At the Seventh Conference on Biodiversity Ecology and Economy for a Sustainable Society in Trondheim, Norway, Vice President for the World Bank's Sustainable Development Network, Rachel Kyte, presented the World Bank's view on the need to balance economic and environmental interests, focusing on the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Partnership.
Kyte said that governments have a dual mandate to grow their economies while investing in their countries "capital assets": human, manufactured and natural. These are the assets that provide opportunities for future growth, yet too many governments see economy and ecology as at odds with one another.
In pursuit of this 'dual mandate', the ministry of natural resources and the World Bank have completed a deal on a natural capital accounting (NCA) system last week, for Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES).
Stanislas Kamanzi, Minister of Natural Resources, said that while the Rwandan economy is calculated based on revenue, knowing the value of natural resource can help the country improve in its income generation.
Natural capital requires investment, maintenance, and good management if it is to contribute fully to increasing output and prosperity.
Kamanzi said that NCA would help the country know the exact value of wealth, to help it in its planning process. "It is understandable if you have wealth and you measure it in part you cannot use it all," he reiterated.
While natural assets are fundamental to the wellbeing of businesses and society, they are still not well represented within governments' economic accounting systems.
Michel Masozera, a researcher for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said that knowing the value of natural resource will help the country progress and give people an idea ofthe importance of what natural resource available.
"There are people who say that they have nowhere to cultivate farms, while looking at Nyungwe forest and thinking they should be cultivating (there)," but he said that once the importance of the forest in income generation is explained to such people, they might be satisfied of its use.
John Michael Matuszak, the lead partnership advisor in agriculture and environmental services at the World Bank and chair of steering committee for Rwanda Natural Capital Accounting, said that Rwanda has a huge population and limited resources, which makes careful and precise management of their precious resources extremely important. "Rwanda has few natural resources compared to its huge population," he indicated.
"You can only manage what you measure", he said, indicating that measurement of natural resources is prerequisite for better management.
Mutuszak pointed out that the government needs strong involvement in assembling the information required regarding natural resources.
The closed-door meeting with the World Bank delegation was held last Tuesday at the Minirena offices.
Apart from Rwanda, which needs to improve its use of few natural assets for the satisfaction of many, Matuszak observed that the world in general needs to increase efforts in better resources management.
Yet, Minirena did not present what actions will be taken to begin that process.
Peter Katanisa, the advisor to the Minister, told the Rwanda focus last week that what has been done is just a start, and that process will be communicated to later, without communicating what is at the start point, saying it is only the committee established.
According to Kyte, natural capital accounting allows for reducing waste and increasing efficiency and other eco-friendly measures. She also said that it can help countries develop policies that improve the benefits flowing to the poorest communities.
"We have to make natural capital accounting something that is owned across all spheres from business to legislators to the community at large," she indicated, adding that it can move countries towards a low carbon, more efficient and sustainable growth path.