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.