GDSA Co-organizes South-South Exchange to Costa Rica

July 2017 - The GDSA, together with Conservation International (CI) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hosted a high-level South-South Exchange on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) to Washington D.C. and Costa Rica. The overall aim of this exchange was to expose Government and non-Government officials of Rwanda to success stories elsewhere. Costa Rica is the poster-child of PES, and has a long history of having implemented a successful PES scheme on the national level. Two Government officials from South Africa joined as GDSA ambassadors as well as to facilitate cross-continental learning.

Trip participants with the CEO of Conservation International, at CI’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

Trip participants with the CEO of Conservation International, at CI’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

The South-South Exchange took place between June 26 and July 2, 2017. It was an intense one-week program, entailing a day at CI’s headquarters in Washington D.C., where the delegation was welcomed by the CEO of CI, and learnt more about CI’s work on PES and within Rwanda. The remainder of the week was spent in Costa Rica and included high-level meetings in San Jose with the former President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez and the current Minister of Environment, Edgar Guitérrez. The final three days were spent in the field to see PES in action, and to learn about the challenges and benefits of implementing PES.

The overarching objectives for the exchange were to:

  1. Provide a solid base of information on various topic relevant to PES from experts in the Cl headquarters in Washington D.C.;
  2. Expose the delegation to the institutional structures and financial mechanisms that Costa Rica has developed for implementing national conservation policies, as well as the role of the government in guiding this process;
  3. Expose the delegates to the research, valuation techniques, and job creation programs for PES and the economics of natural capital; and
  4. Expose participants to the political and institutional processes to implement innovate solution to landscape management.

The overall outcome of the trip was extremely positive and the participants had learnt a wealth of information. This trip will directly inform Rwanda's ongoing work in PES, which were highlighted as a priority action area by the government during the GDSA road show in 2015. 

More information about the GDSA's work around PES can be found on this page; read more about Rwanda here.

World's first species diversity accounts for Uganda

This blog post is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on the IDEEA Groups's blog, and is reproduced here with their permission.

Gorillas in Bwindi National Park, in southwest Uganda. © Levi S. Norton

Gorillas in Bwindi National Park, in southwest Uganda. © Levi S. Norton

In March 2017, Uganda - a GDSA member country - published the world's first species diversity accounts. The work was conducted by the Ugandan Government, the UNEP World Centre for Monitoring Conservation (UNEP-WCMC), and the IDEEA Group. This is an important step in natural capital accounting and future work on this topic may help countries begin to mainstream biodiversity information into their decision-making. 

In many countries, economic development threatens biodiversity. At the same time, however, biodiversity and the associated natural capital can provide significant opportunities for development such as through expanded wildlife based tourism and sustainable harvesting of natural products.

The accounts published by Uganda, together with partners, create a clear and credible evidence base to understand the extent of human and economic impact on species biodiversity in Uganda. This is a world-first application of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EEA) framework to compile species accounts at the national level.

The report provides significant insights into the state and trends in ecosystems and biodiversity for Uganda that will be used to assess national progress towards the objectives of Uganda’s National Development Plan (NDP II), its National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (NBSAP II), and various international commitments (e.g. Aichi targets and SDGs). At a program and sector level, the report identifies cost-effective actions that can help to re-establish and sustain valuable natural capital assets in ways that support positive social development outcomes.

Interested in more information? Be sure to read the report here.

The GDSA co-hosts workshop on the SDGs in Nairobi

July 2017 (Nairobi, Kenya): In July 2017, the GDSA – together with Conservation International (CI) and Vital Signs – held a workshop on how nature contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The workshop brought participants from six GDSA countries (Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). These participants came from a range of entities, including their Bureaus of Statistics, Finance and Planning, and Ministries of Environment.  

Workshop participants pose for a group photo.

Workshop participants pose for a group photo.

During the workshop, countries shared their ‘state of play’ for national-level SDGs planning and reporting. In addition, CI introduced their SDGs assessment framework, which looks at how nature underpins 50+ targets under the 13 SDG, and discussed with participants how the tool could help government officials make the case for nature as a foundation for achieving the SDGs. The idea behind these discussions is that natural systems support our food production, clean our water, regulate our climate, and safeguard the Earth’s diverse species – and by doing so, support our development ambitions.

