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Natural Capital Accounting: Six Tips for Engaging Policymakers

August 01, 2016 |


Rosalind Goodrich (, research communications manager, IIED Communications Group gives her advice on the best way to engage policymakers around natural capital. 

“We’ve just finished working with the World Bank on the first phase of the Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) initiative, supporting eight countries to produce natural capital accounts. IIED’s role was to work with country teams, including communication specialists, to engage with policymakers around the added value of this approach.

First challenge: what is natural capital accounting (NCA)? And once you’ve found out, how do you explain the value of such a complex method simply and clearly, without being too technical? 

Try this: natural capital accounting is a UN-standardised approach that measures the amount of a natural resource (the stock) – water, for example – in a country, then accounts for the flows of that resource through the economy, tots up the income the resource contributes to GDP, but also reveals the long-term cost to the country of reducing stock levels as a result of using it.

The approach can also be applied to calculate the value of the services provided by an ecosystem, such as a forest or river basin, and the reciprocal costs to that ecosystem, although this part of NCA is still experimental.

NCA was unknown to all five in-country communication consultants working with IIED in Rwanda, Botswana, Indonesia, Guatemala, Colombia and Costa Rica, so the learning curve was steep. 

At the June 2016 WAVES annual partnership meeting we looked at what we had learnt and what we would want to pass on to communication specialists starting from scratch in a new WAVES country…”

Read on at: IIED

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