Botswana - Natural Capital as a Diversification Tool
Botswana is rich in natural resources. A combination of minerals, energy, protected areas, and crop, pastureland and non-timber forest products make the country’s natural capital worth a third of its total wealth.
This natural capital already plays a huge role in supporting Botswana’s economy—providing food, fuel, shelter and a livelihood to thousands of people while underpinning key activities, such as diamond mining, which has dominated Botswana’s economy for more than 30 years.
But if this natural wealth is important now, it looks set to be even more critical in the future. The country’s government has identified several areas for growth — including nature-based tourism, mining and agriculture — which it hopes will simultaneously help diversify the economy and reduce poverty. To meet all three development goals, the government will need to optimize use of natural resources.
But the economic information needed to do that is often incomplete or missing. Moving beyond GDP—which does not explicitly incorporate the value of natural resources—as an indicator of economic growth is a priority. So too is finding ways to account for the broad mix of natural capital and better answer questions such as what role does Botswana’s huge coal reserves have to play, or how can local communities benefit from tourism?
Making WAVES in Botswana
The WAVES project in Botswana will help the country fill key information gaps to support policy dialogue and improve economic decision-making. The Botswana Economic Advisory Council (BEAC), a ministerial-level group from the government and private sector, chaired by Botswana’s President Ian Khama, has expressed strong support for the WAVES work program.
Four priority areas for natural capital accounting were identified, with water accounts being the top priority:
- Water Accounts: Water accounts help the government better assess the availability, uses, and economic contribution of this scarce resource.
- Land and Ecosystem Accounts, with a particular focus on tourism: Protected areas account for 40 percent of Botswana’s land area. Accounts can help influence the benefits of tourism reaching local communities and can balance land usage. National and ecosystem-based tourism accounts can be used to inform management of eco-tourism in four key ecosystems: Okavango, Chobe, Makgadikgadi Pans, and Central Kalahari.
- Mineral and Energy Accounts: In addition to diamonds, Botswana possesses other mineral deposits, particularly coal, that could be developed for export or to alleviate regional energy shortages. Energy accounts can help determine the optimal energy mix for the future and examine the role of Botswana’s coal in a green economy.
- Macroeconomic Indicators of Sustainable Development: Using the methodology approved in 2012 by the U.N. Statistics Division, Botswana will develop indicators for natural capital and changes to natural capital (depletion/additions), including adjusted net national income, adjusted savings, and national wealth accounts with natural capital to assess the prospects for long-term, sustainable growth.
Botswana has a long history of economic planning for development and since 1966 has prepared 10 National Development Plans. Their long-term Vision 2016 strategy also highlights the need for new sources of economic growth while ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. The WAVES project is expected to strengthen the planning process by ensuring a true consideration of natural resources and ecosystems; and so enable better decisions.
The story so far
An update on the progress of WAVES-Botswana implementation was submitted to the Botswana Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) following the April 2014 WAVES-Botswana steering committee meeting. Also, NCA was incorporated in the Review of the Botswana Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2025.
An update on Botswana’s accounts:
- Water use efficiency — make sure population and economic growth are not tightly linked to growth in water abstraction: The policy emphasis on water supply now needs to be complemented by demand management and integrated water resource management; there is an urgent need for wastewater strategies to improve reuse and recycling within sectors; rethink possibly unsustainable levels of water subsidy.
- Water allocation — provide water to sectors and users that add most value, for example: Economic development to support economic growth and diversification; Social protection to secure basic water needs and keep water bills affordable; Environmental protection to secure ecological water requirements.
Land and Ecosystem and Tourism Accounts: A technical Working Group on Ecosystem Accounts has been established, led by the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. A Working Group on Tourism has already been established by the Government of Botswana and will work closely with the ecosystem group. A presentation on WAVES and the land and ecosystem accounts was given at a senior management meeting at the Ministry of Lands and Housing. A scoping mission took place in July 2014 to begin the complex process of drafting the roadmap to construct ecosystem accounts. The mission also included a one-day workshop on land and ecosystem accounting. A draft of the scoping study was submitted in August 2014.
Mineral and Energy Accounts: Preliminary mineral accounts were compiled over the past year with an emphasis on the link to macroeconomic and fiscal policy. The government is currently reviewing the first report. The first step to develop energy accounts was a scoping study carried out in April 2014 in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Further action was discussed at the WAVES-Botswana Steering Committee meeting in September 2014.
- Press Release: President Khama Highlights Value of Natural Capital, December 10, 2014
- The Elephants Looked on as Ministers Discussed Nature’s Role in the Economy
- Gaborone Shines a Spotlight on NCA Once Again
- Botswana makes the Critical Link between Natural Capital Accounts and Economic Growth
- Botswana Moves Ahead on Water Accounts
- Southern African Countries Share Experiences on Water Accounts
- Water Accounts: A New Information System for Policy Makers