Partly as a result of the invisibility of natural capital, ecosystems worldwide are deteriorating. Therefore, it is increasingly important that government, corporations and individuals around the world start valuing natural capital and its importance in the well-being of the entire society.
One way of increasing the visibility issue is by accounting for the use of natural capital. This concept has been around for over 30 years, however, it is until recently that some implementation and frameworks have been developed.
The UN Statistical Commission of the System for Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA) has developed an internationally agreed method to account for material natural resources. The adoption of the “Central Framework” of the SEEA has eliminated a major barrier to the adoption of natural capital accounting. The challenge now is to build capacity in countries to implement the SEEA and to demonstrate its benefits to policy makers.
Some countries, like Australia, Botswana, and Spain, are implementing the SEEA by developing a road map to guide them through this process. They first begin by establishing institutional structures with clear lines of responsibility and commitments across government departments. Then they are prioritizing which sub-accounts to begin with, based on important development challenges facing them.
A World Bank-facilitated partnership—Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) —is helping implement natural capital accounting based on the SEEA. Through the partnership, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Madagascar, and the Philippines have embarked on work plans that have been endorsed at the highest level of their governments