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Water Today Title November 24, 2017

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Sustainability - Natural Capital


On October 6, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) issued a press release underlining its role as a founding partner in the Natural Capital Lab, a national effort to accelerate the measurement and valuation of the country's natural capital to support more holistic and informed decision-making.

Natural Capital Lab is an initiative launched in January 2016, by The Natural Step Canada, a non-profit organization, which is part of a global network helping organizations and individuals understand and make meaningful progress toward sustainability.

The Natural Capital Lab goal is to enhance the way Canadian businesses and governments account for, and make decisions about Canada's stocks of water, land and air along with renewable and non-renewable resources such as plant and animal species, forests and minerals.

    "We are proud to be a core partner of this special initiative, the Natural Capital Lab," says Gord Beal, CPA Canada's vice-president of research, guidance and support. "This ambitious platform brings together many experienced and knowledgeable stakeholders united in wanting to develop ways to allow business and government leaders to become better stewards of our natural resources."
Other partners in the Natural Capital Lab include TD Bank Group, The Cooperators, Deloitte, Sustainability Prosperity and the Municipal Natural Capital Initiative.

Having looked into the problem of valuating groundwater water in an article entitled “Putting a price tag on nature”, WaterToday was curious to know how the Natural Capital Lab could possibly value an entire ecosystem when there had never been a definitive price set for water.

In an email, Gord Beal answered:
    It is too early to determine how things will play out. The aim of the Lab is to explore how to effectively develop and integrate the valuation of natural capital in helping business leaders and governments make more informed and holistic decisions. We recognize that is going to be a challenge.

    We intend to engage our members in a meaningful way in the discussions and, possibly, even some pilot projects. However, we are not yet in a position to say how that will work, what will be the exact areas of focus, and how valuations are to be determined.

    CPA Canada is one stakeholder participating in the initiative. The Lab is collectively drawing upon the knowledge and experience of leaders from a variety of sectors. And we are delighted to be a part of this important initiative.
According to The Natural Step, Canada has an unparalleled abundance of natural capital. Canada is home to 0.5% of the world’s population, but contains 6% of the world’s land mass. We enjoy 60% of the world’s lakes, 9% of the world’s fresh water, 25% of the world’s wetlands, and 10% of the world’s forests.

Natural capital accounting is a way of measuring these assets, how they are used and what goods and services they generate. Without effective natural capital accounting, we cannot fully understand the impacts of our decisions on our environment or our economy.

We can only laud this 4-year initiative and wish them all the best in achieving their goal of valuating our natural assets before they run out.

Related Article

Natural Capital: Putting a price tag on nature

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