Gaborone Shines a Spotlight on NCA Once Again

Gaborone Workshop

 

This month, several countries in Africa took a step forward in the way they understand, manage and value natural capital. They agreed to formalize the path forward in making the Gaborone Declaration work on the ground in each of the 10 signatory countries. 

Last year, led by the Government of Botswana, the Summit for Sustainability in Africa was attended by heads of state, representatives of private companies, multilateral development banks (MDBs), and members of civil society. It ended with a concrete set of proposals related to recognizing the role of natural capital in development and was called the “Gaborone Declaration”. This leadership from Africa set the tone for the Rio+ Summit that acknowledged that countries need new tools to manage natural capital effectively to make development more sustainable. 
 
This year the countries decided to reconvene, take stock and operationalize how to bring natural capital from the periphery to the center of all economic decision-making.
 
Opening the meeting, Hon. Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Botswana said: “The connection between socio-economic development and natural capital is apparent for Africa.”
 

Tshekedi Khama“We can no longer agree to the use of GDP as a measure of social performance alone in the face of environmental degradation…national budgeting systems have to change to reflect either the environmental damage or its deterioration.”

Hon. Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Botswana

Pointing to the need for Africa to catch up with this thinking and improve environmental accountability, Khama added: “We can no longer agree to the use of GDP as a measure of social performance alone in the face of environmental degradation…national budgeting systems have to change to reflect either the environmental damage or its deterioration.”

 
Eight of the 10 countries that signed the Declaration were represented: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, Tanzania, Gabon, Mozambique, Rwanda and Liberia.  All the countries spoke strongly on the need to value their natural capital better but asked for more support on how to implement Natural Capital Accounting (NCA). In a signed communiqué, the countries agreed to set up an interim secretariat in Botswana that would provide technical and financial support to countries willing to undertake NCA in the Africa region. 
 
For two days, the participants from governments, civil society and the private sector shared experiences on valuing and managing natural capital. 
 
“This time we realize that sustainability is at the core of our business and we have several examples of the private sector leadership in this area. In South Africa, this is being discussed in board rooms of major corporations,’’ said Gwarega Manghoze, CEO, Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, the largest industry association in South Africa.
 
Several initiatives have been launched or taken off all over the continent after the momentum provided by the Gaborone Declaration. Some of the cases that were presented included:
  • WAVES work in Madagascar and Botswana: Both countries have begun implementing NCA as core implementing countries in the WAVES global partnership. Madagascar is constructing accounts on mining, water resources, protected areas/forests, coastal ecosystems and macroeconomic indicators. Botswana has finished preliminary work on water accounts and the results were presented at the meeting.  
  • Partnership on mining in Liberia: The government of Liberia, Conservation International and ArcelorMittal Liberia are collaborating with local stakeholders in Northern Nimba country to develop a coordinated landscape plan that will include conservation, agriculture, mining and development.
  • Corporate action by Consumer Goods Council in South Africa (CGSA): This is an initiative born from the Gaborone Summit in 2012 where the chairman of the body participated at the Summit. CGSA is adopting models for private sector leadership for environment sustainability and climate change resilience through the largest industry membership body in South Africa.

The communiqué urged all stakeholders that are deliberating on the post-2015 development agenda to consider the inclusion of the value of natural capital in the agenda and the formation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The secretariat will also solicit more partners and countries in Africa to sign the declaration and create a movement on natural capital being at the heart of all development decisions.