How GDSA is supporting African nations to integrate natural capital into development plans

By Ruud Jansen, Executive Secretary, GDSA.

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December, 2018 —Last year, the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) program stated that “African countries lead on natural capital accounting”. The recent flurry of activity on the continent appears to support this.

In 2017, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment passed a resolution on natural capital approaches as a tool for sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Secretariat signed an MoU with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to encourage further cooperation between the two organizations in pursuit of natural capital approaches on the continent.

Natural capital accounting is already gaining momentum in Africa, and the GDSA is supporting several new initiatives. Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho have indicated that they are committed to implementing natural capital approaches for instance, and WAVES is currently supporting Rwanda, Zambia and Uganda in the development of land, water and forest accounts.

The GDSA Secretariat is engaging with the Angolan Government in pursuit of an Okavango Basin natural capital mapping exercise, which would form the basis for more detailed accounts. We hope to apply this mapping to inform scenario planning for ecosystem management and restoration in the context of sustainable tourism opportunities.

The GDSA Secretariat, supported by Conservation International works to highlight the links between natural capital thinking and effective policy-making. We aim to ensure that the contributions of natural capital to sustainable economic growth and improvement of social capital and human well-being are quantified and integrated into development and business practice.

According to the Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) series of regional assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services, 62% of Africa’s rural population depend directly on the health of local ecosystems and their services for survival – the most of any continent. If Africa hopes to safeguard livelihoods, alleviate poverty and develop sustainably, it must include natural capital information in all of its major decisions, and the GDSA will continue to work to champion this message.

Read the full report on the Natural Capital Coalition’s website here.

To contact Ruud Jansen, email rjansen@conservation.org