Our INCASE project colleague Mark Eigenraam, IDEEA Group, worked with NRM Regions Australia to produce some information sheets to help guide people through the ‘blizzard of acronyms’ in the natural capital space.
The result is published as ‘Decluttering the natural capital space’.
NRM/IDEEA Group write: "Different natural capital frameworks and standards have emerged because different groups of people are interested in answering related but different questions. For some, the focus is on describing consistently the changes in natural capital, for others the focus is assessing risks and opportunities, for some the main question is the size of the impact that business activity has on nature, and others would like to present standard external measures of performance, for example, the indicators in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or the metrics of the Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)."
The information sheet identifies four distinct areas in the natural capital space, each playing a different role:
frameworks and standards to establish what should be measured
methods present how the data should be collected and transformed to derive accounting outputs, such as a set of environmental accounts
tools and data platforms that allow data to be collated from multiple sources and for methods to be applied
initiatives and applications that provide the motivation for measurement and link to decision-making.
Many of the tools listed are specific to the Australian natural capital space, but others are applicable globally or can act as a model for development of similar in other countries.
For example, the leading framework is the international statistical standard for natural capital accounting – the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), which has been adopted by all countries and can be applied from local to global scales.
IDEEA has also developed a Data4Nature (AU) which is a web platform to collect and organise natural capital data and provide tailored outputs.
"While the summary of frameworks and standards...may appear quite daunting, it is not a requirement to understand all of them – that is the role of technical experts in natural capital accounting. Rather, the task is to understand which natural capital question you are seeking to answer and then use the appropriate combination of frameworks and standards.
At the current stage of development of natural capital, identifying the relevant question will often involve discussions with a range of experts until more experience is gained."
You can download the information sheet here.
Visit Natural Capital Ireland for more information on the further development of natural capital accounting in Ireland.