African Nations Convene for Landmark Workshop to Set Priorities for Natural Capital Accounting Across the Region

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Member countries of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa convene alongside Conservation International and the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) program

Conservation International (CI) and the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) program will bring together government officials and technical experts from membership nations of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) June 21-23, 2016 in Kenya for a workshop on natural capital accounting. Members of the GDSA, an African-led effort to coordinate sustainable development, include Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania. CI was designated GDSA Secretariat by the Government of Botswana in December 2014. Together with affiliated countries Uganda and Madagascar, these nations are committed to incorporating the value of nature into public and private policies and practices, supporting sustainable production and improving data, knowledge and capacity related to sustainability.

The workshop begins with an address from Botswana High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency John Moreti. Participants will share technical understanding about natural capital accounting and kick off a 3-year journey of learning. The group will form a regional community of practice for natural capital accounting across the region.

“With gratitude to the World Bank and the WAVES partnership, we’re thrilled to bring more resources and expertise to the African nations of the Gaborone Declaration,” said Michael O'Brien-Onyeka, Senior Vice President, Africa & Madagascar Field Division, Conservation International. “Nature is a source of tremendous economic value, but this value is often invisible — so we are honored to have the opportunity to help these countries place nature at the foundation of their sustainable growth.”

Natural capital accounting, the subject of the upcoming workshop, helps make nature visible: It is the mechanism for measuring and valuing the fresh water, biodiversity, carbon storage and other services that nature provides to a nation. Natural capital accounting can help governments measure and evaluate what nature contributes to the economy and thereby factor the role of nature into economic development and planning.

Over the last five years, WAVES, the World Bank-led global partnership, has supported progress for Natural Capital Accounting in three GDSA countries — Botswana, Madagascar and Rwanda. WAVES has made great strides working with these governments to utilize accounts for natural resources to inform their national development plans and policies and to garner broad public support for natural capital accounting. In Botswana, one of the first countries that WAVES supported, natural capital accounting is included in the keynote paper for the forthcoming National Development Plan, and water accounts have been identified as a key tool for water sector reforms.

WAVES aims to promote sustainable development by ensuring that natural resources are mainstreamed into development planning and national economic accounts.

“Africa is growing at an incredible rate, and it holds great wealth in its resources,” said Stig Johansson, WAVES Program Manager. “But if these resources continue to be depleted at such an alarming rate, it will be hard to be able to sustain the continent’s growing population and development. WAVES works with countries to measure and value natural resources and hence promote more evidence-based decisions on use of natural resources, so vital to economic growth.’’

The natural capital accounting workshop held June 21-23 will bring together WAVES and CI experts to help participating nations design natural capital accounting projects on the ground. “This process will inform the support that the GDSA Secretariat and its partners provide to signatory countries as they move towards fully incorporating the value of nature in their decision making,” says Ruud Jansen Executive Secretary of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa. “For example, Conservation International, on behalf of the GDSA, is already working with the Government of Liberia to develop the country’s first pilot ecosystem accounts. At a regional level, the GDSA plans to promote a collaborative effort among and between countries.”

Results from the discussions and working sessions of the June workshop will be incorporated into a final report in the months following. It will share insights on natural capital accounting in Africa and the path forward for this work across the region. Delegates at the workshop will also write a final statement to participating governments to encourage the measurement and evaluation of the myriad services nature provides to each nation.

About Conservation International
Conservation International (CI) uses an innovative blend of science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water, and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about CI and the "Nature Is Speaking" campaign, and follow CI's work on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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Kevin Connor
Conservation International
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