WAVES featured in Botswana's Daily News

Photo: WAVES Program Manager Glenn-Marie Lange and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Mr. Kgomotso Abi, in a prominently featured article about WAVES in the business section of Botswana's Daily News on February 12, 2015. Photo by Phenyo Moalosi/Daily News

GABORONE, BOTSWANA —  Botswana is “very much alive to the need for natural capital accounting” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Mr. Kgomotso Abi, at a high-level policy seminar on wealth and natural capital accounting on February 10, 2015 that was attended by over 90 participants including senior Botswana Government officials and members of the multi-sectoral technical working groups. 

Abi said that in Botswana the commitment to natural capital accounting (NCA) is led from the top and includes “the support of the President and Parliament.

He said that Botswana’s ecosystems are the “real wealth” of the country and due to climate change, water scarcity and an over-dependence on minerals, “It is no longer an option to ignore these challenges since they may aggravate the level of poverty; lessen the capacity of natural ecosystems to be productive; and in the long term hinder sustainable development. Participation in a partnership on Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) is therefore an imperative. We are grateful for this opportunity that the World Bank has allowed us to enroll in.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Mr Kelapile Ndobano, was the director of ceremonies for the breakfast event and is the chair of the WAVES-Botswana Steering Committee. Ndobano highlighted the importance of collecting data to inform Botswana’s national development planning processes.
The institutionalization of WAVES is critical, and it is important that NCA units are established in ministries to run with the program. We need to have internal expertise,said Ndobano.
Currently in Botswana, a water accounting unit has been established in the Department of Water Affairs, and a unit has been set up within the Macroeconomics Policy Division of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to coordinate NCA objectives across relevant sectors. Also, technical working groups that are multi-sectoral and chaired at the policy level by deputy permanent secretaries provide oversight function to the activities of the WAVES sectors.
Ndobano said that in order for NCA to be fully integrated into policy and planning processes the responsibility “is incumbent upon Government and private sector entities to acquire as much skills, build knowledge systems and create institutions that can in the long-term support efficient and effective natural capital accounting in Botswana.
This is our program. We need to own this process. In the long term we have to do it for our country,” said Ndobano.
The methodology and initial results of Botswana’s mineral accounts were presented to the group by Dr. Keith Jeffries of E-Consult, and the results from Botswana’s water accounts were presented by Dr. Jaap Arntzen of the Centre for Applied Research. Abi said he expects the results to be integrated into the planning of Botswana’s 11th National Development Plan (NDP) to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources.
In her closing remarks, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Housing, Ms Esther Serati, said “as we plan, we must take into account the natural resources at our disposal,” and that natural capital accounting would provide the critical information necessary to make decisions, and determine where to focus attention. 
Serati stressed the importance of institutionalization, and called on the leadership to provide the necessary support for the technical teams. 
The event kicked-off a series of training workshops for water, minerals, and energy accounts. There will also be a workshop for the estimation and use of new macroeconomic indicators that provide a better measure of long-term prospects for development by more fully reflecting natural capital.
Serati hailed the trainings as a great opportunity to create a pool of experts and trainers within Botswana to assure the “future of natural capital accounting in Botswana will be bright following the WAVES project.