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DOST-PCAARRD and UPLB lead collaborative effort for localized natural capital accounting

DOST-PCAARRD and UPLB lead collaborative effort for localized natural capital accounting

The Philippine government has initiated efforts in natural capital accounting in response to the escalating pressures of population growth and the misuse of natural resources. 

Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) is a method used to measure the value of a country's natural resources and the services it offers society. However, current natural capital accounting efforts have primarily concentrated on the regional and national level, highlighting the need for an approach to utilizing and managing local natural resources.

To address this concern, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) collaborated with the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on a project to revolutionize the way local governments account for and manage their natural capital.

Titled "Developing and Piloting LGU-based Natural Capital Accounting for Improved Governance and Management of Community Natural Assets," the project aims to create a localized NCA framework aligned with the United Nations (UN) guidelines that national government agencies will utilize for the National NCA Roadmap. It also seeks to develop user-friendly tools like calculators to aid LGUs in establishing natural capital accounts and enhance their capacity in the ecosystem.

In the project’s inception meeting last January 25, 2024, Dr. Agustin Arcenas, Project Leader and Director of Community Innovations Studies Center (CISC) of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), emphasized the need to establish a localized framework and calculator to kickstart the development of stock and flow accounts within LGUs. This initiative aims to gradually reinforce their financial resources and technical capacity. Furthermore, Dr. Arcenas outlined the project's plans, including replicating the framework and fostering support and collaboration with other agencies and institutions.

The project has identified proposed pilot sites, including the selected municipalities/cities in Laguna and Palawan. Discussions during the meeting also covered various activities, including a thorough assessment of LGUs' technical capabilities and financial resources. Additionally, technical training on the basic principles of natural capital accounting and the extensive inventory of the community's natural capital ecosystem were addressed, as these activities will be instrumental in data collection and capacity building for LGUs.

The inception meeting was attended by resource persons Dr. Gem Castillo, President of Resources, Environment and Economics Center for Studies, Inc. (REECS); Ms. Maria Katrina Apaya, Environmental and Social Consultant of ARUP;  Ms. Virginia Bathan, Chief Statistical Specialist of Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA); and Mr. Roald Ray Taperla, Supervising Economic Development Specialist of National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), who has provided his written comments.

This project is aligned with the efforts to institutionalize natural capital accounting in the country, such as the Senate bill “Philippine Environment and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS) Bill,” which adopts the framework provided by the UN. Moreover, NEDA, PSA, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have collaborated to develop a roadmap for the institutionalization of NCA in the Philippines, spanning from 2022 to 2040.

DOST-PCAARRD and UPLB hope this endeavor will revolutionize how local governments account for, manage, and handle their natural resources. The project started its implementation in November 2023 and is expected to run for 2 years.