Natural capital accounting
Support to EEA contributions to the EU MAES process, in particular the Natural Capital Accounting pilot - Development of a EU reference document on Natural Capital Accounting
Natural capital includes biotic resources such as fish and timber, as well as the regulation and protective capacities that ecosystems provide, such as climate regulation, water supply and flood protection. Despite the value of natural capital to society and the economy, and due to the growing degradation and scarcity of many aspects of natural capital, economic accounting does not address natural capital properly.
The depletion or degradation of natural capital through pollution, resource extraction and ecosystem degradation is not counted ‒ whilst the income from the resources is counted. As a result, a false picture of ‘wealth’ is produced. Natural capital accounting methods seek to address this shortcoming.
The development of natural capital accounts can, over time, offer further indication of the state of natural capital and its related changes ‒ including the drivers of degradation, which can help inform policies in reducing pressures, conserving and restoring biodiversity and in facilitating the integration of natural capital into other policies.
Several EU policy documents, notably the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and the 7th EU Environmental Action Programme (7EAP), set goals and call for EU and Member State actions on Natural Capital Accounting (NCA). NCA is furthermore one of the six areas of the European initiative on the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES).
In support of the EU goal to develop NCA, this project developed the EU reference document for natural capital accounting. The reference document provided a conceptual methodology for NCA, an overview of EU and Member State initiatives and the steps needed to develop a natural capital accounting system.