The Philippines is among the few countries that implemented environmental and natural resources accounting during the 1990s and early 2000s, but it has only been implemented minimally over the last 10 years due to budgetary constraints, among other issues. The new political leadership emphasizes governance reforms including transparent and science-based decision-making while pursuing inclusive and sustainable growth that addresses conservation, protection, and rehabilitation of the environment and natural resources. Recently, increasing scarcity of natural resources and recognition of the archipelago’s vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change have led to increased interest in addressing poverty, environmental degradation, and the development of new sources of growth.
The Philippines government decided to institutionalize the recently endorsed international standard, SEEA 2012 in the medium and long term. WAVES Phase 1 efforts initially focused on fisheries, and coastal and marine ecosystems. With increasing scarcity of terrestrial resources and strong interactions between land-based and sea-based economic activities pointed to the need for developing land and ecosystem accounts and SEEA 2012 provides guidance on it. Approaches such as resource accounting, valuations, payments for ecosystem services, and sustainable conservation financing are mentioned in the recently completed Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 (PDP).
The WAVES initiative for the Philippines is well-timed, providing the opportunity for an enhanced green accounting approach that includes:
- Developing a macro-level indicator of long term sustainability of economic growth, the adjusted net savings (ANS) inclusive of valuating natural capital
- Generating detailed information on environment and natural resources at the levels of economic sectors and key social groups that would inform economic, environmental and natural resources management decisions and policies inclusive of equity and growth concerns
- Increasing the capacity for accounting of ecosystem services
The Philippines WAVES program will be overseen by the Executive Committee of the National Statistical Coordination Board that is chaired by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Feasibility studies and planning is ongoing with a focus on marine and coastal ecosystems.
The second WAVES workshop took place in September 2011, focusing on "Uses, Policy Applications, and Statistical Requirements" for environmental-economic accounting. Additional technical support and training was provided by an expert in ecosystem accounting from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The informal ambiance of the workshop resulted in a very productive exchange of ideas both on evaluation of past experiences with environmental accounting in the Philippines as well as directions for the future.
The preparation phase is being implemented in five parts by a team of consultants with a diverse skill-set including macro-economics, statistics, environmental and resource economics, fisheries economics, marine sciences. They have been involved in the following initiatives:
- Institutional analysis, including assessment of past resource accounting initiatives in order to identify latent capacity, bottlenecks in implementation and ways forward
- Assessment of the Philippine statistical system for implementing wealth accounting and valuing ecosystem services
- Macro and cross-sectoral analysis of past uses and policy applications of environmental accounting and identification of current and emerging policy issues pertaining to land based resources and terrestrial ecosystems
- Assessment of studies and all available data that account for stocks and flows of ecosystems services from coastal and marine ecosystems, such as pelagic and demersal fisheries, selected economic species including invertebrates, sea grasses, aquaculture, mangroves, and coral reefs in both municipal and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters
Two workshops were held: The first one was an orientation workshop in January 2011 where those who had implemented resource accounting activities earlier held frank self-assessment of their gains and constraints. The second workshop in September 2011 focused on "Uses, Policy Applications, and Statistical Requirements" for environmental-economic accounting. Additional technical support and training was provided by an expert in ecosystem accounting from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) leads the implementation of WAVES and has designated the Executive Committee of the National Statistical Coordination Board, which it chairs, as the WAVES Steering Committee.