How can Ireland better account for nature? On request from Government and drawing on in-depth engagement with key stakeholders, this Council report provides advice on natural capital accounting and presents a guide for action. The report highlights the potential of natural capital accounting as a key part of what is required in order to value, recognise and bring considerations of nature more effectively into policy decision-making in Ireland.
Natural capital accounting is an information framework and an approach to integrating environmental data into the system of national accounts for economic activity. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) and Eurostat are already using the United Nations (UN) standardised approach to natural capital accounting.
The report outlines the centrality of natural capital accounting to protecting Ireland’s natural capital and biodiversity. It describes how this accounting framework can systematically bring nature’s hidden risk and value into view. It provides examples of how nature is valued and accounted for in other countries, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK).
The Council recommends three areas of action that will help develop natural capital accounting and embed it into the wider policy-making system, supporting the increased policy momentum on nature. The Council considers that natural capital accounting is an important part of the solution to working more closely with nature.
The three areas of action are:
Capacity-Building: Identification of actions to enhance Ireland’s work on developing natural capital accounting, building capacity in areas including skills around ecosystem services and spatial mapping, and in using the accounts in national departments, agencies and local authorities.
Spotlight on Payment for Ecosystems Services Schemes: Examination of the development of PES schemes aimed at supporting the transition in agriculture and land use and supporting farmers in caring for nature, water, forestry, carbon sequestration and a range of other ecosystem services.
Support for Integration: Advice on how to integrate natural capital accounting into the wider policy system.