Workshop participants expressed that they valued learning more about the relationships between nature and the SDGs, and thinking about these connections through a new approach. Participants flagged the importance of being able to monitor and report on the SDGs in order to measure their achievement. They also highlighted the importance of understanding the value of natural capital and how this value can be linked more explicitly to development issues.

As a next step, CI and Vital Signs will be working to undertake a more in-depth analysis of how natural capital underpins the SDGs in one pilot country to enable full integration of nature to achieve their climate and sustainable development goals. CI will also produce an expanded analysis of how nature underpins not only the SDGs, but also contributes to the achievement of international commitments on climate change (the Paris Agreement) and biodiversity (the Aichi Targets). Information from this pilot work will be made available on the GDSA website, with lessons sharing to GDSA member countries. In addition, the GDSA – and partners – will be looking for opportunities to expand work on this subject in the GDSA member countries in the near future.

Interested in getting more information the GDSA's work around the SDGs? Check out our page on Vital Signs for Sustainability.

The GDSA presents at the Poverty Environment Partnership meeting on natural capital

Participants at the PEP 22 meeting in New York (USA)

Participants at the PEP 22 meeting in New York (USA)

June 19th-22nd, 2017 (New York, USA): The GDSA Executive Secretary, Ruud Jansen, participated in this Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP) 22 meeting in New York (USA). The topic of the meeting was, 'Investing in Natural Capital for an Inclusive Green & Blue Economy to Implement the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement'. 

The meeting was attended by 62 participants representing 41 organizations. Mr. Ruud Jansen presented as part of the second session, entitled: 'Why invest: mainstreaming and institutions to integrate natural capital into economics.' During this session, participations discussed and learned about the SEEA (System of Environmental-Economic Accounts) and how the GDSA and other entities, such as the Global Environment Facility, have prioritized natural capital accounting. Hurdles relevant to natural capital accounting were discussed as were opportunities for regional work across multiple countries, building on platforms such as the GDSA.

More information about the outcomes of the PEP 22 meeting can be found on the Poverty Environment Partnership website

The GDSA Secretariat benchmarks successful South African communal rangeland stewardship and livelihoods improvement model

ipone 2 151.JPG

Written by Tiego Mpho, Policy & Programme Manager at the GDSA

At the invitation of Conservation South Africa (CSA) and in preparation for its submission of a concept proposal to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), focusing on Climate Change Risk Reduction through ecosystem based adaptation in Botswana’s communal grazing lands, the GDSA Secretariat participated in a three-day learning exchange in Matatiele, South Africa from 16th to 18th May 2017.  

The exchange was hosted by uMzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme (UCPP) which includes such organisations as Environmental & Rural Solutions (ERS), Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme (MDTP), Conservation SA (CSA) and Meat Naturally Pty (MNP). It aimed at showcasing a locally developed grassland restoration model which provides a framework for maintaining healthy communal landscapes and livelihoods through sound rangeland stewardship. Specifically, the focus was on sharing experiences and innovative ideas, from the uMzimvubu and other landscape projects, for potential use of the model in other communal catchments, in South Africa and similar ecosystems in Southern Africa.

Interactive presentations by implementing partners provided an overview of the approach, including the core sustainability concepts of the model which are:

  • Social mobilization and governance, as a foundation for sustainable range management by land users;
  • Technical elements of livestock and veld improvement, through the deployment of trained Eco-rangers, to provide husbandry support;
  • Conservation-based grazing agreements, based on incentives and compliance with agreed practical grazing plans (including sanctions);
  • The business and marketing entity, Meat Naturally Pty, which arranges mobile auctions and marketing opportunities.

Participants witnessed the market element in action at a Meat Naturally mobile auction at Thaba Chicha, Kwazulu Natal, adjacent to the Ongeluksnek Nature Reserve. Sellers (livestock owners) are signed up by Eco-rangers several weeks prior to the event. On the day of the event, their stock are weighed at a mobile kraal, allowing buyers and sellers to know the weight of each animal before bidding. Auctioneer Gerbrand Nel, the manager of Meat Naturally Pty, facilitated the bidding process in a colourful mixture of languages (Xhosa, English and Afrikaans) to suit sellers and buyers alike while an admin team from CSA and ERS processes seller information, weight, agreed price and animal details. Ecorangers manage the livestock process from arrival, movement through the sale kraals, and to the loading pens prior to removal on buyers’ transport. The auction sold 70 animals, generating R543 350 for 35 sellers, of which a third were women, with anverage price of  R15.62/kg. Translated into employment value,at fulltime minimum wage equivalent per annum, the auction turnover has created almost 185 jobs (in situ). This shows a most valuable direct livelihood benefit from improved rangeland management and market access.

