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WAVES Natural Capital Accounting Logo

This is an initiative of the World Bank that recognises the value of the planet’s natural resources. Natural Capital Accounting basically means incorporating a country’s natural wealth into its national accounts. In simple words, traditional economic indicators, like GDP, account for how much money a country is making without considering how its natural capital stocks have been affected or lost.

With this project, the World Bank wants to stress the important role played by natural capital assets on the socioeconomic development of nations. The project idea aims to encourage sustainability and avoid the depletion of these vital natural resources, like clean air and water, forests, minerals and other goods and services provided by the environment.

At the 2012 Rio+ 20, the latest United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, in Brazil, the World Bank started a discussion on a Natural Capital Accounting project implementation and its potential advantages to the planet and the next generations. By the end of the conference, 55 countries and 86 private companies committed to move forward to protect their natural wealth.

Despite the fact that this project appears to be beneficial to everyone, this idea does not seem to be unanimous. Those who speak out against it say that businesses would not profit as much as they do nowadays if environmental costs were fully integrated. However, what is the point of using up those natural assets now and not having them available later?

The most environment-impacting industries, such as the coal power generation and the cattle ranching and farming, cause substantial damage to nature and make use of exhaustible and generally non-renewable resources, which may become exhausted if not sustainably managed. As our well-being is directly affected by the ecosystems’, it suggests, therefore, it is time to take action.

The Great Barrier Reef case

This video, by the World Bank, explains how Australia is using Natural Capital Accounting to manage the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, particularly threatened by human activities and the consequences of climate change.

Let us know what you think about Natural Capital Accounting. Share it with us in the comment section below.

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