The potential of natural capital accounting for better water management
For translating the global ambitions of the SDGs into long-term visions with integrated policy agendas, countries must have an understanding of the interdependencies between the economy, the environment and society. Natural capital accounting (NCA) is a tool that potentially helps to obtain this understanding. Countries like the Netherlands have experience using water accounts, NCA is increasingly used in developing countries and emerging economies.
The session will start with an introduction to accounting and potential uses of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) water accounts and ecosystem accounting in policymaking. This will be followed by a presentation of two case studies by representatives from Rwanda and Brazil; both countries using water accounts. They will present their use of water accounts, including physical flow and possibly asset accounts, in conjunction with their economic accounts and the impact they have had for better water resources management and policy decision making.
A lively debate will follow with the presenters. Questions addressed will include how to produce NCA, how to stimulate their use as part of SDG strategies and how NCA supports ecosystem management.
- Sofia Ahlroth, Worldbank/WAVES
- Cor Graveland, Statistics Netherlands/United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)
- Christine Nkulikiyinka, Ambassador of Rwanda to the Nordic countries
- Sérgio Ayrimoraes, Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA), Brasil
Worldbank’s Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) and Netherlands Statistics demonstrated advantages of water accounts, which are part of the national economic account (GDP). The contribution of water to economic sectors provides governments a powerful tool for more efficient water use in times of growing water stress. Two countries illustrated this by presenting the application of water accounts.
Rwanda demonstrated its use in planning of water allocations and developing a water permit system. Water stress is increasing in certain areas of the country. As a result, water accounts support policy planning for better allocation to sectors of importance to GDP, improving water storage and strengthening water management.
Brazil needs to address water scarcity in its mega cities. Water accounts provide institutions with necessary data and policy makers get better insight in the monetary value of water. The accounts clarify the challenges for policymakers: big water users, inefficient urban wastewater treatment and complex large-scale water transfer between water catchment areas.
Going from accounts to policy development and changes in water allocation is complex. The debate focused on the practical application, focusing on using the same language, including ecosystem services into the accounting, apply the account at the right scale, involve stakeholders, and addressing quality of water. Water accounts not only illustrate water quantity, but a complementary set of accounts on water quality, climate change, ecosystem services exists.
• Use water accounts that demonstrate the monetary value of water to the economy to bring policy makers of different departments to the table. This facilitates an integral national policy on water management contributing to economic development.
• Look for flexibility in applying water accounts, by selecting a set of accounts based on the actual needs and prioritize at the right scale level.
• The Worldbank Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) and United Nations Statistical Division represented by Statistics Netherlands support a broad network of countries working on water accounts. Both offer training and capacity building to organisations, experts and policy makers in a large number of countries. Information is available on their websites: https://www.wavespartnership.org/ and https://unstats.un.org/home/
The application of natural capital accounting in Dutch energy and water policiesThis report examines in more detail how environmental accounts have played and still play a role in Dutch policy on water (focusing on the Dutch implementation of the European Water Framework Directive) and energy (focusing on the Dutch Energy Agreement). We assessed how the environmental accounts were used in the three policy phases of awareness raising, policy preparation and policy monitoring.
Natural capital accounting for the sustainable development goals Current and potential uses and steps forwardThis report, prepared for the 2nd Policy Forum on Natural Capital Accounting for Better Policy, held on 22 and 23 November 2017 in the Netherlands, provides a brief overview of current and potential uses of NCAs in national policy processes for the SDGs. Natural capital accounting in itself does not create mechanisms to achieve the SDGs.
ENVIRONMENTAL– ECONOMIC ACCOUNTING FOR WATER IN BRAZIL 2013–2015The results present strategic information that aim at supporting sectoral planning and management actions, economic and water resources actions, by diagnosing how the water is used by the Brazilian economic sector. This is done by organizing the information that shows evidence of the interactions between the economy and the environment, related to references in sustainable development and other public policies.
Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Serviceshttps://www.wavespartnership.org/en
WAVES is a World Bank-led global partnership that aims to promote sustainable development by ensuring that natural resources are mainstreamed in development planning and national economic accounts.
UN System of Environmental Economic Accountinghttps://seea.un.org/
The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) is a framework that integrates economic and environmental data to provide a more comprehensive and multipurpose view of the interrelationships between the economy and the environment and the stocks and changes in stocks of environmental assets, as they bring benefits to humanity. It contains the internationally agreed standard concepts, definitions, classifications, accounting rules and tables for producing internationally comparable statistics and accounts. The SEEA framework follows a similar accounting structure as the System of National Accounts (SNA). The framework uses concepts, definitions and classifications consistent with the SNA in order to facilitate the integration of environmental and economic statistics. The SEEA is a multi-purpose system that generates a wide range of statistics, accounts and indicators with many different potential analytical applications. It is a flexible system that can be adapted to countries & priorities and policy needs while at the same time providing a common framework, concepts, terms and definitions.
Statistics Netherlands (CBS)https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/society/nature-and-environment
The mission of CBS is to publish reliable and coherent statistical information which responds to the needs of Dutch society. The responsibility of CBS is twofold: firstly, to compile (official) national statistics and secondly to compile European (community) statistics.
PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agencyhttp://www.pbl.nl/en
PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency is the national institute for strategic policy analysis in the fields of the environment, nature and spatial planning.