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African Ministers Agree Wealth Accounting, Valuation Critical for Growth

UNEP24 February 2013: Participants at the African High-level Conference of Green Economy recognized the role of wealth accounting and the valuation of ecosystem services as critical to Africa's future growth. Ministers also discussed the role of new energy sources, job creation and wealth generation in driving Africa's future investment and innovation.

Speaking at the conference, which took place in Oran, Algeria, from 22-24 February 2014, Achim Steiner, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, stressed that natural accounting and valuation “is not a fringe activity but a cornerstone of the wealth of nations upon which sustainable, equitable and prosperous societies will be built.”

Natural capital, including resources such as fish, trees and water, makes up approximately 36% of total wealth in low-income countries according to estimates by the World Bank. For instance, accounting for the wider benefits of forestry in Tanzania nearly doubles forestry's contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), from almost 2.3% to over 4% of GDP. In Kenya, alternative accounting that recognizes the contribution of goods and services from the Mau Forest area, including carbon sequestration, erosion control and water for hydroelectricity, motivated the Government of Kenya to invest in rehabilitating the forest, according to Steiner.

Steiner and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), recommended targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes to support investments that will prevent biodiversity and ecosystem services loss, enhance energy and resource efficiency and reduce carbon emissions and pollution. Steiner also recommended, inter alia: strategies and policies to ensure that nature is fully integrated into economies as part of the post-2015 development framework; and measurement using UNEP's Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI), which illustrates the sustainability of country's growth.

Over 500 participants attended the conference, which took place in Oran, Algeria. [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Statement of AUC Chair]