A quick reference guide to natural capital accounting (NCA)

This page lists some key resources to know more about natural capital accounting and economic-environmental accounting, and why we believe it can be a powerful tool – for researchers, policy actors and governments – to address the shared challenge of making decisions that actually contribute to sustainable development. The literature on the topic – both academic and grey – is significant. below are some suggestions on where to start.

  • If you want to know more about NCA in relation to more traditional statistical measures of development, read this article by Carl Obst:

Obst, Carl Gordon. “Reflections on Natural Capital Accounting at the National Level: Advances in the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting.” Edited by Dr Andrea B Coulson ,Professor Carol A. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal 6, no. 3 (September 7, 2015): 315–39. doi:10.1108/SAMPJ-04-2014-0020.

  • To know more about how natural capital accounting can reshape the way governments take decisions, read this article by Michael Vardon, Peter Burnett and Stephen Dovers:

Vardon, Michael, Peter Burnett, and Stephen Dovers. “The Accounting Push and the Policy Pull: Balancing Environment and Economic Decisions.”Ecological Economics 124 (2016): 145–152.

For a snapshot of where NCA is headed in the Pacific region, browse the material from the workshop organised by GDN in Brisbane in collaboration with the WAVES program and with inputs from from UN-ESCAP in late March 2017.

  • To see how a national government develops and implements environmental accounts, browse through this report by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency:

Frans Oosterhuis, Stefan van der Esch and Nico Hoogervorst, From Statistics To Policy The development and application of environmental statistics and environmental accounts in the Netherlands, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2016

Examples from other countries, or sector-specific examples of how to use accounts for policy making – from water to energy to waste – are easily accessible on the WAVES programme’s Knowledge Centre.

  • Are you looking for a definition of ‘natural capital’, or wondering whether accounting for the environment makes privatizing it easier? Check out the FAQ on NCA on the website of the WAVES programme
  • Are you looking for a guide to start ecosystem accounts with GIS data. Look at the Quick Start Package proposed by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Are you looking for training material on NCA and economic-environmental accounting, and how it can be applied to the Pacific region? Check out the presentations from a recent training offered by UN-ESCAP:

UN-ESCAP Training Programme on the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) for Asia Pacific Small Island Developing States 4-16 September 2016, Nadi, Fiji

Not enough? Want more? Have different questions? Looking for something specific? We are happy to help. Write Pierre, Francesco or Gilles at pancanet@gdn.int, and we will re-direct you the right expert or resource, and if relevant we will post your question and answer on PANCAnet’s own FAQ (coming soon)!

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