BrandArena: Science for Nature and People hosts 2-year Rwanda Govt natural capital accounting initiative

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Science for Nature and People hosts 2-year Rwanda Govt natural capital accounting initiative

Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York, the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) partnership has announced a new Expert Working Group which will support the government of Rwanda's development strategy and international initiatives in natural capital accounting.

The SNAP Natural Capital Accounting Expert Working Group will spend two years assessing Rwanda's development plans and modeling land use impacts in support of the country's Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategies, Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans, and Poverty and Environment Initiatives. The aim is to support policymaking that takes into account Rwanda's natural capital, which is estimated to account for approximately 40%[1] of the country's economic‎ wealth, among the highest in the world.

Dr. Emmanuel Nkurunziza, Director General, Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), said:  "Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, yet our mountains, forests and wetlands, the wildlife that teems on our beautiful land, can only be a source of growth if we also protect them. Rwanda aims to become one of the first countries in Africa to quantify the benefits ecosystems bring. That will help us to more effectively manage our long-term growth, and also to achieve Sustainable Development Goals."

The SNAP group brings together experts already active in the field, including from the Rwandan government, the World Bank WAVES (Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services - see project and a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) project providing the government with critical information on the value of natural capital, and cultivating networks and institutional arrangements. Conservation organization WCS is one of the founding partners of the Science for Nature and People partnership, alongside The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Craig Groves, Executive Director, Science for Nature and People partnership, said: "In all countries the long-term value of natural capital is often ignored, leading to habitat destruction, with profound consequences for people's health and quality of life, and frequently the economy. The Science for Nature and People partnership has brought these groups of experts together to help value Rwanda's greatest resource – its natural environment. This initiative will protect communities and the economy long-term from the ill-effects of environmental degradation."

Natural capital accounting links national economic accounts with natural capital, using the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in 2012 and now implemented in around 40 countries.  The SEEA provides more comprehensive metrics to support decision-making for sustainable development.

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