – and how resources could be sourced for natural capital accounting initiatives across the Gaborone Declaration – was a topic of discussion during the February 2016 Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) focal point meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Specifically, delegations from several countries expressed a strong interest in working with the GDSA to move forward NCA in their countries. As a direct follow-up to the focal point meeting, and to continue discussions started in Nairobi, staff from Conservation International and the Gaborone GDSA Secretariat initiated a three-country scoping effort in April and May 2016.

Liberia

In Liberia, our scoping effort began with a week-long trip to Monrovia, at the invitation of the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency, by technical staff from Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science, the Africa & Madagascar Field Division, and CI’s Liberia Office. In addition to meetings with the Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and the EPA, Conservation International and the GDSA also held a half-day workshop attended by 20 government officials from several different government agencies. The workshop was designed to share information on the GDSA and its relationship with the EPA, as well as to provide an introduction to NCA. In particular, the workshop provided an opportunity to introduce participants to case studies of NCA from other areas in Africa and to highlight how NCA could be used in Liberia.

As a direct result of our deep stakeholder engagement in Liberia, and in response to the government’s enthusiasm for NCA, the GDSA and Conservation International committed to developing a series of pilot ecosystem accounts for the government to use as a ‘proof of concept’. These accounts will be part of an innovative, integrated project on mapping natural capital and ecosystem accounting which aims to link accounting outputs directly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tanzania

Following on the successful trip to Liberia, in-country meetings were also held in Tanzania at the invitation of the Division of Environment within the Vice President’s Office. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our hosts, meetings were held with a wide range of individuals including the National Environmental Management Council, the National Statistics Bureau, and experts at the University of Dar es Salaam. These meetings focused on the opportunities and challenges facing natural capital accounting initiatives in Tanzania, revealing a deep interest in this subject across a wide range of government agencies. The trip concluded with an excellent meeting with the Permanent Secretary and the Deputy Permanent Secretary within the Division of Environment at the Vice President’s Office.

Mozambique

Finally, staff from Conservation International’s Africa & Madagascar Field Division as well as from the Gaborone Declaration Secretariat held a series of meetings in Mozambique, following an invitation from National Council for Sustainable Development (CONDES). This two-day trip kicked off with a meeting at the WWF Mozambique Office where we learned more about WWF’s work on Mozambique’s Nat Cap Project; this project is contributing to increasing understanding at the national level about Mozambique’s ecosystems and the services they provide. This meeting was followed by a two-hour roundtable discussion about opportunities and hurdles for natural capital accounting in Mozambique (attended by CONDES, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, MITADER, and WWF) as well as with individual meetings with the Mozambique Institute of Statistics. These meetings very much reiterated the immense progress that Mozambique has made in the valuation of its ecosystems and highlighted the enthusiasm of government agencies within Mozambique for this topic.

Moving Forward

CI and the GDSA will continue to make progress on natural capital accounting outreach and programming in partnership with the Gaborone signatory countries. In the coming months we will make progress on developing pilot ecosystem accounts for the government of Liberia; these are the first natural capital accounts ever developed for the country. ln the coming weeks, we will be making public an extensive desktop scoping efforts that was undertaking by Conservation International in 2015 on natural capital accounting across the GDSA.