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Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco have expressed interest in joining the WAVES Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) initiative. They are among the first countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to consider natural capital accounting as a means to encourage green growth, poverty reduction and job creation.
These countries, along with Tunisia and Jordan, came together at a regional workshop on Natural Capital Accounting for Green Growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that was held on March 26-27, 2013 at the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) in Marseille, France, in the framework of the CMI's Green Growth Program."
The two-day event in Marseilles brought together high-level decision makers from the region and staff from government institutions that are providers of data such as national statistical institutions, as well as users of data, such as development planning ministries or key line ministries such as water, energy, fisheries.
Some of the attending countries have already initiated work on NCA (Morocco for instance on water accounts) and there is a widely shared view in the region that water scarcity and the degradation of natural capital, such as deforestation and land degradation, are hampering growth and job creation, as well as lowering welfare.
Increasingly since the Arab Spring, demand is growing for a new paradigm of development, taking into account scarce and valuable natural resources. The recent Med Report on Green Growth in Mediterranean countries presents a set of policies that can make growth processes more resource-efficient, clean, and resilient without necessarily slowing economic activity. One of the conclusions of the Med Report is that implementing green growth policy requires adapting the tools used to monitor economic activity. While natural assets and the services they provide are fundamental to the wellbeing of businesses and society, they are not well represented within Governments’ economic accounting systems.
“A system of natural capital accounting is needed if we are truly committed to achieve a green economy and sustainable development,” said Egypt’s Minister of State for Environmental Affairs H.E. Khaled Fahmy.
During the first day of the workshop policy applications for green growth were discussed, and the second day focused on technical applications including the methodology for natural capital accounting using the United Nation’s System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) and hands-on training sessions in environmental accounting, ecosystem valuation, and development policy.
Hussein Abaza, adviser to the Minister of State for Environmental Affairs in Egypt, emphasized that, “Close attention must be given to the process of building natural capital accounts. Relevant users and data suppliers must work together and learn to speak the same language.”
The High Commissioner for Morocco’s Haut Commissariat au Plan, H.E. Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, also noted the importance of compiling statistics through conducting natural resource accounts. “The implementation of a new growth model – a green economy – depends on national statistics to help carry out its definition and monitor its implementation.”
The workshop concluded that based on their interest in implementing Natural Capital Accounting, partner Governments can seek opportunities to benefit from technical assistance resources. The establishment of clear institutional arrangements within countries, the presence of a dedicated agency championing the agenda, and a clear vision on how to integrate the environment into national economic accounting will be key to secure technical and financial resources in this sense.
Ms. Glenn-Marie Lange, Senior Environmental Economist