HOW CAN WE make
for people and planet?
The INCASE project - Irish Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments - applied the natural capital approach in Ireland at catchment level for the first time to see if we can enable more sustainable, data-driven decisions by applying the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting-Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA) to:
the benefits that nature provides to people
Our natural systems are continually being degraded. To bring nature into everyday policy and decision-making, the natural capital approach embeds the language of business and economics. This allows nature to be considered in a systematic way alongside other fundamental ‘stocks’, which we account for in our national accounts.
Forests, wetlands, farmland, grasslands, rivers - every ecosystem and geosystem, our 'natural capital' - can be considered as a stock which provides flows of services to society and the economy. These include flood regulation, carbon sequestration, food, and recreational amenities.
We need to account for these vital stocks and flows of services so that we can make decisions to sustain them into the future. For this, we need to know if they are in good condition, which are degraded, how their quality and extent have changed over time, the extent of their services' contribution to our economic activity, what monetary values might be attributed to those contributions and how those values should be considered in the context of the many ways people value nature.
Our research applied the UN-standard Natural Capital Accounting methodology, the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting-Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA) to four river catchments in Ireland for the first time in order to develop decision-support tools for policy-makers. The research also conducted economic impact assessments to analyse food production policies on natural capital.
Natural Capital Accounting can be used at any scale - national, catchment, forest or farm-level - to inform integrated economic and political decision-making, sectoral policies, responsible business strategies and support evidence-based investment, rural development, health and sustainability outcomes. Find similar projects HERE.