Valuation and Accounting of Natural Capital for Green Economy in Africa
The international conference on "Valuation and Accounting of Natural Capital for Green Economy (VANTAGE)" in Africa took place in Nairobi from 3-4 December 2013. The conference brought together senior government officials from Africa , renowned economists, scientists and development experts to review and recommend policy action towards incorporating the valuation of natural resources and ecosystems services in development planning and accounting.
PEI Government focal points from Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique and Rwanda participated and contributed to the discussions at the conference. Participants emphasized the importance of valuation and natural capital accounting in assisting the efforts of governments in their transition to a green economy and for poverty reduction. As an example, Caroline Kayonga, Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Rwanda, presented the country’s experience of greening their poverty reduction strategy (EPDRS) which eventually led to the establishment of a fund for environment and climate change – FONERWA. PEI Rwanda was instrumental in supporting these two efforts.
Prior to the Rio+20 Conference, PEI Botswana—together with Conservation International—lobbied for the need to prioritize natural capital accounting and economic valuation of natural resources and ecosystems at the Summit for Sustainability in Africa. One of the outputs of the summit was the Gaborone Declaration, co-signed by 10 African states, highlighting natural capital accounting as an important vehicle for sustainable development. At the VANTAGE conference, the Gaborone declaration was highlighted as a road map for ensuring that the value of natural capital is quantified, monetized and integrated into development planning and business practice.
"Natural accounting and valuation is not a fringe activity, but a cornerstone of the wealth of nations upon which sustainable, equitable and prosperous societies will be built" said the UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
Challenges remain, however, in the implementation of environmental accounting in terms of organizing and collecting data, synchronizing the scales of ecosystems and administration, and with respect to institutional arrangements, including inter-agency coordination, and a lack of appropriate expertise and resources. Delegates recommended making explicit linkages between VANTAGE and poverty alleviation, noting that tackling poverty remains a priority for Africa. In view of these challenges further capacity building and concerted efforts by African countries to mainstream valuation and accounting of natural capital into decision-making processes are needed.
Following the workshop the PEI Government focal points from Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, and Rwanda met to share experiences on the opportunities and challenges of natural resource valuation in the context of poverty-environment mainstreaming and how to take it forward in the next phase of PEI Africa (2014-2017).
Read more about the workshop on the Ecosystems Services Economics Website.
Photo Caption: Mrs Keita Fatoumata Boukenem from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mali, at the VANTAGE Workshop.
Photo Credits: IISD