Long hailed as an effective and adaptable sustainable land management and livelihoods improvement strategy, the Meat Naturally Pty approach as practiced in the uMzimvubu Catchment is also highly scalable especially within other GDSA member countries like Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya wherein rangeland-based livestock production is still the dominant land use and most viable agribusiness for small resource poor farmers.

Natural Capital Accounting and Mapping in Liberia

This blog post is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on Conservation International's Human Nature blog written by Rachel Neugarten.

As a GDSA member country, Liberia has committed to incorporating the value of natural capital into decision-making. A big achievement towards making this a reality happened at the close of 2016, when Conservation International and the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency closed out a pilot program on natural capital mapping and accounting. This initiative, which has been featured on the GDSA blog in the past, highlighted some interesting lessons learned.

Liberia’s most valuable natural capital is concentrated in the northwest and southeast of the country.

LBR_blog_map1_20170321-768x768.jpg

Liberia’s most essential natural capital for forest carbon, freshwater ecosystem services and biodiversity is concentrated in two relatively intact forest regions in the northwest and southeast of the country. According to global estimates, Liberia has some of the highest above-ground stocks of forest carbon in the world — higher even than in Amazonia. These forests have so far been spared from development due to their remoteness. However, only 6 percent of Liberia’s closed-canopy forests are currently within designated protected areas.

Liberia’s timber industry employs a large workforce, provide as much as half of export revenues and contributes roughly 11 percent of Liberia’s GDP. Timber concessions overlap with the most intact and biodiversity-rich natural forests in Liberia, however, so it is important that development in this sector is sustainable.

Proposed protected areas, if enacted, would result in protection of 21 percent of Liberia’s densest forests, which is still below the government goal of 30 percent forest protection. The results of the analysis indicate that forested areas in Lofa and Nimba counties in northern Liberia, which have high carbon stocks as well as high vulnerability to future deforestation, might be good candidates for initiatives that compensate communities for keeping forest standing. Additional research on the ground is needed to validate the findings, however.

Many of Liberia’s most important natural areas are unprotected.

LBR_blog_map2_20170321 (1).jpg

The analysis found that designated protected areas capture around 7 percent of Liberia’s essential natural capital for biodiversity, carbon, fresh water and coastal protection. If proposed protected areas were established, they would bring the total to 26 percent. While this would represent tremendous progress, the vast majority — between 74 percent and 93 percent — of Liberia’s essential natural capital would still fall outside of formal protected areas, making it vulnerable to destruction.

Among other impacts, inadequate protection has led to people unsustainably hunting in forests, threatening the future of species even within protected areas. The analysis found that current protected areas only include around 9 percent of Liberia’s biodiversity priority areas. If proposed protected areas were established, 33 percent of biodiversity priority areas would be preserved; however, this would still collectively only protect 25 percent of Liberia’s chimpanzees and other large mammals. Small-scale clearing for subsistence agriculture, as well as large-scale timber concessions, also threaten to degrade these forest patches. In some areas, oil palm concessions also overlap with essential areas for biodiversity and fresh water.

Expansion of oil palm plantations may pose the biggest threat to Liberia’s remaining natural forests.

LBR_blog_map3_20170321 (1).jpg

The economic opportunity represented by palm oil is huge. It could bring jobs and income that would contribute to the national economy and transform communities. But developing palm oil sustainably is difficult — perhaps impossible — in a country with so much remaining intact forest. Any new development requires clearing standing forest, which is in conflict with the palm oil sector’s sustainability standards. However, the analyses of areas that have been cleared, indicate that areas around existing oil palm and rubber plantations have the highest vulnerability to future clearing.

For more information, please visit the Conservation International blog Human Nature or read the final technical report and the map atlas!

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.