GDSA is working to promote National Capital Accounting across member states to enhance sustainable development in the continentRead More
Visit included fruitful meetings with Minister of Environment Dr. Paula Francisco and other key officials about GDSA's proposals for conservation and sustainable development of the critical Okavango basinRead More
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Dr. Kim Reuter, Natural Capital Accounting Director, Africa Field Division, Conservation International
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.