From COVID-19 to Green Recovery with natural capital accounting

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted economies, societies and livelihoods around the globe. To boost their economy and restore employment and economic activity, countries have announced huge spending packages. However, depending on the measures taken and their implementation, this spending can also have negative environmental impacts, including on climate and biodiversity. This article demonstrates how Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) can help design, implement and monitor a so-called Green Recovery to make sure recovery efforts not only boost the economy, but are also green, inclusive, and resilient.

The article builds on a background report and insights gained from the 5th Policy Forum on Natural Capital Accounting for Better Decision Making hosted by the World Bank, United Nations Statistics Division and PBL Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency in September 2021. The forum brought together more than 300 experts from a wide range of disciplines working on Green Recovery and NCA, including this article’s authors. Opportunities were identified for Green Recovery and for using NCA to collaborate and help shape policies.

Natural Capital Accounting

Policy decisions are often made with insufficient information or consideration of environmental pressures and dependencies on natural capital. New international standards for natural capital accounting (NCA) are now available to integrate environmental information into government decision-making. NCA provides coherent environmental and economic data that can be used in policy analysis, models and tools. By revealing the effects of policies that influence natural capital, NCA supports identification, implementation and monitoring of green recovery pathways, including where environment and economy are most positively interlinked.

Information and communication

The article provides illustrations of how NCA can support policy and management in the various parts of the policy cycle for biodiversity conservation, climate action, SDG achievement, and finance and macroeconomics. To improve the use of NCA, new data sources and online platforms can help to create accounts, especially in countries where basic data are lacking. Furthermore, the growing capacity to produce and use NCA could be mobilised better. Finally, better communication is needed on Green Recovery and NCA, about what they are and how they can benefit decision-making in general.


PBL Authors
Paul Lucas
Other authors
Michael Vardon
Steve Bass
Matthew Agarwala
Andrea M. Bassi
Diane Coyle
Anthony Dvarskas
Catherine A. Farrell
Oliver Greenfield
Steven King
Martin Lok
Carl Obst
Brian O’Callaghan
Rosimeiry Portela
Juha Siikamaki


Publication title
From COVID-19 to Green Recovery with natural capital accounting
Publication date
27 July 2022
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