MANILA— The integration of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) or Environmental Accounting in national and regional development plans ensures not only the conservation and protection of ecosystems, but also enables the country to make progress along the path of sustainable development, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“The NCA, through the World Bank-funded Global Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) program, helps us understand and acknowledge the economic value of biodiversity and ecosystems so that these considerations can be integrated into both economic and political decision-making,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, during his opening speech at the First WAVES Knowledge Exchange on Ecosystem Accounting, which started in on February 23, 2014 in Laguna.

He underscored that the increasing environmental trade-offs present in the process of development may overwhelm the country’s natural resources in the coming decades, and this could have major debilitating effects on the national development agenda and economic growth.

“Through NCA, the worth of a service that we get from the natural environment will become known to us and if this is taken into account directly in the estimation of national incomes, policymakers may now make better decisions about development priorities and investments, while promoting a more sustainable use of natural resources,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

“The results of the environmental accounting being done by the Philippines WAVES could help inform the next Philippine Development Plan, which we will start formulating by the third quarter of this year.   In the new Plan, we intend to retain the valuation of ecosystem services as a key strategy in the sustainable management of the environment and natural resources,” he said.

The Phil-WAVES Knowledge Exchange Workshop, aimed at enhancing knowledge and skills on the environmental accounting tools, was attended by other WAVES core partner countries: Botswana, Rwanda, Colombia, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Guatemala, Indonesia, and India. Participants are directly involved in the development of their country’s ecosystem accounts. Speakers in the ongoing five-day event include professors and researchers from the Australian National University, University of Wageningen, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, among others.