Sofia Ahlroth, Senior Environmental Economist, World Bank


All over the world, countries are recognizing the need to include the value of natural capital in their policy decisions. In the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Global Partnership, we support developing countries in constructing national Natural Capital Accounts (NCA) and using them to inform natural resource management decisions. Demand from countries is increasing, and many key decision-makers are now working with natural capital accounts as a tool for supporting their policy priorities and decision making.

The countries who first joined WAVES Botswana, Costa Rica, Colombia, and the Philippines – now have dedicated units within their governments whose role is to advance the work catalyzed by WAVES. Many are expanding the range of accounts, disclosing them, and applying the results to inform national development plans or other policy priorities like the SDGs. The Philippines for example are expanding the use of ecosystem accounts to inform land use management in rapidly developing areas, and for coastal protection in hurricane-plagued islands. Botswana has now published its fourth edition of water accounts, which are being used to inform development plans and the allocation of water quotas to economic sectors.

Increasing experience in countries with developing natural capital accounts also provide best practice for other countries. The annual Policy Forum on NCA for Better Decisions has been a successful platform for sharing experiences and building knowledge around natural capital accounting applications. Bilateral support such as that between Botswana, Rwanda and Zambia is also vital, allowing Zambia for example to fast-track the development of their own accounts.

Our experience shows that natural capital accounting is an effective entry point for elevating environmental issues to the highest levels of Government and being recognized in national development planning process. Even if issues are already well-known, concrete, quantified data gets more traction. By translating natural resource issues into the language of economic development, spoken by Ministers of Finance and Planning, natural capital accounting has contributed to the recognition of environment and natural resources issues at the highest level of government in many WAVES countries.

Read the full report here.