Reflections on Natural Capital Week 2018

With another year coming to an end, leading organisations across the private and public sectors interested in Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) convened in Paris to share and collaborate in preparation for 2019.

IDEEA Group Directors Mark Eigenraam and Carl Obst were in attendance. Carl Obst co-hosted the Combining Forces workshop with Mark Gough, Natural Capital Coalition (NCC) Executive Director, at the Natural Capital Policy Forum. The workshop familiarised attendees with the motivation of Combining Forces and presented 5 priority areas for advancing work on Combining Forces (for an overview, see this report).

Mark Eigenraam supported Forico’s Simon Cook during a presentation at the NCC Collaboration Day. Simon, who worked closely with IDEEA Group to apply the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting principles to the management of the Forico estate, discussed the motivations for, and the benefits of, employing environmental-economic accounting. An overview of the Forico work program is provided here.

Overall, there were many insights into the different natural capital projects being undertaken across the globe. It became evident that the appetite of business and government to implement environmental-economic accounting to underpin the implementation of the NCC Protocol is growing. Please contact us if you want to see how environmental-economic accounting can help your organisation to deliver a set of NCA’s.

Supporting the business case – why members of the Alliance for Water Stewardship should adopt the SEEA as a measurement and evaluation tool

A strong, robust evidence base that is easily shared and communicated between stakeholders is critical to support the objectives of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). Communicating the impacts of AWS certification to public sector agencies, green investors and philanthropists has the potential to generate benefits to implementers that will enhance the business case for water stewardship.

During 2018 IDEEA Group built on past work with the AWS to demonstrate the practical application of the System of Environmental Economic Accounts in two of China’s industrial parks. The project report finds that there is great potential for the adoption of environmental-economic accounting but also underlines the importance of working with local experts who have access to data and local knowledge. IDEEA Group Director, Carl Obst, presented this work at the October AWS Global Conference in Edinburgh.

IDEEA Group will continue to work with the AWS in 2019 and beyond. By building a common language that is easily understood by all AWS stakeholders, we hope to provide a basis for collaboration and maximise the benefits of AWS water stewardship. Stay tuned!

How can we reduce poverty while protecting the environment?

It’s long been understood that extreme poverty and environmental degradation are interrelated problems. SEEA now provides a framework for international agencies, INGOs and governments in developing countries to better understand and address this poverty-environment nexus.

Spatially integrating social, economic and environmental data enables better coordinated and geographically targeted policies and initiatives to reduce poverty and restore ecosystem health.

IDEEA Groups’ Mark Eigenraam talks about this opportunity following his presentation on the  Poverty and Environment Accounting Framework (PEAF) at UNESCAP’s Sub-Regional Workshop on Environmental Statistics for ASEAN Countries .

Aligning Poverty and Environment efforts – UNE and UNDP

The Need

Across the developing world, reducing levels of poverty and protecting natural environments are closely connected challenges, reflected in the concept of the Poverty-Environment Nexus (PEN). However, institutional efforts to address these challenges remain largely unconnected. For example, poverty initiatives may respond to the loss of local water quality by arranging for transportation of potable water. But in the long run, the only sustainable way to raise the living standards of people in affected communities is to address the environmental factors underlying the decline in water quality.

The United Nations Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) (http://www.unpei.org) seeks to address the need for better integration of work on environmental protection and poverty reduction across international agencies, INGOs and governments. PEI research has determined fundamental principles to guide more effective and more integrated policy and investment decision making. The challenge now, is to create shared frameworks for data collection, analysis and reporting that will guide and enable application of these principles across the range of institutional initiatives.

The Project

The PEI engaged IDEEA Group to integrate PEN insights into a SEEA aligned data collection, analysis and reporting framework. Through publication of the Poverty-Environment Accounting Framework (PEAF) Working Paper IDEEA Group is helping to engage stakeholders from all areas involves in poverty and environment to bring them into alignment for data collection, investment analysis and reporting at the local level.

The key building block of the PEAF is application of the SEEA’s small-scale spatial units as the integration point for data relating to different aspects of the PEN. This approach enables spatial location of key areas of environmental risk and opportunities for improvement, linking them directly to patterns of land and water use that affect the capacity of ecosystems in each location to sustainably deliver services to poor and vulnerable populations.

The Outcomes

By linking local changes in the condition and extent of environmental assets to local changes in poverty, PEAF provides a new way forward to meet the complex challenges arising from pursuit the of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

PEAF creates an opportunity to improve current approaches to poverty measurement by linking poverty indicators to underlying environmental factors. The newly derived indicators can be used to better target regional and sub-national development policies, programmes and projects.

PEAF will also serve as a decision-support tool to assess the performance of public policies and private investments. Macro-level policy makers can use PEAF as a globally standardized way to anticipate and assess micro-level impacts on people and the environment and hence make smarter investments in reducing poverty and improving the environment.