Workshop on Natural capital accounts

31 January 2023

Online workshop on Natural capital accounts in the North-East Atlantic; recent developments and possible applications

Please click here to access the meeting report, presentations and supplementary information

On Wednesday 14 December 2022 OSPAR held an online workshop on ‘Natural capital accounts in the North-East Atlantic; recent developments and possible applications’, organised by The Netherlands. This was already the third workshop on this topic. The first one, on 11 September 2018, was a physical workshop in The Hague, where the main objective was to determine the potential role and relevance of natural capital and ecosystem services in socio-economic analyses in general and more specifically for OSPAR plans and strategies. One of the outcomes of that meeting was that OSPAR would like to start working on natural capital accounting. This was formalised in objective S7.03 in the North-East Atlantic Environmental Strategy. Therefore the second meeting, which took place online on 14 July 2021, focussed on natural capital accounting, with experiences shared from various countries across the world, including Australia, South Africa, Canada, Finland, France, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, and Spain. At that meeting, also a draft version of the first natural capital accounts for the OSPAR area was presented.

This third meeting started with a presentation by Maria Alarcon Blazquez who gave a short introduction of what the SEEA Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) framework, that was adopted by the United Nations in March 2021, is, and presented the results of her study on the first version of the natural capital accounts for the Northeast Atlantic. The second presentation was by Martha Stofmeel who is working on the second version of the natural capital accounts. Compared to the work that Maria did in the first version, Martha will update some information and include some more ecosystem services. After this content-oriented half of the workshop, the second part of the meeting focussed on the possible ways that natural capital accounts could be used to support policy making by OSPAR. Wesley van Veggel gave a presentation of his draft report dealing with exactly this issue. Some suggestions he gave were that natural capital accounts could be used to provide synergies with the DAPSIR framework, add quantitative economic perspective, and track changes over time. In addition, since many countries that are a Contracting Party to OSPAR are also European Member States, natural capital accounting could be used to monitor (changes in) the state of the marine environment (part 1 of the MSFD), focus monitoring on those indicators that are most important to convey the relevant messages and support the realisation of the programme of measures (part 2 of the MSFD) and to contribute to cost benefit analyses and evaluate policy responses as part of the programme of measures (part 3 of the MSFD).

The presentations triggered some interesting discussions. Some of the most important issues that have been discussed are described in the report of the meeting. The results of this meeting will be used to enrich and finalize the draft reports by Martha Stofmeel and Wesley van Veggel. Their reports will be published on this website as soon as they become available (spring 2023).

The focus of this workshop was on the Northeast Atlantic. However, since the purpose of this meeting was to share lessons, experiences, and ideas on ‘how to (and how not to)’ apply and use natural capital accounting, anyone who might be interested in natural capital accounting was invited to participate. This resulted in an attendance of around 50 people from various European countries, and that was also why this workshop took place back to back with a meeting on ‘Natural capital accounts in the Dutch part of the North Sea’ on Tuesday afternoon of 13 of December.