Brisbane Meeting (March 2017)

On 27 March 2017, 28 representatives from national statistical offices, governmental and inter-governmental agencies, universities, specialised consultancy agencies and civil society organisations met in Brisbane to discuss the creation of a network around the production and use of natural capital accounts for policy impact in the Pacific.

The workshop was organised by GDN in association with development partners such as Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services Global Partnership (WAVES) and with input from United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) –  Pacific Office. The workshop was part of the first part of the Oceania Ecosystem Services Forum. This page brings in one place all the material and the key outcomes of the Brisbane meeting.

Click on the items on the agenda to download the presentations from the Brisbane meeting, or scroll to the bottom of the page to find out the outcomes of the meeting.


Session 1 | Why a Network on NCA? (Pierre Bertrand and Francesco Obino, GDN) download here

Session 2 | Overview of current accounting efforts and tools (Carl Obst, IDEEA Group) download here

Session 3 | Linking the production and the use of accounts – Experiences from the region

  • Accounting for Energy, Waste and Tourism in Fiji (Bimlesh Krishna, Fiji Bureau of Statistics) download here
  • Accounting for the Southern Palawan and Lake Laguna, Philippines (John Pontillas, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development) download here
  • Water accounting in Samoa (Mose Topeto, Samoa Bureau of Statistics) download here

 Session 4 | Linking the production and the use of accounts – Experiences from Australia

  • State of Environment Reporting in the Australian Capital Territory(Becky Smith, Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment) download here
  • Accounting for the Central Highlands of Victoria (Heather Keith, Australian National University) download here
  • Accounting for Port Philip Bay, Victoria (Mark Eigenraam, IDEEA Group) download here

Session 5 | Actors and factors needed for linking account production to use in policy at the national level (see PPT for session 1)

Session 6 | Reporting on Session 5 (see PPT for session 1 and summary of outcomes, below)

Session 7 | Experiences of partnerships and collaborations: WAVES and UNESCAP 

  • WAVES Achievements, lessons and way forward (Michael Vardon, Australian National University)
  • Regional Update on SEEA Implementation Experience in the Pacific (Sanjesh Naidu, UNESCAP-Pacific Office) download here

Session 8 | Designing a research and practice network (see summary of outcomes below)

Session 9 I Wrap-up and next steps (see summary of outcomes below)

PANCAnet, this platform, is an initiative by GDN in association with its partners to follow-up to the Brisbane meeting and offer a virtual space of collaboration where the network can start to operate.

A SUMMARY OF OUTCOMES FROM THE MEETING: opportunities and challenges for linking NCA production and use in the Pacific.

The meeting was a precious opportunity to map the demand for work on NCA (production and use) in the region, and the format of the meeting was designed to allow individual and institutions to put forward their expectations, vision, interests and needs.  Some of the key observations that emerged from the day are presented below. Overall, the meeting indicated that there is a very large scope to develop both the production and the use of NCA in the region, and an important opportunity to link the two early on, leveraging the experimental accounts that being developed on water, energy and waste in 5 countries in the region, and which will be ready in summer 2017 (See presentations from Michael Vardon and Sanjesh Naidu, Session 7, for details). Further:

  • A wide range of actors expressed substantive interest in using NCA to inform policy choices and debates around them. This interests at times went even beyond environmental-economic issues, bringing questions such as the value of traditional/indigenous knowledge, the social value of ecosystems or even culture into an attempt to complement traditional measurement of economic development and progress. It emerged clearly that linking the production and use of NCA implies involving into early efforts a range of actors much larger than policy makers and statisticians: it should include academics, civil society organisations, private actors and regional-level intergovernmental coordination bodies. The opportunity that NCA offers is to support and leverage the current work of these actors, without the need to reinvent a new field.
  • The scale at which NCA should be experimented with, both in terms of production of accounts and their use, is not given: methodologies such as SEEA can be applied to a single household or a city, as much as to a whole region, and there is clear interest for different and flexible levels of application. The demonstration of NCA’s potential to support policy discussion will need to showcase and leverage in parallel NCA work at the local, national and regional level, so that it can attract diverse coalitions of actors and play a catalytic in debates around economic-environmental questions.
  • The specific purpose of using NCA also remains flexible: NCA can inform dabates on regulation, conservation or exploitation of natural resources, and the demonstration of their utility should range across these different goals to attract critical attention.
  • Issues  of governance regarding access to data for producing natural capital accounts remains a major hurdle, and political buy-in at the highest level in the region will be necessary, even if not sufficient, to expand experimental work currently underway, in particularly by sending a message to national agencies in different sector about the value of putting the accounts to effective use. At the experimentation and demonstration phase, data could come from both local sources (e.g. national water authorities) and international sources (ex. satellite image databases of the US Geological Survey), but the use of local data (even if fragmentary or incomplete) would be instrumental to legitimise and create buy-in for the accounts generated by national statistical offices, with potential gains in terms of salience and usability by local policy players.
  • The objective to build local capacity on NCA (regarding production in particular) requires longer timelines than the short-term need to demonstrate how NCA can be used. Parallel and coordinated efforts between international experts and national or local institutions should allow synergies for both, kick-starting the systematic production of accounts in and beyond the five countries in which experimental accounts are being prepared, while mobilising a wide range of actors around their use.
  • Accounts remain largely unknown in the research community at the moment, and much can be done to bring researchers to discover the value of NCA to achieve the research objectives of academic research agendas while boosting their links to policy questions. This work will need to rely on the identification of ‘champions’ to spearhead the inclusion of accounts in the research toolkit of specific research departments, and demonstrate their value.

The debate we started in Brisbane is going on on PANCAnet. If you want to know what priorities areas were identified by the Brisbane meeting to kick-start work on NCA use, visit the Discussion page of PANCAnet, where we are working to turn ideas into funding proposals and projects.