During the 7th to the 8th June the first GLOBE Natural Capital Summit took place at the German Bundestag. This event sees legislators from 25 different countries in one place to discuss laws, budgets and policy proposals. Amongst others experts from the Global Environment Facility were there to give a presentation on the importance of legislation in protecting the environment.
One significant moment was when Dr Pavan Sukdeth (author of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) launched the GLOBE Natural Capital Legislation Study. This study looks at how much eight countries valued their natural resources and how they managed to consider environmental issues as part of their economic policies, assessing whether or not they were properly incorporating this approach into their legislation and accounting.
Dr Sukdeth’s work looks into the effects of natural capital- this refers both to environments (for example a river or forest can theoretically be infinitely sustainable) and the factors that can affect it (both in positive ways such as recycling and using sustainable fuel sources that don’t damage the environment or in negative ways such as soil erosion.)
In basic terms the researcher uses economic terminology and approaches in order to perceive the effects of the environment with the metaphor essentially suggesting that like human economics nature is always changing and can be affected by certain variables. This is in contrast to the traditional idea that nature is fixed.
The conclusion of this study was that although the eight countries were taking more steps to incorporate “natural capital” into their policies they were still a way off fully incorporating wealth accounting, development of national ecosystem assessments, valuation of ecosystem services and crucially reform of both legislation and institutions.
The hope is that the positive influence of Dr Sukdeth’s work and the GLOBE Natural Capital Initiative will ensure that this will be considered more when governments discuss legislation and accounting policies. While everyone can agree on the importance of maintaining the environment it is worth remembering that natural resources can also be important in terms of national and global economic interests as well.