Natural capital accounting perspectives: a pragmatic way forward

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Introduction: Recent debates surrounding the application of natural capital accounting (NCA) have produced several approaches to further develop this system, as well as highlighted a number of conceptual and methodological issues that need to be resolved before mainstreaming NCA into policy and decision making. We argue that prolonged debate over the value concepts (i.e., exchange versus other values) underpinning different modifications to NCA has slowed progress in experimentation and uptake by policymakers.Outcomes: Consequently we propose three broad approaches which can be progressed in parallel to reinvigorate experimentation with the NCA principles and practice, while at the same time generating policy relevant tools and evidence bases for decision support. The three approaches are; extended SNA accounting anchored to the use of exchange values; a complementary accounts network (CAN) that utilizes plural values as supplementary accounts to the SNA system; and wealth accounting that focuses on measures of welfare and wellbeing. The three approaches are complementary and data developed in any one can inform the other two.Conclusions: We contend that CAN offers the most flexibility and opportunities to progress short term support for decision making on environmental issues which are now becoming urgent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-241
Number of pages5
JournalEcosystem Health and Sustainability
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • ecosystem accounting
  • exchange values
  • Natural capital accounting
  • SEEA
  • wealth accounting
  • welfare values

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