Accounting for ecosystem services in the forest sector – Forico, Tasmania

Since 2016, Forico and IDEEA Group have worked together to apply the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) in the Forico Estate. Phase 1 of the work program explored the feasibility of applying the SEEA framework to the Forico estate, while Phase 2 put the concepts developed during Phase 1 into practice. It is understood that these efforts are the first to employ the UN SEEA principles to account for the environment and ecosystems at the business level.

Completed in September 2018, Phase 2 of the work program involved:

  1. accounting for the stock and condition of ecosystem assets held by Forico
  2. accounting for the flow of ecosystem services supplied by these ecosystem assets
  3. developing a method to integrate this information with financial information

A key outcome of the work was a set of environmental accounts that enable Forico to recognise the value of the ecosystem services that it delivers. Incorporating environmental-economic accounting into standard financial accounting approaches and business processes provides several benefits for Forico including:

  1. improved operational decision-making by using a more complete set of financial accounts;
  2. improved communication to stakeholders through the recognition of a wider range of environmental values; and
  3. improved strategic allocation of financial resources to maximise the flows of ecosystem services.

Additionally, the accounts could be used to report on requirements under the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) newly released FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard for Australia

Combining Forces – Natural Capital Coalition

Natural capital has both private and public dimensions that are reflected in different perceptions, management and decision-making approaches. These differences often lead to overuse and poor management of natural capital – often referred to as the tragedy of the commons – at both global and local scales.

A key feature of the differences between public and private approaches to natural capital concerns the language that is used to describe and discuss the relevant environmental stocks and flows. Central to improving the management of natural capital is having a common language to define, measure and report on it.

There is now an opportunity to combine forces natural capital thinking and assessment, leverage the strength of the support from the public and private sectors for two key approaches, the Natural Capital Protocol (NCP) and the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) and seek to understand the opportunities and synergies of these approaches both with each other and with the wide range of other approaches in this space.

This workshop is one part of a broader program of work to engage widely on the subject of natural capital. The primary objectives are to:

  • Broaden the understanding of the breadth of different approaches to natural capital
  • Establish the benefits that might be obtained from combining forces on natural capital
  • Identify the barriers to combining private and public sector approaches to natural capital thinking and assessment
  • Identify opportunities and activities that can be undertaken in the short to medium term to overcome those barriers and demonstrate the benefits of combining forces to both the public and private sector.

Workshop participants are encouraged to visit the Natural Capital Coalition’s Combining Forces page for additional background and resources, especially concerning the potential linkages between NCP and SEEA.

Linking Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) and the SEEA

Around the world there are tremendous challenges surrounding the use and management of water resources. The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) was established in 2008 to promote the stewardship of water resources, and in 2014 they released the first International Water Stewardship Standard. It is premised on the idea that improved management of water resources must be context driven, i.e. considering site (farm) and catchment level issues and solutions.

In the wake of the advancements in the development of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), AWS saw an opportunity to use an internationally comparable measurement approach as the basis for measurement and transparency in the implementation of the AWS Standard. To this end, AWS engaged IDEEA Group to describe the potential ways in which the SEEA could be applied in the six steps of the AWS Standard.

This introductory report outlines a variety of ways in which the SEEA could support implementation including; ensuring coherence of data across scales and enabling site; catchment and administrative level narratives can be aligned; and providing a common language for the communication and framing of management responses and outcomes. The report identifies seven key benefits from linking the AWS Standard and the SEEA and recommends undertaking case studies to demonstrate the potential opportunities for firms, catchment managers, industry and sector leaders.

Access the report here

 

 

Natural Capital Protocol – System of Environmental Economic Accounting Toolkit

This draft Toolkit which examines the links between the Natural Capital Protocol (NCP) and the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) is intended to form the basis for a discussion about the ways in which these two tools for natural capital accounting (NCA) might be combined to further support advances in this important area of work. The Toolkit focuses specifically on placing the accounting framework and approach of the SEEA within the broader natural capital assessment process articulated in the NCP.

The Toolkit was a discussion paper for a workshop titled “Combining forces on Natural Capital” held in London on 31 August, 2017. The workshop was supported by the Natural Capital Coalition, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and IDEEA Group.

Access the report here

 

 

May 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to our IDEEA Newsletter May 17. In this month’s edition you will find links to: Ecosystem Accounting technical recommendations Ecosystem Accounting 101 Corporate ecosystem accounting Measuring the Poverty-Environment Nexus – Ecosystem accounting in practice

Ecosystem Accounting 101

This week IDEEA Group attended the Oceania Ecosystem Services Forum hosted by ACES in Brisbane. We delivered a workshop on Ecosystem Accounting 101 that was strongly attended, and well received. A handout of key slides from that workshop is attached.

If you’re interested in hosting an IDEEA Group Ecosystem Accounting workshop, or in receiving more in-depth training, please contact us via our website.

How can tourism drive sustainable development in the MENA region?

With tourism’s contribution to Middle Eastern GDP expected to increase from $200 billion to over $350 billion by 2025, the sustainability of its impact on local economic development will be vital to the regions’ social and ecological future.
IDEEA Group will be there when Ministers of Tourism and industry leaders in the Middle Easter and North African region (MENA) attend the UNWTO & Arabian Travel Market Ministerial Forum to discuss how to capitalise on tourism growth while building a sustainable ecosystem.
IDEEA Group’s Carl Obst will attend the Forum as panelist to talk on the topic of Tourism’s contribution to sustainable and inclusive economic growth and diversification in the MENA region. Carl will highlight the important role that SEEA based planning and reporting frameworks have to play in defining and assessing sustainable development strategies and targets, speaking on behalf of UNTWO about their Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST) Initiative.
This event provides an opportunity for local experts interested in learning more about Environmental Economic Accounting, SEEA and MST to meet Carl and discuss your own challenges for measuring and reporting on the social and environmental outcomes of economic development.

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.