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.
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).
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.
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.
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.