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Nature, landscapes and biodiversity

Natural Capital Accounting for Better Decision Making, Applications for Sustainable Development

Report | 17-05-2018

The 2nd Policy Forum on Natural Capital Accounting for Better Decision Making was held in November 2017, in The Hague, organised by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, in collaboration with the World Bank WAVES Partnership, the UN Statistics Division and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This publication presents the lessons learned, following the discussions and written contributions to the Policy Forum.

The policy forum brought together a large number of people and organisations who wished to understand and use natural capital accounting in government and business decision-making. The forum provided a platform for sharing lessons learned and for identifying ways to improve policy decisions through natural capital accounting (NCA).

This publication highlights the many uses of NCA, drawing from the experiences in many countries, including those supported by the programme of the World Bank WAVES Partnership and the UN Statistics Division, with well-established NCA programmes, as well as by those that have recently started work on NCA. In particular, this second policy forum discussed how NCA —as an integrated measurement framework— is able to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the Natural Capital Coalition and IFC presented the use of NCA by the business sector. This highlighted a variety of work as well as the many opportunities for using NCA.

From the growing body of experience, this publication extracts important lessons for future progress and key opportunities for applying natural capital accounting towards achieving the SDGs, both as a whole and individually (e.g. those related to water, climate change, terrestrial and sustainable consumption and production). We also tested the ‘10 living principles’ that emerged from the first policy forum, which was held in November 2016. From this, we concluded that:

  • the natural capital accounting community is growing, both in terms of the amount of emerging evidence and the number of people and organisations involved;
  • natural capital accounts can help achieve the SDGs as well as help assess trade-offs between individual SDGs;
  • the 10 living principles are useful and based on the experience, to date. We emphasise that continuous effort is required to apply these principles, particularly with respect to mainstreaming and collaboration;  
  • the policy forum events can continue to play an important role in the development and application of natural capital accounting via the sharing of experiences, highlighting examples of the connection to policy, providing guidance and focusing attention on areas in need of future research.
Publication date18-05-2018