Brussels – A new report launched by Food & Water Europe today argues how natural capital accounting is not a solution for protecting our natural environment. In “No Accounting For Taste: Natural Capital Accounting and the Financialization of Nature” Food & Water Europe covers the fundamental problems of the natural capital accounting system being proposed at the World Forum in Edinburgh as well as the negative implications of using a market-based system to manage resources that are inherently public and commons goods.
The World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh is the newest step taken by big business and big banks to further financialize nature following the launch of the Natural Capital Declaration at Rio +20. Governments are working with businesses to assign monetary value to natural processes under the banner of “Green Economy” and are now also trying to convert “nature” into “natural capital” by applying monetary values to non-monetary values.
“Governments should not be fooled into thinking that natural capital accounting is a silver bullet to all their environmental and economic problems,” warned Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Europe. “Natural capital accounting extends the domain of economic activity and seeks to create economic values where none exist. But, natural capital accounting is really just a desperate attempt to fix a flailing economic model and not an attempt to better manage our fragile environment. Not only does it have serious consequences for the governance of nature and important democratic processes, it is shifting the management of nature into the hands of the same economic actors who are destroying it.”
By adjusting their national accounts to incorporate the cost of degrading nature in the process of generating profit, countries are hoping that this will lead to their GDP giving a better image of the country’s overall wealth. Companies see it as a way to internalize the environmental impacts of their production processes and to better identify risk. The declared objective behind it is that if nature is given an economic value, there would be more willingness to protect it.
However, various cases mentioned in the report clearly demonstrate from past experience the impossibility to accurately “measure” the monetary value of nature and the non- substitutable processes it provides.
“The true value of nature cannot be translated into a monetary price, our common resources such as water, oceans and trees cannot be substituted by dollar bills. If we want a truly sustainable world, nature should be managed democratically as a public and common good.” Said Hauter.
No Accounting For Taste: Natural Capital Accounting and the Financialization of Nature can be downloaded here:
Contact: Gabriella Zanzanaini, gzanzanaini(at)fweurope.org, +32 2893 1045