SESAM faculty, staff, and students during the 2-day NCA Conference
A contingent of faculty, staff and students from the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) actively participated in the first natural capital accounting (NCA) conference in the Philippines last 30-31 March 2017 in Marco Polo Hotel, Ortigas. With a theme “Accounting nature, capitalizing partnerships for the future,” the conference organized by the National Economic and Development (NEDA) in collaboration with the World Bank (WB) aimed to draw larger awareness on the importance of micro-macro-economic accounting in decision-making processes.
Countries’ economic performance has primarily been measured in terms of its gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP, however, only measures the value of finished product in a given time and it fails to take account broader forms of provided by the natural capital that have impact on long-term income and growth. Through the Global Partnership Program on Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES GPP), the NEDA and World Bank aims to operationalize sustainable development by integrating natural resources in development planning through national capital accounting as based on the United Nation’s System of Environmental-Economic Accounting of 2012 (UN-SEEA 2012), which measures the physical and monetary values of stocks and flows of natural assets and services. Natural capital accounts provide detailed statistics to determine the relationship of the environment and the economy and, hence, guide the formulation of management strategy that maximizes the contribution of natural resources to economic growth and to operationalize a sound decision-making process to achieve inclusive growth. World Bank-Philippines country director Mara Warwick elaborated during the conference that a country’s economic well-being should not be measured by economic output alone but also by the health and sustainability of its ecosystems.
The Philippines’ Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also emphasized that NEDA is now developing indicators under the NCA approach for the proper valuation of the country’s natural resources. The Philippines joined the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) in 2010. Outcomes of policy analyses and recommendations from WAVES, particularly related to Laguna Lake and Southern Palawan including mangroves and minerals, help the government in the formulation of appropriate strategies and programs. NEDA has been working with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to fully develop and make the NCA system operational.
Dr. Decibel Eslava, the Dean of SESAM, and Dr. Rico Ancog, assistant professor of SESAM who also served as a consultant in one of the components of Phil-WAVES, both served as session reactors. Several SESAM alumni and current graduate students gave oral and poster papers covering the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems using several economic valuation approaches in support to NCA. Indeed, with the past and on-going researches covering from resources and environmental assessments, impacts quantification of alternatives, to economic valuation, SESAM is in a very strategic position to provide analyses relevant to the natural capital accounting initiative of the country (J. Razo, M.C. Corales, E. Mandia).