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Making Nature Visible: What Can Natural Capital Accounting Do For Us? – NESC NCA Event Held on 12/3/24

Following the publication of NESC’s recent report Natural Capital Accounting: A Guide for Action, this in-person event looked at the potential of natural capital accounting in Ireland.

Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) is a tool and information system to measure the changes in the stock and condition of ecosystems, such as rivers and forests, and to integrate the flow and value of ecosystem services into accounting and reporting systems. If integrated and used in decision-making, it can make the services that nature provides us more visible in policymaking. Drawing on this recent NESC work, international and Irish policy, research and practice, this event focused on the question “what can NCA do for us?”

We are delighted that Carl Obst, a global leader in natural capital accounting, attended the event to speak in the first session. Carl – the lead author of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) (the international standard for government work on accounting for natural capital) – discussed the current state of play of NCA around the world.

Our moderator Iseult Sheehy and NESC Director Dr Larry O’Connell began Session 1 by setting the scene for the morning, and Professor Jane Stout, an internationally renowned expert on pollination and a leading voice for natural capital in Ireland, outlined ‘why we should account for nature’.

With further contributions from the Central Statistics Office, the National Parks and Wildlife Services, experts from the recent INCASE project and NESC itself, Session 2 explored recent research and policy developments in Ireland and provided an overview of what Ireland is currently doing in NCA.

Session 3 drew on research and practice applications across forestry (TCD), marine ecosystems (Marine Institute), nature finance (Irish Sustainable Finance Centre), Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Environment Link) and some examples of how NCA is applied internationally drawing on NESC’s work.

The final panel discussion in Session 4 brought together a range of experienced contributors to discuss what is needed to progress NCA in Irish policy and practice. There was also be an opportunity to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities of NCA development, and what areas of action are required to bring it forward in Ireland.


For a more in-depth summary of the day’s events please click HERE.


Further material related to the event can be accessed using the following links:


Presentation slides shown on the day can also be viewed below:


Photos from the day (click to view full size):

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